Pope calls on SCAF to release Maspero Detainees

Emad Khalil

Pope Shenouda III has demanded the release of all those detained during the violence that took place outside the Maspero building, said a source from the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The demand came during Shenouda’s Sunday morning meeting at Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral with representatives of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), who offered their condolences for those who died in the Maspero incident. During the meeting, the church presented a documentary film which showed armored vehicles running over and killing protesters.

The two SCAF representatives included Brigadier Generals Mohamed Moselhi and Samy Diab, who expressed their condolences to Shenouda in the presence of Youth Bishop Moussa, Shenouda’s personal secretary, as well as Bishops Jeremiah and Paul from the Holy Synod.

The cathedral only allowed Coptic media outlets – satellite channels Saint Mark’s, Agape and CTV – in to cover the meeting.

Following the meeting, the SCAF delegates left unseen through the back door of the cathedral without giving a press statement, even to the Church-owned channels.

The church source, who requested anonymity, said the SCAF delegates claimed the miltary council does not differentiate between Muslims and Copts, and voiced the SCAF’s regret for what happened Sunday night.

The Coptic Church presented a documentary that included “the complete events, with scenes of armored vehicles running over the protesters and which proves they were killed as a result of being run over,” the source said.

The film also showed how the rally, which began in Shubra and headed to the Maspero building, “was peaceful” and that “the protesters were not carrying any weapons,” the source went on.

“The Church also expressed its disapproval of state TV’s coverage of the events, which sided against the Copts,” said the source. “The Church also demanded a quick investigation and the release of the detained innocent Coptic youth.”

The source went on to say that the delegates understood the Church’s point of view, and promised to quickly investigate the incident and immediately release detainees whose innocense is proven.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, commander-in-chief of the armed forces and head of the SCAF, had offered his condolences to the pope by telephone on Saturday evening.

Translated from the Arabic Edition