A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Maspero One Year Later

Of all the tragic violence during the Egyptian Revolution and the more than a year of  military rule that followed, perhaps the most explosive of all occurred a year ago today, when at least 27 protesters were killed in an attempted march from Shubra to the Radio-Television building, known as "Maspero." Most of the demonstrators were Copts, and broadcasters on state television were openly inciting to violence with anti-Coptic comments. In the end, security forces used armored personnel carriers to run over protesters in the street and on elevated roadways where they had no route of escape. It was a bloody day made worse by the deliberate incitement to sectarian violence. Egypt's Christians remain insecure and lost faith in the intentions of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, a loss of faith not really alleviated by the transfer of power to a President from the Muslim Brotherhood. There was a new march today to remember the dead of the day now known by the shorthand of "Maspero." It is also worth noting that no one has yet been punished judicially for the killings, except three APC drivers sentenced to two and three years for "negligence" (and that not till last month).

For my own coverage at the time, my initial comments were here, and a few days later I explained how the 19th century French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero's name became inextricably linked to a human rights outrage..

For the anniversary, Egypt Independent reprints Sarah Carr's dramatic firsthand account from last year. (Also see her comments on the present situation.)  Ahram Online coiments on the continuing failure to bring the real culprits to justice, and has memories of Mina Danial, the 19-year-old Copt who became the symbol of those who died at Maspero. The same paper re-links to its two-part investigation into the timeline of events from last November, here and here.

Others are also remembering, or linking to their original posts: The Arabist here; Sandmonkey here;while Zeinobia looks back here and then discusses today's march here.

Though President Morsi has now proclaimed an amnesty for those protesters arrested and tried by military tribunals since the revolution,  it would be nice to believe that the deaths at Maspero had been punished; but there has been a virtual amnesty all along for the Military :Police and State Security forces. It would also be nice if Maspero had served to persuade the state to live up to its own rhetoric about Christians and Muslims being equal citizens. A year later, though, neither has occurred.

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