Sawasya: Ambiguity Surrounds Maspero's Bloody Sunday As Eyewitness Accounts Conflict
|Thursday, October 20,2011 16:52|
Sawasya Centre for Human Rights confirmed that ambiguity and uncertainty obscure the causes of the Maspero events and how they unfolded due to contradictory testimonies of Egyptian citizens, Muslims and Christians, who took part in demonstrations last Sunday. While some tried to blame the army and hold it responsible for the escalation, others tried to blame thugs and extraneous elements and hold them responsible for escalating the situation and turning the peaceful demonstration into the violent events that took place.
In its field report about the results of the fact-finding mission sent by Sawasya to Maspero, the Centre stated that the government's handling of the Maspero incident was slow and very weak, and seemed to learn of events only from television broadcasts, just like any citizen in Egypt; meanwhile no urgent, immediate response was ever forthcoming to end the bloodshed in Maspero. This led to the high losses – human and material – suffered that night.
The 40-page report found that the government bears a large proportion of the responsibility for those events, for many reasons including: failure to properly handle the crisis from inception and until the end, and allowing the situation to escalate and get out of control – although it would have been possible to defuse the crisis at an early stage and prevent things from reaching this fatally dangerous stage.
The report also criticized the government's inaction in dealing with security problems in the country, giving thugs an opportunity to threaten the security and stability of the country, despite the activation of the emergency law.
The report indicated that "Almarenab" Church was not the real reason for the escalation of the Copts that way, but there were many other reasons that pushed things to such a treacherous situation. First, the policies adopted by the former regime in dealing with the Church for thirty years as a body political , a homeland for the Copts, an alternative motherland, as well as a spiritual authority responsible for the Copts, and able to mobilize them to vote for him and his party all the time.
The report also mentioned that the former regime adopted the policy of “divide and rule”, placing the Islamic and Coptic issues in the hands of state security, which used of the two against the other, according to its interests, and always sought to publicise the voices of hard-line figures on both sides to increase the tension and sectarian strife by actively spreading the spirit of intimidation and hostility between both parties whether through government-controlled media or fabricated sectarian incidents and crises. Consequntly, security forces were allowed to control society, and through a persistent campaign of intimidation focused on scaring the Copts of the overall Islamic movement, they managed to make the ordinary Christian think that all Islamists wished to get rid of them.
The report stressed that certain Israel and Western hands were at work fomenting sedition after penetrating influential circles on both sides, helped by the media as its ally. This was especially important after the Egyptian role in the region became a nuisance to Israel, as manifested in the reconciliation issue, which was impossible before Egypt's foreign policy turned towards real support of the Palestinian people and their struggle. Moreover, Western and Israeli circles are endeavouring to block the transition to a democratically elected authority for fear of Islamist takeover of the parliament and decision-making circles in Egypt – as the report put it.
The report blamed part of the violence on remnants of the dissolved National Party who continue their destructive efforts to abort or derail the Egyptian revolution, through the use of corrupt security men, armed militia and bands of vicious thugs and others who intent on escalating the situation and disrupting the rule of the transitional government for fear of trials that may well ensnare them for crimes of corruption and bullying. Inevitably, they are doing their worst for the failure of the democratic experiment and the return of the police state.
In the recommendations to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the government, the report called for an end to inflammatory speeches and provocative public statements and accusations of treason levelled by each side against the other; and called upon Christian and Muslim leaders to emphasize the need for tolerance and peaceful coexistence as part and parcel of religious life.
The report also recommended the adoption of a “unified” law to regulate places of worship, taking into account the distribution of such places of worship on the basis of population density not distance, as happens in most countries of the world. Furthermore, it called for activation of the meanings of citizenship and patriotism, and for legislation criminalizing discrimination.
Moreover, the report emphasized the need for SCAF and the government to force the leaders of the former regime, especially the bosses of the defunct state security, to reveal all information about armed militias and thugs, in order to thwart any future attempts by those to cause sectarian troubles and clashes. It also underlined the importance of addressing foreign intelligence plots to penetrate Egyptian society and ignite sedition, and to face up to certain expatriate Copts who collaborate with them, who are inviting some international human rights organizations to take action against Egypt under the pretext of alleged persecution of the Copts.
The report also recommended that the government must take decisive legal action against any cleric who publicly insults the beliefs and sanctities of others.