Ahmed Mustafa’s testimony
The story began on my way back from the Arab Network of Human Rights Information where I was attending a press conference about Bahrain. On my way back to the newspaper I met some colleagues who told me that there was gunfire at Maspero. It was around 7 pm. They went to Maspero, and then my colleague Marwa said, “Let’s go with them,” and I said, “Let’s”. We took the bus to the Egyptian Museum, and then we got off after we saw armoured personnel carriers heading to Maspero.
The first thing I saw on the way was an injured woman walking by. I filmed her. Then I saw an injured person being put into a pick-up truck. While I was filming him, people told me that there was a dead man in the truck as well. So I filmed him too, but I yet have to upload his video. I left them and walked towards the back of the Ramses Hilton, and I saw a lot of people and a lot of injured bleeding all over.
I went to the back of the Hilton. It was closed. There were injured people inside, and I believe there was someone either unconscious or dead. I saw all this through the glass. Below is the video:
After that, I filmed the injured for a while until I saw some protestors grabbing what I think was a police brigadier-general –I wasn’t sure of his rank- and beating him viciously. Some people hid him inside the hotel through a side entrance. And this is a video that shows what happened:
Then I found an almost 2-meter-long ammunition belt. I tried to pull one of the bullets out but I couldn’t till they scattered on the ground, so I took one of the bullets, which was almost 5 cm long.
The bullet is in the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofkzvlIaX2Y
I stood there for a while, and then I decided to go to Maspero. I told my colleague not to move and went by myself.
I met Nawara [Negm] on the way and told her that there were a lot of injured and dead where I had been, and she told me that there was nothing going on at Maspero because the police had closed the road. When I got there, I found a group of Coptic Christians holding crosses and praying. It was a beautiful scene and I took a photo of it. Here it is:
I went back to the hotel and on my way I saw injured people coming out of the parking lot of a building near the Ramses Hilton, and I took a few photos of them. There were also injured being carried away on a motorcycle and others in a broken jeep whose owner had volunteered to drive them to the Coptic Hospital in Ramses.
I entered the parking lot and filmed the people there. People told me there were dead people inside, so I went through a small entrance until I saw the horrifying scene. I couldn’t hold it together and tears just started falling down my face.
I saw 5 bodes stretched out on the floor. There were two whose injuries were obvious: one’s neck was severed and another had a flattened skull as a result of being run over by something. This is the video and the article is in Al Badeel under my byline. Note that this video is hard to watch.
I went back to the back of the hotel and decided to go to Maspero. When I got on the Bridge there was tear gas and Central Security were firing. I didn’t know whether it was live fire or blanks. Here is the video:
The bullet I took at the hotel was still in my pocket; it was real. I continued walking up the Bridge and taking photos till security tear gas canister landed beside us. I stood still; I was by myself. People were 20 meters away. Suddenly I smelled a lot of tear gas, so I held my breath and ran down the Bridge without seeing a thing because my eyes were tearing, my nose was runny, and they burned. When I got to under the Bridge, I sat down for a little bit till I recovered. To be honest, I saw a Molotov cocktail being thrown at the Security. I saw only one. And ahead near Maspero, I saw what seemed to be burning tires, and an extraordinary number of CSF and military forces. Then I met Marwa and walked to the newspaper, and I wrote the report. I uploaded the important videos and all the pictures there. I stayed there till I finished, then I went back with my colleague.
I went to Tahrir to find that military forces were everywhere and blocking all the entrances to the Square, but they were letting people in. I saw them beating someone they caught, and took his memory card because he was taking pictures when they had threatened to punish whoever did so. I walked to the central traffic island, where people were sitting. I showed everyone who doubted the deaths the footage I had and they shut up immediately.
The military police chased us away, but I came back. Then chased us again, and again I returned, until I heard indistinct chants. I went towards the chants. The army was blocking them in and they were chanting “The army and the people are one hand”, “Where are you Christian? Islam is here”, and “Islamic Islamic”.
I pretended to be one of them to find out what the deal was. The army let them pass through the Square. Then a little boy came to me and asked me whether I was a Muslim or a Christian. He checked my wrists for crosses and when he found out I was a Muslim, he said “OK, I’ll let you go”.
A while passed, and the army didn’t say anything to those people. Then there were clashes. I was in the central circle with my friend. I tried to tell people that we can’t fight with one another, and Coptic Christians have a right to do what they were doing. Everyone was against me, and someone brought up Maikel Nabil and whoever else. I told him Maikel Nabil is my friend, by the way, and he’s not a Christian. I tried to make them understand but unfortunately they were too loud, and suddenly a fat man appeared and punched me. He called me a Christian and was going to beat me up except that someone told him that I was a Muslim, although I refused to show them either my ID or my wrists.
Anyway, I talked to people for a while until the army started clearing the central circle. I believe I convinced one person that what was going on wouldn’t do.
The march of support had a lot of Islamists and people who looked very frightening. My friend and I almost got beaten up and the police took my friend when he tried to stand up to the boy who wanted to beat me up and told him to ignore those people because they were hypocrites.
I didn’t hear any Christian saying “Muslim” or “Christian” except for one lady that said that “if Muslims are real men, they should publish this.” I told her that I’m a Muslim and that all this would be published in Al Badeel immediately.
The Egyptian television called people to go out in order to cover up for what happened, and they lied massively because I didn’t see anyone injured of either the police or the armed forces. I also didn’t see any weapons with the protestors, who largely seemed respectable.
That was what I saw, and there are people who will say that this is one side of the story. I didn’t see anything else, and if I did, I would have said it without bias.
My testimony is finished, and I hope it has clarified some points.
Journalist/reporter in training
Blogger, political activist and member of the Broadcasters’ Alliance
A member of the April 6 movement and the Democratic Front
October 10th, 2011