“At one point, an armored security van sped into the crowd, striking a half-dozen protesters and throwing some into the air.”
“After midnight, mobs roamed downtown streets, attacking cars they suspected had Christian passengers. In many areas, there was no visible police or army presence to confront or stop them.”
“Bands of young men armed with sticks, rocks, swords and firebombs began to roam central Cairo, attacking Christians. Troops and riot police did not intervene to stop the attacks on Christians.”
“Throughout the night, the station cast the Christian protesters as a violent mob attacking the army and public property. At one point, Information Minister Osama Heikal went on the air to deny that the station’s coverage had a sectarian slant, but acknowledged that its presenters acted ’emotionally’.”
Yes, there is quite the dirty conspiracy afoot, but a different one from the red herring desperately waved by the prime minister. “Cairo clashes: military rulers hold emergency talks with Christian leaders,” by Amro Hassan and Ian Black for the Guardian, October 10:
Egypt’s military rulers have held emergency talks with Christian leaders after the worst violence since February’s revolution left 26 people dead and 300 injured — and raised grave doubts about the country’s democratic transition.
The Coptic church called on followers to fast and pray for three days from Tuesday to mourn Christians killed in clashes with Muslims and security forces on Sunday night, now the subject of an investigation ordered by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), led by Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi.
Issam Sharaf, the interim prime minister, warned of a “despicable conspiracy” against Egypt and called for unity.
Egypt’s Copts, numbering between 10 million and 15 million, are the largest Christian minority in the Arab world. Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Coptic cathedral in the Cairo neighbourhood of Abbassia, chanting slogans against the military. “Tantawi you traitor, the blood of Copts is not cheap,” shouted one. Christians threw stones at police outside the hospital where many of the casualties of Sunday’s violence were taken, while scores of distressed Coptic women dressed in black and carrying wooden crosses wept over the death of their “martyrs”.
Sneer quotes. Did they forget some religions’ martyrs don’t explode?
Video clips of the incident showed military vehicles ploughing through crowds of demonstrators so that several were crushed to death. It was the worst violence since Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years, was ousted on 11 February. The Copts insist they were marching peacefully when thugs attacked them, drawing in the military police who used what activists described as unnecessary force.
The backlash was sharp and swift. Ayman Adli, a 33-year-old carpenter, blamed Scaf for doing nothing in the face of a “growing wave of Islamism”. There was “no real political will to solve Copts’ problems of oppression and lack of rights and the army wanted to teach Coptic protesters a lesson by killing some to abort future demonstrations”, he claimed.
“If Scaf can’t protect us, it’s obvious that they won’t give us our rights,” said law student Marko Habib. “Now it’s time for them to cede power to a civilian who truly believes in citizenship and equality and has the will to protect minorities.”
Concerns about the way the protests were handled were fuelled when state TV announced on Monday that there had been no deaths among the military after a newsreader reported at least three — and called on “honest Egyptians” to take to the streets to protect the armed forces.
“I feel like I’m in a nightmare and can’t wake up,” said Emilia Salem, 25. “How have Copts become so unprotected in their own country? Why is it so easy to kill over a dozen of us in a protest while those who stormed into the Israeli embassy were not even harmed?”
Al-Azhar University, Egypt’s highest Muslim religious institution, called for a new law regulating the construction of churches. The incident in Aswan that sparked Sunday’s protest was an attack on a church that attackers claimed was being built illegally. Coptic groups have long complained that laws regulating houses of worship are discriminatory….
More on that, and a useless trial balloon of a proposed law floated by the transitional government can be found here.