Christian Copts worldwide were shocked and enraged at the use of live ammunition by Egyptian state security forces against unarmed Coptic protesters, causing the death of three Coptic young men. A four-year old child suffocated from tear gas thrown inside the chapel. Rights groups inside and outside of Egypt have condemned the use of excessive violence by security forces and the use of live ammunition against Coptic demonstrators.
Efforts by State Security to hide the use of firearms on unarmed protesters were in vain, as the rising death toll, hospital reports on those admitted, and video footage and eyewitness testimony have revealed the details of the incident. Coptic activists Sherif Ramzy and Ramy Kamel have conducted interviews with witnesses.
CSW Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston blamed the violence on “excessive” police tactics and expressed his sadness at the “unnecessary” loss of life and injuries.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said that the events are a serious escalation in the State’s treatment of its Christian citizens. “We’re not talking about social violence occasioned by the construction of a church, but rather security forces opening fire on protesters demanding their constitutional right to worship without arbitrary interference or discrimination,” said Hossam Bahgat, EIPR’s Executive Director. “Even assuming Copts in the area wanted to convert a services building into a church for worship, that does not justify this degree of police violence. Demonstrators should not be shot at for violating building codes“. EIPR called on the Public Prosecutor to prosecute the security personnel responsible for the deaths and injury of Christians.
Hany el Gezeyri, head of Copts for Egypt, denounced the use of live ammunition, adding that he is concerned “whether the discrimination of the state against the Copts became an official persecution or is this a way to terrorize Copts so that they keep silent?”
Attorney Maged Hanna said that apart from the Copts, he is not aware of any incident in Egypt where live ammunition was fired against unarmed protesters, adding “this is a State terrorizing its citizens.”