Sectarian tensions continue to mount in Egypt with events taking a turn for the worse on October 9. Coptic Christians gathered outside the state television building near Tahrir Square to protest an attack on a church in Aswan last week. Reports say that demonstrations, which began peacefully with a march and a sit-in, were interrupted by plain clothed men pelting the protestors with rocks and other items. Chaos broke out with the current death toll at 24 (including military personnel) and over 200 wounded.
This is significant for two reasons:
- It is the first time the military has opened fire on demonstrators
- The protestors were mostly Christian
I will readily admit that I have wondered when the military was going to finally crack down on Tahrir’s continuation of destruction; however, I have to wonder why the military had not, up until this point, used any force (live ammunition) to dispel protestors that were wreaking havoc. I find it a bit coincidental that a protest carried out by Coptic Christians would later be infiltrated by plain clothed men inciting violence. Sounds a bit like the pro-Mubarak supporters that stormed Tahrir Square on camels that fateful Wednesday during the revolution.
Some of you may want to side with the Christians thinking that they are victims. The Christian population makes up around 10% of Egypt’s total population and a great deal of injustices do occur just like any minority throughout the world. However, I want to also play devil’s advocate to let you know that extremism exists everywhere and there are many fundamentalists in the Coptic community in Egypt just like Islamists/Salafis. Extremism should never be considered a positive term and neither religious text condone such actions.
So the main question to ask is: who is behind these attacks? Is it Islamists/Salafis trying to incite riots between the people and military or government officials using it as a distraction mechanism? I can’t answer that and nor do I have an idea as to which is a more probable. There are other reports surfacing that the military has been using torture techniques against civilians, but tell me, what military doesn’t use extraction or suppression methods?
Dear Egypt, you wanted the military and now you have a ruling military junta. You continue to protest although it seems disorganized to say the least without a clear direction as to what you want. Everyone is too busy yelling over his neighbor instead of creating one voice. You judge people for their religion instead of who they are as an individual. Many blame foreigners for their strife, but really everyone is trying to place the blame on anyone other than themselves. First it was Mubarak, then it was the Interior Ministry, then it was the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Tantawi, then came Israel, then came all Westerners, then back to Tantawi. And in the blame game, not once have the majority of Egyptians looked within to see that maybe the problem is an internal one, not external. Again, you can change the ruling party all you want but until the people change, nothing will ever be the same.