Last month marked the 5th anniversary of the 2011 Maspero Massacre. During the first Egyptian revolution, almost 10,000 Copts and allies gathered in Cairo to peacefully protest the demolition of a Coptic Church in Upper Egypt. The army responded to these protests and initial clashes resulted in the death of three soldiers. TV show host, Rasha Magdy, reported that Copts were attacking the army, and that “patriotic people” should take to the streets to protect the military from the “violent crowd of Copts”. Eyewitness accounts claim that alongside mobs, the Egyptian army and security forces used riot gear, batons, live ammunition and armored vehicles to attack the protesters. However, the extent of the involvement of the Egyptian army is still contested. These clashes resulted in nearly 30 deaths, mostly Copts, and almost 300 injuries, marking this incident as the Maspero Massacre. Five years later, only three soldiers were punished with a maximum sentence of three years, and the massacre is not even recognized as one, let alone commemorated.
Rami Malek recently won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a drama series for his role in Mr. Robot, designating him as the first “non-white” actor to win this award in 18 years. Malek was born in the US to Coptic Christian-Egyptian parents, meaning that his win is widely celebrated amongst Arab, Egyptian, Coptic, and American communities. This win highlights the fluidity and complexity of identity, and particularly sheds light on debates about Copts as Egyptians, Copts as Arabs, and Middle Easterners and North Africans as non-white.