reported by Elissa Cooper:
“As Egypt plans to hold parliamentary elections November 28 and rebuild its government following the events of the Arab Spring, a peaceful Christian-led protest turned into a bloody scene Sunday, leaving 25 to 35 people dead and 300 to perhaps 500 injured. The dead are believed to be mostly Christians.
Videos have shown that military police went to stop the protest, shooting, releasing tear gas, and running people over with their trucks. Protestors maintain they had no weapons and were attacked by police and thugs, although reports from Egypt’s liberal media state the protestors started the brutality.
Coptic Christians have led protests in the months following the Arab Spring. Egyptian believers—the country’s minority at 10 percent—have long faced persecution. After President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, a military regime and Salafists (ultraconservative Islamics with alleged ties to al Qaeda) allowed more attacks against churches and Christian communities without repercussion, and Copts have been told they would not receive the same freedoms as Muslims under the new government.
Coptic Christians have been frustrated with the repeated attacks and lack of justice, and with the intolerance and poor treatment they encounter because they are not Muslims. Christians are not allowed to build new churches; one estimate is that there is one church for every 100,000 Christians.
What happened on Sunday was not the first time the military and others have used force against a peaceful Coptic protest, although it was the most violent. […]
That protest was led by the Maspero Youth Union and Copts Without Borders (which dropped out during the march and did not continue to the sit-in). The Maspero Youth Union is made up of Christians who are trying to stop religious persecution by getting involved in politics instead of trying to “change things simply by praying and singing,” as Fadi Philip told blogger Jayson Casper. There are Muslim members within the group as well.
On his Facebook page, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf wrote, “What took place was not a confrontation between Muslims and Christians but an attempt to create chaos and ignite sectarian sedition. . . . I urge all children of the nation who are keen for its future to answer those who call for sectarian sedition. This is a fire which will consume us all, without distinction.” Coptic and Muslim leaders have been called to meet together by the “Family House,” an anti-sectarian project that was started after the New Year’s Eve church bombing in Alexandria. The meeting will attempt to create a plan to address the event and its aftermath.
Meanwhile, thousands mourn the victims and protest the military’s actions. Through Twitter, activists and journalists claim that hospitals are trying to cover up the truth of what happened by refusing to release the victims’ bodies to their families until the families sign papers stating the victim died from fractures or burns, not gunshots. Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Christians announced that Tuesday would mark the beginning of three days of mourning, praying, and fasting as funerals begin; these are expected to spark more protests.
Recently, the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations announced that since March, about 100,000 Christians have left the country out of fear of the military and Islamic oppression. If this rate of emigration continues, the Coptic population could be gone within ten years.”
adapted from the report on Christianity Today, to read the full story, please click Here.