|Egyptian security forces, in the background, clashed with Christians and other demonstrators in Cairo on Sunday night.|
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK Published: October 9, 2011
State television urged "Honest Egyptians to turn out to protect the soldiers from Christian protesters."
Other Muslims ran out into the streets to protect the Christian protesters
According to a recent NY Times article: Thousands filled the streets of downtown, many armed with rocks, clubs or machetes. Witnesses said several protesters were crushed under military vehicles.
The protest took place against a backdrop of escalating tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the population. Christians had joined the pro-democracy protests in large numbers, hoping for the protections of a pluralistic, democratic state, but a surge in power of Islamists has raised fears of how much tolerance majority rule will allow.
The military and riot police, on the other hand, appeared at some points to be working in tandem with Muslims who were lashing out at the Coptic Christians. As security forces cleared the streets around 10 p.m., police officers in riot gear marched back and forth through the streets of downtown alongside a swarm of hundreds of men armed with clubs and stones chanting, “The people want to bring down the Christians,” and, later, “Islamic, Islamic.”
“Until when are we going to live in this terror?” asked a Christian demonstrator who gave his name only as John. “This is not the issue of Muslim and Christian, this is the issue of the freedom that we demanded and can’t find.”
This is exactly what I was concerned about when the democracy movement started in Egypt. The Copts came out in force to protest the burning of their churches and helped spur the anti-Mubarak protests that became the 'Arab Spring.' Now they stand in a precarious position without the dictatorship protecting their rights. Will they be better or worse off in the new Egypt? And what will follow in Syria when Assad falls?