13 November 2011
As Watani International went to press on Friday 11 November, a march was being conducted to commemorate the Arbaeen, the passage of 40 days since the Maspero massacre in which 27 Christians and one Muslim were killed and some 300 injured. Celebrating the Arbaeen of the dead is an Egyptian tradition that goes back to Pharaonic times and was related to the process of mummification.
The peaceful march, organised by the Maspero Youth Union (MYU) and al-Kateeba al-Teebiya (the Theban Militia) Coptic youth movements, was to start at 2:00pm from Abbassiya, beside the St Mark Coptic Cathedral, to music by a brass and drum boy scout band of the Coptic Church. The scouts would carry the Egyptian flag and the participants would be dressed in black, white and red: the colours of the national flag. Public figures, youth and political movements were to participate in the march. On the way to Tahrir, the march was to stop at the Coptic Hospital where more marchers would join. Andrawus Eiwida, a member of the MYU, said that the theme of the march will be: “The Friday of the Martyrs” and the families and friends of the martyrs and the injured will participate alongside all levels of the Egyptian people.
Mina Thabet, member of the MYU’s media committee said that all the participating movements have agreed that no religious slogans or symbols would be used, only civic symbols and demands. The march would end by 9:00 pm in Tahrir Square and the marchers would clean up the square before they go home.
Simultaneously in California, a funereal march is organised by the Coptic Roots movement, where the marchers will wear black and hold the pictures of the martyrs to draw attention to the injustices inflicted upon the Copts in Egypt and to demands that justice be upheld. In New York, Copts of America are demonstrating in front of the UN headquarters to demand that Egypt should honour international treaties on human and minority rights.
The MYU is planning a Nile parade on the evening of Thursday 17 November, the eve of the Arabeen proper, which falls on 18 November. The parade will feature a number of Nile boats lighting candles and sailing down river from Khalafawi, Shubra to stop in front of Maspero where they will cast flowers into the water to commemorate those who died on 9 October.