In Egypt, a politically tense atmosphere does not seem to rest. With even more religious tension rising between Muslims and Copts, extremists and the public, the current government does not seem to be able to contain the current chaotic political and social scene. The funeral for four Egyptian Copts who were killed on Sunday shooting turned into a tableau of agony, misery and interfaith compassion. Families of the four murdered Copts along with a hundred more Orthodox Christians attended the memorial service held at Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael church in El Warraq al-Hadar, Giza, where the shooting took place. The church priest officiated the service and said the prayers amidst an atmosphere of sadness, tension and grief. Families of the deceased held onto caskets with cries and shouts of anger erupting from the Christian masses. Christians were joined by some Muslims, especially black-clad Muslim women who joined their Christian neighbors and fellow citizens to offer condolence.
Egyptian Copts blame the Egyptian Prime Minister, Hazem Al-Beblawi, and the interim government for Sunday’s Warraq-church shooting and the terrorizing of Egyptian Christians. They also blamed Interior Minister, Mohamed Ibrahim and demanded that he step down along with removal of a bunch of police officials in Warraq.
Eyewitnesses of the Sunday shooting said that the church was left unguarded by policemen and that the police were slow to respond when people called for them to track the assailants. This criticism is not the first of its kind, whenever an attack was made on Egyptian Christians the police were slow and usually came in the aftermath.
Christian activists took out their anger on Facebook and Twitter. Some tweeted:
“In Egypt, Christians die after Friday Muslim prayers, on Sunday mass, on their weddings, in protests and randomly. Christians die all the time.”
Others wrote, “On Sunday, the martyrs who attended Warraq-church wedding hadn’t known that they were preparing for their own wedding in Heaven.”
Some activists posted photos of Felobater Ashraf, brother of 8-year-old Mariam Ashraf, one of the 4 Copts who were murdered Sunday night. Felobater, 3-years-old, is in hospital in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the stomach. Pictures of young Felobater went viral on the internet, with Egyptians condemning the monstrosity of the shooting and wishing the little kid fast recovery.
Interim prime minister, Hazem Beblawi, condemned the shooting in an official statement. He said it was a “lowly criminal act” and a disgrace to all Egyptians. He also vowed to track the criminals responsible for it and that they would face “severe punishment”. His words did little, however, to calm the boiling situation in Egypt. Mourning Copts were out in the surrounding streets of Virgin Mary church in Warraq area, raising their crosses and chanting, “Either we revenge for them, or we die like them.” This slogan has erupted ever since the January 25th, 2011 revolution where protesting masses expressed their rage at the murder of many Egyptian youths in clashes with Egyptian police and thugs during demonstrations to oust former president, Hosni Mubarak. Ever since then, this slogan/chant has become an icon for every Egyptian martyr lost.
As the funeral prayers went on alongside hysterical cries and weeping, the congregation followed with a supplication of the Copts -who feel insecure, afraid and discriminated- to their God, chanting “Oh God. Oh God.”
Written by: Jaylan Salah