The Egyptian military police incited the killing of peaceful Coptic Christian protesters on October 9, 2011, although the Copts did not carry any weapons, but rather wooden and plastic crosses, said Mohamed Ahmed Hussein Zaki, the only Muslim witness in the Maspero massacre case. The massacre claimed the lives of 27 Copts.
“Major General Hamdi Badeen, the military police commander at the time, told the soldiers to defend themselves because they [Copts] were coming to kill them [the soldiers ],” Zaki said.
On October 9, 2011, 27 Copts were killed by being crushed to death under Egyptian army vehicles or by live ammunition while they were demonstrating peacefully in front of the Egyptian Radio and Television building (Maspero) to protest the assault by extremists on a church in the village of Marinab in Aswan, southern Egypt.
Only three soldiers were tried for manslaughter. None of the Egyptian armed forces commanders, who were litigated by the victims’ families, were brought to trial. The army leaders included Maj. Gen. Hamdi Badeen, a former military police commander, who was appointed by deposed President Mohamed Morsi as military attaché to China, which observers called “a safe departure for him.”
“On that day, I was in front of Maspero at 4:30 p.m. to demand a solution for the issue of the Marinab church,” said Zaki. “I was there to show that not all Muslims are against Copts, and there were small numbers of Copts chanting hymns.”
“I saw a group of people wearing civilian clothes in front of the Maspero building carrying all types of firearms, sticks and blades as if they were ready to carry out something, but I did not expect it would be a massacre,” Zaki added.
“At about 6 p.m., a march appeared in front of Ramses Hilton Hotel and I was standing on the Corniche in front of the Maspero building,” Zaki said. “A military captain fired the first bullet on that day and it served as a signal to start the attack on the march. The men in civilian clothes moved carrying their weapons and began to run over and kill Copts with live ammunition.”
Zaki stressed that events were systematically going on as if they were well planned. He added that he saw a number of soldiers dragging a Copt to the extent that his face lineaments were covered with blood. The Copt tried to escape, but they caught him again and beat him.
“The scene made me cry asking them to let him go, so they tried to arrest me. When told them I was a Muslim, they let me go,” Zaki explained.
“I saw an armored vehicle, which Copts were accused of burning, emitting sparks at the entrance to 6th of October Bridge due to friction with stones. When the soldiers saw it, they threw a material that helped to set the vehicle ablaze to provoke Copts and fabricate a charge of burning the vehicle against them,” he added.
The only Muslim witness in the Maspero case revealed that there was a police vehicle coming from the radio and television building, from which a police captain was shooting live bullets at the protesters.
He pointed out that he saw an army brigade inciting soldiers to kill the demonstrators in the march. He told the soldiers to defend themselves because Copts were coming to kill them.
“I did not know at the time that he was Maj. Gen. Hamdi Badeen, the military police commander, and I recognized him later from his pictures in the media,” Zaki said.
“I stayed a long time at home and could not speak about the horror I saw,” he continued. “When the media portrayed the incident as an attack by Copts on the army, I decided to make my testimony because I felt injustice against Copts and I realized that they really are oppressed.”
“I asked the volunteer lawyers in the case to help me make my testimony,” he added. “I said what happened in front of the military investigator and he was surprised. He said to me the army defended its soldiers because the demonstrators were carrying weapons, but I told him I did not see a Copt carrying a weapon, but crosses, but he insisted they were armed.”
The Muslim witness revealed that he faced attempted murder. “A few days after I made my testimony in the case, a car hit me in Nasr City and I lost consciousness,” Zaki said. “An old man woke me up and took me to the hospital. He gave me the car’s number. After I left the hospital, I went to Nasr City Police Station to file a complaint, but the bailiff refused. I could not recognize the car in the traffic department and when I went to the hospital to get my check-in and check-out information, I did not find any data.”
“I was also subjected to an attempted kidnapping, but it failed,” he concluded.