Coptic Christians protesting the failure of the Egyptian government to protect Coptic churches from attacks by Muslim extremists and to investigate an attack on a church in the Aswan Province on Oct. 1, 2011, found themselves under attack by plain clothes security officers in Cairo on Oct. 9, 2011. During the ensuing violence, which killed as many as 35 Coptic Christians and three Egyptian soldiers, military vehicles plowed into the crowd of protesters. (Most reports indicate 24 Copts were killed.)
Oct. 11, 2011 Update: CNN has compelling footage of the violence that took place, and of other alleged abuses perpetrated by the Egyptian government against its citizens which can be seen here.
After the violence, which took place at Maspero, a mob also attacked a Coptic hospital in Cairo. The heavy hand that the Egyptian military and security forces have used against the Copts stands in dark contrast to the restraint shown toward mobs of Muslim extremists that have attacked Coptic Churches throughout Egypt and toward the protesters in Tahrir Square who engineered Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February.
Clearly, Egyptian leaders are much quicker to use force against their country's Christian minority than they are against the Muslim majority in that country. "Why didn't they do this with the Salafists or the Muslim Brotherhood when they organize protests? " one protester asked Reuters after the violence.
According to the New York Times,some Muslims came out to defend the Coptic protesters; others sided with the police who attacked the Christians. The New York Times reported:
The military and riot police, on the other hand, appeared at some points to be working in tandem with Muslims who were lashing out at the Coptic Christians. As security forces cleared the streets around 10 p.m., police officers in riot gear marched back and forth through the streets of downtown alongside a swarm of hundreds of men armed with clubs and stones chanting, The people want to bring down the Christians, and, later, Islamic, Islamic.
Prominent Coptic activists have been killed. Ahram Online reports So far confirmed as being among those killed are Mina Daniel, an activist and blogger; Wael Yunna, a journalist for Coptic TV; and Michael Mosaad, an activist and member of the Maspero Youth Coalition.
The events can be followed on Twitter by following the hashtags #egypt, #copts, #maspero and #scaf. (Maspero refers to the scene of regular protests by Copts in Egypt and scaf is an acronym for the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces has governed Egypt in the aftermath of President Hosni Mubarak's ouster earlier this year.) Tweets provide links to other sources of information.
Be advised that just because something is posted on twitter does not mean its true. Twitter (and Facebook) have been used to spread false accusations against Christians throughout the Middle East. These accusations have helped foster a climate of hate against Christians throughout the region, particularly in Egypt.
Other sources of information that are updated on a regular basis include the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), which has covered attacks on Christians throughout the Middle East, particularly Egypt and Iraq, and two Egyptian newspapers, Al-Masry Al-Youm, and Al-Ahram.
Be advised that Al-Ahram is not necessarily reliable. For example, last September it doctored a photo to flatter Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Neverthless, its current coverage of events seems to be somewhat challenging. It's online publication, Ahramonline, reports that in state-run television anchors called on Egyptians to head to the scene of the confrontation and defend the military from attacks from Coptic Christians.
Al-Masry Al-Youm is providing regular updates here.
Here are some articles that provide information about the events of Oct. 9, 2011.
Update Oct. 11, 2011: Raymond Ibrahim has written a number of articles about Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt. Some of these articles were written well before Sunday's violence. Here are some links: