A couple mornings ago, I woke up to a flood of Facebook posts from friends in Alexandria, Egypt – the city where the New Year’s bombing occurred.
Shock and anger were two emotions that resonated in Alexandria when a church bomb killed 21 Coptic Christians on New Year’s day. 96 bystanders, including Muslims were also injured in the blast that left body parts strewn and piled up against church doors. A gruesome sight for many, tensions broke out between Muslim and Christian bystanders left standing after the explosion.
This is not the first time that violence between religious communities has broken out. Approximately a year ago, on January 7th 2010, on the eve of coptic Christmas, a drive-by shooting killed 7 churchgoers in the town of Naga Hammadi.
Here is an excerpt from Huffington Post correspondant Mohamed El Dahshan:
Clumsily, people are trying to go about their business — but demonstrations in Alexandria have not quieted, later in the day to be matched by a 3,000-person strong demonstration, huge by Egyptian standards in Shubra, one of Cairo’s neighborhoods with a strong Christian presence. As always, the demonstration was met by police brutality, with protesters clashing with the state police that reacted the same way it always did. But the demonstration was nevertheless deemed as extremely successful — it was even described by one foreign correspondent as the “most unique protest I’ve been to. First time it seems protesters outnumber police”…
Having many good friends from Alexandria, I was quick to get in touch with loved ones.
Ghada Abdelhady reported that the Egyptians were suffering from low morale.
I’m fine physically, but I doubt if I am emotionally. You have no idea how this start for 2011 affected me. A wave of pessimism just rushed over me and everybody in Alexandria and Cairo. Putting aside the losses instead of celebrating New Year’s eve put everyone a victim to terrorism’s plan.
My trip to Istanbul as a journalist for the 5th World Youth Congress allowed me to see religious harmony in Turkey. The architecture of the Aya Sophia represented Islamic and Christian symbols integrated together in one building, despite the tumultuous history between the two groups. Often, I was able to step into a mosque during the adzan, and then into a church right across the street. In the dormitories, I met a handful of Egyptians, and I am Egypt-bound in 2012 to attend my friend Marwa’s wedding.
Alhassan Ali Omar, a highschool student in Egypt said that the New Year’s attacks spread sadness throughout Egypt and foreshadows a rocky start to 2011.
The world watches on as Muslims and Christians from all seven continents are coming together to protest against the violence that has tainted Alexandria’s New Year. Better days will come. Insha’Allah.