Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Maspero Massacre; it won't be the last

Before the 9th of October some Egyptians were looking forward to a smooth transition of power to civilians through elections, social networking sites were abuzz with debates about the parliamentary elections scheduled to start next month and the shameful statement signed by some party leaders pledging allegiance to the military junta in return for amendments in the elections law to assure they win ample chairs in the parliament, trampling upon the right of millions of Egyptians not to face military tribunals or emergency law in the process.
But the regime had other plans.
On the 30th of September, a mob of thousands headed to burn down the Marynab Church in Aswan, incited by a police officer as local newspaper Al-Shorouk has published and a Sheikh as the governor says. What with Aswan's governor stating that it is not a church and that Christians built a dome contrary to the law, and what with the army violently dispersing a peaceful protest by Christians at Maspero on the 5th of October using batons and tasers, the situation worsened.
Christians decided to organise another march on this Bloody Sunday from Shubra to Maspero to call for the Aswan Governor to step down, and for the Church to be rebuilt and for the state to just take heed that they are Egyptians with supposedly full rights to worship without being threatened or persecuted; it was the third church to be burnt down or demolished by after the Senior Council of Armed Forces took over, and the fourth attack this year.
Numbers were unexpectedly huge, eyewitnesses estimate them to be twenty thousand at least, men and women, children and grandparents, chanting for Christians rights and after briefly being attacked by stones, against Tantawi.
As soon as the march reached Maspero all hell broke loose. Eye witness Lobna Darwish has testified on her Facebook account that the police and army stationed at Maspero just started firing in the air then at people as soon as the march arrived. A video footage apparently recorded a few minutes later showed angry protesters attacking an empty military bus while others are trying to stop them. Out of the blue, APCs started driving at an insane speed among protesters, with the soldiers aiming their fire directly at protesters and the vehicles deliberately mowed them down, in a scene Egyptians had thought they would never witness again since January 28th, especially not at the hands of the army that has prided itself in claiming to 'protect' the revolution.
The nightmarish scene was fuelled when the Egyptian State TV underneath which the massacre was taking place only alarmed viewers that armed Christian protesters were killing our great Egyptian army, with three soldiers killed and 200 wounded, and that it was our duty to protect the army against this "sect"! Of course, some gullible Egyptians actually responded to the call and rushed to the streets armed with sticks and swords, preparing to protect the army. Some of them, finding that the Christians were unarmed, actually joined the protests and started chanting "Muslim, Christian, one hand".
The scene continued being chaotic and people did not know who was the 'enemy', even those who were caught in the mayhem, until reporters and activists took horrifying pictures of the bodies and circulated them via Twitter. Some had been shot several times, some had been crushed beneath the APC with their brains leaking out of their skulls, one had half of his head missing.
Indeed, the pictures and the videos of the massacre do not lie, no matter how much neutral anyone tries to be; the truth is the Egyptian army committed a massacre against protesters, whether violent or not. Not only that, but its media machine could have pretty much instigated a civil war on that day. At least one person was killed using a sword and videos are surfacing on Muslims randomly attacking Christians. The SCAF unfortunately relied on sectarianism and the air of frustration towards the revolution to cover up their massacre and come up with lame and ridiculous excuses to how their soldiers behaved. It did not expect public outrage, since most of the victims were among the religious minority, and that the nature of the massacre is unclear to many, so many Muslims would rather not join Christian protests in fear of fitna. Thus the statements by SCAF were ridiculous, ranging from claiming the APCs were stolen, or that the army was not actually armed, or that mowing down protesters was not a principle in the Egyptian amry's doctrine and that the soldier was perplexed!
We are thus witnessing a dangerous and very ugly turn of events in Egypt. I just do not want to look down that way. I am afraid that after this massacre, it will be even more difficult for SCAF to leave power willingly, fearing possible legal persecution. On the other hand, it is impossible for Egypt to keep being governed by those Mubarak's generals who have changed nothing in the political or economic conditions in Egypt after the revolution. In fact no one should expect them to, since they are the cornerstone of the regime of corruption. The people will not stop protesting, they haven't for more than ten years, not even after the massacres committed by the Egyptian police on the 28th and 29th of January; the number of protesters doubled later. If SCAF does not leave power as soon as possible, there will be more massacres to come, but in fact they will only be digging their own graves.


cassflower said...

Stand firm, Muslims and Christians are one hand. Push on and organise to end the military regime and transform the state and state media.

Wild at Heart said...

We will, thank you.