Arab West Report Middle East Published Articles

Video Analysis of Maspero: Part Three

For the Introduction, please click here. For Part One, click here. For Part Two, click here.

Scenes of General Chaos

Video Thirteen: The Christians began Attacking the Army, I wish We Focus and See who Steals the APCs and Drives Over the Copts (Three minutes)

Video taken from the State TV feed. It may represent the continuation of scenes described above where the march from Shubrā arrived at Maspero and was met by a cordon of riot police, as the pickup truck appears to be the same. The screen displays the headline, ‘Coptic protestors throw stones at the army and police assigned to protect the Maspero building’.

0:10        Protestors and the pickup truck advance slowly, pushing back the police cordon; clashes are not obvious, neither are the crowds very large, most are simply lingering in the area

0:55        The police cordon has reestablished itself and is not being met with consistent aggression

1:10        One person seems to run at the cordon and attack a policeman, it ends quickly as he retreats

1:33        Scene jumps forward in time, APCs drive on the Nile side of the Cornish but away from any proximity to protestors

2:15        Army police are seen moving away from the area to the north, towards Maspero, as the camera shifts south protestors are seen attacking unmanned army jeeps

2:30        An APC drives along the Cornish between protestors where the attack on the vehicles is ongoing

2:53        Opening footage is replayed again


Video Fourteen: Soldiers Strike the Protestors and Break Cars to Cast Blame on the Protestors (Three minutes)

This video continues the scene from video twelve in the APC section, and provides another angle from the ending scene of video ten, in which police are striking at protestors shielding themselves behind parked cars. The video is very dark and unclear, but again depicts well the chaos of the event.

0:05        An APC drives down the road as protestors swing clubs at it

0:15        Another APC advances, slowly enough for a person to run out of its way

0:33        A contingent of riot police charge toward those gathered in the street

0:40        The cameraman moves behind a parked car up against a wall, and a policeman follows striking at him and others with his baton

1:00        Scene of a car with its back windshield smashed out, no one witnessed doing so; women’s voices heard nearby

1:15        Policeman gathered between the cars and the walls, not clear what they are doing

1:40        Voice of one standing by chanting ‘Kyrie Eleison’

1:50        Video goes dark, but sounds heard of smashing in the vicinity of the cars

2:25        Gathering of police around the cars, not clear what they are doing but they do not appear under duress


Video Fifteen: Vehicle Carrying Thugs in front of Maspero (One minute)

Video taken from the television feed of al-Arabiya. At the 0:10 second mark the footage shows a pickup truck pull behind an army transport vehicle. Many of those standing around are carrying obvious planks of wood. Those in the truck also seem so armed, but one of the people appears to be carrying a cross. If thugs, they represent a segment among lower classes who engage in mercenary violence, often for political purposes. This phenomenon is well known in Egypt, and accusations exist under Mubarak the state made common use of what in Arabic is termed ‘baltajiyyah’.


Video Sixteen: Killing of a Christian during the Events of Maspero (One minute)

This video is filmed from among the protestors during sounds of gunfire. The purported death is not on video, and while the footage is apparently real, the screams at the time of death may have been sliced into earlier footage. It is unclear, but if real suggests the death of a protestor while warning shots, claimed to be blanks, were being fired into the air. If spliced, then the death is still presumably real but the timing and cause is uncertain.

0:10        Familiar chant of ‘Peaceful, peaceful’ as in earlier videos, some motioning protestors forward

0:20        Sound of gunfire in the distance

0:38        Filming gets chaotic and focuses toward the ground

0:41        If spliced, it occurs here

0:42        Woman screaming and presumably shot body filmed lying on the pavement


Video Seventeen: Army APCs Break through the Maspero Sit-in, Terrifying Scenes of the Dead (Four minutes)

This video is filmed from within the general chaos, including graphic pictures of slain protestors.

0:05        APC mounts median to change directions, as another one continued down the stretch of road; protestors largely on the sidewalks

0:11        Military transport bus, empty, drives into the median and stops unprompted, driver not pictured; several people seen with wooden planks, clubs

0:30        Pickup truck parked stationary in the street, with several people sitting inside motionless, several holding crosses; was this is vehicle which came in the march?

0:43        Body seen on the ground, then carried by protestors in a blanket; person appears to have been shot in the head

1:12        As people scurry about, a priest is pictured with his back to the camera

1:30        Many people run away from the general scene towards the south, reason unknown

1:39        Scene switches as the video shows footage from another angle; running away continues as an APC drives slowly down the street; cars are seen undamaged parked alongside road, some people carry wooden planks

2:15        Someone is heard screaming from the ground, people gather around as an APC drives quickly back in the other direction, sending people rushing to the sidewalk

2:50        Scene switches again, a priest is seen briefly, from across the street a cheer goes up as it seems people have stormed an APC

3:18        A person walking enters the video, he has a very bloody face; remain scenes are of people milling around


Video Eighteen: Events of Maspero, Scenes not Shown Before (Two minutes)

Video footage here was taken from the German TV feed, filming from their elevated offices at Maspero.

0:04        Camera view is from a high position, looking down on a crowd of gathered demonstrators

0:10        A couple people strike the military bus with objects, a man tries to push them away

0:22        Elevated footage of four fires, presumably set to area vehicles

0:25        Altercation between people and riot police, swinging clubs at them, one person swinging a cross

0:33        An APC driving road with protestors on the sides, swerving to avoid something lying in the road

0:38        People surround an open top army vehicle which had crashed into the military bus; the soldier is crouching down inside to hide while people swing clubs at its sides; one person climbs on top and hurls a large stone down upon him as another swats at him with a cross from down below

1:03        Footage of an army vehicle on fire as people linger around it

1:15        Two soldiers jump down from a stalled army vehicle and take off running as people chase; one stumbles and is surrounded by people beating him with sticks

1:28        Another scene of burning vehicles, with a soldier surrounded and accosted by those around


Full transcript of the German commentary:

Thomas Stephan is the commentator. Translation provided by Cornelis Hulsman, editor-in-chief of Arab West Report.

“The images are from in front of our studio, an escalating demonstration. Demonstrators are armed with sticks and who carry crosses. Coptic Christians protested and are hitting a bus because this probably carried military police. They protect the state television and the Ministry of Information. There are horrible scenes. The military seem helpless in the face of this aggression. Soldiers become victims and are crushed. Their fate: unknown. Military are trying to divide the masses with vehicles. Useless! An open (army) car drives into a burning bus. What is happening here is horrible. Soldiers are falling. No mercy. A man takes a stone and… [on the footage one sees him throwing a stone at the soldier who was  alone and was trying to hide. Someone else tries to beat him with a cross]. Soldiers find no ways to stop the mob. Those who fall into the hands of the mob are screwed. An APC gets stuck in the crowd. Hateful rejoicing is heard. What is the origin of this outbreak of violence?  Is it a response of Copts placed in a second rank status about which they complain so often? Is it from the hate of the military that had just tried to end a Coptic demonstration? The APC is set afire. Soldiers get close [to the burning APC]; the locked up soldier get hope. They run for their lives and are caught, beaten, and trampled upon. Allegedly three soldiers were killed this night, at least 30 were wounded. Smoke and teargas is in the air. Only slowly the military are able to drive the mob away. Cairo is burning this night. Many thought after the revolution that it would improve. But the images of this night, immediately in front of our studio, make people hesitate. There was much hate!”

Comment from Hulsman:  The German TV crew has seen a lot of hate and must have much more footage. The commentary is their interpretation of what they have seen. It is obvious from this footage that the mob was full of anger and hate and used violence against individual defenseless soldiers. Their conclusion that ‘Cairo is burning this night,’ should not be taken literally. It was quiet in Al-Ma‘ādī and other parts of Cairo but at the scene of the clashes it was burning and people, Christians as well as Muslims, were deeply hurt.


Video Nineteen: Egyptian Ministry of Health: 24 Dead in Clashes between Copts and the Armed Forces and Police (Two minutes)

This video is directly from the al-Arabiya website as a news story, it shows several scenes of chaos that unfolded.

0:15        A priest attempts to lead a soldier to safety away from angered crowds

0:30        An elevated camera angle, perhaps of the Shubrā demonstration approach to Maspero

0:58        Scene of a vehicle burning on the median of the Cornish

1:30        Soldier jumps down from a vehicle to be met by an angry mob striking at him

1:40        Announcer states Muslims entered into the clashes so as to support the army, warns of the possibility of sectarian sedition in the country


Video Twenty: Maspero 9 October 2011, Part Two (Ten minutes)

This video continues the series from video nine, focusing on the aftermath of violence when people were still milling around in the streets though the situation had calmed considerably.

0:30        Gunshot heard as people react terrified, seemingly different sound than earlier warning shots; camera switches to show person lying on ground, perhaps shot, unsure if in sequence

1:10        Calmer scenes, video taken of a man supported by two others, whose foot appears to be broken

1:23        Crowd of people charging down a street under a bridge, as soldiers run away from them

1:45        Another person staggering down the path, hopping, as his foot is bloodied

2:00        Crowd of people marching with raised crosses, chanting the Nicene Creed

2:43        Tear gas fired from police at a distance

3:00        People, some of whom identify as Muslims, call the army ‘infidels’, one is holding a gas mask, shaking it as if he found it or seized it, saying they fired at us and even attacked a priest

4:00        Crowds chanting, ‘The people want the downfall of the field marshal,’ and, ‘Muslim, Christian, one hand,’ and, ‘Fall, fall, military government’

5:00        Group of people pull an injured or dead colleague in a blanket down the street

5:16        Najīb Jabrā’īl, prominent Coptic activist and lawyer, is videoed holding a strip of bullets, as people around him shot the army shot him, and show a bloody leg – he appears otherwise ok

5:45        Another body is carried down the street in a blanket

6:15        A motorbike drives an injured or dead person down the street, whose leg is very bloody from an apparent gunshot wound

6:26        Video shifts to inside the Coptic Hospital, where many bodies were taken; similar or same as videos to be shown and commented on below; emotive music begins to play in background


Video Twenty-One: An Egyptian Soldier Brags about Killing a Maspero Protestor with a Bullet (One minute)

As an army transport bus filled with soldiers departs the Maspero area after calm is restored, they are cheered by a crowd of onlookers. One of the solders puts his head out and speaks to the crowd at 0:21. Much of what he says is not understandable, but among his words are, ‘He took a bullet in his chest’. The man appears to be bragging, and an onlooker shakes his hand and calls out, ‘You’re a man!’ The crowd claps enthusiastically.

Video Twenty-Two: Priests Declare the Army to be Infidels and Incite toward Killing Soldiers (One minute)

This video takes the reaction of priests after calm has been restored. They have strong words for what took place, declaring at 0:08, ‘This army is not Egyptian.’ At 0:15 another priest speaks, ‘We are demanding our rights, are these our rights? They are infidels. They are not Egyptians at all. They don’t have any religion.’ At 0:31 the scene shifts to demonstrators calling for the fall of the field marshal.


Analysis: These are very disturbing scenes. It is clear that violence escalated very rapidly. It may be that thugs entered the scene and led violence, but while there is little to absolve the majority Christian protestors of responsibility, there is little to directly identify them with blame them, either. What is clear is that many present were attacking soldiers as they found them. It is also clear many seem to be standing around, while smaller numbers commit violence.

The footage apparently depicting a priest seeking to help an injured soldier is given fuller treatment in video nine above, yet the response of the priests at the end is lamentable, if understandable in the heat of them moment. The call of the soldier from the bus may be damning; though he does not say he shot personally, nor who was shot, the implication appears to be an admission of responsibility that he killed a demonstrator. This also could come from the heat of the moment or from self-defense, but it must be understood in light of the official statement afterwards that soldiers were unarmed. Those surrounding the bus are unlikely to have been Copts, and may have been either hired thugs or Muslim residents from nearby areas. If the latter, they came either to defend the army (as explained below), or as curious witnesses to the events unfolding.


For the Introduction, please click here. For Part One, click here. For Part Two, click here. To read the full report in pdf, click here.

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