On January 7th, the Coptic Church in Egypt celebrates Christmas. Out of respect to the memory of those who lost their lives and those who lost their dear ones in that barbaric attack, I decided to stop "El-Kosheh" reports until after the holidays.
In the last articles, readers would have got the whole picture of the situation in that small town located on the banks of the Nile, in Upper Egypt.The town went to sleep on the night of the second day of the new Millennium with a mixture of fear and worry. Everyone knew that something is bound to happen.
The night was peaceful and quiet, with an uncanny calm atmosphere, similar to the calm before the storm.
The Egyptian Human Rights Organization reported that Mr. Aziz Kozman (30 years old at that time) said, “On the evening of Saturday 1/1/2000, the town lived in a strange kind of tranquilness, and in spite of no orders being given by the authorities, everyone stayed at home.
The town seemed divided in two parts, with the main street Port-Said, as the dividing line between Copts and Muslims". For the record, a member of the Egyptian Parliament, Mr. Hassan Tawfik, arrived that Saturday along with several Imams, in an effort to hold a reconciliation meeting, but both parties refused. Sunday January 2nd, being the same as every Sunday, Copts were going to Church to attend Holy Mass.
The law enforcement agents who were present in town, tried to prevent them, but the Copts were insistent, so they were allowed to go to Church. After the Holy Mass has ended, and while Copts on their way home, they heard bullets being fired in the vicinity of the Church. In order to give an accurate picture of this complicated situation, one has to go back and mention what took place in the streets of that town simultaneous to the Copts going to Church. While Coptic families were in the Church praying, Mr. Gamal Mekawy, City Vice President and Mr. Mohammed Yossef, town mayor, along with others high officials and Muslim residents arrived to the scene.
They wanted to erect again the makeshift wooden kiosks, built illegally in front of the Copts’ shops, along El-Kosheh’s main street, and which were pulled down by the Copts previously. A few Copts were present, they protested against this action. Meanwhile, orders were given to decrease the number of law enforcement agents (Copts were not happy about this decision). The police started shooting in the air, and using tear-gas bombs to scare and oblige the people to disperse away from the scene and to remain indoors.
This air shooting was the signal to initiate the "massacre", which went on from around 10:00 o’clock in the morning until 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon (time to break the Ramadan fast). The attacks took place in an area known as “Karm El- Grableah”, in the west, at “Nagah Amed Radowan”,in the south and out bounds in “El Kiam Park way”.
The three locations are areas of “El- Kosheh” where Copts and Muslims houses meet. Killing, looting and destruction went on for more than seven hours against the Copts and their proprieties, while law enforcement agents were enjoying the massacre. Priests and frightened Copt pleaded with the police officers to intervene and help the unarmed Copts, but no one wanted to listen. Eye witnesses reported that the killers were enjoying what they were doing. The killings were going on, almost everywhere, inside houses, in the streets and in the fields. During those attacks not only were the Egyptian law enforcement agents acting as spectators, but no one called for ambulances or fire brigades to come.
Inside the massacre will be next…..