Arab West Report Middle East Published Articles

Video Analysis of Maspero: Introduction

October 9 witnessed riots in Cairo that led to the death of at least twenty-seven people and the injury of over 300, mostly from Egypt’s Coptic Christian community. The conflict followed a peaceful march from the neighborhood of Shubra, with its high percentage of Coptic residents, to the Radio and TV Building in Maspero, which has become the location of choice for Coptic protests following the revolution. Early on in the coverage state media announced Coptic protestors had assaulted the army assigned to guard the Maspero building with stones, Molotov cocktails, and live ammunition, killing at least three. Yet when the dust had settled nearly all dead were Copts, with many witnesses laying blame upon the military for the entire event. Since then, speculation has posited the presence of a third party which may have set the two sides upon each other. The investigation is still ongoing, undertaken by the military prosecution.

This report does not seek to answer fully the ultimate question of responsibility, yet it treats in detail one of the main sources of evidence: Video testimony. Uploaded to YouTube are accounts filmed by eyewitnesses, television channels, and State TV. In all, this report has collected thirty-seven videos, beginning with initial march from Shubra, the onset of violence, the ensuing chaos, media coverage, and ending with images of the dead bodies strewn across the floor. A link for each video is provided, and minute-by-minute commentary explains the scene.

Simple analysis will accompany each section of videos, with a final assessment of video evidence provided at the end. Though presumably a transparent rendering of events, video is limited in establishing final judgment, if only because not all evidence is filmed. Eyewitness testimony and forensic reports must also be granted a hearing, which is beyond the scope of this report. Instead, the text places the events before its readers, allowing them their independent evaluation.

Yet it is hoped as well this effort will establish a common ground of analysis in what has become fiercely divided ground of controversy. Individual videos, in isolation, threaten to distort the overall picture, which otherwise could be exploited to serve a partisan narrative. It is not a question of seeking ‘balance’ or equal guilt; when twenty-seven people die justice is demanded. Rather, it is an effort to place all video evidence possible before the public view. As tensions are already enflamed, the situation needs sober judgment; the truth will come out of its own accord. This report is intended as a contribution – for the sake of justice, and the sake of Egypt. These are difficult times; may the nation know peace.

For Part One, please click here. For the full report in pdf, click here.

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