Monday, October 10, 2011

Arab Awakening obstacles

The Coptic Christians in Egypt are being attacked and killed while they try to demonstrate for rights.  I am not following it real closely, but it appears that the army is the oppressive force here, including anti-demonstrator propaganda and the use of armed personnel carriers and bullets. At least 24 were killed and hundreds wounded.  

In addition to the army, it appears that ultra-conservative Islamists are also being violent against the Coptic Christians in Egypt, who comprise about ten percent of the population.

Key quote from the story:

" Christians also complain of long-standing discrimination, and of an Islamist discourse that is increasingly aggressive and denigrating of Christians. Ultra-conservative Islamist groups have been emboldened since the revolution, demanding the full application of Islamic law."

It looks like the generals in charge of the government are fomenting sectarian discord and violence as a pretense to reassert their brutal control over the population.  The Arab Awakening was never going to be smooth and easy, but here it is hitting some pretty tough roadblocks even in Egypt, the heart of the movement and the world's best hope for establishing a some form of at least moderately workable democracy in the Middle East.

I always thought that the new Middle East would be quite a bit more Islamic than the more secular tyrannies that it replaces, but I have been hoping and expecting that it would not be dominated by the Islamist extremists.  These clashes are an attempt, I am afraid, of the Islamists to overwhelm the process and keep the people under the boot of their form of tyranny.  

But, I guess this was predictable and all part of the very messy process of reinvention of a country.