At least 25 protesters were killed and between 200-300 were injured on October 9 at a Coptic protest in Cairo, Egypt. The victims were protesting the destruction and desecration of a Coptic church in Aswan Province in southern Egypt on September 30. Aljazeera quotes some of the protesters as saying that they were marching peacefully when the military, along with “thugs” in civilian attire, attacked them. Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said, “It was supposed to be a peaceful protest, demanding that Coptic rights should be fulfilled. But it soon escalated into violence, with people on balconies pelting the demonstrators with stones.” Essam Khalili, a protester who was present during the massacre, said, “The protest was peaceful. We wanted to hold a sit-in, as usual. Thugs attacked us and a military vehicle jumped over a sidewalk and ran over at least 10 people. I saw them.” Amnesty International said in an article on October 11 that the SCAF has a responsibility to address this massacre, and that this “raises questions about their ability to police demonstrations… Egypt’s SCAF must show it can and will rein in the security forces and ensure they do not use excessive force.”

The Egyptian government’s reaction to this protest has both human rights organizations and its own officials worried. The BBC reported on October 11 that Egypt’s Finance Minister Hazem el- Beblawi resigned over the government’s handling of protest on Sunday. In an article on October 12, Town Hall quotes Ayman Nour, one of Egypt’s leading liberal reformers, as saying that with the latest bloodshed, the military has lost whatever goodwill it accrued last spring. He draws a comparison to Hosni Mubarak’s regime, saying that both believe “that government repression is all that stands between Egypt and social chaos.” Amnesty International is deeply concerned over the state television reporting in response to the protests, which called for Egyptians to support and “defend” the military, further exacerbating the situation. Furthermore, the military raided two other television stations covering the protests, 25TV and Al Hurra, apparently in an attempt to stem independent reporting.

Photo: ccfc.ie

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