JIHAN HAFIZ, TRNN: It was the most violent day in Egypt since the Egyptian revolution.(SUBTITLED TRANSL.): They're shooting us with live ammunition!(SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We're not going to back down!HAFIZ: A series of incidents led to the chaos, involving the Coptic Christian minority, which makes up 10 percent of the Egyptian population. After radical Muslim groups burnt down a church in Aswan, the governor of the district demanded Coptic Christians apologize for violating a law which prohibits the expansion and construction of churches without government permission. Then this: following a Coptic protest in the same location last week, the army and police savagely beat a protester.CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The people demand the military step down.HAFIZ: The tension came to a head this weekend. Coptic Christians called for a demonstration from Shubra, a predominately Christian neighborhood 20 minutes away from the downtown area, towards the state TV building, a symbol which has became the source of their anger towards the military council. When the protesters arrived, the army and police responded with brutal force. Army vehicles drove head-on into the demonstration.~~~(SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We the Muslims are with the Christians. We will die today. The military council is the second Mubarak. Understand, you idiots: the Egyptian people are 85 million people. Don't provoke them! Today we will die.(SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The Egyptian army is running over the Copts with their tanks. Before our eyes, they are running them over! Blasphemy!~~~HAFIZ: Moments later, the protesters fought back. Concrete was broken up for rocks, while the army used tear gas, and plain clothes thugs dispersed the crowd. But the protesters could not be stopped. As the repression intensified, the protesters seemed to multiply in numbers, including many Muslims. Throughout the night they chanted, "Muslims and Christians are one."(SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Muslims and Christians, one hand!HAFIZ: Meanwhile, the state television began to incite violence towards Christians, implying Christian demonstrators attacked the army. These images of injured soldiers were broadcast on state television immediately after the clashes broke out.EGYPTIAN SOLDIER (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): They hit us with rocks. They shot at us. They shot us when we were standing to protect them. We stood from the afternoon until sunset guarding them. I swear we were guarding them, drinking and eating with them. They hit me and hit us, I swear to God. The Christians are sons of bitches.HAFIZ: At the Coptic hospital ten minutes away from the downtown, family members of the dead and wounded filled the corridors. This man disputes the army's allegations that Christians snatched weapons from the soldiers and shot at them.(SUBTITLED TRANSL.): To the head of the army police: what orders did you give to attack us without reason? We do not have guns. How can we kill? Is this dignified? Even the Egyptian state TV said two or three were killed. Lies!HAFIZ: The fridge in the morgue could only fit three bodies. The rest were laid out on the floor, covered in blankets. Some were shot in the back and head. Others were crushed to death. The images are too graphic to broadcast. This woman lost her brother.(SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Where is the humanity that makes them do this to people? Why? These are human beings, not cattle, not animals like them!HAFIZ: The wounded described what happened and how they were injured.(SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The army came from the top and bottom of the bridge. We were standing, and then they started to tear gas us. They had people with them, like thugs, who seemed to be dressed in civilian clothes.(SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We are here to have our rights back, from every aspect, for all of the things that have been done to us, for the churches that were hit, for the girls who were kidnapped. What's happened to us hasn't been done to anyone else. But also we say thank God, and he will bring us justice. I want to ask a question. When the thugs come and the army doesn't not show up, why? Why is it that when the thugs leave, the army returns? Why is that?(SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The army shot at us. Tantawi is a dog, he must be brought down!CROWD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The people are one, one nation!HAFIZ: Many protesters accuse the interim military regime of inciting violence between Muslims and Christians to undermine the struggle for democracy and social justice throughout Egypt. Their frustration towards the military council has now turned into anger, intensifying the call to overthrow the current system. Jihan Hafiz, for The Real News in Cairo, Egypt.
End of Transcript
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
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