In Memory of Alexandria One Year On

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A protest held in Sydney on the 19th of January, 2010 which was organized by the Australian Coptic Movement in outrage of the Nag Hammadi shootings.

 

 

2011 was the year the world’s attention was focused on Egypt and its’ great revolution.It was also the year that the Coptic civil rights movement and the plight of Egypt’s Christians began to make headlines worldwide.

2011 commenced with the traditional fireworks celebrations in capital cities across the globe as a tragic event unfolded soon after midnight, in the once cosmopolitan city of Alexandria.  The Mediterranean city – now a stronghold for Islamists – witnessed fireworks of a far more fatal nature, as  CCTV recordings streamed across all major international news outlets, showing the moment of terror when a bomb exploded outside The Two Saints’ church in Alexandria; killing dozens and severely injuring over 100 people.

The timing and precision of the attack was meant to cause maximum impact, both in terms of casualties and on the psych of a Coptic population and diaspora that refuses to be treated as second class citizens in their own country.

Rather conveniently, the Egyptian security forces guarding the church on this evening, retreated prior to the attack, fuelling speculation that the Mubarak regime itself facilitated this savage attack on its own people, in to instil fear in the hearts of the Copts and to reinforce their stranglehold on order, following the uprising in Tunisia.

Subsequent clashes between Coptic protestors and Egyptian security forces ensued for almost a week following these attacks and spread from Alexandria to Cairo and to other cities.

These events were an ideal backdrop to the Egyptian revolution that was to commence on 25th January 2011. Liberal minded Muslims joined their Coptic counterparts in protest and many were beaten and arrested following the New Years Day Alexandrian massacre.

Then came the 25th January 2011, the start of the Egyptian Revolution that was supposed to liberate the Egyptian population from tyranny once and for all. For an eighteen day period, all Egyptians set aside their differences, extremists temporarily ceased their attacks on Christians and amazing scenes of unity were witnessed in Tahrir Square, as the mainly young revolutionaries of Egypt; Muslim and Christian alike, joined hands and demanded freedom, social equality and justice. The only unfortunate attacks against Copts during this period, were limited to a bomb attack on a Coptic Church on the Rafah Israeli border and a massacre of up to ten Christians in the village of Sharona, province of Al Minya.

Nevertheless, there was an aura of excitement, optimism and fear of the unknown, after Mubarak’s dramatic departure. The Military were ushered in as heroes and protectors of the revolution in its initial days. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF promised that they would never use force against their own people.

Eleven months on and we have witnessed some of the worst crimes against humanity in Egypt’s modern history, with the Coptic minority enduring attack after attack by Muslim mobs, extremists, armed thugs and the SCAF itself.

The worst attack on Egypt’s Christians occurred on the 9th October 2011, outside the Maspero television headquarters in Cairo. Due to the nature of this incident, it appears this massacre has taken its toll on the Coptic rights movement in Egypt and silenced the Coptic activists, at least temporarily. Indeed, it seems as though post revolutionary Egypt has resulted in an even worse regime prevail. Moreover, there has been speculation that Egypt’s parliamentary elections were rigged to ensure liberal influence was suppressed and Islamists gained maximum leverage; most probably to justify an ongoing role by SCAF in the future.

Egyptian talk shows are now pre-occupied with extreme radical views and calls for restrictions on individual liberties. Anyone who objects to the opinions of the sheikhs or Islamist party leaders is labelled an infidel and many Islamic clerics, some of them well respected, have openly labelled Christians as Infidels, only further inciting hatred and violence against Egypt’s already besieged Coptic population which many believe number up to 15 million of the population.

Liberal forces have also suffered at the hands of SCAF and the security forces.  The year has been marred by ‘virginity tests’ against female activists and ongoing violence against pro revolutionary protestors and even bloggers. It seems that the SCAF is leading the Islamists by example, by teaching them how to implement Article 2 of Egypt’s constitution – Sharia Law in the new and liberated Egypt.

It is with great regret that the families of those who sacrificed their lives to rid Egypt of Mubarak have seen their cherished revolution well and truly hijacked by the SCAF and Islamists; who together are taking Egypt into an even darker era with the blessings of a US Administration that seems willing to ‘do business as usual’ with any power, regardless of the crimes occurring in Egypt and the daily activities taking place there.

It is virtually guaranteed that the parishioners of The Two Saints’ church in Alexandria will return in great numbers to their beloved church this New Years Eve  to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Alexandrian church bombings, as is customary by the vast majority of Coptic Christians. The big question is: will Egypt’s Christians ever return back to the streets to demand their rights, or give up and rely solely on divine intervention in the face of an increasing hostile Islamic tide that clearly has Egypt’s Copts and other ‘infidels’ in their sights?

Peter Tadros
31/12/2011

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