Maspero Massacre: Egyptian Military Arrests Coptic Christians

Last Thursday, Egypt’s military prosecutor decided to persist in holding 34 Coptic Christians captive under charges from the Maspero Massacre, which happened Oct. 9.

The military claimed that the prisoners, captured during the massacre, offended the army and were carrying firearms at the time of the incident. In the carnage, 27 Christians were killed and 329 were injured.

The action could be a response to organizations coming together to attempt to stop civilians being arrested and tried by military courts.

The 20 lawyers for the believers maintained that some of their clients did not attend the protest, and were arrested simply for “being a Christian.”

Ibrahim Edward, one the attorneys, reported the condition of his client: “After the operation [to remove a bullet from his jaw] he was sent straight to prison where he cannot eat without feeding tubes, so he lives on juices,” according to the Assyrian International News Agency.

Amnesty International, a 50-year-old activist organization, has demanded release of the prisoners, and has called for a stop of the baseless arrests.

"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces must be subject to public criticism and anyone imprisoned simply for criticizing the army is a prisoner of conscience and should be immediately and unconditionally released," said the group in a statement Nov. 4.

A very prevalent activist was also arrested. Alaa Abdel-Fatah openly condemned the horrific Oct. 9 events and was detained Oct. 30. He allegedly incited violence, stole military equipment, and vandalized military equipment, according to army reports.

While detained, Abdel-Fatah was completely silent, never answering questions by authorities.

Other motives for the detention are quite obvious, as the protester helped encourage families of victims to autopsy their family members’ bodies – in this way, they could determine whether or not the military had killed them, instead of perhaps accepting other explanations.

Mikhail Naguib, another Coptic Christian, was beaten and taken away in his underwear, according to his father in an interview with The Way, a Christian program.

The military claimed that he had stolen a military weapon, and that he used it against believers in the massacre. Of course, no evidence was produced, other than a testimony by a cab driver who drove Naguib to his home.

Many other Christians have been viciously beaten, dragged away from their homes, and starved in detainment.

Medhat Kelada, head of the Union of Coptic Organizations in Europe, said, "To arrest the victims and not the assailants shows the extent of persecution and humiliation the Copts are experiencing…the military prosecution should instead investigate the crimes committed by the military police."

Fathers Filopateer and Nasr and were both interrogated in connection with the injustices that occurred during the bloody Maspero Massacre. Both are Christians, and to them, it seems almost inconceivable for them to be blamed for brutally murdering fellow brothers and sisters of the faith.

And yet, it seems, this is the military prosecution’s endeavor.

"They are arresting Christians… in an attempt to implicate them in the killings," said Mark Ebeid, an activist and bystander during the massacre at Maspero. "The Junta is trying to justify the impossible, which is putting the blame on someone else. We all witnessed the killings with our own eyes on that bloody Sunday."