Egypt riots: Anger grows against army

2011-10-12 11:13

Cairo - Videos of military armoured vehicles ploughing through Christian protesters and images of their flattened bodies are fuelling rage against the ruling army generals, even beyond Egypt's Christian community.

Activists accused the military of fomenting sectarian hatred as a way to end protests and halt criticism.

Anger was also turning on state television, blamed for inciting attacks on Coptic Christians as the military crushed a Christian protest late on Sunday, leaving 26 dead in the worst violence since the February fall of Hosni Mubarak.

The bloodshed was seen by many activists as a turning point in Egypt's already chaotic transition: the deadliest use of force against protesters by the military, which has touted itself as the "protector of the revolution". Criticism has been mounting that the military, which took power after Mubarak's ouster, has adopted the same tactics as the former regime and has been slow to bring real change.

The repercussions began to hit the interim civilian government. Finance Minister Hazem El-Beblawi handed in his resignation over the government's handling of Sunday's protest. El-Beblawi, who is also deputy prime minister, effectively told Prime Minister Essam Sharaf that "he can't work like this," said an aide to the minister who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Christians vented their fury at the overnight funeral at the Coptic Christian Cathedral for 17 of the at least 21 Christians killed in the army attack.

Prayers were interrupted by chants of "Down with military rule" and "The people want to topple the field marshal," - a reference to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who heads the ruling military council. No state official or military official were present at the funeral.

Unrest and criticism

Egypt's Christians, who represent about 10% of the 85 million people in this Muslim-majority nation, have long complained that they are second-class citizens. In recent years, increasingly influential ultraconservative Muslims, known as Salafis, have spread rhetoric that Christians are trying to take over, protesting against the building of churches and accusing Christians of hoarding stocks of weapons.

Violence against Christians, the majority of whom belong to the orthodox Coptic Church, has mounted since the fall of Mubarak as state control has loosened.

Bahy Eldeen Hassan, head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said the military may have counted on sectarian sentiment against Christians to allow it to crush the protest and send a signal that it will no longer tolerate civil unrest and criticism.

"The message is to the whole society, not to Christians in particular. I believe this is all in preparation with wider confrontation," Hassan said. "I am afraid they used the Coptic Christians exploiting sectarianism and knowing that Christians will receive less sharper response from the public," he added.

  • Met - 2011-10-12 12:10

    The barbaric action of the islamic military junta, will no doubt be supported by many on this blog. Or will they just remain silent as when comment was asked about the 90 lashes sentence for an Iranian actress. Or about a Christian pastor who refused to renounce Jesus?Do they run over protestors ito the Quran, sharia law or what?

      J Burnstein - 2011-10-12 13:16

      Hey Met, please grow some brain cells!!! You have been brainwashed by the media!!!

      Michael007 - 2011-10-12 13:22

      Islam is a religion of peace! Stop believing everything you read and see on cnn, sky, bbc...etc You are making an embarrassment of yourself!

      daaivark - 2011-10-12 13:45

      This poor person is so hobbled by absolute one-track thinking that you waste energy trying to reason. I support neither side here in the least. I am just ardently opposed to arrogant idiocy.

      Met - 2011-10-12 15:30

      As I pointed out- avoid the question at all costs. Insults will not remove the FACTS in the question! I say again, I do not depend on the "media " for my information. Michael, if Islam is peaceful, then the devil is a saint, and he is certainly not.Read the quran!, if you have to. All - dont avoid that which you dont like.

  • PangeaUltra - 2011-10-12 12:23

    This is once again a example of Islamist tolerance of the "others". Islamist are the biggest racist and human rights abuses at the moment. Remember they regard us as the Infidel and will never except us. That is why I will always stand by Israel.

      J Burnstein - 2011-10-12 13:20

      PangeaUltra...Israel is the most RACIST nation to ever exist. You and "Met" are so brainwashed you can't even comment properly!

      Michael007 - 2011-10-12 13:26

      Hey PangeaUltra, What about the woman, children and men that get shot by the IDF on a daily basis for sport??? I am a Christian and I will never support that modern-day satanic nation called Israel!!!!

      daaivark - 2011-10-12 13:46

      Grow some eyes, Pangea. Look for yourself, and stop thinking what some crazy bigots feed you.

      buzz - 2011-10-12 13:48

      @ Michael007 - for sport? Sheesh, never knew that - where does one sign up for this sport, and what is it called? Can't find any videos for it on youtube or anything. Thanks.

  • Skim - 2011-10-12 12:40

    @Met WHAT!!!!!! How dare you this is the religion of PEACE!!!!

  • Michael McN - 2011-10-12 18:34

    Get over it! All 3 religions are racist and anti-God. Stop practicing religion. If you see someone fighting for the right to impose his religion on others, kill him quickly. He is insane and ungodly. Likewise if you feel you must take up arms to convert your neighbors by force, kill yourself alone now. You are the devil.

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