Arab Spring: Egyptian Christians Attacked By Angry Mob

Posted: May 16, 2011 8:24 AM
While the February ouster of Hosni Mubarak was widely considered to be a step forward for democracy -- in Egypt and across the Middle East -- many have grown concerned over what or who may fill the vacuum created by the autocrat's departure.  The Muslim Brotherhood, of course, has been mobilizing and organizing, which is alarming to many reformers.  Authentic (small "L") liberal democracy is something altogether different from simply holding elections in which decidedly anti-democratic forces can affect the outcome or even seize power (See: Hamas).  While Egypt's future remains up for grabs, stories like this remind us all that meaningful "progress" is far from a certain outcome:

An angry mob attacked a group of mainly Christian protesters demanding drastic measures to heal religious tension amid a spike in violence, leaving 65 people injured, officials said Sunday.  The Christian protesters have been holding their sit-in outside the state television building in Cairo for nearly a week following deadly Christian-Muslim clashes that left a church burned and15 people dead.

More than 100 people rushed into the sit-in area, lobbing rocks and fire bombs from an overpass and charging toward the few hundred protesters sleeping in the area. Vehicles were set on fire and fires burned in the middle of the street.

Police and army troops fired in the air to disperse the crowd, and a tree was set on fire under the overpass. 

Religious clashes and a rising wave of crime have proved to be a major challenge for Egypt's military rulers in the days following the 18-day uprising that led to the Feb. 11 ouster of ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

I'd suggest reading the Washington Post piece on the ascendancy of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, linked above, for a harrowing preview of what may be in store for Egyptians.  The disconcerting lede:

The liberals and secularists who formed the core of the Egyptian revolution are now scrambling to stave off political gains by the Muslim Brotherhood, a once-outlawed organization that is widely expected to become the dominant force when a new parliament is elected.

Concern about the group’s political ambitions was heightened this week when a prominent member of the Brotherhood signaled that he would run for president as an independent, a move that cast doubt on the Brotherhood’s contention that it intended to sit out this year’s presidential race.

President Obama is planning to address the so-called "Arab Spring" phenomenon in an upcoming speech.  He will be treading into very complex territory, indeed.