From my article on Arab West Report, on the recent attack on the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral:
Sectarian violence struck Egypt again on Friday, April 6, as at least four Christians and one Muslim were killed in an incident in Khusūs, in the governorate of Qalyubia, to the north of Cairo. Clashes continued on Sunday, and spread to the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in downtown Cairo, where a funeral procession was attacked by unknown assailants. Religious and political leaders have condemned the violence and called for calm, but much about the original incident remains unclear.
The report aggregates information from varied local media sources, with links provided. But the unique contribution is the report of an investigative reporter who visited and spoke with local sources. His testimony is quite specific:
Many of these details are difficult to sort, but investigative reporter Rā’id Sharqāwī visited the area and offers a possible explanation. He collected testimony saying Muslim youths drew the Nazi swastika on the wall, and were confronted by authorities. A crowd gathered, as is common during disputes, and drew in local residents including members of a prominent Christian family living opposite the Azhar institution.
A younger member of this family confronted the Muslim youth, asking him why he was drawing offensive symbols on the wall. In the heated exchange this Christian drew his gun and shot the Muslim, killing him. This produced great tumult in the area, and took place around 12 noon.
The Christians, however, were not killed until around 4pm, and in a manner Sharqāwī found mysterious and perhaps conspiratorial. A group of men armed with automatic weapons drove in from outside the area on motorcycles and fired, somewhat randomly, at a group of assembled Christians. At this time stores were broken into and looted; Sharqāwī surmised it was an organized effort to take advantage of the chaos. The situation was not helped by the diffusion of rumors throughout the village, that each religious community was attacking the other.
The article continues by summarizing details of the attack on the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, the seat of the pope, during a funeral procession for the slain Copts. It was an ugly, ugly incident. The response of the presidency will be closely monitored, but in immediate rhetoric he declares the attack on the cathedral was an attack on himself. Most Copts would say this is well and good, but nearly all previous, smaller scale attacks on Christians have gone unpunished.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood protests and claims conspiracy against the stability of the state. This is from the conclusion:
Is there a conspiracy leveled against the Brotherhood to spark sectarian tension and drive the country to chaos? Or, must they invent a conspiracy to cover over the latent sectarian tension which exists and erupted naturally, in order to blame hidden hands for the failures of their governance? These questions are far beyond the scope of this report or any subsequent investigations. But they are the questions asked accusingly by both sides of the Egyptian street.
The nation is awash in conspiracy, allegation, and rumor, and who can say it does not exist? But it is hoped this report provides a first step at least in gathering the purported facts, to prevent manipulations based on only a sampling of the above.
Please click here to read a high ranking Coptic bishop’s spiritual response to recent events, and my brief reflection. Please click here to read the full article at Arab West Report. May God protect Egypt.