Monday, January 3, 2011

The Face of Martyrdom in Egypt

Body parts covered with newspaper outside the Saints Coptic Orthodox Church
In today's Western world, a great many young people have not encountered the true meaning of the word martyr. To make it clear: a martyr is a person who is killed because of his or her religious belief, particularly somebody who chooses to die rather than deny that religious belief. This is a word that was well understood by many of this nation's founders and is still well understood by many immigrants to the U.S. who flee here for religious freedom. Martyrdom is a word that is not much used, but more and more frequently, I believe, it is a word that needs to be used if we are to accurately describe current events so that we can understand and deal with them.

The New Year's bombing of a church in Alexandria Egypt is being presented by many as a routine part of an ongoing "political conflict" between Christians and Muslims, as though there is some kind of moral equivalency between martyring innocent people (the Islamic tactic) and holding peaceful demonstrations to bring to the attention of political authorities one's perceived right to protection from being forced to choose between being murdered and abandoning one's religious belief.
(AINA) -- The car explosion that went off in front of Saints Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria killed 21 and injured 96 parishioners who were attending a New Year's Eve Mass. According to church officials and eyewitnesses, there are many more victims that are still unidentified and whose body parts were strewn all over the street outside the church. The body parts were covered with newspapers until they were brought inside the church after some Muslims started stepping on them and chanting Jihadi chants.

According to eyewitnesses, a green Skoda car pulled up outside the church shortly after midnight. Two men got out, one of them talked shortly on his mobile phone, and the explosion occurred almost immediately after they left the scene. On the back of the Skoda was a sticker with the words "the rest is coming" (video of car explosion and Muslims shouting "Allah Akbar").

It was reported that the bomb, locally made, had 100KG [220 pounds] of explosives in addition to having nails, glass and iron balls inside. The strength of it not only caused glass panes to be shattered in all the neighborhood, but also made body parts fly into the building's fourth floor, and to the mosque facing the church.
Egypt's Minister of the Interior, Habib el Adly, called the bombing an "individual case," which sounds to me like the Egyptian way of saying "lone bomber." The Minister was quick to blame either al-Qaida or the Israeli Mousad; however, Egyptian Copts think Egyptian state security is the culprit.

Question: Why would Copts blame Egyptian state security, whose commander in chief is President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt with dictatorial powers since 1981?

Answer: Egyptian state security forces have a history of disappearing before Muslim attacks on churches. Last January 6, security forces were withdrawn from the Nag Hammadi Cathedral a couple of hours before Muslim attackers gunned down worshipers leaving a Christmas Eve Mass celebrated according to the Coptic calendar. Nine people died and eleven were injured. Again, this January, only about 30 minutes into 2011:
Eyewitnesses confirmed that security forces guarding the church withdrew nearly one hour before the blast, leaving only four policemen and an officer to guard such a big church and nearly 2000 people attending the midnight mass. "Normally they would have waited until the mass was over," said [Hany] el-Gezeiry [ head of Copts4Egypt]. He also commented on the Muslim's schadenfreude at the massacre at the church, who were heard chanting "Allah Akbar."
11-year-old Maysoon Ghatas Fahmy, a Kosheh Martyr
Egyptian security also has a history of being "unable" to convict murderers of Christians. One notorious incident occurred in January of  2000, when 21 Copts were massacred by Muslims in the outskirts of el-Kosheh. Eventually, all 89 defendants were released without bail and had their charges dropped or were acquitted. The only person convicted was a Muslim charged with the accidental killing of another Muslim.
After the [2011] blast, traumatized Copts were angered by chants of "Allah Akbar" from Muslims and began hurling stones at the mosque. Immediately security forces which were absent during the car blast and the ensuing events, appeared and starting shooting tear gas at the Copts, and they in turn hurled stones at them, said an eyewitness. Fifteen Copts were rounded up from their homes by the authorities.
Nakhla said that he was preparing a complaint to be presented to President Mubarak asking for the resignation of Interior Minister Habib el Adly for failing in his duty of protecting the Copts, and for not telling the truth by saying that it was a suicide attack by one individual, when everyone could see the detonated car, just to clear his security personnel of the responsibility of letting the Skoda park in front of the church. "This 100KG bomb could not have been transported by one individual as the Interior Minister wants us to believe."

On January 1, the funeral of the 21 people killed in the church massacre took place at St. Mina's Monastery in King Mariout, 50 km from Alexandria. It was attended by representatives of the President, Minsters, the governor of Alexandria, as well as nearly 10,000 Copts who traveled from Alexandria. After the funeral, the Copts, angry with the governor of Alexandria, shouted "resign" and "we do not want you."
Yesterday, in Cairo, Egypt's capital, protesters carried large wooden crosses toward the city's TV and radio building, but were stopped by about 2,000 riot police. One Christian protester said that "Muslim and Coptic protesters are planning to form a 'human shield' outside major churches in Cairo on Coptic Christmas Eve on Jan. 6 in a show of solidarity.

To pile tragedy on top of tragedy, the Coptic religious leader, Pope Shenouda, is considering cancelling Christmas celebrations.
Inside the Saints Church, the floor was still stained with blood, two statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary were toppled and benches were scattered by the impact of the blast. A wooden cross hanging on the church gate was covered with a white sheet stained with victims' blood and bits of human flesh remained stuck on the gate. Young Christian men prevented cleaners from removing the flesh.

"Leave them. This is pure blood," one of the men shouted.
It is the blood of martyrs.

Hat tip: Zilla of the Resistance.


  1. I am glad Drudge and the Blaze ran this story. People need to know.

  2. This is the guy to whom BO supposedly "secretly confessed" that he's actually a Muslim. Lovely.

  3. @Trestin - These Islamic jihadists are pretty good at killing the unarmed and unprotected. I wonder if they have any idea how cowardly non-Muslims consider their behavior to be.

    @Fuzzy - Egypt does depend on its tourism earnings. If enough Westerners cancel their trips to view the pyramids and sail down the Nile, Egyptian Christians will start feeling much safer.

  4. This is the best accounting of what is happening to the Egyptian Coptic Christians that I have read anywhere, well done, QR and thank you so much for this excellent and heartbreaking post. I shared it at that page I run on facebook. Thanks for the hat tip, too.
    In another sad update, a silent candlelight vigil held by the Coptic Christians in Cairo in memory of the murdered dead was broken up by Egyptian authorities.

  5. @Zilla - A great deal more could be said. Christians are being tortured and murdered in horrific ways throughout the Middle East and in Africa and in other places as well.

    Another aspect of the attack that I just learned about is that, immediately following the attack, Muslims attacked Christian shops and shopkeepers in the vicinity of Saints Church.

    CNN has covered this attack, did you know? Visit Gates of Vienna if you have not already.