The apparent built-in human readiness to believe anything about the Other is like nitroglycerin carried in egg shells on bad roads. A series of pothole-rumors can set the whole thing off. While sometimes the antagonism may begin on one side or the other, opportunists with no allegiances can ignite latent divisions with attacks disguised as sectarian, planning to grab advantage and power on the grief of others.
Fierce clashes broke out between Christians and Muslims in northwest Cairo’s working-class district of Imbaba where 12 people were killed, scores injured and a church set ablaze.
Among the dead were six Muslims and four Christians while two bodies were still unidentified.
The two groups clashed after Muslims attacked the Coptic church of Saint Mena in Imbaba in a bid to free a Christian woman they alleged was being held against her will because she wanted to convert to Islam.
Since the removal of former president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt has been gripped by insecurity and sectarian unrest, amid — by the government’s admission — a “counter-revolution” by remnants of the old regime aimed at sowing chaos.
… For months, Egypt has been experiencing a rise in sectarian tensions fuelled by claims that Christian women who converted to Islam were kidnapped and held in churches or monasteries.
The long violence in Iraq, periodically reinvigorated by yet another sectarian attack — usually against Shias– provides the template, and the warning. Unless the new Egypt in the making can get a hold of this an ugly decade lies ahead. Rumors grow wildest in the soil of pure belief, untilled with facts, skepticism and logic — the foundations of scientific man.
More at The Daily News Egypt
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