By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: Thousands of Copts marched from Shoubra to Tahrir on Friday, marking the 40th day after the death of fellow Copts in clashes in Moqqattam on March 8.
Protesters called for a civil state, a new constitution, a unified law for building houses of worship and ending discrimination.
Chanting “persecuted, persecuted” and “we can’t (enjoy) any freedom”, protesters also demanded school curricula that don’t include religion as a subject and for representation in the new government and upcoming parliament.
“I am here because we want our rights back,” said Mira Andrew, 12.
The march was organized by the Coptic Youth Union.
Mina Magdy, one of the organizers, said, “We want a civil state based on equality for all citizens and we want the army to fulfill its own promises to reopen the churches and to rebuild Etfeeh church because it is not done yet.”
Protesters called for the release of 17 Copts detained during a sit-in outside the TV building on March 9. They said those arrested got 2-3 years in prison through military trials.
The march was planned to head to Maspiro, the state-TV building, and end there. After hearing about a demonstration in support of ousted president Hosni Mubarak taking place there, leaders decided to head to Tahrir Square instead.
Father Felopateer of the Giza Archbishopric said, “We are not going to Maspiro because we are against Hosni Mubarak. We got an approval from army officials to go to Tahrir.”
A Muslim couple joined the protest holding the Quran. “We are all one, Muslims and Copts,” said Ramadan El-Sayed, 30.
His wife, Doaa Moustafa, told DNE, “We grieve all our martyrs whether they are Muslims or Copts”.
Protesters sang the national anthem upon reaching Tahrir Square. The central Cairo square remained open for traffic as thousands poured in. Army officers present, struggled to secure the flow.
About 200 protested outside the state-TV building on Friday in support of Egypt’s ousted president Hosni Mubarak. They chanted against the media and the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Mubarak was remanded in custody for 15 days pending investigations this week. (Daily News Egypt Photo/Hassan Ibrahim).