January 11, 2011: Off-duty police officer shoots Christians in Egypt

On January 11, 2011 an off-duty policeman opened fire on an Egyptian train killing one and wounding four Coptic Christians.

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN CAIRO AND ASSIUT, EGYPT – Sometimes acts of serious violence fit established patterns of terrorism but cannot outright be called such.

Egypt has a well-deserved reputation as a land full of history. One of the greatest civilisations known to us was birthed there and the monuments of that society are legendary. The Sphinx. The Great Pyramids at Giza. Karnak. Luxor. An impressive list indeed.

Of course it is important to remember that much of this grandiosity was built on the backs of slaves (I’m sure everyone has seen Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments). This entails that Egyptian rulers had no compunction at labeling some people lesser than others and then exploiting them.

Let my people go! Um, I am not talking about white Americans who shill for the NRA (Photo: Public Domain)

The dislike for certain communities in Egypt has not dissipated after all these millennia: now it is the turn of Islamist terrorists.

On this day in 2011

An off-duty policeman opened fire on a train traveling between Cairo and Assiut killing one and wounding four. All the victims were Coptic Christians, who make up approximately 10% of the country’s population. The Copts have been the preferred targets of the Islamic State affiliate in the region, ISIS in the Sinai.

While Egyptian police were hesitant to call the shootingsectarian‘ (because the shooter was one of their own?) there were reports that the officer singled out Copts and yelled ‘Allahu Akbarbefore opening fire. Local Christians protested the killings and had to be dispersed by police tear gas. Pope Benedict XVI certainly thought so as he criticised local authorities for not protecting religious minorities. The Egyptian government was not pleased by his words to say the least.

Egypt will not allow non-Egyptians to interfere in its internal affairs under any pretext.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman

These actions are 100% consistent with jihadis, but was he indeed one? Great question that.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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