In Egypt, Grief Among Christians Turns To Rage | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

In Egypt, Grief Among Christians Turns To Rage

Play associated audio

Ormany Makary's coffin teetered precariously as throngs of mourners carried the 25-year-old truck driver's body to the front of Abbasiya Cathedral, chanting "Raise up your head, you are Copts!"

But his fiancee, Saafa Gaber, couldn't.

Makary was among the 25 people killed in a night of clashes between mostly Coptic Christian protesters and Egyptian soldiers.

Gaber, 17, says she doesn't feel anything anymore except for the loss of her only love, who was fatally shot after heading to the state television headquarters along the Nile River on Sunday with thousands of other Christian protesters.

They had planned a sit-in to demand protection from attacks by radical Muslims, including on a church and homes in the southern tourist city of Aswan. But the protesters were mobbed by people wielding rocks and glass bottles. Soldiers and police officers then intervened.

Gaber says she warned her fiance not to go, but that he didn't listen.

"Take me to him, take me to him," she cries out to relatives who bury her in hugs. Her sorrow is shared by many black-clad mourners who pack the cathedral grounds. But the grief of most here has turned to rage.

Outside the cathedral, angry mourners call Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi a foreign spy. They accuse the top military ruler and Egypt's international allies of trying to get rid of Egypt's Christians.

The anger is just as palpable at the Coptic hospital, where most of the victims were taken.

The rising anger worries activists like Hossam Bahgat, who heads the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. He says there hasn't been this kind of attack against Copts here in the nearly 10 years his group has tracked such violence.

He says state television and the other independent news channels showed video footage of what appeared to be army vehicles deliberately chasing Coptic protesters and running over them, resulting "in a sense of extreme anger, resentment and estrangement also that we have not seen before among the Coptic community in Egypt."

Bahgat and others says it's also worrying that the Egyptian government appears to be pinning the blame for Sunday night's clashes on the protesters.

Last night on state TV, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf suggested the protesters were trying to bring down the Egyptian nation.

Analysts say such accusations only widen the rift between the majority Muslims and minority Copts here, whose relationship is already tense.

Mohammed Tolba, a conservative Muslim and founder of a religious group called Salafyo Costa Movement, claims the rift only benefits Egypt's current rulers.

"They are the only guys benefiting from this — from extending emergency law, from staying in control in the country, from giving some sort of reasons to the West, especially the United States — that 'I cannot apply democracy because the people there are not ready for democracy,'" he says.

A growing number of Egyptians, meanwhile, are calling for an independent investigation into the clashes. They believe Egyptian military officials cannot be trusted to investigate their own.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Sept. 1

Art inspires art in these two musicals based on a movie and a painting, respectively.

NPR

These 5 Crops Are Still Hand-Harvested, And It's Hard Work

Saffron, vanilla, palm oil, cacao and cottonseed oil are still picked by hand in some parts of the world. Sometimes that manual labor shows up in the price of the food; sometimes it doesn't.
WAMU 88.5

Jurors To Begin Considering McDonnell Case Tuesday

The trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen enters its sixth week this week — but with final arguments in the bag, it is now up to the jury to decide a verdict on 14 counts.

NPR

X Prize Competition Could Make 'Tricorder' A Reality

Many Star Trek gadgets have made the journey from science fiction to real life. Arun Rath talks to Grant Campany about the X Prize Foundation's competition to bring the medical tricorder to life.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.