Middle East

Thousands march a year after Egyptian Copt killings

Hundreds of Egyptian protesters march in the working class district of Shubra in Cairo on October 9, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/KHALED DESOUKI)

CAIRO: Thousands of Egyptian protesters marched Tuesday to mark one year since nearly 30 people were killed in a Coptic Christian demonstration that was violently crushed by security forces.

Demonstrators carrying posters of those who died during the violence walked solemnly down a main Cairo thoroughfare in the working class district of Shubra toward Maspero, in the city center.

Some waved flags while others held posters of officials they want to see put on trial.

Groups of them chanted against Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the military ruler who took charge of the country following the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, and whose forces are accused of killing the protesters.

“Either we get justice, or we die like them,” they sang.

The march was organized by the Maspero Youth Union, a group of Coptic activists formed in the wake of last year’s deadly protest that left Egypt’s Christian community deeply scarred.

“The only political demand on this day is to seek justice for the martyrs and for the criminals implicated in the massacre be tried,” a message from the group read on Facebook.

Tuesday’s procession followed the route taken a year ago by the protesters.

On Oct. 9, 2011, thousands of demonstrators marched from Shubra to Maspero to denounce the torching of a church in the province of Aswan.

The protest was attacked and violence flared when the army and riot police charged at the demonstrators, leaving 26 Copts, one Muslim man and one policeman dead, Amnesty International says.

Graphic videos that were subsequently posted on the Internet showed army vehicles ramming into protesters at high speed.

In a report published last week, Amnesty said “armed and security forces used excessive, including lethal, force against those not posing a threat to them or others.

“The Egyptian authorities have failed to conduct a full impartial and independent investigation into the circumstances of the violence and to bring those responsible to account,” the rights watchdog said.

Christians have regularly complained of discrimination and marginalization.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 10, 2012, on page 9.




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