- (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)
Thousands of Egyptians gathered in a massive funeral procession for Christian protesters killed in clashes with security forces, chanting against the ruling military council Monday in southern Egypt.
Mourners attended a service at the Coptic Christian Cathedral in Cairo late Monday for funeral prayers conducted by top assistants to Pope Shenouda III.
The protesters blame the military for the violence which led to the deaths of at least 26 people. They chanted, "The people want to topple the Marshal," in reference to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling military council, who took over power after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, on February 11.
The slain protesters were marching toward Cairo’s television headquarters Sunday calling for justice for the Marinab Church in Aswan, which was attacked on Sept. 30 allegedly by Muslim citizens. Reports said the protesters were attacked by armored vehicles that ran down protesters, killing and injuring many of them.
Egypt State TV has also admitted to putting out false reports that Christians had attacked and killed military personnel early in the protest. Those reports are thought to have directly attributed to the violent outbreaks and brutal crackdown by military officials and Muslim hardliners against Christian protesters.
Numerous eyewitness reports, however, have claimed that Copts were “not armed” and that the army was not “provoked to attack.”
Egypt's Coptic Church has accused the government of allowing repeated attacks on Christians to go unpunished. The Church called on believers to fast and pray for three days starting from Tuesday to mourn the Christians killed in the clashes.
The bodies of the Christian protesters were buried in a church-owned mass grave in the desert west of Cairo.