Thoughout Egypt demonstrations have taken place on Sunday in protest of the attack on the Qeddissein church in Alexandria that killed 21 people on NEW Years eve and wounded 97. In Cairo a march was held down the Corniche. As about a thousand people marched close to Abdel-Moneim Riad Square and the state television building, clashes broke out when police tried to control the crowds. Rocks, bottles and shoes were seen flying overhead.
Protest along the Corniche
In Talaat Harb Square, in down town Cairo, scores gathered to protest not only the church attack, but also to demonstrate solidarity with the nation wide demonstrations in Tunisia. They were quickly stopped by security forces. Security clashed with demonstrators with reports of brief detentions of journalists and activists by police and briefly detained. At Abbasseya’s landmark cathedral, meanwhile, Coptic protesters denounced a visit by the grand sheikh and mufti of Al-Azhar. Demonstrators attempted to attack the car containing the two religious officials, but were stopped by security personnel.
A small demonstration also took place at the entrance of Cairo’s predominantly Christian Manshiyet Nasr neighborhood. Around a dozen young men demonstrated briefly in front of a local church before church officials asked them to disperse. Some residents threw stones from their balconies.
In Assiut, around 2,000 Coptic Christians demonstrated on Sunday in Al-Ezziyah village against the bombing that left 21 dead in Alexandria. Other demonstratiuons took place in Minya, Ismailiyya, Daqahliyya and Mansoura.
Demonstration in Mansoura.
In Alexandria thousands of Coptic Christians attended the funeral of 12 Copts who were killed in the attack on Al-Qeddesein Church in Alexandria.The funeral took place at Mari Mina Monastery in Borg Al-Arab. The Copts marched behind two ambulances holding the bodies of the dead.Emotions ran high as the service got underway with many tearful mourners and others who fainted due to the sheer size of the crowd.
A protest commenced when the funeral ended with Copts chanting slogans against the government and the president.
Prominent members of the Coptic community believe the situation has reached a boiling point, largely the result of years of subjugation and neglect, the paper Al-Masry al-Youm writes today. “I believe that Coptic anger has reached the point where the Coptic servility that everyone has grown used to will cease to exist,” said Yousef Sidhom, editor-in-chief of Coptic weekly Al-Watany.
Copts feel that the government's tendency to blame “foreign elements" for the crime is another way of ignoring the deep-seated issues marring Christian-Muslim relations and the legal discrimination against their community.
“Even if there were foreign elements involved, how can they ignore the fact that Egypt has long provided soldiers for these elements, who are more than willing to carry out such acts,” Sidhom said.
2010 was an especially trying year for "national unity," beginning with the Naga Hammadi murders and ending with the church bombing in Alexandria. Last year also witnessed the deadly Omraniya church riots.
“We don't feel safe in Egypt; many want to leave in order to feel safe and freely express themselves and their religion elsewhere,” Rizkallah said. "The church bombing, of course, will only fuel this sentiment.”