Posted on October 27, 2011

In Egypt, Rockville Man Witnesses Attack on Coptic Christians

Susan Singer-Bart, Gazette, October 26, 2011

Harry Malek attended a church service in Cairo, Egypt, the morning of Oct. 9, then watched on TV in the afternoon as police attacked worshippers marching from the church to a television station.

The Coptic Christians were protesting the burning of a church in southern Egypt 10 days earlier and the treatment of the Christian minority since February, when President Hosni Mubarak’s government fell.

The estimated 6,000 marchers were shocked when police fired at them with live ammunition and ran them over with tanks, Malek said. The official death toll is 24. Malek suspects the toll is higher.

Egyptian military officials explained the action to the New York Times by saying soldiers were terrified of the thousands of demonstrators.


Malek’s second trip to Egypt since June, this was intended to be a family visit. He was invited by the new Egyptian government in June as part of a delegation of Copts who met with the government to discuss the future of the Christian minority.

“We are part of the Coptic Solidarity,” he said.

The Coptic Church, the major Christian church of Egypt, Ethiopia and the Middle East, split in the fifth century from what would become the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

Coptic Solidarity was formed in 2009 by Copts in the U.S., Europe and Canada to support members of the church in Egypt. {snip}

“We ask that they not apply Islamic law to Christians,” Malek said.

They also asked the government to liberalize rules that make building new churches difficult.

Christians, primarily Copts, make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 85 million. The New York Times reports more than 93,000 Christians have left the country since the revolution.