Bishoy Saad’s Testimony
Today’s march was different from the two marches that came before this to condemn the destruction of Saint George’s Church in the village of Elmarinab.
The numbers were huge compared with before.
Shobra street was closed starting from Shubra Roundabout to Massara. Packed with people, Muslims and Copts. They didn’t like the way the last sit-in in front of Maspero was dispersed by force.
And they didn’t like that churches were being unjustly burned without punishment or prevention. So they went and chanted “Muslims and Christians are one hand”. Most of the chants were directed against Tantawy and the Council.
There were more Muslims with us than at previous times.
We walked along as normal down Shubra St.
Only a few incidents of friction and harassment as usual.
But because the numbers were so huge and people were so enraged, no one dared to curse at us or spit on us like the last two times.
The first trickle
We reached the beginning of Shobra peacefully.
As we passed through the Shubra tunnel under the Sabteya Bridge, a hail of rocks and stones fell on us from the bridge. Some people were lightly injured and they were given assistance immediately.
We stood there under the bridge until one of the Maspero Union youth went up onto the bridge.
As soon as the people throwing rocks saw them they ran off. We were sure then that it was not a big deal and that those were just residents who didn’t like the look of the crosses in the march, so they decided to greet us in their own way.
We went on until Ollaly. At a municipal government building there we heard heavy gunfire. People panicked and started running everywhere.
There was a priest who was standing on one of the cars that had the chanters that were leading the demonstration.
As soon as he saw the fuss he picked up a microphone and started to calm people down.
He literally said:
“People, our demonstration is a peaceful one, and no matter how much provocation and friction occurs it will stay peaceful. Please, we don’t want anyone to get aggravated and lose their temper….even by cursing or insults…we don’t want to spoil the image of the march.”
People calmed down a bit and the chanting heated up against the Council and Tantawy and Anan.
We got to the Ramses Hilton and before we went on to Maspero a priest got on top of the car leading the march and said “People, we came to send a message and we’re going to leave right away. No matter what happens, our march will stay peaceful…we didn’t come to fight or make war. We’re saying “O God” and “Kirialaysoon” [God have mercy] so if anything happens to anyone or someone is injured or dies, I’m telling you that God will count him a martyr for Christ’s name.”
It was as if the priest sensed what was going to happen half an hour later.
People heard what he said and were filled with energy, and we continued with the march.
I stopped to buy a can of Pepsi from the kiosk in front of the Ramses Hilton. I called my mother and sister to assure them I was fine. I was held up for about five minutes. The group I was with was far ahead of me and I was now at the end of the march.
As soon as we got on to the Corniche, all of a sudden we heard heavy gunfire. All of a sudden the people in front of us were turning and running towards us screaming, “Run…they’re firing!” I thought the army was just scaring us as usual with a few shots in the air.
All at once all the lights went off and I heard the sound of a car grating on the ground. I looked and saw an army tank coming from afar at insane speed with a solider at the cannon opening machine gun fire in every direction.
People were running like madmen in every direction and the tank was crushing anyone in its path. The light was very faint and almost no one could see in front of them…we could just hear screams and the window glass in the building next to Maspero shattering from the gunfire.
I ran to hide between two parked cars, I thought it was all over.
Then I saw two other tanks speeding in the same way and also crushing anyone in their paths.
They got to the end of the street and turned around and came back and did the same thing they did on the other side.
Imagine the sight of the terrified people! Especially as the majority of the march were women and young people.
We ran to an alley that came out into the parallel street. It was pitch black. The sounds of weeping and screaming were everywhere.
I ran and ran until I got to the Ramsis Hilton.
And then I stopped, trying to make sense of the scene I just saw. I was stunned at the reaction of the army forces, because it was not expected to be that violent. I was stunned at the body parts that were everywhere and the sound of weeping and the screams of “O God, O Virgin, O Jesus!”
About ten minutes after that the youth started to try and move the injured and take them away.
No matter what I write or say I can’t describe the brutality of what I saw. I saw two people carrying someone whose lower body was gone. I looked at his face and saw that he was the one chanting in front of me before we came in. I was walking next to him from when I joined the march until I stopped to get Pepsi. So if I hadn’t stopped to get Pepsi and been delayed, I would have been in his place.
And I saw several people who had taken bullets all over their bodies. Their blood drenched the streets.
People went wild. Some of them tried to carry the injured away and take them to the Ramsis Hilton but security prevented them from doing so and attacked them. So people went mad and started banging and shaking the glass.
As I left I saw about ten Central Security Forces trucks going into Maspero. Then I don’t know what happened after that because I wasn’t aware of what was happening to me. I stood in the street for about half an hour in shock not feeling anything that was happening around me.
When I got home, of course my family had turned the world upside down looking for me. And I found the Egyptian state television – there is no description filthy enough to describe them – raving bizarrely. Saying that soldiers were being martyred at the hands of Coptic protestors. And that the Coptic protestors were trying to storm Maspero and firing gunshots at the army forces. Those were one thing, and the infuriating presenters, those sons of b******, were a whole other thing.
In summary, I’m here to clarify a few things so that people know the truth about what happened.
First: We had Muslims in the march with us, maybe not a lot, but more than in the last two marches. And they joined us even in some of the Christian chants.
Two: When we were subjected to attack at the beginning of Shubra, all we did was run. And if we had weapons like the media says the least we could have done was respond to those attacks.
Three: Throughout the march we insisted on peacefulness, and the Father warned several times against provocation or friction that leads to violence.
Four: The number of people who were crushed and killed by gunfire is many times the number announced by the media up till now (30 martyrs) and I do not hesitate to call everyone who went out to call “God, protect this country!”a martyr.
Five: As I said before, there were people who got very emotional at the sight of the blood and the martyrs’ body parts everywhere…and because of that any incidents of violence or attacks that happened afterwards between the protestors and the army or police were the natural result of what happened (the same scenario as the revolution).
Now…I beg of you, don’t believe a word of what is being said on Egyptian television, no matter how respectable or trustworthy the person. Every single inch of that filthy place (Maspero) is controlled by the military. There’s not a word that gets said there that is not pre-planned and pre-calculated.
Don’t believe any rumours or talk of strife between Christians and Muslims until you make sure of the source, because this is a dirty game right now, where the tables have turned and the Council of shame has transformed from the perpetrator into the victim. It was won the sympathy of most Muslims who don’t know what really happened, and also won the sympathy of the Christians who objected to that march and thought that it was wrong and that those who went deserved what happened to them!
Spread any information or media that tells people what really happened. Pray that the nightmare that is the military ends before Egypt is destroyed.
Don’t add coal to the flames and turn on each other, for the sake of the people that died today chanting “peaceful! Peaceful!”
God have mercy on every hero martyred today and protect our blessed country from destruction.