By Mary Abdelmassih
(AINA) -- Millions of people world-wide have seen videos of Egyptian Army trucks chasing and crushing Christian protesters under their wheels during the events of the Maspero Massacre on October 9, which claimed the lives of 27 and injured 329 Christians (AINA 10-10-2011).
The ruling military council has denied that military forces used live ammunition against the Maspero protesters, or that personnel intentionally used armored vehicles to run over civilians. After blaming the Copts for using firearms, they later changed their story and put the blame on "unidentified" civilians who infiltrated the demonstrations, targeting both the peaceful protesters and the military police to cause a rift between the military council and the people. In all of its statements the military has cleared the army of any wrong-doings.
Evidence during the Maspero Massacre have now emerged which exposes the military police and state central security of committing other grave abuses against the Copts. "These are war crimes," says Dr. Emad Gad, a scholar at Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, "and Field Marshal Tantawi is responsible for it. He who issued this order should be prosecuted."
Video evidence has emerged proving that the so-called "unidentified" civilian element, or "thugs" as they are sometimes called and who are increasingly implicated in crimes by the authorities to shift the blame away from themselves, worked together with the military police and central security during the Maspero massacre. Although the assailants in the footage were careful not to be caught on camera, Muslim activist Galal Mohannad was on his way to Maspero when he stumbled on the evidence and secretly taped it on his phone, risking his life in the process. He passed through this road with its inspection points because he is a Muslim. On YouTube he titled it "Bloody Sunday, thugs, police and army…one hand."
Coptic activist Mark Ebeid said that "thugs are either security personnel in civilian clothes, or ex-prisoners on the security and police's list of dangerous criminals and they hire them to kill or do any dirty work for them, or radical Muslims, who are only to eager to oblige the police and satisfy their desire to kill Christians."
Renowned TV commentator Bilal Fadl of the independent Tahrir TV aired this footage of how the thugs were intercepting Copts in the streets and how on orders of the security they even went into the Hilton hotel and dragged Copts out. He also commented on how they were waiting for the Coptic demonstrators to arrive to attack them (video).
Details of another Maspero incident were given in an article written by well-known journalist and TV personality Yosry Foda. The article was titled the "Egyptian Schindler," an analogy of the German businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. According to a Muslim owner of a company based in Maspero at the site of the Coptic massacre, he struggled to walk past the wounded, the dead and the human remains that filled the entrance of the company's building and the narrow corridor leading to the stairs. When he went up to his office, he saw the look of horror among the workers and on the faces of some forty Copts, including a priest, who had sought shelter there. The staff told him of how the military police, armed with machine guns, broke into the company's headquarters in search of Copts. The Christians were hidden in the restrooms. Some Muslim employees in the company gave their ID cards to the Christians to hide their true identity.
The man and his staff spent the first night guarding the Copts who were hidden in the restrooms. From time to time the military police came for a surprise inspection, sometimes alone and sometimes accompanied by people in plain clothes.
The man periodically visited the Copts and provided them with food and drink. They began to formulate a plan to sneak out of the building using the rear entrance, in twos and threes, and a cover story should they be stopped in the street. Some Christians agreed to say they were on their way to early morning prayers at the mosque. This continued for about forty-eight hours, during which the man succeeded in secretly bringing out all Copts safely except the pastor. Despite repeated attempts the pastor refused to change his religious attire.
After describing this incident in his article, Fouda addressed the ruling the Supreme Council of the armed forces: "tell us that members of the military police have lost their nerve amid the chaos and committed a mistake. Tell us, when they ran over their brothers, they did not believe that this is 'halal' [lawful]. Tell us that the heirs of the state security when they looked at the religion on the ID they were deceived, misguided, corrupt. You simply must tell us you made a mistake, this is more honorable for you, us and the whole country."
The military police stormed the Maspero headquarters of the independent News Channel 25 and Al-Hurra TV, which were airing the clashes live and were forced off air (video showing the storming of both stations). The military police told the staff they were looking for Copts, which is evident in this footage.
By Mary Abdelmassih