The 53-year-old Coptic Christian woman reflected on what has happened just seven months after an evening of violence which became a defining moment for many in Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority.
“What happened after? Nothing,” says Mossad, who emerged from the incident badly bruised and became an activist and community organizer. “Nothing has changed, except there’s more fear and anxiety.”
Seven months ago, Mossad says she was in the crowd of protesters when she was suddenly assaulted and beaten by an officer who called her an “infidel.” The demonstration erupted into a horrific night of brutality in which 27 people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes between Egyptian security forces and mainly Coptic Christian demonstrators who were protesting against an attack on a church by Islamic extremists.
In Egypt’s sequence of bloody flashpoints since the January 25 uprising, the event is known simply as “Maspero,” the state TV building where demonstrators rallied against what Copts saw as indifference to the attack on a church.
In the aftermath of Maspero, though in great physical pain and mournful over the deaths of friends, Mossad was wheeled around Cairo’s Coptic Hospital, visiting other victims and encouraging them to keep up the fight for their rights. She encouraged them not to lose hope that the violence might produce a productive turning point in Egypt’s often stilted discourse around the rights of its Christian minority.
But, as it turned out, Maspero was not so much a turning point for Copts as it was an open wound, and one that Mossad says is still healing. Copts have suffered discrimination throughout hundreds of years of history in Egypt. Individual Copts have also been great Egyptian nationalists and leading thinkers, industrialists and artists who are frequently quick to point out that Muslims and Christians are like brothers in Egypt. It’s a complex relationship – as fraught as any sibling rivalry. But what is clear as Egypt takes its first faltering steps toward electing a civilian president, is that a democracy and the constitution upon which it is based are defined in how the rights of minorities are protected. Today Copts are left wondering and worrying about their place in a new Egypt.