Egyptian Chronicles: Minya incident and the importance of Social media in Egypt

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Minya incident and the importance of Social media in Egypt

I was going to write a short post about the upcoming cyber-crime draft law and how it is an introduction to control and limit the social media in Egypt when once again an ugly violence incident erupted in the country that demonstrated the importance of social media.

Thanks to viral and angry Facebook posts , we knew that last Friday sectarian violence erupted in Minya, Upper Egypt and I have been following the case since then.

Sectarian violence erupted 20 May , Friday at 8 PM when an angry mob attacked and torched a couple of houses owned by Christians  in "El-Karm village in the city of Abu Qarqis , Minya Governorate over a rumored affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman as usual.

A photo inside one of the torched houses at Karm village
by Mahmoud Hakim 
Nobody got killed but what happened this time was shocking for many if not for most Egyptians.
The mob attacked the house of that Christian man rumored to have a relation with a Muslim woman dragging his old mother out of her house and stripping her off her clothes in the street.
The lady was then taken and covered by her Muslim neighbor till the police showed up at 10 PM to arrest 5 people and that's it.

It is worth to mention that the Christian man and his family filed complaints and warned the police on 19 May as the rumors began to spread like fire in the rural village.

From Friday till Tuesday , most Egyptians did not know anything about the shameful incident.
Later this week , two journalists working for Christian newspaper and TV channel reported the whole shocking incident on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning , the angry Facebook posts about the incident went viral like fire where as the authorities whether the governorate or the Church did not comment except very late night.

On twitter "#Egypt_is_stripped_naked went viral expressing the anger and disgust over what happened to the old lady and how the whole matter would end up in another  reconciliation would solve anything.
Late night , the Diocese of Minya and Abu Qarqis following the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church confirmed the incident demanding the authorities to arrest the perpetrators.

At the same time and not so surprisingly, Minya Governor Tarek Nasr did not deny that there was an attack on houses owned by Christians in the rural village but he denied that an old lady was stripped naked.
Nasr , who was once a state security police general described the whole matter as "simple" and blamed the Muslim Brotherhood "as usual" for spreading lies.
On Thursday , things changed as people became very angry and the social media reflected that anger.
Pope Tawadros II , the head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement from Austria demanding the authorities to arrest the attackers and for self-restraint.
President Abdel El-Fattah El-Sisi also issued a statement calling the officials for the arrest of the perpetrators stressing on his full respect to the Egyptian women.

Several Christian MPs led by Nadia Henry and John Talaat in addition to the Human rights committee presented a request to question the minister of interior over what happened in Minya.
On the same day , five other people were arrested from the village.
Despite , the Church and the people Muslims before Christians demanded that the state applies the law to restore order in the village , we found out that there are attempts to use the old ways to solve the matter aka The informal reconciliation session led by the Sheikhs and priest along with the village's elderly.

The Minya MPs including the MPs of liberal Free Egyptians Party seem to take the Minya Governor's side.
Usually, those sessions end up with nothing , solving nothing and some Christian families are forced to leave their homes.
On Friday , the Diocese of Minya and Abu Qarqis released the only video statement on its official Facebook page of the old lady who was reportedly stripped naked, Mrs. Soad Thabet.

The old lady thanked the President , Pope Tawadros II and the head of the Diocese. Saying that she forgave her attackers , Thabet said that she did want to be interviewed or to be helped by anyone.
She also revealed that she was not in Minya.

On the other hand , reporters including the reporters of BBC Arabic TV channel who visited the village revealed that the attackers were from the family of the Muslim Man who spread a rumor about his estranged wife and a Christian man in the village in order to deny her rights.
The reporters also found out that the people who were arrested mostly are the Muslim men who hurried to help and save the Christian neighbors.

It seems that the governor and the government are trying to push the informal reconciliation where the head of Minya Diocese Anba Macrious is insisting on applying the law instead.
This is what happened.
Personally, I know that this is not the first or the last sectarian motivated attack in Egypt especially when there is no true state of law.

When it is deeply investigated , it turned out that it is not truly sectarian motivated but rather it is about a man who wanted to divorce his wife without giving her rights "The Muslim" and disgustingly spread rumors about her and his former Christian partner with no regards to the consequences.
Sectarianism played a role and above it tribalism and patriarchy rule. It is all about women and their honor here.
First , we got an alleged anger because of a rumored affair between a man and a woman regardless of their faith.
Second , we got a mob that strips an old woman naked in order to humiliate her son by attacking his honor too.
It is the same mentality that famous Blue bra girl was stripped of her clothes in Tahrir square in front of the whole world.
Even , the public angry reaction reflects this somehow.

Most of the people are still extremely angry because that disgusting inhuman humiliation that old lady has been through. "Personally, I am furious over what happened to that old lady"
I have not seen them angry in that way before when people get killed or forced to leave their houses in similar sectarian-motivated attacks.
Needless to say , I think that anger is a good sign because of the first time Christians and most Muslims online urge and beg the regime to apply the law and restore to informal reconciliation session.
I will not speak about religion here because it is beyond it.
When we speak about Upper Egypt , then you must realize that traditions , customs and honor as well patriarchy come first before religion for Muslims and Christians.
Poverty , ignorance and marginalization to the south contributed to that.
It is no wonder that the true extreme and militant radical groups of the 1980s found a good place to flourish in Upper Egypt.

Rural Upper Egypt is more of lawless areas with its own code of law
Ironically , the Upper Egyptians from Qena and Assuit do not consider Minya as part of their "Upper Egypt" !!!

One more important thing  to add in that matter.
Now when I think about , without the social media we would have not known about that awful incident in Upper Egypt, let alone other sectarian-motivated attacks across the country in the past few years.
I think this demonstrates its importance in a very simple way.


  1. ستتضح في الاىام اللاحقة ....أكيد الخقيقة ...,ان كان للمسلمين حق ..فالمجالس العرفية كفيلة بذلك ...وأن كان للاقباط حق ...أكيد سيأخذونة .

    1. كل ما فعلته المجالس العرفية هو تهجير المسيحيين وإقرار غرامات فادحة وغير عادلة ولم نسمع حتي الأن عن مجالس عرفية أعطت الحق لاصحابة. المجالس العرفية اختراع سلفي اخواني لعبودية ورق المسيحيين....ياريت يا سيد طارق تعطينا مثالا واحدا علي لجنة عرفية حكمت علي معتد مسلم بالتهجير الجبري احقاقا لحق مسيحي اهدرت كرامته وحقه ...... حالة واحدة تكفي.

  2. Absolutely horrific.

    Thanks for bringing to the world's attention Zeinobia


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