Tragedy struck Sunday night at a Coptic Christian wedding at the Virgin Church in Cairo, Egypt. Well-wishers waited outside the church for the bride to arrive and were greeted instead by masked, bearded men on the back of a motorcycle that fired on the guests, killing four and wounding 17.
According to Father Sawiris Boshra, “We heard gunfire and ran outside to find people and children lying on the ground swimming in their blood.”
The bride and groom, Donya Amir Eissa and Mena Nashaat respectively, were unharmed. Four other Coptic Christians, wedding guests, died including an eight-year-old girl.
Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi immediately responded that “heinous acts” such as this will not be tolerated, calling it a, “callous and criminal act.” He promised to bring the attackers to justice.
Other Egyptian leaders have come out in condemnation of the attacks, including the head cleric of the Sunni Islamic university al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, “It is a criminal act that runs contrary to both religion and morals.”
But Christians in the Muslim-dominated society are worried that violence like this will be the result of the July ouster of elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi. The minority population supported the fall of Mursi and when in mid-August, oppositionists suffered a bloody crackdown retaliation attacks were visited on Coptic Christians. At least 40 churches were destroyed in the attacks. Coptic Christians compose 10 percent of over 85 million Egyptians.
Monday brought dozens of black-garbed mourners to the Virgin Church (pictured above). “The Brotherhood are the ones who did it. It could not be anyone else because they hate us and they want to destroy the country… But God willing, they won’t,” said Ghaida Hafeez, 63.
The Muslim Brotherhood is largely blamed for Sunday’s attacks as well as the others on the Coptic Christian people and establishments. Some however, believe that Muslim-Christian cooperation, such as that in the tranquil neighborhood of Warak where the church is located.
Supervisor of the church library, Essam Iskander, said, “Those who carried out the attack were not only tackling Christians, but both Christians and Muslims, to spread terrorism and make the new state fail… Some of the injured people were Muslims. And many Muslims who sit in a nearby cafe protect the church.”[Image via Twitter.]