Midnight massacre

Protests and memorial ceremonies attempt to comfort Coptic Christians who seem to be surrounded by hatred and discrimination everywhere they go in Egypt, in the wake of the heinous attacks on New Year’s Day. The Facebook pages of Coptic Christians around the world are flooded with status updates of verses and statements following the massacre in front of an Egyptian church in Alexandria, while their home country transforms into a place where they are treated as second-class citizens. Canadian Copts attended funeral prayers at Nathan Phillips Square directly in front of Toronto city hall, where the New Years bash was celebrated just hours before, while mourning goes on in other major cities, the United States and Egypt.

Copts emphasize that they are proud to be called Egyptians. They, along with Muslims, suffer the injustices of a dictatorial and economically oppressive country. They complain of these violent massacres that seem to keep occurring at without much done on the part of state police and government officials, who could easily be more open to their Christian Egyptian brothers. They express their “love for the persecuted and the persecutors.”

“Someone wants to make this country explode [ . . . ]. We must realize that there is a plot aimed at triggering religious civil war,” the pro-government daily Rose el-Yussef magazine said. However, slogans and banners with statements like “sorry you will never break this bond” — referring to a cross intertwined with a crescent, a symbol used in the past in revolutions against the British — and “I am an Egyptian against terrorism,” are popping up as Muslims and Christians come together in nationalistic unity.

The bomb blasted on New Year’s Day, killing at least 21 people and injuring over 70as the midnight mass finished. Dubbed “the midnight massacre” by newspapers in Europe, it has been the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt in a decade. Last year, seven died in a Christmas Eve massacre, as they were leaving a church after midnight mass.

As shown by condemnations of the attack by religious leaders, people and university students all over Egypt, Copts and Muslims alike unite together against the hatred.

Statements issued by Pope Benedict, the Iraqi prime minister, the former Lebanese president, the Syrian president, Barack Obama, worldwide news agencies, etc., echo each other in condemning the violence. The Coptic Pope, his holiness Shenouda III, has decided against canceling Christmas mass, celebrated on Jan. 7 in Eastern Christianity. “Not praying would mean that terrorism has prevented us from celebrating the birth of Christ,” he said.

An Al-Qaeda website has listed more than a hundred Egyptian-Canadians as targets, some including pictures of them and their cell phone numbers. Police worldwide have vowed to protect specific churches for Christmas Eve mass, and Canadian police are also taking action. “It’s something that we will be devoting special attention to,” said Mark Pugash, a [Toronto police spokesman][10]. “I won’t discuss specific deployments.”

These attacks and anything like them are inexcusable. They are committed in utmost hatred and I find it agitates me just thinking about them. I find it hard to fathom the reasoning that the attackers employed in planning this out, because they have no reason! They are simply overcome with religious hatred. They were perhaps “brainwashed” by their terrorist leaders into thinking that they were doing something good. They have almost ruined Christmas, and as Egyptians start the New Year, eager for a fresh and peaceful start, they have had to deal with this rift that has been further aggravated. It’s horrible and I sympathize with the Egyptians.

This is why we teach children to respect one another from the start, instead of instilling ridiculous ideas into their heads. This is why we teach them to question and think about what they are told, so they don’t end up like those misled murderers.

Raymond Maxwell is a supporter of peace and unity in Egypt.

[10]: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/security-risk-Fal qunchanged-for-canadas-coptic-christians-federal-agency/article1857494/