Monday, 10 October 2011

Latest deaths in Cairo cast a shadow over the new Egypt

The events over the weekend in Cairo are a great disappointment to those who welcomed the Arab spring.

At least 25 people were killed when troops crushed a protest by Christian's who had taken to the streets after an attack on one of their churches

They meanwhile accuse the military of neglect after having allowed anti-Christian instigators to turn what had been a peaceful protest into a sectarian riot, then used the violence as a pretext for deadly force directed largely against the Coptic protesters.

Tension between Muslims and minority Coptic Christians has simmered for years but has worsened since the anti-Mubarak revolt, which gave freer rein to Salafist and other strict Islamist groups that the former president had repressed.

The families of 17 Coptics who were killed said they would refuse to allow the government to conduct autopsies, fearing it would lie about the results in order to protect the killers.

Quite where this leaves the post Mubarak Egypt is uncertain.Whilst Christians had joined the pro-democracy protests against Mr. Mubarak in large numbers the surge in the power of Islamists has raised fears of how much tolerance majority rule will allow.

Meanwhile he upcoming parliamentary elections are but an early stage in a long struggle to define the new Egypt which the West will be hoping will be a Western democracy rather than an Islamic theocracy.

Over at the Guardian's Comment is Free author William Dalrymple writes that Egypt's Coptic Christians face an uncertain future

The Copts stand to lose more than any other group in Egypt's current drift following the fall of an unpopular autocracy, and now face an uncertain future with a wide spectrum of possible outcomes, from a liberal democracy to an Islamic republic, or most likely of all, a continuation of army rule with different window-dressing.

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