Last month’s ghastly beheading of 20 Coptic Christian migrant workers on a Libyan beach prompted worldwide outrage and retaliatory airstrikes by Egypt’s government.
But out of public sight, the same victims’ families and neighbors now silently face persecution at home, in Egypt.
Seeking to patch up relations with a longtime regional ally at a time of spreading war and instability in the Middle East, President Obama on Tuesday lifted an arms freeze against Egypt that he first imposed after the 2013 military overthrow of the country’s elected government.
According to the local priest and Coptic spokesman, last Friday’s assault on a proposed Coptic Christian church proposed to be built, with President Sisi’s permission, to honor the 21 Coptic Christians who were slaughtered by the Islamic State in Libya, was all too typical and a reminder that Islamic sharia sentiment continues to trump the sovereignty of the Egyptian state. During an interview he said:
When President Barack Obama took office, he offered a familiar foreign policy vision that had been the refrain of the Left’s criticism of his predecessor: The U.S. would withdraw from the region’s conflicts and focus on its perceived root cause by prosecuting the Israel-Palestinian peace process.
Following the proclamation of the Passion according to St. Mark at Holy Mass in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis delivered a homily, in which he reflected on the plight of all those who endure humiliation because of their faithfulness to the Gospel, all those who face discrimination and pay a personal price for their fidelity to Christ.
Egyptian Military Attacks and Kills Peaceful Coptic Demonstrators
Coptic Solidarity strongly and unequivocally condemns the Egyptian army’s unprovoked attack and massacre of unarmed Copts that occurred on Sunday, October 09, 2011—an attack which reflects the deeply disturbing actions by Egypt’s military rulers to prevent the establishment of a free and democratic Egypt, and to avoid its duty to protect Egyptians, including the Coptic Christians.
The demonstration itself, in which Copts and other Egyptians participated, was a direct result of repeated attacks over the past months, especially the recent destruction of yet another church in Edfu, in which Copts were repeatedly attacked by Islamists without any perpetrator being brought to justice, a pattern that suggests complicity by the ruling Junta.
The unwarranted use of force by the military included opening live fire on demonstrators and even chasing after and intentionally running over Copts with armored vehicles and tanks (military equipment that was most likely provided by the U.S. military aid). Authorities put the death toll of protesters at 25, though other sources offer significantly higher numbers. The wounded are reportedly in the hundreds. Scores of Copts have been randomly arrested.
Dr Emad Gad, a senior political analyst at the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, and an eyewitness of the events, said on El-Nile government TV station that the peaceful demonstrators were attacked by unprovoked military in such a way that amounts to “war crime” and “crime against humanity” putting the responsibility squarely on Tantawi’s shoulders. He was quickly shut up by the anchor.
Dr Mohamed Mounir Megahed, a well respected activist and participant in the demonstration, attested that it was, similar to previous demonstrations, very peaceful with no sign that demonstrators had the means or intention to use violence.
Nawara Nigm, a Muslim activist and a first hand witness, confirmed that the demonstration which included many women was peaceful, and that security forces shot live ammunition on unarmed people. She saw a soldier beating a young man after seeing that his arm was tattooed with a cross.
The Alliance of Revolutionary Youth accused the SCAF and the government of utter failure in handling the situation and the state-run TV of inciting sedition between the country’s communities.
During the events, military officials shut down two independent media, including US-funded Alhurra TV, apparently to prevent them from providing live coverage of the protests.
Such brutality comes days after nearly 20 members of the army’s military police were clandestinely videotaped beating, dragging, and kicking a Coptic protester—all while shouting anti-Christian slogans, such as “You infidel son of a bitch.”
Coptic Solidarity demands that, in the same way Mubarak is being tried for his responsibility in ordering attacks against civilians before his ouster, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, chief of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and Lt. General Hamdy Badeen, commander of the Military Police, be investigated to determine their responsibility for committing crimes against humanity and against the Egyptian people.
Coptic Solidarity strongly urges that the international community, through the United Nations, lead an independent international investigation in the attack similar to what the UN ordered after an Israeli attack on Gaza.
Coptic Solidarity (www.copticsolidarity.org)
P.O. Box 1450 Centreville, VA 20122, USA
21 bis rue du Simplon 75018 Paris, France
For further information:
USA: Halim Meawad (1-240-644-5153), Caroline Doss (201-418-9090)
Magdi Khalil (1-202-725-3091)
Canada: Maher Rizkalla (1-905-399-4147)
Europe Adel Guindy (+33-1-4701-2600), Helmy Guirguis (+44-7775-800-929),
Sobhy Gress (+33-6-3129-4779)
Australia Ayad Grace (+61-2-9899-5740)
Coptic Solidarity 2015 Conference
The Annual Conference was held in Washington, D.C. on June 11-13, 2015.