By: Tinsley Tullos
As Christians acrossEgyptcontinue to practice their faith, violent attacks from Muslims and extreme Islamists remain at an all-time high. A reported 24 people were killed and more than 200 were injured in the most violent attack since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February of this year. The Coptic Christian minority appears worried throughout the region’s chaotic transition of power.
What began as a quiet attempt to protest the government’s harsh Islamic overrule in the Shubra district north ofCairo, quickly moved to the state television building. The building, located along theNileRiver, was the start of the trouble. “The protest was peaceful. We wanted to hold a sit-in, as usual,” said Essam Khalili, a fellow protestor. “Thugs attacked us and a military vehicle jumped over a sidewalk and ran over at least 10 people. I saw them.” More than 1,000 security forces and armored vehicles arrived on the scene to defend the television building. Both Christians and persons of other denominations were equally aggressive as weapons such as firebombs, stones and rocks were all used. A local witness by the name of Wael Roufail claims, “I saw the vehicle running over the protesters. Then they opened fired at us.”
After government officials spread tear gas throughout the area, the clashes spread to nearby Tahrir square, which served as an epicenter for thousands of more protestors. Muslims chased Christians on their way to the square where hundreds of policemen were lined, ready to shield off protestors. A quick truce was called after chants of “Muslims, Christian’s one hand, one hand!” rang out. The rages quickly started back again and were finally ceased by the next morning. Since then, riots prompted by angry Muslim crowds have begun over new Christian church constructions.
While Christians make up eight percent ofEgypt’s ten million population, they feel as though the blame should be put on the military council’s leniency toward those behind a string of Anti-Christian’s attacks since Mubarak’s reign. The incident only further back-trackedEgypt’s hope of becoming a nation built on democratic principles. In an address made toEgypt, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf stated, “I call on Egyptian people, Muslims and Christians, women and children, young men and elders to hold their unity.”