In place of wedding for Coptic Christians, a funeral
By Betsy Hiel
Published: Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 11:40 p.m.
CAIRO — Thousands of Egyptians attended funerals on Monday for victims of a Sunday night drive-by shooting at a Coptic Christian wedding here.
The four victims included two girls, 8 and 12, and the mother of the groom. Seventeen people were injured.
“It's God's will. They are always beating us down. Every other day now, they do this,” Fahmy Azer Abboud, 75, said as he waited for the funeral of his family's wedding party — his son, his wife's sister and two granddaughters —to start. He spoke haltingly of his dead granddaughters, both named Mariam.
The attack by two masked gunmen on motorcycles was the latest in a series of Islamist attacks on minority Christians since the July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Morsy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The church's pastor, Father Sawiris, said he heard “a lot of gunfire” outside the church.
“There were a lot of people here. There was a wedding every hour between 6 and 10 p.m.,” he said. He blamed the attack on “terrorist groups.”
Bloodstains and bullet holes were visible at the church's gated entry, where police stood guard.
Inside, women in black mourning gowns cried out, one shouting: “Oh, my darling!”
Sami Samir, 36, an electrician and church member, heard the gunfire while sitting in a cafe and “ran to the church and helped to carry the wounded to the ambulances.”
A church deacon, Rafaat Samir, 23, said Christians and Muslims in the crowded neighborhood of Warraq had no problems in the past.
“We work and live together here,” he said. “We don't know who did this. They just want destruction.”
Across Egypt, violence against minority Christians has risen in the past four years, especially since Morsy's ouster. Islamists have looted and burned more than 40 churches since August, mostly in rural areas south of the capital.
Terrorist attacks have exploded in recent months, too, and security forces say they are fighting a low-level insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula.
In September, Egypt's interim interior minister survived a car-bombing in Cairo. Earlier this month, militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at Cairo's main satellite-communications dish.
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai-based jihadi group, claimed responsibility for car bombings at a military intelligence building in Ismailia and at a Sinai police station. It accused the Egyptian army of ousting Morsy on behalf of “Jews and Christians.”
The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the world's older faiths. Tradition says that St. Mark founded it in the middle of the 1st century A.D.
Copts, the region's largest Christian minority, are 10 to 15 percent of Egypt's 90 million people.
Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi pledged that the latest “callous and criminal act” will not divide Muslims and Christians.
One Egyptian media report said that several suspects have been arrested, but that could not be confirmed.
Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, who heads Al Azhar, the seat of Sunni Islamic learning, condemned the attack as “contrary to both religions and morals.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review's foreign correspondent. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Panthers free agent safety headed to Steelers
- Printing delinquent tax list pays off for Highlands
- Orpik rises to occasion as Penguins take down Capitals once again
- Rural Ridge residents question NRG’s plans for landfill
- Obama budget puts more money into nuclear cleanup, not locks and dams
- Memo confirms VA Pittsburgh officials knew of Legionella threat early on
- Forward supervisors OK park funding proposal
- Chamber event targets small business, health care
- Review: ‘Once’ charms as it breaks rules of musical theater
- Minorities crucial to filling Marcellus shale gas drilling jobs
- Fields set for primary elections on May 20