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March 08, 2011

Coptic Christians Killed by Egyptian Military – Will the Blackout Continue?

Coptic Christians in Egypt who are hoping that major news outlets in the United States are going to shine a light on the recent attack they endured in Helwan and their ongoing protests in Cairo have good reason to wonder exactly what is going on.

Their story is just not being told in the U.S.

With today’s killing of Coptic Christians in Cairo by the Egyptian military, this may change in the next day or two, but one question remains.

Were the events of the past few days not dramatic enough to generate coverage?

Apparently not.

People who rely on traditional media outlets in the U.S. for their information about the Middle East on will know very little about the attack on a church in Sool on Saturday and the ongoing failure of the Egyptian military to protect Copts in Egypt. They will know little if anything about the Egyptian military’s attempt to convince the Coptic community to rebuild a church somewhere else other than the site of the destroyed church – where extremists seem intent on building a mosque.

They will know nothing about the ongoing protests by Copts and Muslims in Cairo about the government’s failure to protect Egyptian citizens from Muslim extremists. One Muslim woman speaking to the Egyptian media has said that in the current environment Muslims who protect Copts in their homes risk being attacked themselves by young extremists.

People interested in learning about these events must rely on websites run by Coptic Christians either in the U.S. or Egypt that through the use of youtube and twitter, are telling the world what is happening.

Are journalists in the U.S. listening?

The data is not encouraging. Recent Google searches of the news for the word “Copts�? and “Coptic�? indicates that the story has yet appeared in very few if any online news sources serving American audiences.

A Nexis search on the same words lends further credence to this conclusion. There has been some coverage of a trove of internal state documents suggesting that Egyptian security officials were involved with the New Year’s Day attack against the church in Alexandria on Jan. 1, 2011, but little if any mention of the attack in Helwan and its aftermath.

To be sure, part of the problem is that events in Libya are taxing the news gathering resources of major media outlets which have been cut back in recent years. But the fact is, there are numerous sources – including the Egyptian press and the Assyrian International News Agency – that have covered these events. They are offering up testimony about ongoing violence against a community that by some estimates numbers between 12 million and 15 million people.

If the Egyptian military has lost the ability to protect this community, the international community – and the American people – need to know this sooner rather than later.

Maybe with the recent killing of Coptic Christians in Cairo by the Egyptian military, the story of what is happening to this community will make the papers.

Posted by dvz at March 8, 2011 03:25 PM


Actually, the Wall Street Journal covered this issue with a large and prominent article yesterday, complete with pictures, and it is still available on their on-line version (which has over 200,000 i-Pad subscribers, so it is not insignificant). So not all Western journalists are silent about the Coptic Christians.

-- Samuel Shafner

Snapshots: Thanks for pointing out the WSJ's coverage which took place after this entry was posted. The Washington Post has also weighed in with coverage as well. You can expect to see a round up in the next few days. -- DVZ

Posted by: Samuel Shafner at March 11, 2011 11:07 AM

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