Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Remembering the Maspero Massacre

They're not here anymore, those who marched peacefully a year ago towards Maspero to be murdered by their government and their people. Those who marched to bring their cause to national television are not with us anymore. The media they sought to make their plight turned against them and accused them of murder and incited citizens to kill them. They were shot by their government and trampled on by their military's APCs.  That’s how they died but that’s not what killed them.

Egyptian Christian woman mourns at the Coptic Hospital in Cairo (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/ Reuters)

As a society we have failed them, every one of us collectively, even the innocent of us. We allowed our society’s illness to reach to the point of state sponsored mass murder. I know that many of those who belong to this society can look in the mirror and say it doesn’t apply to me because I never discriminated and I never murdered and I never hated. But failure is not condemnation or blame in this context, it is a result.

Whatever it was we had to do to prevent such a disaster, we did not do. We simply failed. Maybe we didn’t do enough, maybe we’re not strong enough, maybe we’re too blind and filled with the illness ourselves, maybe we’re the cold blooded murders sitting in their air conditioned offices giving the orders. Whatever we did or didn’t do, we bear a responsibility and we bear the failure.

Everyone has failed those who died. Everyone but those who went as far as they possibly could to protest this murder. It seems to me those who were killed have marched on that fatal day to protest not just the mistreatment of those before them but of their own murder. People marching against discrimination were trampled on by discrimination. They’re not here anymore.

I think they drove a point that day, too painful for many of us to confront at times. Was it just one point?

Was it just that hatred runs deep in our society or was it more? Was it that we're still ruled by a regime willing to run over its citizens and anyone who gets in their way. Was it that deep down inside a large cross-section of society truly despises the other, that we're not free to believe in whatever
unprovable ideas we choose? Was it that everyone must subscribe to one set of  improvable ideas approved by those who control us? That our sentiments are dangerous enough to kill?

Last year, I was away on business. In trying to find out what was happening I found that Copts were run over by the army's APCs and shot from an elevated position by cold metal bullets which have as ample feelings as those who issued the command. I went mad; mad from my own impotence, my distance. I collected all the links that reflect the events of the night, the facts, the truth, but none of the links had the most important truth- that it's our ideas and beliefs that can kill or get us killed. There were no links to displays the deep rooted hatred in the hearts of men and their primitive tribalism. There were no links to show that we are viewed as slaves who must toil and suffer so that presidents, generals and businessmen get richer. There were not enough links, not enough links.

This year, I ponder over last year's events from a distance. The truth still largely obscured as churches are destroyed and copts evicted from their homes. The reality of our decline ever more present as 9 year old children are arrested for insulting religion. Can they not see who is truly insulting religion?

The regime might be a tumor we can remove but our own biases and judgements are a cancer. I see today what I saw back then. The same biases and hatred run deep and we’re not doing enough to stop it. We are killing ourselves.

Most of us are responsible even though not everyone can be blamed.

Morsi released 1500 protesters not just because his 100 days are over and he has nothing to show for but to divert attention from the fatal failing of a regime he is supposed to lead. The failing is reflected in the one year memorial of a massacre. One year on and we have not altered our path. The real murders still free, some promoted and some retired honorably. Morsi pledged in his speeches that they wouldn't not be touched, but his supporters are too adamant to listen to what his words actually mean. They mean that the current state of affairs will be maintained. That hatred and impunity will rule, that soldiers and officers can be free to run us over and that injustices to minorities will prevail.

Those in positions of power have not only insulted religions but insulted our humanity. What justice has been served? What message have we been told? We will be trampled on if we ask for justice. But it is better to be trampled on  by this cruel world or to exist without doing anything to stop its injustice?

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