More from the Maspero Memorial: Video, Pictures, and Anecdotes

On October 10, it was quite an adventure simply to get to the memorial service for the martyrs of Maspero. ‘The church in 6 October City,’ is what both people and press related, and Google Maps said there is only one, downtown. 6 October City is also one of Cairo’s satellite cities, and thus not very easy to access.

But the name of the church – St. Michael’s – did not match the name of the church on Google. I was faced with the choice of having to taxi out and hope it was correct, which would be quite expensive, or discover the routes of public transportation, which would take me downtown and then leave me there. In either case I was not confident the only church in town was the right one.

Wael Saber
Wael Saber

In the end I contacted Wael Saber, described in my earlier article as one of the spokesmen for the Union of the Families of Maspero Martyrs (UFMM), to try and double-check the location of the memorial service. He proposed a solution without which I would have been completely lost. I could meet him at 7:30am in downtown Cairo, where he was arranging a bus to transport dozens of relatives.

Within the controversy described in the article, this bus was good evidence that Saber is indeed appreciated by at least many relatives as the spokesman of the group. More below will contest that claim, but as we weaved out of Cairo and through the expanse of land on the way to 6 October City, we did not quite reach it. Instead the bus veered to the left, out into the desert.

I had no idea where we were headed, but I’m glad I searched Google thoroughly looking for a second church. I did not find one, but on the outskirts of town was a new cemetery, and it quickly became clear we were now driving through it.

The sign reads: Cemeteries of St. Michael, 6 October City. The vast gray expanse behind are the Muslim graves.
The sign reads: Cemeteries of St. Michael, 6 October City. The vast gray expanse behind are the Muslim graves.

The majority of the mausoleum structures were clearly for Muslims, but as we drove through to the back of the cemetery a huge church rose up above the whole area. It was odd to see the massive structure with no comparable mosque nearby. Later, a church employee told me the size was necessary to hold mourners for the funerals held here, especially given that the remains of the martyrs of Maspero often attract a crowd. The church does hold regular mass, he also said, but busses in the worshipers from surrounding areas.

St. Michael's Church. The sign to the bottom left says 'Come to me', with Jesus speaking to Maspero martyrs.
St. Michael’s Church. The sign to the bottom left says ‘Come to me’, with Jesus speaking to Maspero martyrs.

I spoke with him outside the crypt holding the remains not only of the Maspero dead, but also those killed in an earlier attack on a church in Imbaba, Cairo, as well as those killed in a later drive-by shooting during a wedding in the Cairo neighborhood of Warraq. The church was built in 2011, and Saber told me he has papers stating church leadership will rename it to the Church of St. Michael and the Maspero Martyrs.

Inside the crypt of the Maspero martyrs. One must remove shoes before entering.
Inside the crypt of the Maspero martyrs. One must remove shoes before entering.
The plaque reads: The Martyrs of Maspero, with a date of October 10, 2011. One relative explained it is the 10th because that is when the autopsies were finalized, though the massacre took place on the 9th. The phrase above says: Their bodies are buried in peace, and their names live throughout the generations.
The plaque reads: The Martyrs of Maspero, with a date of October 10, 2011. One relative explained it is the 10th because that is when the autopsies were finalized, though the massacre took place on the 9th. The phrase above says: Their bodies are buried in peace, and their names live throughout the generations. Honored below are Nassif Ragi, Michael, Musad, and Wael Mikha’il.

It has been a difficult three years for Egypt’s Christians, but also for her Muslims. At the end of the mass I spoke with Sheikh Ahmed Saber, who is the imam of a mosque near the Maspero Radio and Television building, the epicenter of the Coptic protests and the site of the eventual massacre. Over the course of time he has become a friend – first to the activists, later to the families – and was keen to be present at the memorial service.

Ahmed Saber, with one of the younger relatives of the deceased.
Ahmed Saber, with one of the younger relatives of the deceased.

Unfortunately, he did not have much to say about the course of justice, preferring to make non-politicized statements. Perhaps this was wise – it just wasn’t useful for my article. But he also stated he was there in a personal capacity, not representing the Azhar institution despite his clerical garb. But it was acceptable the Azhar was not there, he said, for the church and Azhar agree upon 99 percent – which is citizenship, human rights, and social justice – and disagree about only 1 percent – doctrine.

Therefore, he said, having official church representatives was the same as having Azhar representatives.

Except, the official church representatives did not come either. Earlier it had been stated that the influential bishops of Central Cairo and Giza would be in attendance, but at the last moment they excused themselves due to travel necessities. This seemed odd to me, but none of the Copts I spoke with were troubled by it, stating both were present at the 2nd memorial service a year earlier. Having now lived long in Egypt my mind flirted with the conspiratorial, but there was nothing to latch on to, so it also escaped my article.

Another interesting comment from the sheikh was in relating an earlier conversation between St. Anthony and St. Boula, two of Egypt’s earliest monks. St. Anthony instructed him that Copts should pray first for the Nile, then for the ruler, and then for the patriarch. Sheikh Saber found this to be an example of wisdom, and elaborated upon it while quoting several Bible verses. He was certainly a unique individual. Muslims often attend special services in the church as welcome visiting dignitaries, but are invited or allowed to leave midway through before the serving of communion. Sheikh Saber remained politely the entire time.

Fuad Attiya
Fuad Attiya

Afterwards I did my best to interview as many family members as I could. Wael Saber’s contact was given to me by one side of the activist division, Fuad Attiya by the other. The activist told me Attiya represented 14 of the martyr families, and that Saber was supported by only three or four. The following needed to be cut from my article due to word limit, and I didn’t mind as I felt the back-and-forth exchange of accusations was becoming petty. But it is nonetheless insightful:

The three UFMM spokesmen were appointed by the families as they were the most active relatives working on their behalf, Saber said. This testimony was confirmed with others at the memorial service and was evidenced by a busload of relatives for whom he arranged transportation.

But not by all. Fuad Attiya is the 69 year old father of Hady, his 22 year old son killed by gunshot in the demonstration. He invited the MYU to attend the church memorial service.

‘There is no Union [speaking of the UFMM],’ he told Lapido Media. ‘No one speaks on behalf of the Maspero martyrs. This is a lie.’

Another relative told me Attiya provided for the light snacks shared by the martyrs’ families after the service. Perhaps this is not as strong an indication of support as the bus provided by Saber, but he did appear a respected senior figure to those I spoke with, including Saber. Attiya, however, did not confirm the ‘14 families’ idea spoken of by the activist, but he clearly was not happy with Saber’s assumption of leadership.

But following the commemorative funeral procession shown above, quarrels broke out here and there between the various parties. It was not long thereafter the MYU activists decided to leave. I wondered if they had been asked to. Here is another segment of the article that needed to be cut:

Mina Magdy, general coordinator of the MYU agreed with Gaziri it was a day for the martyrs. They attended the memorial mass to express condolences, and left shortly after it ended. He is saddened by the accusations against the group and explained they have spent countless hours with Saber and the families to demonstrate their innocence.

He believes lies have been told by the media to harm their organization, and many of the families have been taken in. He also thinks Saber is jealous of the MYU’s political influence, something he wants for himself.

Saber admits he will represent the UFMM not just in matters pertaining to the justice of their case, but also as citizens about the affairs of the nation. He announced their participation in the June 30 protests that led to the military-backed overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi, for example.

Magdy made it clear to me they were not attending the mass to attract attention to themselves as an organization, but to participate in an event that devastated them as well. They left of their own decision, he said, so as to leave the focus of the day for the families, even though both Attiya and the priests conducting the service asked them to stay.

Relatives of the martyrs, dressed in black.
Relatives of the martyrs, dressed in black.
Attendance at the memorial mass
Attendance at the memorial mass

I have known the activists of the Maspero Youth Union for a long time, and it is difficult for me to believe they have profited off the names of the martyrs. In human nature, however, anything is possible, and Magdy spoke of the privacy of the organization when I asked if I could review their financial records. He assured me, though, that they have shown bank reports and other evidence to the families. He will accompany them to court if any produce evidence of wrongdoing by any in the MYU, but so far no one has.

Youssef Sidhom, quoted in the article, also stated that when his newspaper collects donations it makes them public and details the expenditures, so that all is done in full transparency. Unfortunately, many in Egypt’s activist spectrum – from the Muslim Brotherhood at one end to the Maspero Youth Union on the other – operate outside the structures of oversight and keep all their financial dealings in-house. Mina Thabet told me the donations the MYU helped solicit were processed through a certain priest, so there is a channel to follow up with these investigations.

Wael Saber also stated that in order to cut out the ‘middle man’ of the MYU and others he printed with permission the phone numbers of every activist family, so anyone who wanted to help could do so directly. Here also is a channel to follow up on the counter-accusations that he is an opportunist. The families can be asked about him directly, which he invited me to do.

But the whole matter is sad. Certainly if there is fraud, this is sadder still. And if Saber and others are deliberately marring the reputation of the MYU then this also deserves condemnation.

There is that within me that wants to get at the truth of the story, motivated by a desire that a better understanding might overcome this animosity – or perhaps prove the worthiness thereof. But even the telling of the divisions I hope has a small impact on showing this ugly face to the activists and families themselves. The death of these 27 individuals was a tragedy; it deepens in sorrow with the witness of infighting.

October 10 was also my birthday. After the melancholy experience I returned home and was received by my own family which does not suffer from so much division. Of course in comparison we have hardly suffered at all.

40 Balloons

But as my children covered me with 40 balloons, I was reminded of the good gift of unity in a community of love. The bulk of my day was unsettling; the ending repaired all harm. I pray Egypt might receive a similar experience soon.

Lapido Media Middle East Published Articles

Infighting Between Coptic Groups Not Helping Maspero Justice Campaign

Regla Gamal
Regla Gamal, standing next to her brother’s memorial plaque, translated: The martyr, Subhi Gamal Nassif

Three years after Maspero and Regla Gamal is still wearing black.

On 9 October 2011 her 26-year-old brother, Subhi, was shot dead during a mostly Coptic demonstration in what became known as the Maspero massacre.

Twenty seven Egyptian Christians were killed by the army as thousands protested against attacks on their churches, the majority crushed under the wheels of swerving military vehicles.

To date only three lower ranking soldiers have been convicted, each being sentenced to between two to three years in prison. Despite the best efforts at justice by Coptic activists and relatives of the victims, their differences have led to infighting that is hindering their cause.

‘These are clothes of mourning,’ Gamal, 39, told Lapido Media. ‘I will not stop wearing black until justice comes and those responsible are judged.’

Egyptian tradition dictates female relatives of the deceased wear black for a period of 40 days, up to a maximum of one year. But at the memorial service held in the Cairo church where their remains are interred, most of the women among those now known as ‘the families of the martyrs’ were similarly dressed.

The night of the massacre Wael Saber, one of three official spokespeople for the Union of the Families of Maspero Martyrs (UFMM), watched horrified as his brother Ayman was hit by an army personnel carrier.

‘The state has dragged its feet,’ he told Lapido Media. ‘We demand transparency and justice, and will not be silent in front of their blood.’

Purposefully silent, however, were the mostly Coptic activists of the Maspero Youth Union (MYU). Formed in solidarity with Egypt’s revolution, they called for the march that ended in tragedy. To mark the anniversary the MYU braved Egypt’s current security crackdown with a candlelight vigil.


Dozens of sympathisers gathered, but included only two relatives of those slain.

This is because the UFMM was formed in response to the MYU and other activists speaking in the name of the victims’ families and soliciting donations on their behalf, Saber explained.

Fady Yousef, president of the Coalition of Egypt’s Copts called the MYU a ‘corrupt entity’.

‘They are not loved because they have made profit off their blood,’ he said, referring to money raised by MYU that didn’t reach families of the victims.

Mina Magdy, a spokesman for MYU, denied any wrongdoing, stating they have spent countless hours with Saber and the families to demonstrate their innocence.

One of the founding members of MYU, Mina Thabet, attributes the discord to the corrupt media. ‘The regime depends on people repeating the same accusations [against activists] over and over until they believe it, and this is what is happening,’ he said.


But the bickering between activists and families carried over into the memorial service, attended by busloads of relatives. The hubbub and media show offended many.

‘Ninety per cent of those here today have come to be seen and to have their picture taken,’ complained Wagdi Gamal, Regla’s brother.

Veteran Coptic activist Hany el-Gezery was there and also criticized the MYU. ‘They want to be a hero and to show they exist,’ he said. ‘But in this case the only voice that counts is of the families of the martyrs.’

Political father to many of the activists, Gezery recently dissolved his own Coptic movement to merge more fully into the national effort to support the current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. But he wants the former top brass held accountable.

‘I saw General Hamdy Badeen [Egypt’s former head of military police] with my own eyes, standing there as it began,’ he told Lapido Media. ‘I accuse him directly.’

During the candlelight vigil, some protestors held a banner with Badeen’s picture, along with former leaders of the military council Generals Hussein Tantawi and Sami Anan, quietly calling for justice. President Sisi, though director of military intelligence at the time, was not mentioned.

That is, until unaffiliated youth arrived and began chanting against him, calling for the end of military rule. The MYU got them to quickly quiet down and shortly afterwards ended the protest.

Saber, Gezery, and Magdy are all critical of the government for delaying attention to Coptic issues, but so far do not hold Sisi personally responsible.


Youssef Sidhom, editor-in-chief of the leading Coptic newspaper Watani, notes that most Copts are still being patient with the new president, and believes it is a ‘sentimental’ accusation that activists accuse the former top officials without sufficient evidence.

The MYU did solicit donations, he recognizes, but knows of no lawsuit leveled against them for fraud.

Similar to both activists and families, however, he wants the Maspero case to reopen.

Until then, Regla Gamal will continue to wear black.

‘We have no hostility toward the army, but we want the case to reopen and if the military leaders are guilty they must be judged,’ she said.

‘Why this hasn’t happened yet we don’t know.’


This article was originally published at Lapido Media on October 15, 2014.


Friday Prayers for Egypt: Remembering Maspero

Flag Cross Quran


It is hard to judge the weight of Maspero on the conscience of the nation. Three years ago 27 Copts were killed while demonstrating, some by gunshot, some by the weight of military vehicles which plowed through the crowd.

This week the anniversary was commemorated by a small protest in downtown Cairo, and a small memorial at the church which houses their remains. The families of those killed call for justice, unsatisfied with the minor sentences given to three lower ranking soldiers.

Maspero marked the first blood shed by the army; whether by army or police much more has followed. To date, few have been held accountable, by any of Egypt’s successive regimes.

God, comfort the families of all who lost loved ones, but especially those on this anniversary. Comfort soon those others on the many anniversaries to come.

But comfort is cold without justice, God. You know those guilty, as well as their degree of guilt. Share this information with the people, to balance appropriately between mercy and judgment, between forgiveness and retribution.

For much of the nation has reconciled already with the military, relegating the sins of the past to the past. Others find aplenty the sins of the present.

Will the sins of the future come through ignoring this blood? Without proper rendering, will more blood flow?

Touch the conscience of the nation, God, that all might remember. Touch the conscience of the leaders, that investigations would be transparent. Touch the conscience of the guilty, that they might confess.

And with a healthy conscience, God, may Egypt heal. May Maspero – with all other blood – leave no permanent stain.



Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

Remembering Egypt’s Maspero Massacre through its Most Prominent Martyr

Marry Daniel
Marry Daniel

This article was originally published at Christianity Today on October 9, 2013.

I never met Mina Daniel, but today many in Egypt consider him a hero and a martyr. Recently, I met his sister.

Two years ago this week, the 20-year-old Daniel was gunned down during a peaceful Coptic protest outside the Maspero state TV headquarters in downtown Cairo on October 9, 2011. More than 25 others died and scores were injured by military vehicles swerving through the crowded demonstration, or by local thugs who attacked the scattering remnants.

To this date, only a few low-level officers have been handed sentences, ranging from two to three years in prison.

Commemorating the massacre, Copts gathered in the Cave Church of Muqattam in the mountains outside Cairo, a scene of many interdenominational prayer services. Last year, on the first anniversary, thousands of Muslims and Christians marched together to Maspero from Shubra, a northern Cairo district with a high percentage of Coptic residents.

The religious unity of both events was just as Daniel would have wanted it.

“Mina didn’t care if you were a Mina [a typical Coptic name] or a Muhammad,” his sister Marry told me. “He dealt with everyone as created in the image of God.”

Please click here to read the rest of the article at Christianity Today.



Young People in Upper Egypt

From the World Bank:

This study was published about five months ago; I came across it now. Very interesting statistics:

While the great stretch of land from south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo to Lake Nasser on the border with Sudan, the area known as Upper Egypt, has only 40 percent of the country’s population, it is where 80 percent of the severe poverty is concentrated.

Consider also these figures:

  • More than half the population of Upper Egypt is under the age of 29, and one third are between the ages of 15 and 29.
  • Upper Egypt is predominantly rural with 75 percent of its young people living in rural areas.
  • Upper Egypt accounts for only 40 percent of the country’s population but 60 percent of those living in poverty and 80 percent of those living in severe poverty.
  • The country poorest 1,000 villages are almost all concentrated in three governorates in Upper Egypt.
  • Over one third of all young people in Upper Egypt are in the poorest wealth quintile.
  • The official youth unemployment rate in Upper Egypt is 16 percent, which does not count the ‘jobless,’ those neither employed nor seeking work, a state that describes almost half of all young people in Upper Egypt.
  • 70 percent of young women in upper Egypt are jobless.
  • Illiteracy rates for young people in Upper Egypt are at 17 percent, higher than the national average, with illiteracy rates for females more than twice those of males.
  • Less than 4 percent of illiterate females are employed.
  • Returns on education in Upper Egypt are high, with labor force participation rates for female university graduates as high as 58 percent, higher than the national average of 47 percent, and 84 percent for male university graduates.
  • Almost all young women in Upper Egypt with no formal education are jobless.

While it is perhaps fitting the World Bank did not make a point to inquire about the religious affiliation of these youth, it would have been useful to see the results of a scientific study. It did state in the footnotes that nearly 6% of Upper Egyptians are non-Muslims, without providing a link to source or methodology. It also called Upper Egypt one of the areas with greater Coptic concentration.

Certainly Christians here will dispute these numbers, which indicate a weakened, slowly dwindling presence. If their greatest concentrations in numbers reach only 6%, what of the rest of the nation?

Well, most emigrants from Upper Egypt wind up in Cairo or Alexandria, so perhaps scientific studies might show these cities with the greatest concentrations nowadays. It should be a simple matter to establish census figures – every Egyptian has his religion printed on his ID card – but it is too politically and religiously controversial.

On the one hand, it doesn’t matter – Egyptians are Egyptians regardless of religion. On the other hand, it means everything – if 15-20% they are grossly marginalized; if 5-6% their rights are still important but their claims are greatly diminished. Will the state and/or the church have the courage to take this issue on transparently? Or is it best for everyone if it remains purposefully ignored?

On a closing, unrelated note, I was surprised to see a link to my report on the attack on the Coptic sit-in at Maspero. I’m glad that was helpful to the World Bank.

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After Caller Insults Morsi, Radio Host Investigated for Defamation

From Egypt Independent:

Samir, an anchor for the Sports and Youth radio station, was hosting a live show on Sunday at 2 am. The program proposed several political issues to discuss with the audience, and one caller allegedly insulted Morsy on the airwaves. The call was cut short by the show’s control personnel, and then Samir thanked the caller and said she would resume the show.

The anchor reported that after her show ended, she was surprised to find that she would be investigated on defamation charges for thanking a caller who insulted Morsy. The Egyptian Radio and Television Union is penalizing Samir by deducting her monthly incentives and banning her from presenting programs alone.

Egypt Independent is an independent newspaper which generally maintains a slant toward liberalism and away from the Islamist trend. Could there be an element of embellishment here?

If not, it is still important to note that an investigation has been launched, not a conviction, thought it appears company discipline has already been applied.

But taking the story at face value, it reinforces what many say is a disturbing encroachment on the practice of press freedom. Surely the press has many excesses, but to punish a host for good manners? The cause for concern is legitimate.

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Brotherhood Revisionism on Maspero and Transitional Governance?

Mahmoud Ghozlan, official spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood

In recent weeks the Muslim Brotherhood has been engaged in public squabbles with the military council over formation of the government. According to most interpretations of the constitutional declaration which guides the transition in Egypt, the presidency – here the military council – has the right to appoint members of the administrative cabinet.

At first the Muslim Brotherhood requested to form a new government, but the military council refused. More recently they are stating they will field a vote of no confidence in the parliament against the Ganzouri government. Though it does not appear this will lead to its fall constitutionally, it may put pressure on the military council to sack it. The Brotherhood may then be poised to inherit this mantle given the legitimacy of its electoral gains.

A major question to be put to the Brotherhood is this: Why now? Ever since the Ganzouri government was appointed in November revolutionary forces have rejected it. The Brotherhood line has been one of patient support, fueling suspicion of a ‘deal’ between them and the military council. Yet their logic was sound; the government is only transitional.

Would their logic be even more true now, with three months remaining until a new president takes office, and with it the right of appointing a cabinet. That is, if such a right remains after drafting a new constitution.

Mahmoud Ghozlan, official spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, put it this way in a statement to Ahram Online:

We initially accepted this government as a replacement for the [previous] cabinet of Essam Sharaf, believing that Ganzouri had considerable experience, especially given that the most pressing issues were security and the economy. Today, however, we realize that the incumbent government is no different from its predecessor. No one was arrested for the massacres at Maspero, Mohamed Mahmoud Street, and Qasr Al-Aini under the Sharaf government, which insisted on blaming all the problems on a ‘third party’.

His mention of Maspero, however, brought back to mind previous statements of the Brotherhood at the time of the massacre, when 28 people were killed during a mostly Coptic demonstration.

At the time, Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie told al-Masry al-Youm he suspected former members of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party were behind the massacre. Furthermore, he rejected the widespread calls for the resignation of the government, saying, ‘Sharaf’s cabinet is a transitional one.’

In addition, ‘We must be a little patient and when there is an elected parliament that monitors the ministers and cabinet elected by the people, it will certainly set in place a long-term plan to solve all problems.’

Why is there no longer any patience? There is an elected parliament, and it is monitoring the ministers and cabinet. Speculation is possible: Was the Brotherhood confident it would capture the legislature but is less sure about the executive branch?

A more revealing memory comes from the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood, IkhwanWeb. Their statement following Maspero also urged patience for the current Sharaf government, but then ended in this manner:

Finally, we remind those who have already forgotten what General Amos Yadlin, former Director of Israeli Military Intelligence, said and published in newspapers on 2/November/2010, before the revolution:

“Egypt represents the biggest playing field for Israeli military intelligence activity. This activity has developed according to plan since 1979. We have penetrated Egypt in many areas, including the political, security, economic, and military spheres. We have succeeded in promoting sectarian and social tension there so as to create a permanent atmosphere of turmoil, in order to deepen the discord between Egyptian society and the government and make it difficult for any regime following that of Hosni Mubarak to alleviate this discord”.

Is it time to wake up?

So while Ghozlan criticizes the Sharaf and Ganzouri governments for blaming a ‘third party’, this was exactly what the Muslim Brotherhood did at the time. Who is a better third party than Israel?

Essentially, the Muslim Brotherhood is correct. No one has yet been held accountable for the massacre at Maspero, though three security personnel are currently submitted to prosecution. Certainly the Ganzouri government, as Sharaf before him, are to be held accountable for this and other as yet prosecuted offenses.

Mahmoud Ghozlan explained the perspective of the Brotherhood in a telephone interview.

The third party in these cases is still unknown, and we are unable to say who it is. It could be remnants of the NDP, corrupt businessmen who have lost their access to power, former regime members now in Tora Prison, or foreign powers.

But the role of the government is to find the culprit and keep security, and they have not done so.

In the days of Sharaf we gave him lots of opportunity, but he failed. This is the same of Ganzouri, who had much more experience for the job. But he has made the same mistakes as Sharaf, especially in terms of the Port Said massacre and the economic situation. Additionally his statement before parliament failed to impress many members, not just from the Brotherhood.

As for the difference between patience with Sharaf and eagerness now to form a government, Ghozlan clarified,

With Sharaf there was no evidence as to the political balance of power. But now after elections we see it distributed in parliament. Therefore, it is logical that these powers be left to represent the people.

Concerning the right of parliament to form a government according to the constitutional declaration, which most experts deny, Ghozlan explained,

The constitutional declaration was only temporary. In fact, the military council stated in the beginning they would only govern for six months and then return to their barracks.

It is known that any parliament in the world is responsible for oversight over the executive branch. Furthermore, we are like any other parliament with the right of legislation. Therefore, it is necessary we exercise these rights and hold them accountable.

Ghozlan was unaware if a date for a vote of no confidence has yet been set by the parliament. This is a matter in the hands of the speaker, Saad al-Katatni.

With these additional comments Ghozlan makes clearer the case of Brotherhood legitimacy. Yet however legitimate the complaint, are they operating under false pretenses? Observers must answer this for themselves, for who can know the heart of those involved. The only evidence available is their words and deeds, past and present.

But still, why now?


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Coptic Leaders Enrage their Youth as they Avoid Conflict with the Military

note: This article was published on Lapido Media. The version below contains a few more quotes which did not make the final edit.

Young Coptic activists disrupted Christmas mass in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo on January 7, shouting slogans against the military council.

Around ten individuals coordinated to erupt the moment Pope Shenouda, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, extended Christmas greetings to military members, as captured on YouTube.

Among these was Gen. Hamdy Badeen, head of the military police. Many activists hold him responsible for the deaths of 27 people during a mostly Coptic protest at Maspero in October.

The pope has faced challenges leading the church during the revolution. Even so, he welcomed those whom many activists consider at odds with the Copts. This represents not only the military council, but also the Muslim Brotherhood, reported previously by Lapido Media.

Ramy Kamel

Ramy Kamel organized the Christmas protest in the cathedral – a rarity in the hierarchical church where the holiness of the pope is widely respected.

‘It has not yet been three months since Maspero and they invite the military council?’ Kamel stated.

Sameh Saad of the Maspero Youth Union echoed this dismay.

‘We are very angry because the Pope invited them. Nothing has happened to hold anyone in the military accountable since Maspero, and we do not want to greet them.’

‘Still, we will be silent because we love the pope.’

Kamel had been a leading member of the Maspero Youth Union, but resigned due to silence like this.

‘The organization was becoming content simply to issue statements, but people need to be awoken into action.’

Nevertheless, if not for his mother, Kamel would have passed the holiday at home. He states church security threatened him with attack dogs if he led a demonstration inside the cathedral.

Ramy Kamel's Mother, with grandson

Karima Salama is Kamel’s mother. ‘I pushed him to go. The common Copts here in our neighborhood are outraged, so how could my son sit at home doing nothing?

‘We must not say the pope makes mistakes but here he did.

‘The church should welcome all but the pope should not have invited them.’

Bishop Bisenti emphasizes such open reception in defense of the pope.

‘The pope expresses his love to welcome all, and if they want to come they are invited as brothers.

‘Those who reject this are looking from the point of view of punishment for what happened in Maspero, but we look from the point of view of love.

‘The question of punishment is left to the judge and we will accept this.’

The military council has stated lower ranking officers are being investigated concerning the tragedy at Maspero. Official charges, however, have only been leveled against activists.

A week before Christmas, Coptic confusion increased over the church’s reluctance to demand military accountability. Pope Shenouda stated peace and security prevailed in Egypt due to the military council, as reported in the local press.

Amir Bushra, another member of the Maspero Youth Union, was among those affected by Kamel’s protest.

‘I personally apologize to Ramy Kamel because I was opposed to doing anything in the cathedral, but realized I was mistaken when I saw Pope Shenouda with Gen. Hamdy Badeen.

‘The church should take pride in her sons, because their chants are the chants of all who lost loved ones at Maspero.’

A subsequent blow of protest was issued a week later at mass by Fr Yuhanna Fuad, priest of the Virgin Mary Church in Old Cairo, and presented on YouTube. He was present at the cathedral on Christmas.

‘Hamdy Badeen greeted me. I apologize I kissed him and shook his hand and was pictured with him. He arranged this to improve his image.

‘You have to know that your priest is honest and has to say the truth. These people are unjust. They are liars and thieves, holding on to power.’

Samir Morcos is a respected writer and researcher in Coptic Church affairs. He states, ‘This is a new dynamic we must accept after January 25, especially among the young people.

So it must be noted that while Bishop Musa [bishop of youth affairs] justified the presence of the military council, he did not condemn the youth.’

Samir Zaki, who works under Bishop Musa as the general secretary for encouraging civic participation, makes clear this perspective.

‘The system works that security and VIPs always come to Christmas, and we issue invitations to allow them through the doors of the cathedral. The military council stated they are coming to wish Christmas greetings. Should we not say thank you?’

As concerns the demonstrating youth, Zaki states, ‘The pope put forward the official church position, but they were representing their personal opinion. No one has done anything to them.’

Samir Morcos believes no one knows exactly the extent of Coptic frustration with the church, in its accommodation to the military council.

It is clear, however, there is an undercurrent of revolutionary sympathy. Ramy Kamel wants it to transform the church.

‘No one should be able to represent the position of the church absolutely, no matter who he is.’

For many, this itself is a revolutionary idea.

Please read the published article on Lapido Media.

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Appendix to Maspero Video Report

Footage of Soldier Apparently Firing into Crowd

Following publication of a report detailing video evidence from the October 9, 2011 attack on a mostly Coptic demonstration at Maspero, a few people have sent in additional evidence. This appendix report updates the original text.

Officer Fires on Protestors – Maspero (30 seconds)

Video is of the television feed from al-Arabiya. The scene depicts an APC rapidly driving south along the Cornish, with the Nile River visible on the right. The vehicle swerves back and forth as protestors flee, mostly along the sidewalk on either side. At the 0:03 mark a flash of light is visible from the gun of the soldier who is standing through a hole at the rear of the APC. His gun is pointing downward into the crowd of people. Video does not demonstrate if a protester was injured as a result of this shot. The video thereafter runs on a loop, with the editor providing a red circle to highlight the soldier at 0:08.

Video Revealing the Truth of who Started the Events of Maspero, with Commentary from Bilal Fadl (Twenty minutes)

Bilal Fadl is a popular columnist and television presenter, and here he hosts a segment on Maspero for the channel Tahrir. The first video he presents is covered earlier in the main report, but the second provides additional evidence not discovered earlier.

5:43        Presents a video in which citizens/thugs descended on Maspero to confront the protestors, from the direction of the north along the Cornish

6:45        One of those pictured is carrying a long knife

7:00        These people are filmed mingling with the security forces, military and police

8:27        Person seen holding a glass bottle in his hand

9:43        Someone calls out, ‘Is that a Christian, is that a Christian, hit him!’

10:04     Person pictured raising his arm and striking downward, unclear who is involved

11:38     Scene switches in video, now presenting from a side street near the Hilton Hotel

11:41     Person carrying sticks in both hands scurries down the sidewalk

12:39     Two people (identified as Christians) are brought out and are struck by people and police alike

13:30     Video fast forwarded but scene continues as one of the two stumbles on the ground and is struck again

13:46     Some civilians surround the person and push away the police and soldiers striking him



For the most part, the evidence presented here reinforces what is already known. The first video demonstrates that military personnel fired their weapons, while the second video reinforces evidence that citizens (thugs?) heeded the call of the media to come to Maspero to defend the armed forces.

As witnessed, many of these people were armed, and they mingled freely among the police and military. For the most part, however, the video scenes are free from violent activity. The comfort displayed on the part of security could represent familiarity – as according to one theory the military/police have employed thugs to do their dirty work. On the other hand, it is equally plausible the citizen/thug presence among the security forces represented the aftermath of a largely settled situation, as the demonstrators had already been largely dispersed.

Yet the video confirms that within this aftermath there were significant violations going on. General testimony states that bands of citizens/thugs were roaming the streets looking for Christians to accost. Not only does the video display how the military and police allowed this activity to take place, it shows also how at times they took part. As the Maspero case has now been referred from military jurisdiction to the public courts, it is imagined the individuals identifiable in this video will be required to give account for their actions, and inactions.

The first video, however, is even more important for legal review. Clearly the soldier aimed his weapon into the crowd. What is not clear is whether or not he discharged live ammunition, or a simple blank. If a blank, why would it not be fired into the air, as has been witnessed as standard procedure when looking to quiet an unruly demonstration? Might the soldier have been looking to further scare the protestors by aiming at them in a threatening manner? It is possible.

Yet it is also possible that this video demonstrates the manner in which several protestors were killed by live ammunition. The fact of these deaths has been established; official testimony states the military was issued only blanks, and that an unidentified third party was likely involved. With a public investigation now authorized, these claims, along with this and all other video, must now be subject to a transparent review.

Many questions still remain concerning the tragic outcome of the Maspero events. Readers are invited to submit additional evidence collected in order to further examine what took place.

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Coptic Preparation for Elections, in Tanta

Bishop Boula, of Tanta

From before the revolution, many Copts have realized their community suffers from a dearth of political and civic participation. The Coptic Orthodox Church’s Bishopric of Youth, for example, has an area of focus entitled ‘Promoting Coptic Participation in Society’, which I encountered when a representative spoke at our local church encouraging the congregation to register to votein the 2010 legislative elections. When he informally polled them for who planned to vote, only a handful indicated any interest at all.

That was before the revolution, when everyone knew that election results were rigged. Yet conventional wisdom still suggests the Copts of Egypt are reticent in their political participation. Recently, a representative of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party presented a brief primer on basic civics in a Sunday School meeting at church, and while the subject received more apparent interest than earlier, the attitude still seemed subdued.

It was not always such. Copts were equal participants with Muslims when British colonialism was repulsed, and helped shape a liberal democratic polity under the Egyptian monarchy. The revolution of 1952 steadily put an end to the budding democratic system, and Copts began to feel excluded from the corridors of power. The increasing religiosity of the state under Sadat accelerated the feelings of marginalization, and Mubarak succeeded in concentrating the Coptic voice within the walls of the church, with Pope Shenouda as its spokesman in both religion and politics. Whatever merits the Copts gained from their direct line to the president, it cemented their tie to the autocratic state, especially against the feared possibility of Islamist rule.

This line of reasoning was heard recently from Bishop Boula, head of the Clerical Council of the Coptic Orthodox Church and bishop of Tanta, a city in Delta region an hour’s drive north of Cairo. He spared me a few minutes of his time in between meetings with the supreme military council, in Cairo – to discuss the Maspero affair – and an election preparation meeting with the priests under his charge, in Tanta.

He related to the priests that despite the military council being much in the wrong in Maspero, where twenty-six people were killed following protests, almost all being Copts, Christians must still support the army. It is the only functioning institution left in Egypt, and Islamists are chomping at the bit. Much of his counsel, however, was to keep the anger of Copts at bay. Priests should work to prevent other political forces from getting Copts all fired up, and too many were going out to demonstrate during a time of economic trouble. The military is having trouble running the country, and Copts should be careful not to make things worse.

There was Biblical counsel in his words as well. Christians should take care not to chant against Field Marshal Tantawi, head of the military council, as this was against Christian teaching. In response to the Maspero tragedy, the church must remind its flock that as the Bible says, ‘All things work together for good,’ and that now was a time to increase societal dialogue, not protest.

The thrust of the meeting, however, was in application of an unmentioned Biblical concept: Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Coptic attention during this time must focus on the vote of every single Christian – a chief responsibility of citizenship. Bishop Boula then reviewed the homework he had each priest prepare.

Each priest had reams of paperwork – maps, graphs, or hand drawn versions of the same. They demonstrated the results of previous instructions to select a church volunteer to be responsible for every fifty houses in his area. Many priests had done admirably; others had not done enough. These had failed to map their constituency down to the details of names and exact street location. The bishop wanted nothing left to chance, or for anyone to slip through the cracks. Not only should the volunteer know each and every Christian under his responsibility, he must also be readied to give clear instructions on voting procedures. He must master the content of, so there would be no confusion the day of the vote.

Bishop Boula issued further instructions during the session as well. Many Christians in Tanta have their official residence outside the area, and several poorer professions, such as the doormen, come from Upper Egypt. Each priest must identify these Christians as well, and study arrangements to assure they are present in their home district for elections. If this involved the church paying their transportation back home, it is worth the expense. Even beyond the coming legislative elections, priests also must help mobilize for the more immediate syndicate board elections. All Christian professionals – engineers, doctors, journalists, etc – must be located and encouraged to vote.

It was a very impressive meeting. Bishop Boula went far beyond exhortation to convince Copts of the necessity of political participation; he actively served as campaign coordinator. It should be noted he gave no instructions on which candidate or party to vote for, only that a vote be cast. The necessity, however, was lost on no one.

According to the results of the March referendum, the elected parliament will appoint the delegates charged with writing the new constitution. The importance of these first elections, therefore, goes far beyond simple legislation. It will set the ground rules for future governance.

If as expected the Islamist parties perform well at the ballot box, will they craft a civil, democratic constitution? Only a handful of Copts admit to the possibility they would fare better under an Islamic system; the rest lean overwhelmingly with the liberal parties, at least among those who have a political inkling. Copts are commonly constituted as 10% of the population. They may be as low as 5-6%, and one partisan estimate tallied them as high as 20%. Regardless, if all mobilized they would have much electoral sway.

Does the effort of Bishop Boula represent illegitimate church interference in politics? Does it represent wholesome spiritual impetus for civic engagement? Or, does it represent the desperation of a religious community pressed between the history of autocratic rule and the fear of Islamist? How much is it a combination of all three?

The Copts of Egypt are well represented in many aspects of business and professional life, but the political arena requires savvy and acumen long left unpracticed. The Egyptian revolution has opened wide the doors to politics, but many Christians are only in the aperture. Bishop Boula is trying to push them through; God may weigh the intentions of his heart, but the ballot box will measure the extent of his success.


This article was originally published on Aslan Media.


Corridor 18, Plot 86 – A Coptic Funeral

I woke up this morning to a troubled phone call from a friend. His mother, with whom he is very close and of whom he is the primary caretaker, died sometime during the night. There were only a few hours until the whirlwind of a Coptic funeral began.

My friend, at the level of my daughter, during happier times

He told me the prayer service would begin at 11:30am, and I arrived with mutual friends having met coincidentally at the microbus line taking us into a poorer area of Maadi. St. George’s Coptic Orthodox Church is a smaller structure sandwiched between commercial buildings along the route, and was where my friend and his family worshiped for many years. We sat in the courtyard waiting for the main group to arrive.

Around noon the family entered. The women were dressed completely in black; several were wailing. The men were more subdued, and a number carried the casket into the church, placing it on a platform in front of the iconostasis, behind which is the sacramental altar. When the priest arrived, mass began.

Mass followed its basic structure, including recitations of the Lord’s Prayer and the Nicene Creed. One gentleman read from the resurrection passage of I Corinthians 15, while my friend labored valiantly through the reading in John where Jesus states he is the resurrection and the life. The priest reminded that all will die, and our reaction should be to prepare now to face judgment. The traditional Egyptian funeral greeting – ‘the remainder (of the deceased’s life) to your life’ – is suspect, however, as it posits a life ended before its time. Death is only a door to eternity, he clarified, in which there is no remainder.

At the close of prayers all exited, with the men carrying the casket to load into the hearse. Surely enough, its license plate read ‘Cairo, under request’. This was explained to me previously in the context of the Coptic protest march from Shubra to Maspero, in which some wore white garb stenciled with the hearse’s label signaling their readiness for martyrdom. Prophetically, many of the protestors did die; a moving memorial tribute march occurred yesterday. A video news clip can be seen here.

My friends and I followed the hearse in a taxi, going downtown to Old Cairo to the Latin Cemetery. As best I could tell, there were no plots in the earth. Instead the grounds were filled with mausoleums, the cheapest of which could be purchased for 30,000 LE, approximately $5,000 US. Each unit then became the property of the family to be passed down through the generations. Caskets would be piled on top of each other until they would dry rot with the passing of time. They would then be removed, the bones inside placed in a box which would then be interred in a common area, with no special marking. Interestingly, many names in this ceremony were of foreign origin – Italian, French – though Egyptian names were prevalent also. Catholic in origin, the cemetery accepted anyone. Somewhere in history my friend’s Orthodox ancestors purchased space – in corridor 18, plot 86.

When the mourners arrived they either did not know this number or else did not know how to navigate the grounds. One in charge then quickly led the pallbearers who hustled under the weight of the heavy casket. Once there, what appeared as chaos erupted. The casket was carried into the crypt, as the wailing of the women began again. One of the male relatives had to be physically removed from inside, not wishing to depart from the beloved matriarch. Other men cried out, including my friend: Goodbye, mama. Everything happened so fast, and then the door was shut.

Whoever did so then reapplied the plastic-bag-like covering to the lock, to avoid corrosion so another body might enter, at the next appointed time. Mourning individuals huddled together, still inconsolable, but calm settled over the majority. When the priest arrived (though he had no responsibility), the men formed a greeting line around the corner from corridor 18. We walked quickly through, shaking the hands of each. We whispered condolences, but nothing of ‘remainder’. Following the lead of friends, I kissed my friend on both cheeks.

With this, everyone left. The time was about 2:00pm. The intensity of grieving must stem from the compacted burial schedule. The mother died sometime during the night; prayers were lifted by noon; she was buried only two hours later.

I cannot say why culture or religion dictates such a rapid process, but its implications were observed following the deaths at the Maspero protest. Church tradition and priests seeking to be helpful urged the families of the victims to take their bodies quickly and bury their dead. Activists on hand, however, assumed the terrible task of convincing grieving loved ones to delay these rites and have their dead undergo autopsy. As such, public record now indicates the number of dead by gunshot or crushing, under the weight of government armored personnel carriers. Fears existed these would otherwise have been swept under the rug.

My friend’s mother was no victim; there was no need for an autopsy. She was simply a kind woman who received the devotion of her family, and the appreciation of us as foreigners who were blessed on occasion by her hospitality. Women of her kin will continue to wear black for some time, and in forty days a commemoration service will be held. The moment of grief is explosive, but time is allotted for more gradual mourning.

Yet my friend is confident that death is only a door to eternity. When he called me with the news he stated, with broken voice, that his mother had ‘relocated’. With Muslims, the standard and commendable reply is, ‘God have mercy upon her.’ Copts have their own special phrase, connoting something like, ‘God prepare her for Paradise.’

The mourning is no less severe, nor the need for consolation. Hope, however, springs eternal. ‘I go to prepare a place for you…’

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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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Video Analysis of Maspero: Part Four

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

Media Coverage

Video Twenty-Three: Live Testimony from Injured Soldiers in Maspero (Two minutes)

Early on during the events of Maspero, State TV aired an interview with injured soldiers. It appears that the audio testimony does not match the lips of those speaking, but it is unclear if this is only from a delay in transmission. The news banner reads, ‘Scenes revealing the injured among the armed forces who have been transferred to the medical care room in Maspero.’

0:01        Soldier sitting on hospital bed, coughing

0:20        A man in civilian clothes is pictured lying down on bed, pants sprinkled with what appears to be blood

0:22        He says Christians threw stones gathered from the Maspero building and fired bullets at the soldiers, he went to help an officer and took a tissue and money from his pocket, when a Christian twisted his arm and took the money

0:50        First soldier says his colleague died right next to him, Christians hit them with stones and live gunfire, even though they were there to protect them, they were standing there talking to the Christians and then they attacked us off guard, Christians are ‘sons of dogs’


Video Twenty-Four: Revealing the Truth about the Copts on October 9 (Three minutes)

Another State TV feed from the same room showing injured soldiers, this video is a fuller treatment that begins slightly before the previous. It has similar issues with matching audio to soldier’s lips. It appears there are three soldiers in hospital beds. The news banner reads, ‘One martyr and twenty injured after Coptic protestors open fire on them at Maspero.’

0:10        Two soldiers videoed sitting quietly on the ground, they wave the camera away and cover their faces

0:22        As the camera moves, there appears to be a soldier lying in a bed to the left of the soldier described above who was sprinkled in blood

0:23        Camera pans to the left of the soldiers lying on hospital beds, showing a room full of soldiers and doctors

0:31        Some are attending to a soldier sitting in a wheelchair and treating his leg

0:50        This soldier is carried to the hospital bed, is treated by doctors, and sits up coughing to match the beginning of video twenty-three above

1:27        Video cuts and shifts to the soldier sprinkled in blood, same interview as above

2:05        Camera moves to the left to the soldier in a bed next to the one sprinkled in blood, same interview as above


Video Twenty-Five: Meeting the Injured Soldiers from the Armed Forces in front of Maspero, Watch what they say about Copts, and a word from Gen. Hamdī Badīn (Three minutes)

This video feed is from al-Hayat TV, a private station, apparently from within the same medical room at the Maspero building. The scene is much calmer as are the statements from injured soldiers, who do not appear to be the same ones speaking earlier.

0:19        Interview with soldier lying on hospital bed with a patch under his left eye; states they were standing at the Maspero building when the other march arrived, which attacked them with rocks, glass, Molotovs, and live ammunition, I tried to help my friend and took him to the 6th floor, but he died

0:55        Interview with another soldier lying in a hospital bed; there were about six hundred people at Maspero, crossing over the street when the march arrived, they joined together and attacked us with rocks and glass, and we had no orders to interact with them, a few soldiers died and we’re in the hospital, but praise God

1:45        Interview with another soldier, with a patch stretching from between his eyes, over his nose, and onto his cheek; says they were standing at Maspero but had orders to withdraw, drove the APCs in circles around the area, but people attacked us with gas and we couldn’t breathe and my eyes started to tear, we got down and then they surrounded us and beat us

2:28        Interview with another soldier on a hospital bed; says they were there protecting the demonstrators but then they came with Molotovs in a truck and began attacking us with machine guns, and I was shot in the back

2:45        Gen. Hamdī Badīn visits the injured soldiers, says what happened was an effort of someone to divide our one nation into Muslim and Christian, or this place and that place, to make us weaker, what each of you have suffered should be considered a medal on your chest


Video Twenty-Six: Violent Clashes between Security Forces and Coptic Protestors (Ten minutes)

This video is taken directly from State TV as the events unfolded.  It is an eerie broadcast with long periods of silence. The news banner states, ‘Breaking: Protesting Copts in front of the Maspero Building Block the Cornish Road.’

0:10        Traces the origin of events to the troubles of the church in Marīnāb

0:20        Announcer states there were warning shots from the military police to evacuate the demonstration which developed into acts of rioting

0:50        Says the protestors blocked the Cornish Road completely

1:15        States the protest began peacefully with chants and slogans for their demands but developed quickly into clashes between the demonstrator and the armed forces

1:40        Introduces Emad Gad, a Coptic researcher from the Ahram Center for Strategic Studies

1:50        Gad states what happened is a crime of which Gen. Tantawi and the military council is responsible, for I have seen how the APCs were driving through the crowds and running them over; the demonstrators were not armed, but were run over and shot with live ammunition, whoever did this should be tried and held accountable as a crime against humanity

2:40        In response the announcer says that events developed into clashes and throwing stones and Molotovs after beginning peacefully, Gad replies it developed so because of the army!

3:12        A whisper is heard, but it is inaudible

3:30        A voice whispers ‘Cut, cut’

3:40        Announcer acknowledges Gad’s anger but cuts him off from continuing, thanking him for his comments

3:50        Recaps events in which Coptic demands over Marinab concerning a guesthouse which is alleged to be the Church of St. George, and for a unified law for building houses of worship descended into clashes with the burning of military vehicles

4:50        Period of silence from the announcer

5:08        Begins recapping events again, saying some Copts threw stones at the army and police who were guarding the Maspero Building, the escalation began when they blocked the Cornish Road completely

6:55        Another period of silence

7:15        Announces that several fire trucks have arrived to put out the fires

7:35        Time is shown on screen as 6:55pm, and the news banner changes to ‘Coptic protestors in front of the Maspero Building throw stones at the army and police assigned to guard it’

8:00        Silence continues until the introduction of ‘Alī Jum‘ah, a villager from Marīnāb and eyewitness to the events there

8:25        Jum‘ah is not there, so announcer repeats the basic news story

9:00        Jum‘ah gets reconnected, is asked his opinion about what is taking place, and whether or not Marinab warrants all this escalation

9:20        Jum‘ah answers that Marinab Muslims and Christians are currently living in complete peace and security, we are negotiating things and there is nothing to warrant what is taking place here

9:50        Announcer asks his reaction to what he sees on the screen of throwing rocks at the army and burning vehicles, he answers we live in peace but the video ends before he finishes speaking


Video Twenty-Seven: Storming the January 25 TV Channel and Cutting their Broadcast of Covering the Demonstrations (One minute)

This video is taken from the live feed of the January 25 TV station with offices in the Maspero area. It opens with a woman screaming and several voices in the background. It was stated the army entered to search for demonstrators hiding in the offices. As it turns out, they were, but were not found. The video on screen is from an elevated position down onto the empty Cornish, with cars driving through at night. It also says the transmission is ‘live’. The banner states, ‘Gen. Sāmih Sayf al-Yazl, security expert’, presumably the guest at the time the offices were entered.

0:15        Someone says, ‘There is no one here’

0:25        Woman whimpers terrified and continues amidst background chatter

1:05        Silence, until a voice (the woman’s?) says that’s enough everyone, the silence then continues until the end


Video Twenty-Eight: The Moment the Headquarters of al-Hurra TV Station were Stormed (Fifteen minutes)

Again, video feed is taken directly from the station’s broadcast, transmitted from the Maspero area. In a similar set-up, the army entered searching for demonstrators. Before the entry al-Hurra had two screens, one of which was a live transmission of events, the other providing the feed from State TV. The announcer maintains his nerve impressively. The news banner reads, ‘Breaking News: Cairo clashes: Injuries suffered in violent confrontations between Coptic demonstrators and security forces

0:17        Live video from al-Hurra cameras switches to generic feed from Cairo streets

0:18        News banner adjusted to read, ‘State TV: Tens injured in confrontations between Coptic demonstrators and security forces’

0:20        Announcer states individuals from the army have entered the studio

0:33        Announcer tells people in studio (presumably army), we are on air, and, I’m Egyptian!

0:43        Announcer raises his voice as tension rises in the studio

0:53        Video feed switches to al-Hurra’s live broadcast only

1:00        Video switches to announcer who states the soldiers are in the studio, raising their weapons, searching for demonstrators

1:20        Tries to calm the situation down and tells the soldiers to search the studio as they wish

2:55        Announcer spent time trying to regain composure and update viewers on proceedings; news banner changes, ‘Individuals from the Egyptian army storm the al-Hurra studio’

3:23        Announcer continues the conversation with the previous telephone guest

3:40        Video feed switches to that of State TV, time shown on bottom as 7:57pm as news scroll begins

4:42        News banner adds the following, ‘…searching for demonstrators’

6:27        News banner now reads, ‘Coptic protestors set fire to Egyptian army vehicles’

6:40        News banner announces, ‘State TV announces the death of a soldier from the army in confrontations with the Copts’

7:05        News banner reads, ‘Tens injured and military vehicles burned in Coptic confrontations with Egyptian security

7:20        News banner reads, ‘Coptic demonstrators in violent confrontations with security forces in front of State TV building’

7:54        Two live feeds restored to the broadcast, al-Hurra’s feed of an onramp with individuals milling about as traffic passes by above

8:12        News banner reads, ‘Heavy gunfire in Coptic demonstrator confrontations with Egyptian security forces

14:14     Phone conversation continues as the news banner recycles the above headlines, then the announcer apologizes saying for security reasons we have to stop, I don’t know if we’re on air or not

14:20     News banner reads, ‘Individuals from the Egyptian army storm the al-Hurra studio’

14:40     Screen goes blank as announcers repeats, we’re on the air?

14:48     Transmission cuts off as the program logo comes on screen, and video ends


Video Twenty-Nine: Egyptian Television Inciting Egyptians against the Copts (Three minutes)

Announcer Rasha Magdy has come under fire for her description of events on State TV. This broadcast is from the independent channel OnTV, owned by Coptic businessman Naguib Sawiris, which was transmitting the State TV feed.

0:06        News banner reads, ‘Breaking: Coptic protestors throw stones and Molotovs at soldiers from above the October bridge, and burn …’ (rest illegible)

0:15        Praises the Egyptian army for its past accomplishments, and how the people stood with it, stating we should be celebrating this spirit from the days following October 6 (a national holiday commemorating the war which liberated Sinai)

0:25        States the events of Maspero show that everything has changed; what is happening to Egypt? In whose interest is this?

0:55        Announces that as of this moment there are at least three martyrs and twenty injured, all of which are from the army’s soldiers – not from the hand of Israel, or of an enemy, but of a group from the children of this country

1:15        This army stood by the revolution, and protected the revolution, refusing to fire on any Egyptian, it is now being fired upon

1:32        Any group from Egyptian society, no matter what their demands or however legitimate, to build a building or not build a building, does it deserve to burn the nation in its entirety?

2:25        May Egypt fear God, may your area fear God, we have endured a lot

2:37        There appears to be a cut in the video, switching to what appears to be Rasha Magdy now reading the official news briefing, but perhaps it is not a splice, as the video maintains continuity

2:38        Three soldiers killed and thirty injured as Coptic demonstrators gathered in front of the Maspero building fire upon them; eyewitnesses confirm that hundreds of Coptic demonstrators, who blocked the Cornish Road, threw stones and Molotovs on the army and police who were assigned to guard the Maspero building; the army and police are attempting to secure the area and disperse the protestors, mounting iron barriers in front of Maspero and locking all the doors to prevent it from being stormed

3:21        Video switches to a talk show on OnTV in which a guest, George Ishak of the Kifāyah movement, accuses Rasha Magdy of inciting viewers against the Copts, especially when she said, ‘May Egypt fear God’


Video Thirty: Surprising Video, for the First Time the State TV Announcer who was Accused of Inciting Against the Copts States on Air the Comedy in Television as Muna al-Shazalī Makes Clear (Fourteen minutes)

Muna al-Shazalī is a talk show host on the channel Dream2. In this episode she hosts a number of prominent Egyptian personalities and conducts a phone interview with Rasha Majdī.

0:37        Magdy states the announcer is the last stage in the operation of news production, there are a number of people who pass on the news, whether written or otherwise, before it reaches me

1:12        I want to confess that what happened was a mistake of the media, it is necessary that if I present one side, I must also present the other, and this did not happen

1:40        In my coverage I said ‘group of people’, not ‘group of Copts’

2:00        That which was written below about the Copts was prepared by the editor, by a certain responsible one

2:20        In response to clarification, Magdy states no one who works in television can take a single step or print any news on the screen without authorization (implied, from the state)

2:40        Yes, there were mistakes, but they were not the mistakes of the editors or the announcers, they were the mistakes of those who manage the matter underneath it all

3:00        We are not newly trained announcers, we know that if you present one side you must present the other

4:53        After restatement from al-Shazalī, Magdy clarifies that the responsible person is in the media production, not the state

5:50        If I go, the problem will remain, it rests with those responsible for media production who leave us lost in our work

6:10        Did you know that this responsible person stated that he is innocent from what was announced? Fine, then state who wrote that news!

6:30        I received the news from MENA (Middle East News Agency, the office news agency of Egypt)

7:10        In answer to a question asking Magdy to demonstrate her innocence from inciting the people, she states, the only thing that I stated in my own words that has been taken as incitement is ‘May Egypt fear God, where are the wise men of Egypt’, but I maintain this statement and it is my right to do so

8:30        In response to words from Emad Gad appreciating what Magdy said, she replies I only stated ‘a group of Egyptians’ since I had no information on what was happening or who was hitting who, I sit in the studio, I have no guests, and I don’t know what happened, when I saw that news was contradictory, I stated ‘a group of people’, when I spoke of the three martyrs from the army, this was the only news that came to me from MENA, and I read it, there was no incitement from me

12:40     After conversation between studio guests, Magdy returns and states she and a number of her colleagues are very frustrated with those who leave the announcer to be responsible for what is stated on the news, don’t blame me when you leave me lost and then say you are the reason for what happened

13:50     Al-Shazalī concludes the phone conversation by stating it is Magdy right to bring a lawsuit against the person who provided her with the news


Video Thirty-One: Middle East News Agency Denies what the Announcer Rasha Magdy Said (Eight minutes)

In this video Ali Hassan, deputy editor-in-chief of MENA, is asked by telephone by a talk show host about the comments of Rasha Magdy, in which she laid blame for her broadcast at the feet of his news agency.

3:00        Announcer asks ‘Alī Hassan, about the news banner which stated Coptic protestors set fire to military vehicles and also fired upon the soldiers

3:23        Hassan answers, MENA did not publish this news, nor does it know anything about it, and Rasha Magdy should bring the evidence she has to prove what she said; furthermore, Magdy is known for a poor reputation from the revolution when she announced there were no demonstrators in Tahrir on January 28


Video Thirty-Two: Families from Septia Support the Army Against Armed Coptic Demonstrators (Two minutes)

Video footage is from al-Arabia channel, at 1:00 the announcer states that families from Septia have come to support the army, and that the army is present among many civilians. The announcer states ‘this is told to me’, but this is presented in place of charges leveled against State TV claiming it asked ‘honorable citizens’ to go to the street to support the army. I was unable to find video evidence of this though it was reported in many outlets. CIDT managing director Hani Labib stated he watched State TV that evening and heard it announced.


Video Thirty-Three: The Program? Bāsim Yūsif: Maspero … Ground of Hypocrisy, Part One (Eleven minutes)

Bāsim Yūsif is a comedic news producer along the lines of John Stewart in the United States on the Daily Show. In this episode he assembles video footage from the media coverage of the event. Of importance here is the footage at 8:45 from State TV in which the announcer makes a correction: ‘Viewers, as a correction to the news we presented recently, one soldier from the armed forces has died a martyr, and not three soldiers, with twenty injured after Coptic protestors fired upon them at the Maspero building’.

Analysis: Taking the statements of the injured soldiers at face value, they provide powerful testimony that Copts were involved in striking the armed forces. It should be noted, though, that none of the soldiers presenting testimony have visible injuries. Regardless of the credibility of their testimony, however, presentation of this footage on State TV could only have had an incendiary effect on events, effectively mobilizing sentiment against the Coptic demonstrators, if not Copts in general – ‘Copts are sons of dogs’. It appears certain that citizens did go to Maspero, though video cannot confirm why.

As for the presentation of Rasha Magdy, in light of her confession afterwards she appears to be innocent of incitement against the Copts. Where it appears she is reading the news, accusation is leveled against the Coptic demonstrators that they killed three soldiers. Her own commentary before this, however, is much more judicious, though still full of shock at what is taking place. Yet she makes clear the official news comes from official sources.

Yet the testimony of ‘Alī Hassan raises more questions. ‘Amr al-Masrī, a journalist in MENA, confirms Hassan’s words, stating that while MENA received word directly from the military council that three soldiers had died, it published no information about Coptic demonstrators being the ones who killed them. If indeed Magdy was reading, then, who gave her that statement?

This makes the later correction all the more confusing. It could be as time passes that corrections are made to increase the number of dead. Yet how is it possible for official news to be mistaken in that two officially martyred soldiers are now alive?

It is impossible to say from video evidence if the entry of the army into the studios of January 25 TV and al-Hurra had any impact on the content of broadcasting. In fact, it has been demonstrated there were protestors hiding out at least in the January 25 offices, justifying the soldiers’ entrance and search. Yet it can be noted that the live video broadcast did change during their presence, and that the news banner underneath became more clear in labeling ‘Coptic demonstrators’ behind the confrontations in a manner consistent with State TV. To note: January 25 TV is understood to be an initiative supported by Islamists, and al-Hurra is understood to be an initiative supported by the United States government.


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

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.

Arab West Report Middle East Published Articles

Video Analysis of Maspero: Part Two

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

The Beginnings of Violence

Video Six: The Coptic Protest in front of Maspero (Five minutes)

This is the best video I could find which seems to locate the outbreak of violence. There are several hundred protestors standing outside the Maspero building, and the camera is elevated and seemingly in front of the building. The Nile Cornish road is open with traffic flowing slowly, but consistently. There are police assembled on the other side of the road. Bambuser, which the service hosting this video, provides a live feed directly from event to internet, and stores it thereafter.

0:22        Following a speaker, the crowd cheers as if a normal moment in a demonstration

1:00        Camera angle widens to show traffic progressing along the Cornish

1:15        The attention of protestors is turned to the north, and they begin clapping excitedly

2:05        Chant leaders tells crowd to ‘welcome’, but the rest of the audio is inaudible

2:25        Chants of ‘Million-man, million-man’ begin among protestors[1]

2:38        It appears some protestors move into the Cornish towards the police

2:45        Attention of protestors turns to the south, and it appears the march from Shubrā has arrived

2:55        It appears another group, carrying a banner, arrives from the north

3:05        A van is able to drive very slowly toward the south, showing one lane of the Cornish still open

3:15        All protestors are turned to the west, facing the river, with raised hands chanting

3:22        It appears the police stationed across the street move forward into the demonstration, causing those in front of them to pull back slightly

3:35        The Cornish is cleared completely, showing that at first protestors filled one lane

3:55        Another contingent of police emerge from the east, apparently from near the Maspero building

4:05        The scene is filled with black clad riot police, which move in tandem to the south

4:18        The sound of gunfire begins, and all fall further back to the east, down a side street, as the police pursue

4:45        Camera flashes back to the Cornish, which has traffic flowing through

5:19        There appears to be another gathering, though unclear, to the south in the corner of the screen

Video Seven: The Army Beginning to Open Fire in Maspero (Two minutes)

This video is taken from inside the gathered crowd at Maspero. It is less clear than the first, but provides another angle on events.

0:15        Traffic is flowing on the Cornish

0:20        Some people apparently move toward the police across the Cornish

0:40        It appears that helmeted riot police stand at attention near the protestors as if making a cordon

1:07        Camera circles behind to show the Maspero building

1:19        Cries go out from the protestors with the sounds of gunfire in the background

Video Eight: Fr. Philopater, a Few Minutes before the Clashes at Maspero (Three minutes)

This video shows the approach of the march from Shubrā, now meeting up with the main protestors. They come from the south, and meet a cordon of police officers which block their way. Small altercations break out, but the video ends before anything conclusive is determined.

0:05        A pickup truck is with the approaching protestors, perhaps the same one as earlier

0:10        Some protestors are moving back away from the direction of the march

0:15        Fr. Philopater appears, waving people forward toward the direction of Maspero, someone yells, ‘Don’t move back, go forward’

0:35        The road opens up, to show a gap between assembled protestors at the front lines and others falling back a bit

0:38        Two cars move against the demonstrators, showing Cornish traffic is still nominally flowing

0:55        Side view of Fr. Philopater, still motioning protestors onward

1:10        Sounds of gunfire, direction indeterminable

1:44        Picture of man wearing purple with a plank of wood, near him is a dissembled banner from which it possibly could have came

2:00        Demonstrators find the path blocked by military police wearing helmets and with riot shields

2:11        Man wearing a white shirt kicks at police shields

2:14        Altercation between demonstrators and police, police swing batons at protestors

2:26        Protestor wearing black throwing something in the direction of the police, behind him one wearing purple does the same

Video Nine: Maspero 9 October 2011, Part One (Eleven minutes)

This video is assembled and edited, but shows a remarkable narrative from within the events beginning with the demonstration at Maspero, showing many of the above scenes (and those afterwards with APCs and general chaos) from a street-level, as-it-was-happening angle.

0:48        View of the protest at the Maspero building, with a closer angle to the front lines at the Cornish near the military police; crowd is engaged, chanting, ‘Raise your head high, you are an Egyptian’

1:00        A raised plank of wood is seen moving forward in the crowd, towards the police, but the camera turns before any outcome, if there was one

1:17        Video shows the protestors have moved into one lane of traffic on the Cornish, but not crossed to the opposite lane; APCs parked, but few soldiers immediately visible

1:22        First sound of gunfire, location unknown, then scene changes

1:25        A bit darker, but traffic still flowing, so this scene must be not long after earlier one ended; several police seen beating a protestor on the ground in the median of the Cornish

1:30        Cameraman runs away toward the south, perspective now appears to be from the side of the march; much gunfire heard

2:20        Chants of ‘Peaceful, peaceful’ emerge from protestors – same location as video from earlier, but from a different angle?

2:30        Protestors lying down in the road in a line, do not appear injured but rather making a passive protest, perhaps

3:10        Military riot policeman charging at demonstrator swinging baton violently at him

3:26        Protestor swings a whip – perhaps his belt – over his head in a threatening manner towards police, then withdraws

3:54        APC appears in motion, plows into the back of an army jeep, pushing people at front of jeep backwards

4:20        Scene in which people stand on APC and throw huge stones down on soldier inside, while others swing at him from outside with clubs, a cross; one of those on top is wearing the white martyr’s robe seen at the beginning of the Shubrā march

4:42        Great care needed here: It appears one in the crowd attacking a passing APC is wearing army fatigues and their standard red cap; he raises his baton nearer to people than the vehicle, but scene switches; he does not appear under duress nor are people attacking him, at 4:50 appears again standing around in middle of scene, and moving at 4:56

4:49        APC drives toward Maspero, appears to ‘jump’ in the street

5:00        As chaos continues, people are seen lying on the street, obviously injured but unsure of nature, though one case seems connected to the APC which just drove past

5:30        Large crowd beating on stalled APC with iron circular clubs – resembling those broken off the wall of the Foreign Ministry fence which I saw from when the sit-in was dispersed a few days earlier

5:45        Second APC speeds alongside it, plowing over many; crushed bodies seen in its wake

6:40        Police chase crowd of people down the Cornish to the south, some appear to jump into the Nile

6:50        Police retreat, people throw rocks at them, policeman throws back a cross

8:50        Priest conveying a soldier to safety as people surround and try to continue to beat him

9:43        Someone strikes at the priest and soldier from behind, not sure who he hits, but priest goes to the ground covering the soldier, crowd surrounds them there without attacking

Analysis: The protest gathering at Maspero appeared to be peaceful, but then something caused an apparent advance toward the military. It may well have been the arrival of the Shubrā demonstration march, but this is not certain. In any case, from the angle of Maspero it does not appear that the demonstrators attacked the police, rather, perhaps responding to provocation or nerves, the police charged into the protest and dismissed it forcefully. From the other direction, it appears the police had no intention to allow the demonstration from Maspero to join the already stationed protest, and cordoned it off. There is evidence of some protestors responding violently, though most people are standing around innocently.

Fr. Philopater is a controversial figure. He speaks clearly that his presence as a priest does not represent church endorsement, yet his status as a priest helps give religious legitimacy to many Coptic participants. His claim to end the procession ‘inside Maspero’ could have only been exaggerated language use for effect, though it is easy to understand its reception as a threat. Later on, as he encouraged the crowd to advance in front of the police cordon, he may have been seeking only to assert the will of the protest to join together. There is no video evidence he encouraged violence in this effort.

Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) Driving along the Cornish

Video Ten: Maspero (Two minutes)

This video is taken directly from the television coverage of al-Arabiya. It shows APCs driving through the crowds, apparently seeking to disperse the protest.

0:10        APC driving along a mostly open road, with people throwing objects at it from the side

0:20        The speed of the APC can be gauged at a wider angle, and suddenly it turns 180 degrees, over the dividing median when people are standing; it does not appear anyone is struck

0:35        The APC is obviously swerving through the people, including riot police which evade its path; again, objects appear to be tossed at the vehicle

0:55        Video switches to riot police striking at protestors hiding behind parked cars

Video Eleven: CNN BBC RT: Christians Copts Genocide by Muslim Egyptian Army, Run over them with Army Tanks (One minute)

No timeline is necessary for this video, as it is a loop depicting a scene in which an APC plows through a crowd of people standing unaware, shown earlier. A group of protestors have mounted an APC stalled on the median, and are striking at it with sticks. Those standing around on the road doing nothing are hit by an APC at high speed, running over at least two.


Video Twelve: Most Dangerous Video showing Running Over Copts with Jeeps and APCs, and Killing with Army Bullets (Three minutes)

This video is taken from within the crowds as APCs and Army Jeeps were driving through. It demonstrates the chaos of the scene as well as the aggressive behavior of people there.

0:17        As the cameraman walks through the crowds, some begin chanting ‘Peaceful, peaceful’

0:45        An empty stationary military transport bus is being struck by people with different objects

0:55        Shots of gunfire are heard

1:00        The first APC rolls through, only a few feet from the cameraman, a second follows behind; speed of vehicles does not seem overly fast

1:15        A third APC drives across the same stretch of road along the Cornish

2:00        People seen vandalizing a parked army jeep; mix of those holding crosses or signs from the demonstration with those clearly holding clubs, sticks

2:10        Another APC drives through, as people strike at it with clubs and sticks as it goes by

2:25        Army jeep pushing another jeep forward through the crowds, second jeep veers toward the people and nearly runs someone over before stopping short

2:30        People, with both clubs and crosses, run towards the stopped vehicle rapidly as video ends abruptly

Analysis: Different pictures are presented in each video, and unfortunately chronology cannot be determined. It appears the APCs were conducting an organized mission to drive through the protestors in order to disperse them. It also is clear these APCs were met with aggression, though video suggests the drivers also meted out aggression of their own. Certainly the chaos of the scene was overwhelming and it is impossible from this footage to determine, on the one hand, if there was a policy of running over protestors, or on the other hand, if those crushed resulted accidentally from drivers who lost their nerve. Evidence can be marshaled from these videos to support either conclusion.

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

[1] This chant emerged during the protests of the revolution, which witnessed massive gatherings in Tahrir Square. It has been repeated since, even in demonstrations significantly less than one million strong.

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Video Analysis of Maspero: Part One

On October 9, 2011 at least twenty-seven people were killed and over three hundred injured, following a largely Coptic demonstration culminating at the Egyptian Radio and TV Building at Maspero, in downtown Cairo. Clashes began at roughly 6:30pm and lasted long into the night, involving the military police, central security riot squads, demonstrators, ordinary citizens, and perhaps paid thugs.

Four main explanations have since emerged:

One Party Blaming the Other:

  • Coptic demonstrators were frustrated at recent perceived slights from the military council against their community, and at least a segment of them attacked the armed forces with stones, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire. They may also have attempted to storm and occupy the Maspero building.
  • The military council has come under increasing criticism for its handling of the democratic transition, and may even be undermining it seeking to stay in power. As such they attacked the peaceful demonstration and used State TV to blame and demonize the Copts, playing a sectarian card in order to unite the majority population behind them.

No Blame Offered for Premeditated Violence:

  •  Both military police and Coptic demonstrators were caught off guard when an unknown third party infiltrated the protest and fired on both soldiers and protestors alike. This may have been from an internal enemy, such as the remnants of the former regime or radical groups seeking to drive a wedge between the army and the people (or perhaps Christians), or external, from any number of nations wishing chaos to prevail in Egypt.
  • A series of misunderstandings and mistakes complicated and aggravated an already tense situation, in which no one is guilty of premeditated aggression but in which all parties succumbed to the use of violence and demonization.

The following report will analyze video evidence to describe what took place on the night of October 9, relying on video evidence uploaded to the internet, largely on YouTube. A few limitations must be noted:

  •  While videos have been sorted into a general timeframe, it is not possible to establish a complete sequence of events.
  • It is not possible to guarantee the integrity of these videos. Where editing or manipulation may be involved it will be noted appropriately.
  • The collection of videos followed an extensive search process, but one which cannot be described as exhaustive. Important videos may have been overlooked, and accusations exist that some videos have been removed from YouTube. This is the testimony of Hānī Labīb, managing director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue and Translation, commenting on a television program on which he was a guest. The broadcast was originally on YouTube, but is now missing.

It is also the testimony of AWR executive secretary Diana Maher Ghālī, conveying the sentiment of Vivian Majdī, fiancé of Michael Mus‘ad, who was killed in the protest. Majdī told Ghālī she is in possession of videos uploaded to YouTube which have now been removed. To note, I attended two press conferences hosted by groups critical of the military council version of events, one of which included Vivian Majdī. Their videos presented did not differ significantly from the ones to follow, nor did they speak of videos being removed. If additional videos can be obtained later an update will be provided, and if readers are in possession of additional evidence they are welcome to submit it for review.

This report will not consider the evidence of written testimony, though it acknowledges its essential value. Witnesses on either side provide partial perspective, may color their testimony, or outright fabricate accounts. A full investigation must include all such evidence, weighing carefully all perspectives. Yet this report focuses only on video, which together convey images independent of explanation.

The analysis will seek to present the reader with what is visible in the videos, avoiding speculation or implications. Additional background material will be provided as necessary. It is not imagined that any of the four scenarios listed above will be confirmed through this process, but these overarching narratives will inform what follows. Links will be provided for all videos, and the reader is invited to explore the evidence on his or her own. Videos will be titled according to their original posting, and sorted into the following categories:

  • The Initial March from Shubrā
  • The Beginnings of Violence
  • Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) Driving along the Cornish
  • Scenes of General Chaos
  • Media Coverage
  • Corpses Gathered in Hospitals or Elsewhere
  • Compiled Footage

As noted above, the issue of chronology is important, and impacts especially categories three and four. This report, based on video evidence alone, leaves exact determination of instigation in these categories open for further research.

The Initial March from Shubrā

Video One: Philopater will Lead a March the Likes of which Egypt has Never Seen, which will Conclude Inside Maspero (Five minutes)

Fr. Philopater is a priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church, a member of the Maspero Youth Union, and one of the principle organizers of the demonstration. During this video he is speaking publically in church and inviting attendees to join the march the next day. Shubrā is a suburb of Cairo with a disproportionately high percentage of Christians. ‘Maspero’ is the name given to the Radio and Television Building in Cairo, which has for decades been under heavy security to prevent non-state entities from entering by force and broadcasting unofficial messages.

0:10        We love the armed forces and we love the army, since they are from us

1:15        Copts will never surrender their rights

1:30        Honor us with your presence tomorrow at Shubrā Circle at 3pm, for a march the likes of which Egypt has never seen

1:50        We will conclude our march inside Maspero

2:15        We will not be able to take our rights except with the moderate Muslims of Egypt

3:15        They say you are a minority; no, we are the majority – not as Christians, but as true Copts and moderate Muslims, against the forces of backwardness who are foreigners here in Egypt and the minority

Video Two: The Gathering of Protestors in Shubrā Circle, Demonstrating they have No Weapons and Not Even a Glass of Water (Three minutes)

This video provides a panoramic view of the protestors from their gathering point in Shubrā. Hundreds of people, including many women, are seen standing, milling about, simply waiting for the march to begin. No weapons are visible, though several people carry wooden crosses. To be noted, generally in demonstrations the chant leaders are chosen by the organizing party, and therefore their calls are sanctioned. While spontaneous chants often develop as well, anyone who deviates from the general sentiment of the crowd is shouted down.

0:50        Small chant of ‘Illegitimate’ begins among some protestors

1:22        Camera zooms on a group of protestors wearing white, with a slogan written in red saying ‘Prepared for Martyrdom’. The phrase used for ‘prepared’ is commonly found on hearses during funeral processions

2:00        The group in white marches off in a line, apparently signaling the start of the march

2:35        A chant begins calling for the downfall of the field marshal, military council head Gen. Tantāwī

Video Three: The Coptic March at Shubrā Circle (Thirteen minutes)

Despite the title locating this video at Shubrā, it is actually a compilation of several scenes from along the march route, including two interviews. All scenes appear to be free of weapons, with many women and children present.

1:00        Chanting against the military council, at one point calling ‘Dictator, dictator’

2:07        Scene switches, opening with Fr. Philopater, Fr. Mityās, and a monk walking together amidst the people

2:25        Scene switches again, the march is joined by two vehicles, among the chants are ‘The People Want the Fall of the Field Marshal’

3:27        Scene switches to an interview with Fr. Mityās, listing Coptic complaints and how they suffer attacks no one is brought to justice over, but that even sometimes, like with the Aswan governor, we are incited against; it makes us feel like this isn’t Egypt

6:00        Fr. Mityās describes demonstrations as an available and legitimate means of protest for all to express their opinions

6:34        Scene switches as the march continues under a bridge, much darker in this scene

7:40        Protestor speaking earlier in the day describing participants (Copts without Restrictions, Free Copts)

8:30        We are called a minority or a foreign entity, no we are the original inhabitants of the land

9:00        If we are not heard today after this march, we will have to study all possible, legitimate means to achieve our rights

9:20        Our demands: a committee to study the event of Marīnāb Church, arrest of all criminals in the proceedings, immediate rebuilding of the church, resignation of the Aswan governor (we will protest every day for this, and even sit-in, since he has transgressed our holy places and our possessions)

12:25     Scene switches to two more general scenes of protest and marching

(Note: Along the way, the protest march was attacked at an underpass by civilians throwing stones and glass. Footage is included in video thirty-seven, at minute 0:09.)


Video Four: The Reason Behind the Event of October 9 at Maspero (Two minutes)

This video features the main priests and the monk among the organizers of the march, and includes incendiary comments from the monk. His identity is unknown to AWR at this time.

0:15        Protestor chanting ‘We are the owners of this land’

0:30        What are the demands of the march? Monk answers: For the governor to give his resignation (and other demands listed above). If he doesn’t, he knows what will happen. If he doesn’t respond in 48 hours he will die a heinous death

Video Five: The Size of the March before the Clashes Clearly Showing No Weapons, as the Army had Said (Ten Minutes)

In this video the march has been underway for some time, and it is darker outside. The scene is captured by a camera filming from above on an onramp to a bridge. It appears to be right next to the Hilton Hotel leading into the Nile Cornish a few hundred meters from Maspero. If correct, this video leads directly into the clashes to be described below. Many women and children are present. Some of those clothed in white are at the front, which is very sparse at the opening.

1:38        A lone man is seen with a plank of wood using it as a walking stick

1:50        Another person seems to have a similar plank of wood, and nearby is another with a stick

2:25        Another person appears to be carrying a plank of wood, walking along the wall by himself

3:04        Another person is walking with a stick

3:50        Chant of ‘Kyrie Eleison’ (Lord have mercy) begins, an oft repeated hymn in church

4:20        Another person is visible to the left of the screen using a walking stick

4:45        Chant of ‘Raise your Head High, You’re a Copt’ begins

4:50        Two people waive objects above their heads during the chanting

5:25        A pickup truck drives down the procession with people aboard chanting the Lord’s Prayer

6:00        The procession begins to get much denser, showing the extent of the size of demonstration

6:45        The chant of ‘Illegitimate’ begins

Analysis: The march was very large, included women and children, and appeared to be peaceful at every stage along its path. Protestors were very frustrated with the current situation, and many chants were against the military council. The vast majority was certainly without weapons, though many carried crosses; though unclear it does seem that a few in the procession had planks or sticks which could be used violently.

Note: To download the full report in pdf, please click here. For  Part Two, click here.
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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.


Maspero Youth Union Press Conference: Photos

Today the Maspero Youth Union conducted a press conference to put forth its version of events of what took place the evening of October 9, when at least 27 people were killed and over 300 injured in clashes following a largely Coptic peaceful demonstration. The MYU assembled testimonies and video evidence to demonstrate the innocence of the Copts in contradiction to the early official narrative. They also place blame squarely on the shoulders of the army. A good summary of the conference can be read here, at al-Masry al-Youm English Edition.

While in attendance I took a few pictures, and will provide short descriptions of the people below.

From L to R: Nader Shukry, Emad Gad, Khaled el-Belashi

Nader Shukry is a prominent Coptic journalist who writes for Watani newspaper, a Coptic daily. Emad Gad is a political strategist at the Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, as well as a founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. Khaled el-Belashi is the editor-in-chief of the Badeel Newspaper, and made his offices available for the press conference. The Arabic in the banner behind them states the title of the press conference: Crushing Egypt.

Tony, member of the MYU

Tony spoke on behalf of his friend Mina Daniel, a prominent revolutionary activist, and Copt, who was killed during the events at Maspero. His tee-shirt reads: We are all Mina Daniel, the Guevara of Egypt.

Vivian Magdy

Vivian was the fiancee of Michael Mossad, a member of MYU who was also killed during the events of Maspero. Her picture with his dead body has circulated widely in Egypt since then:

The video evidence presented by the MYU was largely available on the internet on YouTube. I am currently working on a report for Arab West Report which assembles the bulk of relevant video and provides commentary on what is visible, what is not, and what it may infer. I hope this report will be finished and available in the next few days, so if interested, please check back over the weekend or early next week.

Note: This report is now completed, and available in five parts. Please click the link below for the introduction.


In Aftermath of Maspero, a Muslim holds a Cross

Just to pass on briefly, with no verified authenticity or knowledge of details, here is a picture taken of a solidarity demonstration over Christian deaths at Maspero. If a Salafi, as the original link asserts, it would represent a very necessary coming together of two sides almost completely isolated from each other. May they be brought closer, though through other means than this.

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Clashes, Deaths at Coptic Protest in Maspero

Scene from the Violen Dispersal of the Protest

Egyptian State TV confirms 23 dead and over 170 injured in clashes between largely Coptic protestors, unknown assailants, and Egyptian military police on October 9, 2011. Protestors began their march from the heavily Christian neighborhood of Shubra at 5pm, culminating at the Egyptian Radio and TV Building in Maspero in downtown Cairo. The peaceful march was scheduled to end at 8pm, but was attacked at various stages along the route by unknown opposition.

I received word of the protest earlier in the day. Having witnessed the Coptic attempt at a sit-in at Maspero five days earlier, which was eventually dispersed by the army, I wished again to get a sense for the manner in which Copts were expressing their grievances. These largely centered on the burning of a purported church in the village of Marinab, in Edfu, in the Aswan governorate on September 30. Many Copts believe the interim government to be lax in protecting their community and securing equality of citizenship; what is certain is that a lack of security throughout the country has led to abuses.

I arrived by metro to Tahrir Square near Maspero at 7pm. Coming up from the underground I received a phone call from a colleague asking if I was on my way, and to be careful, as a protestor had been shot. Stunned by her statement, I immediately noticed the tension in the air as the metro entrance area was surrounded by Egyptians – many of them presumably Copts from lack of head coverings – pale, and in shock. Many had tears in their eyes. Shortly thereafter I did as well.

This group stated with vehemence they had been attacked by the army, emphasizing it was the army, and not simple thugs. People had been shot and armored vehicles had run over protestors as they swerved through the crowd. Some claimed there were snipers. Confusion reigned, and it was hard to know what was happening.

Only a few minutes later a group of protestors marched by where I was standing on their way to Tahrir Square. They were carrying what appeared to be dead body, chanting against Field Marshal Muhammad Tantawi, head of the ruling military council. I saw no signs of blood, but the body was inert.

I moved northward along the side of the Egyptian Museum toward Abdel Munim Riyadh Square, site of a major bus station. Hundreds of Egyptians were milling about, simply watching events unfold. From a distance I could see clashes between protestors and police taking place on the 6 October Bridge, both sides throwing rocks back and forth.

Ahead of me at an intersection of the Cornish Road along the Nile River several protestors were angrily destroying stop lights and street signs. A scuffle broke out around a taxi – it seemed two people were simply fighting to get in and drive away. Several of those standing around carried planks in their hands. Others carried crosses. The former were presumably informal members of ‘neighborhood committees’ which had been formed after the revolution to combat looting. The latter were presumably remnants of the protest, now scattered about.

One of these latter was an older gentleman from the church I attend in Maadi, Cairo. He was livid, but despondent. ‘Let the whole country get enflamed,’ he said. ‘It will serve them right. Do you see what is happening! They are killing us!’ I tried to comfort, and remind. ‘No, remember your faith. Let love hold in your heart. Copts must now be peacemakers.’ It was of little use, as we stood and watched another clash take place on the bridge. Comfort was better. I put my arm around him and cried. ‘I’m sorry for what is taking place. God protect Egypt.’ A moment later a stranger noticed me and asked if I was a foreigner. ‘Why are you here?’ he demanded. I kept quiet, said I was only watching, and moved away.

It should be noted that although I use the word ‘protestors’ throughout the text, it was impossible to tell Muslim from Christian, protestor from bystander from ‘thug’. Who was committing violence, and who was suffering it, was impossible to say.

This fact makes interpretation of events near impossible as well. A phone call to my wife allowed me to receive updates from the news and Twitter. Reports were conflicting. Wildly different numbers of dead were being reported, from two or three to thirty or fifty. Furthermore, there were reports that army personnel were also killed. Some said that Christians had machine guns. Others reported that State TV announced the army was under attack, and urged Egyptians to come into the streets to defend it. The largely activist and liberal Twitter community understood that official media was blaming the protestors for what happened, saying that they fired first.

I cannot say the truth of what took place, for I arrived no more than fifteen minutes or so late to the scene, and was never in a front line position. Yet before too long an acquaintance from the Maspero Youth Union recognized me and gave me his version of events. He stated there were 10,000 Copts and Muslim supporters in the march from Shubra, which was met with violence when their path was blocked. He blamed thugs sent by the army, but also that people were pelting them with rocks and glass from apartment buildings along the road. Eventually, they were able to proceed again. He insisted the group did not plan for a sit-in, but was ready to disperse freely at 8pm. Upon arrival at Maspero, however, the army began attacking immediately, he maintained. People were shot in the head, and others were run over by military vehicles. I discovered later that one member of the Maspero Youth Union, Michael Mossad, was among those killed.

As he was relating events tear gas was fired on the bridge, and he left to go check in on events. From time to time waves of protestors fell back, and gradually security regained control of the area, pushing everyone back toward the direction of Tahrir Square. Suddenly a fire engine sped through the area and was pelted by rocks as it went by. Whether or not this caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle, it swerved, hopped over the central median, struck one or two people along the way, and crashed into a street light. Waves of protestors then descended upon it, but I could not tell if they were beating the driver or pulling him from the wreck. Several climbed on top and began vandalizing. A car fire raged shortly thereafter on the other side of the street.

Contrary to media reports, however, I did not witness ‘clashes’ in Abdel Munim Riyadh Square between protestors and others. There was much tension, sounds of occasional gunfire, and tear gas lobbed throughout the area, but I never witnessed actual fighting except at a distance. The area is large, however, so I am hopeful if it took place I was stationed in the safer locations.

Contrary to other media reports, I did not witness large reactionary protests in Tahrir Square. Egyptians were all over, and at times small bands of protestors would march and chant slogans against the military council. Yet when I was present there was certainly not a mass gathering in response to what took place. I wandered a bit more throughout the area, before leaving to go home around 9pm.

As news continues to unfold there will be much to confirm amidst the rumors. There are reports the military entered media offices preventing transmission of live feeds. There are reports of clashes outside the Coptic Hospital where many injured are being treated. There are reports liquor stores – owned by Christians – are being attacked downtown. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has called for an emergency cabinet meeting tomorrow, and has posted on his Facebook page:

What took place was not a confrontation between Muslims and Christians but an attempt to create chaos and ignite sectarian sedition, which is not fitting for the children of the nation who were and will remain ‘one hand’ against the powers of destruction and extremism. Application of the law is the ideal solution for all of Egypt’s problems. I urge all children of the nation who are keen for its future not to answer those who call for sectarian sedition. This is a fire which will consume us all, without distinction.

These are wise words. May they prove true especially now and in the days to come. God protect Egypt.