Arab West Report Middle East Published Articles

Video Analysis of Maspero: Part Five and Conclusion

To read the Introduction, please click here. For Part One, click here. For Part Two, click here. For Part Three, click here. For Part Four, click here.


Corpses Gathered in Hospitals or Elsewhere

Video Thirty-Four: Martyrs of Maspero 2  (Three minutes)

Video footage is from inside the Coptic Hospital, where many injured and dead were taken. The halls are crowded with people with a steady murmur in the air.

0:10        Person sitting on side of hallway with an obvious but not life threatening head wound

0:20        Dead body lying on floor; it appears his throat has been cut and has bruises to his head

0:37        To his left is another body which appears to be alive, with someone attending him

0:47        A cover is removed from a bloody corpse with horrific head wounds

1:08        A pool of blood is shown on the floor

1:20        Another corpse is shown lying on the ground with a head wound

1:50        Video switches to another hallway, where another corpse is lying on the floor

2:20        Camera returns to the corpse of 0:47, from this angle it appears he could have been run over by an APC


Video Thirty-Five: Special for al-Shuruk: Corpses at the Entrance to the January 25 Building at Maspero (Three minutes)

Video footage is from inside a hallway of the building housing at the aforementioned January 25 TV studio, which was stormed by military personnel.

0:03        Two dead bodies are lying side by side, the one to the right appears to have wounds in his shoulder and head

0:36        A man standing against the wall has blood dripping from his head, but appears ok

0:52        Another corpse is shown with a heavy wound to his head

1:15        Moving up a short flight of steps, a man is lying on the ground writhing with a pool of blood under his leg

1:30        A man crouches over a body on the floor who appears to be alive; pools of blood are all around

1:44        Video switches to another angle, showing three dead bodies lying in a hallway


Analysis: None necessary. These people were killed brutally.


Compiled Footage

The final three videos assemble footage from throughout the day, as compiled by their author. Important events therein not highlighted earlier will be identified by minute.


Video Thirty-Six: The Egyptian Army Runs Over the Copts with APCs in front of Maspero (One minute)

0:01        An APC speeding through traffic, swerving, but slowing as it approached a person directly so as not to run him over

0:17        People surrounding a soldier, beating him, as a priest tries to intervene and bring him to safety (clearer footage of that shown in video nine earlier)

0:56        A military vehicle is shown burning, perched up on top of a road divider


Video Thirty-Seven: Shubra – Maspero March, October 9, 2011, Graphic (Eleven minutes)

0:09        Footage from the march from Shubra under the bridge when attacked from above, some protestors throw stones back at them, many take cover under the bridge, no weapons or clubs are evident

3:55        Pieces of a man’s skull are held in a cloth up to the camera, people say he was crushed by a ‘tank’ (APC, presumably)

4:21        Crying women and children from inside the Coptic Hospital

4:38        Dead bodies on the floor, one is covered with a picture of Jesus, another – Michael Mossad – has his hand clasped by his fiancé, Vivian Magdy

5:15        A man identifies himself as Ibrahim Azouz, states that when they arrived at Maspero the army fired into the first row of people, a little latter the APCs went swerving through the people on the street, driving over some, it’s horrible, it’s the army, the army that is supposed to protect us, they kill us like animals

6:00        Distraught men are shouting and weeping

6:50        A man identifies himself as from Ezbat al-Nakhl,and as the brother of Mina inside who they killed, who killed him? Mohamed Tantawi, the field marshal, the Lord will take revenge on him, and not just him, all of them

7:28        Scenes from the funeral at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abbasiya, Cairo


Video Thirty-Eight: Most Important Heated Scenes from the Events of Maspero – Panorama (Nine minutes)

0:40        Close up view of the pickup truck proceeding from the Shubra march, it has loudspeakers and a priest riding upon it, with several other passengers

3:33        A man stumbles in view of the camera, bearing a head wound of some sort, someone calls for water and pours it on his head

6:20        Dead bodies strewn on the pavement

6:55        Another view of the skull in the cloth, presented by a priest, the boy carrying it identifies himself as Samih Gerges, his brother, perhaps age 12; priest says Fr. Philopater and Fr. Mityas have also been subjected to beatings, and were attacked; a car later pulls up and the priest gets in and they drive away


Final Analysis

The central and most important question to be determined from events of Maspero is this: Who shot and killed the victims? Unfortunately, on this point the video evidence is silent. No footage has been located to show either that protestors fired on the armed forces, or that military personnel fired on protestors. The causes of their death, from the standpoint of video, cannot be determined.

This does not mean that either side is innocent of the charge. Many testimonies exist stating the army opened fire, and the ‘confession’ of the soldier on the bus (in video 21) must be investigated.

From the other direction, the military council maintains the death of an unstated number of their men, as testified to by the soldiers on State TV. Their refusal to release names is announced as due to the threat of loss of morale among troops and increased tension within the nation. However legitimate these concerns, they do not aid the cause of investigation.

The presence of a third party cannot be dismissed on video evidence, neither can accusations of sniper activity, which would presumably be off camera. For further determination more footage is needed, either from amateur video, television networks such as German TV, or the closed captioned cameras at Maspero itself. These latter cameras have recently come to light through the human rights lawyer Amir Salem, who obtained their footage from the January 25 revolution.

Though video evidence is not able to absolve protestors absolutely, available footage demonstrates the vast majority of protestors were peaceful and unarmed (videos 2, 3, 5, 6). They were attacked previously in their march, yet failed to respond with any of the arms they are accused of possessing. Yet it must be noted that individuals within the march are witnessed carrying instruments which could be used as clubs (video 5), which are evidently not the crosses carried by many demonstrators.

Evidence is also slim which establishes protestors as the initiators of violence in general. Yet it is also clear that some demonstrators behaved in a provoking manner with the military police, striking at them and throwing stones at their lines (video 8). Once events unraveled, however, there are many scenes of protestors violently assaulting military personnel (videos 9, 18, 19). While it may plausibly be argued that violence was escalated as thugs entered the scene – cautiously established by video 15 – within the chaos there are images of protestors with crosses striking at the military, as well as a man wearing a martyr’s robe who tosses a large stone on a helpless soldier (video 9). Ultimately, however, video is unable to determine who among the rioters in question was a demonstrator or a thug, a Muslim or a Christian.

Considering the military role in violence, video cautiously establishes that a cordon was established to prevent the march from Shubrā from meeting up with the protest at Maspero (videos 7, 8, 13), which was then dispersed forcefully (videos 6, 7, 9). The manner this was done appears consistent with previous military efforts to disperse protests, sit-in or otherwise, and does not betray any predisposition for lethal violence.

Even the use of APCs to disperse lingering protestors does not necessarily betray such predisposition. Video does not establish well why the rioting ensued following the dispersal of protest. Equally plausible – in terms of video – are that frustrated protestors lashed out at the army, the military initiated sustained violence for its own purposes, or that a third party played one side against the other. Yet within this chaos there is footage both of APCs which carefully maneuver through the crowds so as not to strike protestors (videos 14, 18) as well as footage that depicts intention to kill (videos 9, 11). While it is plausible to imagine some had orders to inflict casualties, it is also plausible to imagine casualties resulting from individual soldiers, either panicked or enraged at events.

Yet other evidence raises questions which the military council must provide answers for, besides that of the soldier’s statement from the bus. Why did a driver move an empty military bus into the middle of the road, and then leave it there (video 17)? Why were so many military vehicles present which were left unattended, and thereafter set ablaze (video 13)? What was the soldier doing in the midst of the crowd, milling about unaccosted (video 9)?

Similarly, there are questions for the leadership of the Coptic protests to answer. How is it that demonstrators and their leaders were unaware of those in their midst with clubs (video 5)? Having been attacked under the bridge in the procession from Shubra (video 37), why was there not adequate caution about possible violence at Maspero? What were the intentions of Fr. Philopater in waving the procession towards the police cordon (video 8)? Why were some protestors dressed as martyrs, and who encouraged them to do so (video 2)?

Perhaps the greatest questions need to be posed to state media. In the episode at Maspero, did they act as a mouthpiece for the military council, independently, or at the behest of a third party? Was the footage of interviewed soldiers legitimate? Even if so, how was such inciting coverage allowed to be broadcast unedited (videos 23-25)? Why was a call issued for citizens to defend the army? Who wrote the news brief Rasha Magdy read on air (video 29)? Who issued the correction only one soldier was killed (video 33)? Why were the announced dead soldiers declared ‘martyrs’ (video 24, 29, 30)?

In conclusion, most of these questions posed are unable to be answered conclusively though video. Perhaps the analysis of eyewitness testimony and further investigations will contribute insight, though this is beyond the scope of this report. It is of concern that current investigations are conducted under military jurisdiction, bypassing the civil judiciary or an independently established commission.

For now, this effort is simply to collect existing evidence located on video, and present it openly for all who wish to investigate further. It is hoped to prevent all sides from selective interpretation of events in ignorance, willful or otherwise, of a counter-narrative to their favored account. Ultimately, it is hoped that the truth of events will come to light – partially through this analysis – so that justice and reconciliation may be pursued from a firm foundation.

The events at Maspero received a sectarian coloring, deservedly or otherwise. Christians in Egypt received alleged confirmation that the army is against them, or at least willing to exploit them, in deference to a larger Muslim constituency. Muslims in Egypt received alleged confirmation that Copts are disloyal, seek privileges beyond their due, and are potentially armed. If unchecked, these colorings threaten to undo Egypt at its seams. Muslims and Christians must be keen to forge good relations to confront these allegations.

To repeat, ultimate responsibility and culpability in the events of Maspero are not established through video evidence. The above colorings, therefore, must be studied in light of available evidence, but not assumed via predispositions where evidence is lacking. Evidence points to infractions from all sides; all are guilty, to one degree or another.

Yet this report must conclude with the most important question unanswered: Who shot the victims? Until this truth is established, all suspicions remain open. Unfortunately, this allows all colorings to linger. For the sake of Egypt, national unity, and basic justice, an answer must be found.


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

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