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Remembering Egypt's Maspero Massacre Through Its Most Prominent Martyr

I never met Mina Daniel, but today many in Egypt consider him a hero and a martyr. Recently, I met his sister.

Two years ago this week, the 20-year-old Daniel was gunned down during a peaceful Coptic protest outside the Maspero state TV headquarters in downtown Cairo on October 9, 2011. More than 25 others died and scores were injured by military vehicles swerving through the crowded demonstration, or by local thugs who attacked the scattering remnants.

To this date, only a few low-level officers have been handed sentences, ranging from two to three years in prison.

Commemorating the massacre, Copts gathered in the Cave Church of Muqattam in the mountains outside Cairo, a scene of many interdenominational prayer services. Last year, on the first anniversary, thousands of Muslims and Christians marched together to Maspero from Shubra, a northern Cairo district with a high percentage of Coptic residents.

The religious unity of both events was just as Daniel would have wanted it.

"Mina didn't care if you were a Mina [a typical Coptic name] or a Muhammad," his sister Marry told me. "He dealt with everyone as created in the image of God."

I met Marry by coincidence in the simple, non-air-conditioned Shubra office of Hani Gaziri, one of the few Copts involved in anti-Mubarak activism long before the revolution. His broad-based vision of reform helped shape Daniel's revolutionary perspective.

"Mina said [our] Coptic issues will not be solved except in the context of general societal issues," said Marry. "If we [Copts] are wrapped in ourselves, nothing will get done; so we have to go to the street for the sake of all."

Daniel's focus was on helping the poor, ...

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