CAIRO (BP) -- Funeral services were held Oct. 10 in Cairo, Egypt, for some of the victims of a military attack against a group of Christian protestors that left 26 dead and hundreds wounded.
In the wake of what could be the worst act of violence against Egyptian Christians in modern history, leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church have called for three days of fasting and prayer for divine intervention, along with three days of mourning.
Leaders from other faith traditions among Egyptian Christians reported similar efforts among their congregations.
Samia Sidhom, managing editor for the Coptic weekly Al Watani, said Copts across Egypt are distraught about the attack and the future for Christians across the country.
"At this point you can't even imagine what the future will be like," she said.
The attack started late Sunday afternoon (Oct. 9) when Christian -- who were protesting church burnings -- marched through Cairo and began getting pelted with rocks and other projectiles near an overpass that cuts through downtown Cairo. The protest march had been announced in advance. By the time the protestors were able to make it to a television and radio broadcasting building commonly known as the Maspero Building, the army began shooting into the crowd and ramming riot-control vehicles into the protestors.
Witnesses at the scene reportedly said attacks left body parts scattered at the scene. Amateur video at the scene shows two riot-control vehicles plowing into the crowd of protestors.
Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center on Religious Freedom and a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, called the army's attack on the Christians a "watershed moment."
"The real significance of this is that it signals the future treatment of the Christian Coptic community by the state," Shea told the National Catholic Register. "The military was their last hope in protecting them from lawless forces in society that were religiously motivated to [eradicate] them, namely the Salafis [Muslims]. Now they know they have no protection.
"I think we can expect to see a major exodus of Coptic Christians from Egypt.... The whole reason they were in the streets was to protest lawless forces. It extinguishes all hope for them. They are utterly vulnerable." Read More