For the first time, Coptic Christians took to the streets in Egypt in a series of angry protests after a bomb blast during New Year’s Eve midnight mass at Alexandria’s al-Qiddisin (Saints) Church left 32 dead and some 100 injured. Chanting “With our souls and blood we save the cross,” Copts marched through Cairo and tried to storm the Radio and TV headquarters in Maspero.
President Hosni Mubarak said the attack bore the hallmark of “foreign hands.” There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but al-Qaeda has threatened Egypt’s Copts in the recent months.
Thousands attended funerals of the victims late on Jan. 1 at a monastery outside Alexandria. Crowds of mourners shouted slogans and refused to accept official condolences. “No, no, no,” the crowd shouted as a church official tried to read out condolences from Mubarak.
Independent newspapers in Cairo warned Jan. 2 that “civil war” could break out unless Christians and Muslims stand together. The paper al-Shorouk said Christians had a right to be angry, but urged them not play into the game of “the instigators of the crime.” (Ahram Online, RFI, Jan. 2)
See our last post on Egypt and the Copts.