“Friday of Rage” Protests Lead to over 100 deaths | Sectarian Attacks Continue

The Muslim Brotherhood’s “Friday of Rage” protests led to violence across Egypt, as at least 100 civilians died nationwide in clashes between supporters and opponents of deposed President Mohammed Morsi. Assembling in over twenty spots across Cairo, Brotherhood supporters marched toward the city center, and clashes erupted in Ramses Square, near the Cairo train station. Military and police forces had prepared for the protests, deploying in large numbers across the capital. In a confrontation on the 6 October Bridge, an elevated roadway that passes near Ramses Square, people jumped off the road in an attempt to avoid gunfire. Also in Cairo, a gun battle broke out near the Four Seasons Hotel along the Nile, helicopters flew over large gatherings, and a major office building was set on fire and burned out of control for hours. The clashes included a mix of different political factions, residents upset with political violence, and plainclothes policemen. As they had in the past, neighborhoods formed watch groups that checked cars driving by for weapons.

Attacks on Christians continued around the country. The village of Malawi in the province of Minya was particularly hard-hit on Friday, with a Catholic church and five Christian schools set ablaze. Several Protestant churches were also targeted in Minya; Malawi’s Evangelical Church was totally burnt out, with only its four walls left standing. Closer to Cairo, St. George’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Helwan was attacked by gunmen. Human Rights Watch specifically documented at least 42 attacks on churches following the August 14 clearings, and they faulted the security forces for failing to protect the churches or to respond to calls for help. Other attempts at a comprehensive list of sectarian violence have put the total number of attacks somewhat higher.