Over 30 protesters were killed by military police and sectarian thugs in Cairo on Sunday 9 October.
The military government, blaming the violence on mysterious foreign agitators, seems to be deliberately boosting Muslim-Christian tension as a “divide-and-rule” ploy. Evan Hill reported on Al Jazeera: “Unidentified gunmen, baton-wielding military police, roving bands of men chanting ‘Christians where are you, Islam is here’... But it was the rampaging armoured personnel carriers that stand as the night’s horrific symbol of military brutality... Video clearly shows the giant, camouflaged vehicles swerving into crowds of demonstrators, and witnesses reported that some people were run over”.
Some leftish Muslims had joined the demonstration, mainly of Coptic Christians protesting against an attack on a Christian church, and protesters chanted “Muslims and Christians... One hand!” and “Death to the Field Marshal” (Tantawi, head of the military government).
On Monday 10th, Copts gathering outside a hospital where the bodies of some of those killed have been kept were joined by Asma’ Mahfouz, a prominent member of the leftish April 6 Youth Movement and a Muslim.
However, the Cairo daily Al-Masry Al-Youm found many on the city’s streets who said that Sunday’s clashes had been caused by a surreptitious foreign plot, remnants of the old regime or violent protesters, and the military were not to blame.
Ultra-Islamist groups such as Jama’a al-Islamiya, Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Salafi Security Council have called for the postponement of parliamentary elections scheduled for 21 November, on the grounds that “remnants of the former regime” and “foreign elements” are causing instability.
The cannier Muslim Brotherhood does not want the elections postponed, but blamed the violence on “the work of domestic and foreign hands endeavouring to abort the revolution”, and rebuked the protesters.
“All the Egyptian people have grievances and legitimate demands, not only our Christian brothers. Certainly, this is not the right time to claim them”.