Newly-emerged video appears to show Egyptian police standing idly by - and even helping attackers during a deadly assault earlier this month on a Coptic cathedral where Christians were mourning five men killed in an earlier clash with Muslims.
The video shot April 7 and first obtained by MidEast Christian News, shows a men shooting guns, wielding machetes and hurling stones and possibly Molotov cocktails as mourners carry caskets out of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the Abbassia District of Cairo as uniformed police watch, unmoving. At one point, a police officer appears to help a gunman take aim at a courtyard full of mourners who had spilled out of the church. The attack left two Copts dead and another 84 people injured, including 11 police officers.
"There is a general feeling among citizens about the absence of law and the prestige of the state."
- Report on religious vilence in Egypt
When it was over, the only arrests made were of four Copts. Christians, who were already outraged over a three-day attack that began April 4 attack in Khosous which saw the four men killed and homes, a nursery and a church burned, said the events show how elusive justice is for Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the nation's population.
"Two Copts were killed during the attack on the Cathedral; four more died in Khosous, yet not one of their attackers has been arrested," said Andrew Johnston, advocacy director for Christian Solidarity Worldwide. “These arrests come at a time when the Coptic community in Egypt is still coming to terms with an unprecedented attack on the headquarters of the Coptic Orthodox Church and the violence in Khosous. Such discrepancies in the discharge of justice contribute to impunity, and can only foster more sectarianism.”
Tensions between Egypt's Christians and the majority Sunni Muslims have grown dramatically since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 and replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mohammed Morsi.
"There is a general feeling among citizens about the absence of law and the prestige of the state," said a report released Wednesday by the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights. "Such a feeling could push the citizens to the violence and sectarianism without fearing from any deterrence, " reads a passage from the report.
"The recent incident proved the shrinking of the role of the state to control the actions of the individuals especially those people who think that they talk on the behalf of God," the report continued. "There is a need for implementing the law strictly to treat such incidents.”