Egyptian cabinet to meet over violence that kills 24

Christians clashed with military police, leaving at least 24 people dead in Cairo, and the cabinet called an emergency meeting for Monday, vowing the violence would not derail Egypt’s first election since Hosni Mubarak was toppled.

Christians protesting about an attack on a church set cars on fire, burned army vehicles and hurled rocks at military police who they said used heavy-handed tactics against them. It was some of the worst violence since the February uprising.

The violence casts a shadow over the imminent parliamentary election. Voting starts on November 28 with candidates due to begin registering during the week starting Wednesday.

The clashes also added to growing frustration among activists with the army who many Egyptians suspect wants to keep hold of the reins of power from behind the scenes even as it hands over day-to-day government. The army denies this.

“This is a dark day in the military’s history. This is betrayal, a conspiracy, murder,” Magdy el-Serafy wrote on Twitter where he and other Egyptians voiced frustration at the army’s handling of the protest.

The Health Ministry said the death toll had reached 24 with 213 injured, the official MENA news agency reported. It did not identify the dead but state television had earlier reported three soldiers were killed.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf toured the area near the state television building where clashes erupted, MENA said, adding he spoke to those in the area to hear their accounts of events.

“What happened in front of the state TV building is exactly what happened on January 25,” wrote Muslim activist Asmaa Mahfouz, referring to the start of the anti-Mubarak uprising.

Christians, who make up 10 percent of Egypt’s roughly 80 million people, took to the streets after blaming Muslim radicals for partially demolishing a church in Aswan province last week. They also demanded the sacking of the province’s governor for failing to protect the building.

Tensions between Christians and Muslims have increased since the uprising. But Muslim and Christian activists said the violence Sunday was not due to sectarian differences but was directed at the army’s handling of the protest.

‘MALICIOUS CONSPIRACIES’

“Instead of advancing to build a modern state of democratic principles, we are back searching for security and stability, worrying that there are hidden hands, both domestic and foreign, seeking to obstruct the will of Egyptians in establishing a democracy,” Sharaf said on state television.

“We will not surrender to these malicious conspiracies and we will not accept reverting back,” he said in his address.

The cabinet said in a statement that it would “not let any group manipulate the issue of national unity in Egypt or delay the process of democratic transformation” which it said would begin with opening the doors to candidate nominations.

Cabinet spokesman Mohamed Hegazy told Reuters the cabinet would hold a special session Monday to discuss the events.

“The most important thing is to contain the situation, see the way forward and the necessary measures to avoid any ramifications,” Hegazy said, adding a committee of prominent figures from the church and Al-Azhar mosque would also meet.

Presidential candidate Amr Moussa and political groups said they would hold an emergency meeting Monday about the violence.

The army imposed a curfew on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the focus for protests that brought down Mubarak, and the downtown area. It was set from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m., (0000-0500 GMT).

Pictures of smashed faces and dead bodies of what activists said were bodies run over by military vehicles circulated online, with angry comments comparing the violence used by the military to that of Mubarak’s hated police in the uprising.

“What happened today is unprecedented in Egypt. 17 corpses crushed by military tanks,” Hossam Bahgat, human rights activist tweeted from hospital. “I saw bodies missing hands and legs, heads twisted away or plastered to the ground.”

Protesters also took to the streets in Alexandria, Egypt’s second city.

The government appealed for calm. In comments published on his Facebook page, Sharaf said he had contacted security and church authorities about the situation, saying the one ones to benefit were the “enemies of the January revolution.”

Reuters

  • josephphdman

    20 millions coptics christians have the right to live with respect and dignity ,christians been living in egypth for 2011 years almost 700 years before other religions were established , they do have a fundemental right to that country , if this governement is not able to protect there freedom and there properties , and is not able to protect freedom of religions and respect human rights , then the coptic people should seek there own state and ask the un to admit them as a member .

    • 5thDrawer

      Maybe the Christian Palestinians of different ‘sects’ would join them … it’s another group that seems forgotten.

  • Anonymous

    20 millions coptics christians have the right to live with respect and dignity ,christians been living in egypth for 2011 years almost 700 years before other religions were established , they do have a fundemental right to that country , if this governement is not able to protect there freedom and there properties , and is not able to protect freedom of religions and respect human rights , then the coptic people should seek there own state and ask the un to admit them as a member .

    • Anonymous

      Maybe the Christian Palestinians would join them … it’s another group that seems forgotten.

  • 5thDrawer

    Driving tanks over people DOES seem ‘heavy-handed’. Is that an understatement of some kind?
     Or were they already just bodies lying on the road? News reports don’t always give us all the details.
    One thing we know for sure is that someone is running around tearing buildings down … and has been for a while … and THAT is something the ‘law’ should be stopping.

  • Anonymous

    Driving tanks over people DOES seem ‘heavy-handed’. Is that an understatement of some kind?
     Or were they already just bodies lying on the road? News reports don’t always give us all the details.
    One thing we know for sure is that someone is running around tearing buildings down … and has been for a while … and THAT is something the ‘law’ should be stopping.

  • guss043

    More and more the moslem religion is becoming intolerant and close to Nazism, Egyptian Copt are the roots , if needs to be let them arm themselves ,enough laws from the ottoman rule not allowing church to be built unless the president allow, Let them Built catherderals wherever they want and by force and they should arm themselves, as apparently the sunni shows their power only on christians , they forgot isreal since day one it was created .

  • guss043

    More and more the moslem religion is becoming intolerant and close to Nazism, Egyptian Copt are the roots , if needs to be let them arm themselves ,enough laws from the ottoman rule not allowing church to be built unless the president allow, Let them Built catherderals wherever they want and by force and they should arm themselves, as apparently the sunni shows their power only on christians , they forgot isreal since day one it was created .

  • guss043

    This is all the doing of the Saudis who funded and still  funding fanatic schools in Egypt since 40  years, schools that teaches  and  refer to Christians as Koffar and teach that Christians need to subjected and second class citizens same as the Nazis taught the german about the Jews  . If you see on TV how the Egyptian army vehicle is rolling over the manifestations , you cant help but think about the Nazis who consider the Jews are rats . I was in Egypt in the 80’s waiting with my friend outside of the Moaque of the Mohammad ALi until the prayer finish so we can enter as Christian and take pictures, and before we enter some boys aged 11 to 14 start talking to us, and once I called my friend in his Christians , one of the boys said oh you are christian ,go away “ma ten faooush ” . We need to finsih wiht this crap all together,and I think the US wasted teir bombs on Afhanistan when it should ahve landed really on the head of the biggest country who funded bin laden and fund the Islamist Nasist teaching which is Saudi Arabia, The Copt should train and get arms so is the Iraqis Christians so all Christian in the Middle east, as our blood is not cheap and enough is enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 5thDrawer

      The propaganda has been strong for many years. Iran loves this kind of thing … it gives them reason to continue.

  • guss043

    This is all the doing of the Saudis who funded and still  funding fanatic schools in Egypt since 40  years, schools that teaches  and  refer to Christians as Koffar and teach that Christians need to subjected and second class citizens same as the Nazis taught the german about the Jews  . If you see on TV how the Egyptian army vehicle is rolling over the manifestations , you cant help but think about the Nazis who consider the Jews are rats . I was in Egypt in the 80’s waiting with my friend outside of the Moaque of the Mohammad ALi until the prayer finish so we can enter as Christian and take pictures, and before we enter some boys aged 11 to 14 start talking to us, and once I called my friend in his Christians , one of the boys said oh you are christian ,go away “ma ten faooush ” . We need to finsih wiht this crap all together,and I think the US wasted teir bombs on Afhanistan when it should ahve landed really on the head of the biggest country who funded bin laden and fund the Islamist Nasist teaching which is Saudi Arabia, The Copt should train and get arms so is the Iraqis Christians so all Christian in the Middle east, as our blood is not cheap and enough is enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Anonymous

      The propaganda has been strong for many years. Iran loves this kind of thing … it gives them reason to continue.

  • libnan1

    This is exactly what Batrack Rai was talking about people…… This is the beginning, it will be repeated is Syria and Jordan as it was in Lebanon. Everyone in Lebanon should support the Batrack to prevent it from happening in our part of the world. I referred to the Copts in my previous poems …:)   

  • Anonymous

    This is exactly what Batrack Rai was talking about people…… This is the beginning, it will be repeated is Syria and Jordan as it was in Lebanon. Everyone in Lebanon should support the Batrack to prevent it from happening in our part of the world. I referred to the Copts in my previous poems …:)   

  • Ezzedeen Sleiman

    Do you believe these are Muslims burning the churches? Haven’t we learned that the government did this before February and got caught? Egypt’s Mubarak supporters are still not gone, these are to create tension, or even israel scared to see a united Egypt .

    • 5thDrawer

      In that case, it’s up to the ones being unjustly accused to stand beside the defenders of their buildings.

      • master09

        WELL SAID …….

  • Ezzedeen Sleiman

    Do you believe these are Muslims burning the churches? Haven’t we learned that the government did this before February and got caught? Egypt’s Mubarak supporters are still not gone, these are to create tension, or even israel scared to see a united Egypt .

    • Anonymous

      In that case, it’s up to the ones being unjustly accused to stand beside the defenders of their buildings.

      • Anonymous

        WELL SAID …….

      • Anonymous

        WELL SAID …….

    • Anonymous

      In that case, it’s up to the ones being unjustly accused to stand beside the defenders of their buildings.

    • Anonymous

      In that case, it’s up to the ones being unjustly accused to stand beside the defenders of their buildings.