- January 4, 2011
- 10 minutes read
Passing the Buck – Who Is to Blame for the Church Bombings?
If it were only an outdated Emergency Law, poverty, rigged elections, corruption, and police brutality, Egypt would be bearable, but now we have terrorist attacks against a minority group and an old, worn out president who attended church on New Year’s Eve not knowing that their place of worship had been made the target of a deadly bombing. Egypt mourns not only the tragic loss of life, but the trouncing of protection, and trust in a government that holds onto power at all costs, but has apparently forgotten its duty.
Understandably, there have been cries of grief but more significantly there are also cries of anger as the nation takes in the horror of the crime, which follows on the heels of the blatant fraud of the recent elections at the hands of the regime that was supposed to take note of threats made by terrorists who mentioned the name of the fated church as a possible target on New Year’s Eve.
Christians accused the government of failing to protect them and they make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population, and have long accused the government of discrimination and injustice and these feelings have increased this year as they obtained only a few seats in the rigged parliamentary polls. Officials are now concerned that the bombing may deepen the rising tension between Christians and Muslims. But the startling violence of the attack will exaggerate the growing distrust and isolation that Copts feel from the regime. Believing they are politically underrepresented, they see the bombing as revealing the prejudice against them.
Christians displayed their growing discontent at the government’s failure to address their grievances, and clashed with police outside the church as they angrily shouted slogans against the security forces. In response, police used tear gas and rubber bullets to break up the protests. Security forces were arranged in rows the day after the attack, prompting young men inside the church to shout angrily, demanding to know where the police were on the night of the attack.
To make matters worse the Interior Ministry blamed "foreign elements," and the Alexandria governor accused al-Qaida, turning public opinion to an unknown and untouchable terrorist ring, deflecting attention away from the fact that the regime knew about the possible threat yet failed to provide appropriate security.
The Egyptian regime has long insisted that al-Qaida does not have a significant presence in the country. However, if al-Qaida was involved, it raises the prospect of a serious new security threat within Egypt. The tension now is between Christians and the government, not between Muslims and Christians. Rioters threw stones and bottles at government security forces while police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them.
There is a rising movement of Islamic hard-liners who, while they do not advocate violence, adhere to an ideology similar in other ways to al-Qaida. There are fears that they could be further radicalized by sectarian tensions.
Mubarak hoped to calm sectarian tension, and said the attack targeted "all Egypt " and that "terrorism does not distinguish between Copt and Muslim."
The bombings have served to bring about some kind of solidarity between Muslims and Christians, as marches near the site and in Cairo saw both groups chanting slogans against Mubarak.