Angry Copts mourn Egypt bus attack victims

Women mourn Friday's terror attack victims at the church in Egypt's southern Minya province. (AFP)
Updated 04 November 2018
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Angry Copts mourn Egypt bus attack victims

  • Copts have long complained of discrimination in Egypt and Daesh is not the only group to have launched sectarian attacks against the community
  • In May 2017, masked gunmen ordered Christians traveling to Saint Samuel to get off their buses and recant their faith

MINYA: Angry Coptic Christians on Saturday buried relatives shot dead on a bus carrying pilgrims south of the Egyptian capital, the second such terrorist attack on the country’s main religious minority in as many years.
Daesh said it was behind Friday’s attack which killed seven Christians returning from a visit to the desert cemetery of Saint Samuel that was also targeted in 2017.
A security source said another seven people were wounded in the shootings near the city of Minya.
Hundreds of angry Copts gathered in and around Minya’s Prince Tadros Church from dawn for the funeral of six victims, under heavy guard by masked security personnel.
The seventh victim, an Anglican, was buried on Friday evening in a village outside Minya.
After Saturday’s prayers, the bodies were carried out in white coffins bearing wreaths of white flowers.
They were being buried in a nearby Coptic cemetery.
“We will not forget the promises of officials, including the president of the republic, that the criminals will be punished,” Bishop Makarios of Minya said in an address to mourners.
Members of the crowd, however, booed as he thanked security officials.
Many Copts accuse authorities for not doing enough to protect them, following a string of attacks that have killed over 100 members of their community since 2011.
Dozens of victims’ family members had waited throughout Friday night outside Minya’s main hospital to receive the bodies for burial.

Scene of shooting
An elderly woman wept for her dead son and wailed as she sat on the ground outside the hospital morgue.
“He was the best child... I’ll never see him again,” she said, as other mourners rushed to carry a coffin to an ambulance to be taken to a church for a funeral.
Security forces remained on the alert outside the hospital for fear of further attacks, while roads were blocked to the scene of the shooting. Bishop Makarios visited the hospital to try to comfort mourners.
Another Coptic cleric, asking not to be named, said around 24 people had escaped the attack unharmed and spent the night at a church in a nearby village.
“Should I carry a gun with me when I go to pray or when I’m at home? Because I could die if I go to church,” said Michel, a 23-year-old Copt whose neighbor was killed in the attack.
He said three of the victims had been siblings.
“What do these terrorists want? Do they want us to hate Muslims?“
On Saturday, a burned-out four-wheel-drive truck, which witnesses said had been used by a group of militants in white galabiya gowns, stood near the site of the attack.
Residents had attacked the car and handed two of its occupants to security forces, they said.
As Egypt’s Christians reeled from the latest attack, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi called Coptic Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences and led a minute of silence at a youth forum he was attending.
Copts, a Christian minority that make up 10 percent of Egypt’s 96 million people, have in recent years been repeatedly targeted by terrorists.
In May 2017, masked gunmen ordered Christians traveling to Saint Samuel to get off their buses and recant their faith. The group refused and were shot one by one, leaving 28 people dead in the Daesh-claimed attack.
Daesh also killed more than 40 people in twin church bombings in April 2017, and a Daesh gunman last December killed nine people in an attack on a church in a south Cairo suburb.
Egypt’s army launched a major offensive in February 2018 against Daesh in the Sinai Peninsula, where the group has waged a deadly insurgency since the fall of Mohammed Mursi in 2013, killing hundreds of soldiers and policemen.
The military offensive — Dubbed “Sinai 2018” — has killed more than 450 terrorists, according to an army estimate, with around 30 soldiers killed.
“This latest attack shows that the anti-Daesh campaign has not yet succeeded in Egypt, despite obvious efforts by the authorities to tackle it in different parts of the country,” said H. A. Hellyer, senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Royal United Services Institute in London.
Copts have long complained of discrimination in Egypt and Daesh is not the only group to have launched sectarian attacks against the community.


‘A dumb thing to do’: Trudeau apologizes for brownface

Updated 19 September 2019

‘A dumb thing to do’: Trudeau apologizes for brownface

  • Time magazine posted the photo
  • Trudeausaid he should have known better

TORONTO: Canadian leader Justin Trudeau’s campaign was hit Wednesday by the publication of a yearbook photo showing him in brownface makeup at a 2001 costume party. The prime minister apologized and said “it was a dumb thing to do.”
Time magazine posted the photo, which it says was published in the yearbook from the West Point Grey Academy, a private school in British Columbia where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics. It depicts the then 29-year-old Trudeau wearing a turban and robe, with dark makeup on his hands, face and neck.
Trudeau, who launched his reelection campaign exactly one week ago, said he should have known better.
“I’m pissed off at myself, I’m disappointed in myself,” Trudeau told reporters traveling with him on his campaign plane.
The Canadian prime minister is but the latest politician to face scrutiny over racially insensitive photos and actions from their younger days. Earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam faced intense pressure to resign after a racist picture surfaced from his 1984 medical school yearbook page. He denied being in the picture but admitted wearing blackface as a young man while portraying Michael Jackson at a dance party in the 1980s. Since then, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has acknowledged wearing blackface in college, and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has publicly apologized for donning blackface during a college skit more than 50 years ago. None has resigned.
The photo of Trudeau was taken at the school’s annual dinner, which had an “Arabian Nights” theme that year, Trudeau said, adding that he was dressed as a character from “Aladdin.” The prime minister said it was not the first time he has painted his face; once, he said, he performed a version of Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” during a talent show.
“I should have known better then but I didn’t, and I am deeply sorry for it,” Trudeau said. “I’m going to ask Canadians to forgive me for what I did. I shouldn’t have done that. I take responsibility for it. It was a dumb thing to do.”
He said he has always been more enthusiastic about costumes than is “sometimes appropriate.”
“These are the situations I regret deeply,” Trudeau added.
The prime minister, who champions diversity and multiculturalism, said he didn’t consider it racist at the time but said society knows better now.
The photo’s publication could spell more trouble for Trudeau, who polls say is facing a serious challenge from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
Trudeau has been admired by liberals around the world for his progressive policies in the Trump era, with Canada accepting more refugees than the United States. His Liberal government has also strongly advocated free trade and legalized cannabis nationwide.
But the 47-year-old son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was already vulnerable following one of the biggest scandals in Canadian political history, which arose when Trudeau’s former attorney general said he improperly pressured her to halt the criminal prosecution of a company in Quebec. Trudeau has said he was standing up for jobs, but the scandal rocked the government and led to multiple resignations earlier this year, causing a drop in the leader’s poll ratings.
Following the release of the brownface photo, Trudeau said he would talk to his kids in the morning about taking responsibility.
His quick apology did not stem the criticism from political opponents, who took the prime minister to task for what they said was troubling behavior.
“It is insulting. Any time we hear examples of brownface or blackface it’s making a mockery of someone for what they live, for what their lived experiences are. I think he has to answer for it,” said Leftist New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh who wears a turban and the first visible minority to lead a national party.
Scheer, the opposition Conservative leader, said brownface was racist in 2001 and is racist in 2019.
“What Canadians saw this evening was someone with a complete lack of judgment and integrity and someone who is not fit to govern this country,” Scheer said.
Robert Bothwell, a professor of Canadian history and international relations at the University of Toronto, said he was “gobsmacked” at the development and wondered how it would land in Parliament.
“We’ll just have to see how the party reacts,” he said. “I’m very curious to know how Liberal members of Parliament that are black will react.”
How the scandal will affect Trudeau’s campaign remains in question. Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said he didn’t think the photo’s release would cause people to vote differently. Wiseman said race and blackface play a much bigger role in US politics than in Canada.
“I don’t think this will swing the vote, although the story will get a lot of media play for a couple of days,” Wiseman said. “The Liberals may very well lose the election — they almost certainly will not do as well as in 2015 — but this is not the type of scandal that will drive voters to the Conservatives.”