Special: Uprising hopes give way to growing Islamism, racism and anti-Israel venom
UPPER EGYPT – Maha, an Egyptian merchant in her 40s, doesn’t sleep well at night. Ever since the January 25 revolution, she is experiencing a difficult period. “In the first days of the mass demonstrations against Mubarak, my mother and me couldn’t even sleep because of fear,” said the Christian Copt. “We didn’t know what will happen to us. Ever since then, even though the general security situation in the country has stabilized, our fears were confirmed.”
In recent months we have seen significant escalation in violent clashes between radical Islamists and members of the Copt minority across Egypt. It started with the lethal suicide attack in one of Alexandria’s main churches in the first days of the year, even before the popular protest against Mubarak gained steam. Twenty three worshippers were murdered and some 100 were wounded.
Copt protestor in Egypt (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian opposition sources claimed at the time that the attack was organized by a secret unit established by the former interior minister in order to undermine domestic stability and reinforce the regime’s hold on the country. A few weeks ago, when angry Islamist masses attacked a Cairo church where two Christian women who converted to Islam were apparently held, some charged that loyalists of the outgoing regime were identified among the radical Muslim activists. Ten people were killed in the clash, while security forces stood at the sidelines and observed.