The Church Attacks in Imbaba and Sectarianism in Egypt

Offensive: A must read from Sandmonkey:

Like many of you, I have been greatly disturbed by the Church Attacks in Imbaba, so much so that I found myself in the middle of Imbaba, at midnight, in front of the 3adrah church , as it stood there burning with people still locked inside. I wanted to see for myself who was behind this, scared shitless of course, envisioning myself arriving there to find myself attacked and surrounded by fundamentalist Islamists who will be less than friendly towards someone like me. What aided that paranoid perception was my Phone call to the Daily News Ian Lee, who-in abated breath-informed me that he was attacked by a mob when he arrived to Imbaba with a number of fellow foreign journalists, and had to escape it with his life. So, here I was, going there, with-mind you- a female activist friend, heading to what I was expecting to be a completely violent situation, in order to get the truth of what’s going on and confronting those nice violent people who did this. Total Insanity on our part, but completely necessary none-the-less.

When we arrived there, there was a huge crowd (maybe 7000 men, not a single female in sight, even though I knew Sarah Carr was there) gathered in front of the burning church, and they were visibly upset and angry. Their anger wasn’t directed towards the Christians in the area or the church, but rather at those who did this. More than one eye-witness told me the same story: That the people who attacked the church were: 1) not from that Area, 2) Not Salafists, but rather clean-shaven thugs, one even identified one of them as a paid thug that he has seen before, who threatened everybody with knives and blades, set the church on fire and escaped the moment they heard the Police were coming. The locals were busy trying to put out the fire, getting people out of the church and the adjacent building, cheering on and helping the Fire Fighters as they were putting out the fire and getting victims out. For about two hours I watched the population as they expressed their anger and frustration at those who burned the church, many of them expressing the phrase over and over “We don’t know who did this, but it can’t be from us. Egyptians were never like this!”

Those words kept circulating in my head all of the following day and yesterday. “Egyptians were never like this! Egyptians were never like this!” And the more I hear it the angrier I get, and the more I read of people’s responses on Twitter I get even angrier. It’s easy for us to be Egyptians and Proud when we don’t engage in sectarianism (or in the case of that church, have someone paid to fuel its fire), but we cannot fool ourselves or others. This is not new. Egyptians were like this for a long long time, and this is not likely to stop anytime soon either, if we are completely honest.


About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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