Egypt′s Copts vent their fury at army and media | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 11.10.2011
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Egypt's Copts vent their fury at army and media

Young Copts who took part in the demonstrations on Sunday blame the media for manipulating information and inciting hatred. In addition, they warn the Egyptian army has gained too much power since the revolution.

Coptic protesters

Egypt's Coptic Christians feel let down by the army and the media

A day after the tragic clashes between the Christian Coptics and the army, which cost the lives of 26 people, the Egyptians woke up to a new, tense morning. The scenes of Sunday may play a crucial role in shaping the form of a future Egypt.

"There were clashes between the Copts and the army, and other civilians helped the army. A lot of tear gas was in the air, and I still can't breathe properly. Both sides threw stones. I have witnessed the army's violence, I saw them firing their guns, but I couldn't say if they were shooting at protesters or just in the air," said Rami Yaacoub, a 29-year-old Copt.

Sarah Assem, 25, was also there. She had a worse encounter with the armed forces.

"I was outside the TV station, when the demonstration was about to take place, at 5pm. Another group of demonstrators was making its way from Shubra, a Coptic neighborhood in Cairo. We saw on Twitter they were being attacked, and then suddenly stones were thrown at us and gunshots were heard," Assem said. "Everyone started running, it was a total chaos. The soldiers beat up people with clubs. One of the hit me on the back strongly, and I fell down. When I got up I escaped from the scene."

Earlier this year, the revolution had passed on quite peacefully. It brought hope for a change, for more civil rights. Now, following Sunday's events, this hope may have taken a blow.

"I am very disappointed. Last night when I came back home, I saw the videos of people run over by armoured vehicles, it was difficult to watch. What disappoints me most is the lack of the response from the authorities. It is not known if they will establish a committee to investigate those events," said Yaacoub.

"The only response was the unconvincing speech of the prime minister, Essam Sharaf. He talked about actions that damaged the revolution, but where is the accountability? The entire revolution broke because a lack of accountability, and now it is happening again. The government looks aside, and that leads to all problems. It makes the minorities bitter."

Military and Media to blame

Assem blamed not only the government, but the media. "It is not the first violent clash between the army and the citizens. I don't expect anything from the army, so I can't say I am disappointed. However, it is a disgrace that Egyptian media is telling lies. They announced the protesters are attacking the army, and asked civilians to go out and defend the armed forces. Who on earth ask for such a thing?," she said angrily.

"The media holds the main responsibility for what happened. Many people I met on my way home from the demonstration really believed the army was attacked. The state-owned media is very popular in Egypt, and most people believe what they see on TV."

burning vehicles

Many feel the army is controlling the media

In her opinion, there is a certain conspiracy involving the state owned media and the Egyptian army. "I assume the army controls the media. Of course I can't put my finger on it and point if it is merely corruption, blackmail or threats. In any case, one thing is not in doubt - the media totally support the army and its position in the Egyptian society."

Yaacoub is less radical. He didn't mention conspiracy theories, but also acknowledged the power of the media. "There is a very high rate of illiteracy in Egypt. Due to that, many people get information from the TV. The problem with the Egyptian media is that they are trying to make a picture of one, homogeneous Egypt. That causes ignorance and lack of tolerance. We are not homogeneous, there are many minorities here."

The fear now is that Egypt is moving toward a military-led regime. Getting rid of all the old habits, it appears, will not be as easy as it seemed in February. "There are several movements demanding accountability from the media. One of the revolution's demands was to clean the newspapers and TV stations from the old corrupted journalists. It hasn't happened yet. The average Egyptian admires the army, and I respect that, but I just don't think an army can control the state," said Assem.

"Ever since the revolution there is no more fear of speaking freely. Two years ago, I would have never talked with you," admitted Yaacoub.

"We can't know yet where this revolution is going, whether we get more civil rights or more economic liberty. Right now, the economy is still bad and we are still under military regime. You can't eat freedom, so a better economy is essential, but without freedom and civil rights the prosperity wouldn't reach all the people, instead you will get corruption and unfair prices."

Author: Adi Halfon
Editor: Rob Mudge

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