CEOSS: On the Violent Backlash in Egypt
[The following are excerpts from a release issued by the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), a Global Ministries partner in Egypt. Click here to read the full statement.]
In what has become one of the deadliest days in recent Egyptian history, hundreds were killed and thousands injured in attacks nationwide. The government’s attempt to disperse two protest camps sparked and ignited attacks resulting in massive retaliation all across the country. Supporters of deposed President, Mohamed Morsy, many from the Muslim Brotherhood, took aim at Christian-owned properties, police stations, and governmental buildings. Later, Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, responded with a month-long state of emergency nationwide.
The events began early morning of Wednesday, August 14, 2013, when police forces supported by the military, encouraged protestors in the two main camps in Cairo, to leave safely and return to their homes. It is worth mentioning, that these protestors have been protesting for six weeks, blocking major roadways and shutting down local businesses. Additionally, residents of both neighborhoods had been suffering greatly and unable to commute in and out of the areas. In dispersing the sit-ins, police allowed protestors a safe exit, to which many heeded and left the area. However, others resisted to leave and attacked the police forces. Police responded professionally, using tear gas only when was necessary. During and after the dispersal, police forces discovered caches of weapons and ammunition at both sit-in sites.
A few hours later, violent demonstrations by Morsi supporters broke out in different cities and towns throughout Egypt. Police and military personnel attempted to maintain safety for all people and disperse protestors safely. However, Morsi supporters threatened that if they were dispersed from the current sites, they would move to other sites and continue to protest, utilizing violence. Later, Interim President Mansour declared a month-long state of emergency and the Ministerial Cabinet declared a curfew from 7pm until 6am in the 12 governorates where the majority of the violent attacks took place. However, these violent attacks continued across the country, ignoring imprisonment for violation of the curfew, per the Cabinet’s statement
CEOSS has been a target to the attacks, the following are the current locations to date:
- Historically CEOSS-owned Dahabeya Boat, charred. [Before and after pictures appear on this page.] The Dahabeya Boat is one of CEOSS’ most important and historical assets as it was founded 60 years ago by CEOSS founder, Samuel Habib, and hosts many worldwide missionaries for the study of the Holy Bible. The Dahebeya Boat also served as a main source of financial sustainment for CEOSS developmental projects. During the violent attacks, the boat was charred to ruins.
- CEOSS Small and Micro Enterprise Office, attacked and robbed. Initially, the building in which the CEOSS office is contained was attacked and some apartments set on fire. Out of fear, CEOSS staff escaped the office onto a fire escape in which they stayed for three hours frightfully avoiding the attackers. While on the fire escape, the office was attacked and looted. Additionally, a staff member, in escaping the violent attackers, jumped off the fire escape and was injured.
CEOSS, on August 18th, has issued the following statement condemning the violence calling on its partners and friends to clarify the truth of events and convey the real picture to the media and governments in their countries:
With the escalation of violence and terrorism taking place in Egypt against all state facilities and houses of worship as well as private property, including important assets of CEOSS in Minia that were totally destroyed, we have immediately communicated with all our partners and friends in the various countries of the world including members of governments, international institutions and churches, those who represent important figures of the international community, to clarify the truth of events; and called on them to convey the real picture to the media and governments in their countries. CEOSS has also emphasized the need to stand by the people of Egypt in these circumstances that they face by the militias and armed extremist groups who roam the country destroying private and public with the aim of causing chaos, which is the first incident of its kind in the history of modern Egypt. It also stressed that what happened on June 30, is a correction of the path to Revolution and not a military coup as alleged by some, and the evidence is the appointment of the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court as an interim president of the country according to the constitution, the formation of a civil government as well as starting the procedures for amending the Constitution in a clearly communicated road map.
This was stated by Dr. Rev. Andrea Zaki, CEOSS General Director, who explained that CEOSS is one of Egyptian civil society organizations interested in public affairs, working in many cultural and development areas for over sixty years, providing its services to all Egyptians regardless of religion, sex or belief. Since the revolution of January 25, 2011, CEOSS had a firm and clear situation supporting the revolution, which called for livelihood, freedom and human dignity. CEOSS tried, through its Forum for Intercultural Dialogue, to involve all segments and movements of the Egyptian society in dialogue to develop a vision of a better future for the nation based on inclusion in rebuilding the state institutions. However, the course of events did not move in the desired direction of the citizens. With the continued intransigence of the ruling party at that time, millions rushed to the streets on June 30, declaring their opposition to the continuation of this policy. CEOSS has called more than once by several means to renounce violence and begin a serious dialogue aimed for the good of the people. It has also announced its support to the road map advocated by millions as a solution to many of the problems at all levels. Besides, CEOSS continued to communicate with all its friends and partners inside and outside Egypt to stand by the Egyptian people in this critical stage praying for the peace and security of our beloved homeland.