Helgens angrep på koptere i Kairo er ett av de mest alvorlige tilfeller hittil, og forløpet minner om pogromer vi kjenner fra jødeforfølgelser: et rykte oppstår om at kristne har krenket muslimer, og snart er det samlet en mobb som går amok.

Det skjedde i forstaden Khohousa lørdag, der det ble funnet grafitti på et islamsk senter. Det var hakekors, tegnet av noen barn, men noen mente det var kors og tolket det som en provokasjon. Snart samlet det seg en mobb som brant ned en boligblokk hvor det bodde kristne, en barnehave ble flammenes offer, mange biler og våpen kom til anvendelse. Fire kristne ble drept og en muslim. Herjingene pågikk i flere timer.


Sorgen var derfor stor da de fire skulle begraves i katedralen i Kairo søndag. Følelsene var på bristepunktet. Det skal ha vært en krangel med en drosjesjåfør som utløyste volden. Han ble bedt om å flytte seg så begravelsesfølget kunne komme ut, men nektet. Også denne gang hadde det samlet seg en stor folkemengde av fiendtlige muslimer. De visste at kopterne var i følelsesaffekt og at situasjonen var lettantennelig. Blant disse var det unge menn med våpen, og under dekke av den fiendtlige mobben kunne de skyte mot de kristne. Flere øyenvitner forteller om det, og politiet sto bare og så på. Politiet skjøt tvertimot tåregassgranater over muren til katedralen, der de kristne var fanget.

Et antall muslimer som støtter kopterne hadde også møtt opp. De aner kanskje at vold mot kristne også betyr vold mot moderate muslimer. Men det de voldelige og hatefulle som dominerer.

Det er bemerkelsesverdig å lese guardian og independet, vanligvis venstreorienterte og negative til Israel. Men deres dekning etterlater liten tvil om hvem som er aggressor. Slik er det ikke med VGs billedreportasje: der er skylden likt fordelt.

Guardians Patrick Kingsley:

Police and armed civilians have laid siege to the seat of the Coptic church in Cairo, killing one person and injuring at least 21, as a funeral for four Christians killed in sectarian clashes on Saturday descended into chaos.

Thousands of mourners were attacked as they tried to leave Egypt’s largest cathedral, forcing them back inside the cathedral precinct and sparking a siege that lasted all afternoon and stretched into the night. Police fired teargas over the cathedral walls and stood by as unknown men armed with birdshot, knives and petrol bombs scaled nearby buildings to attack those inside the church grounds.
Witnesses said that riot police and crowds of protesters had been waiting for the mourners as the service ended. One claimed the violence started after members of the funeral march were drawn into an argument with a passing driver.

«They wanted a taxi driver to stop so that the funeral march could leave, but the taxi driver wouldn’t stop,» said Samir Adly, a Christian from north-east Cairo, who attended the service. Adly said the mourners were highly charged, and other reports said they had chanted slogans condemning the Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, who it is felt has not done enough to quell sectarian tensions.

In the mayhem, Adly said, it was unclear exactly what happened next, but police showed little restraint in firing teargas, and did nothing to stop those who had come to the cathedral armed for the occasion. «The thugs threw glass and rocks and molotov cocktails that burned trees inside,» he said.

Minst en kristen kastet en brannbombe, men de fleste hadde nok med å bli evakuert på baksiden.

Alastair Beach i The Independent etterlater heller ingen tvil om hvem som gjorde hva:

Hundreds of Christians were under siege inside Cairo’s Coptic cathedral last night as security forces and local residents, some armed with handguns, launched a prolonged and unprecedented attack on the seat of Egypt’s ancient Church.

At least one person was killed and at least 84 injured as Christians inside the walled St Mark’s cathedral compound came under a frenzied assault from their assailants in the main road outside.

The man killed in the clashes outside the cathedral was named by the state news agency, MENA, as Mahrous Hana Tadros, a Christian name. MENA said 11 of the 84 injured were police officers.

Earlier, witnesses described how they were attacked by locals from Abbasiyya, the north-east Cairo neighbourhood where the cathedral is located. After being hit by rocks from the roofs of nearby buildings, the mourners were reportedly forced back into the cathedral compound.

Wael Eskandar, an Egyptian blogger who attended the funeral, said he saw people being showered with broken bottles from the roof of an apartment block opposite. After being attacked, he said, the people “started racing out of the side street and destroying the nearby cars”. He added that he was not sure if those attacking the vehicles were mourners. As night fell the streets around St Mark’s were echoing to the sound of gunshots and exploding tear gas canisters. Young men on either side of the 18ft-high compound wall exchanged a continuous hail of rocks and broken masonry. Others hurled Molotov cocktails and let off fireworks.

The security forces positioned outside the cathedral launched volley after volley of tear gas into the compound. Some of the thousands of onlookers gathered in the road cheered as the canisters rocketed towards Christians perched on the walls overlooking the main street.

One young man, his right hand clasped around a shiny steel handgun, clambered on top of a petrol station alongside the cathedral and blasted a single round at those trapped inside. He was helped down by a friend who was also carrying a handgun, before they both jogged off through a nearby line of riot police who had been watching the young man take aim. Soon afterwards there was a flash from inside the compound as a young man stepped up on to the perimeter wall and fired a weapon towards the thousands of onlookers below.

A second later a number of people recoiled as they were hit by birdshot. Handguns and other weapons, many of them homemade, are becoming a more common feature of the violence which has regularly convulsed the country since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

Tatoverte kors

De fleste koptere har tatovert kors på hånden eller armen for å vise sin hengivenhet. I en pogrom kan de vise seg skjebnessvangre. Akkurat som antisemitter dro ned buksene på jødiske menn for å sjekke om de var omskåret.

“Only God can save us from what is happening right now,” said Mina Zakaraya, a 25-year-old Coptic seminarian who was positioned inside the compound. At the cathedral’s rear entrance, panicked young men ushering people inside demanded to see the cross which most Copts have tattooed on their wrist.

“I’m worried about the situation in Egypt,” said Makram Girgis as he sat on the steps leading up to the imposing cathedral building.

“The Muslim Brotherhood and extremist groups here want us to leave. They don’t accept Copts. But this was our country, ever since the time of the pharaohs.”

Også BBCs Aleem Magbool har en anstendig versjon. Han holder kortene noe tettere til brystet, og tv-reportasjonen er klarere enn tekstversjonen. Men han snur ikke virkeligheten på hodet.

Witnesses told local TV stations that the violence started when a mob attacked mourners as they exited the cathedral, pelting them with stones and petrol bombs. There was initially little police presence.

The Christians responded by throwing stones back, the witnesses said, until police arrived and attempted to quell the unrest, firing tear gas into the cathedral compound.

VG derimot fader ut i nøytralitet. Her er det to parter som «barker» sammen. De har et stort bilde av to koptere som er antent, og teksten:

To koptisk kristne (sic!) egyptere forsøker febrilt å slukke flammene etter at de ble angrepet av muslimer midt i Kaor igår. Kampene brøt ut rett etter en begravelse av fire koptiske menn som ble drept tidligere i uken. Flere hundre koptere barket sammen med lokale muslimer etter begravelsen Ifølge det egyptiske nyhetsbyåret MENA skal 17 personer ha blitt skadet etter begravelsen som ble holdt i den koptiske katedralen i Egypts hovedstad. Situasjonen mellom kristne og muslimer var igår kveld svært spent, fiøge Al-Jazeera.