Amnesty for Jasmine Revolution participants, silence for Coptic victims of Maspero massacre
Announced today, the decision is seen by many as a political ploy. President Morsi pardons people who took part in the Tahrir Square protests. Who should benefit from it leads to row since no one was arrested for protest. The massacre of Copts last year in front of state TV building is ignored. Former leader of Muslim Brotherhood: "The silence that fell on the tragedy of Maspero is a crime against the all country".
Cairo (AsiaNews) - After almost 100 days in power, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has issued a pardon for all those jailed in connection with protest in Tahrir Square against Hosni Mubarak and his regime.
After the fall of Egypt's old strongman and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the release of activists had become one of the main demands of the young participants in the Jasmine Revolution.
For their part, Christians have complained that the president has done nothing about the soldiers and police responsible for the death of 28 Copts at the Maspero building on 9 October 2011. At present, the trials of the military involved in the case have not yet begun, whilst many Coptic protesters are still in jail.
Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, a pro-revolution lawyer involved in many of the protesters' cases, said the amnesty is too little too late and that the pardons should come with a financial compensation.
Abdel-Aziz explained that the decree is likely meant to ease political pressure on Morsi just days ahead of a pro-democracy rally against the president's policies planned for Friday.
The amnesty should benefit a thousand people, but critics already have already noted the problem of who should be freed. After all, people were not jailed for protesting but for resistance to public officials or causing a public disturbance.
"It is a great step, but not enough," said Ahmed Seif, a member of the committee formed by Morsi to review cases of those tried following the uprising. "Now, there will be differences over how to implement the pardon," he added.
Ahmed Ragheb, a human rights lawyer, goes a step further and laments that the amnesty doesn't include "all the victims of the past period." Morsi's choice of wording in the decree, "those supporting the revolution," can be interpreted in different ways.
In fact, hardened criminals, some on murder charges, are included among the 12,000 civilians brought before military tribunals when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was in power.
The silence on the Maspero's massacre and about the processes against military abusers has also been criticized by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. From his Twitter profile, Mohamed Habib, a former deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, applauds the decree of release signed by bites, but is shocked that those responsible for the massacre of Maspero have not yet been punished. "The silence that fell on the tragedy of Maspero and the lack of compensation for the families are a crime against the country".
Egypt under shock by brutal anti-Coptic attack as calls for the govt to resign mount
by André Mounir Azzam
The Finance minister quits calling on the military to own up to its responsibilities. State TV is accused of inciting anti-Christian attack by broadcasting false news. Eyewitnesses say they saw the bodies of people crushed by army armoured vehicles in Sunday’s clashes. Intellectuals and religious leaders express concern over the atmosphere of repression that threatens the country’s future.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – Streets in Cairo and other Egyptian cities saw many Christian women wearing black in a sign of mourning and protest against Sunday’s brutal killing of 25 Coptic demonstrators during clashes with the security forces. In recent days, many have criticised the ruling Supreme Military Council for its inability to govern and its role in instigating communal violence between Christians and Muslims. Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi quit over the matter, saying the government has failed to guarantee security in the country and that it should own up to its mistakes and apologise to the people.
After nine months of transitional government and a few weeks before parliamentary elections, many Egyptians wonder about the direction the country is taking, whether the Supreme Council is encouraging fundamentalist groups and whether investigations into the various incidents are actually conducted correctly. Every Egyptian senses that the country is going back. After the recent violence in Tahrir Square, people are losing hope in the future.
Before last Sunday’s tragic events, a great woman journalist, Farida al Shubashy, wrote in an article that the Nazi spirit is alive now in Egypt. Like Hitler, who wanted to exterminate the Jews, fundamentalists and Salafists now want to exterminate the Copts. Yesterday, the great writer Alaa al Asswany, well known for his famous book "Yacoubain Building", penned an editorial in which he denounced the Wind of Fascism that is sweeping across Egypt.
An example of this atmosphere of repression is the constant broadcasting of false and misleading news on official media. During the demonstration by Copts in front of the Maspero television building, the Channel 1 state TV said that Christians had killed three soldiers and urged Egyptians to take to the streets to save the military from attacks. First, TV officials denied any responsibility in what followed, then said that one soldier had died, blaming a stressed out journalist for the error. However, since they refused to name the soldier, no one believes that there were casualties.
This has had terrible results. An unveiled Muslim woman was chased and savagely beaten by a group of people because they thought she was Christian. Dozens of cars parked in front of Cairo’s Coptic Hospital that had crosses and other Christian symbols inside were torched.
But the disinformation does not end there. Claims that security forces were stoned, provoking the military into overreacting, also proved false. Eyewitnesses said in fact that gangs of thugs threw bricks and stones in order to sow confusion in the crowd of demonstrators.
Copts had organised the peaceful rally to demand the resignation of the governor of Aswan after a church had been torched in a village under his jurisdiction. A number of Muslims had joined the protest and remained until the army moved in with armoured vehicles. In the ensuing melee, several protesters were run over. Eyewitnesses recounted that some bodies were so badly crushed that they were unrecognizable.
In one case, a priest left the square holding a bag containing the crushed head of a young man called Peter, asking people how he could deliver it to the family. A forensic expert at the state morgue said that he never saw so many bodies in such a bad state, worse than those of the victims of the Luxor massacre in the late 1990s.
In order to shed light on the events and promote a transparent investigation, Grand Imam Ahmed al Tayeb, sheikh of Al Azhar, the highest authority of Sunni Islam, organised a meeting with Christian bishops, high Muslim clerics, legal experts, and human rights activists.
Now everybody wants to know who gave the order to fire. They want to know why nothing was done when fundamentalists stopped trains for ten days in Upper Egypt, paralysing this vital transportation route. Why was there such a violent reaction to a peaceful demonstration? Why was no one arrested for burning the Saint-George Church in the village of Marinab, near Edfu, in Aswan governorate.
Many in the media and the legal profession want the resignation of Aswan’s governor, a former army general, because of his failure to solve the situation and because he openly lied about the incident when he said that a hall and not a church was involved and had accused Copts of cheating on their application for a permit to fix the building and that young Muslims simply wanted to re-establish the status quo ante.
In fact, the Saint George Church has been in existence in the village for the past 80 years, and was in need of repair. All the permits authorising the work had been properly approved by the appropriate governatorate authority.
Now moderate Muslims are afraid and shocked by events involving the military and Islamic extremists. An important Muslim attorney called on "the great and true Church of Egypt" to publish a stronger communiqué than the one released yesterday, which was read by Amba Yoannes, Auxiliary Bishop to Pope Shenuda.
On Monday, a large number of Muslims joined Christian mourners in Cairo’s cathedral for the solemn funeral of Sunday’s victims. However, the show of unity was marred by Muslim fundamentalists. Mina, a Christian woman who died during the clashes, said she wanted her funeral procession to start in Tahrir Square. This proved impossible because the funeral cortege was attacked by fundamentalists, forcing people to change route.
This has further shocked Egyptians who despite their differences traditionally show respect for the dead.
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