Some two dozen Coptic Christians demonstrators were killed in Cairo on Monday, when security forces drove armored vehicles through the crowd before opening fire with live ammunition. Another 300 people were reported injured. According to the New York Times, doctors at a nearby Coptic hospital showed the international press corps a host of mangled bodies.
But the most alarming post-mortem may be that of the hope of Arab Spring.
So what’s the upshot of this occurrence? Well, it has become obvious that the Copts are currently under siege from both the military oligarchy and radical Islam. Their demonstration was prompted by the latter and the massacre was perpetrated by the former. That their churches can be desecrated, and their membership threatened suggests an uneven and unsafe social order.
However, it’s my opinion that the incident on Monday was demonstrative of a threat that transcends that posed to the Coptic Christians. Ostensibly, 90 million Egyptians got a firsthand look at what would happen if they rose up against the ruling military.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian cabinet held emergency talks and President Obama offered his “deep concern.” The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has called for a fact-finding commission urging “all measures against all those proven to have been involved, either directly or by incitement.” High ranking ministers have resigned. But the fact remains that the public no longer has faith in a military that was charged with facilitating democratic the transition to democracy.
Make no mistake, the goodwill the army earned by refusing to exercise violence against the protestors in Tahrir Square is exhausted. The euphoric momentum witnessed at the vanguard of a regional movement has been stymied. If Egypt serves as the weather vane of the Arab world (and by context, its impulsive Spring) recent trouble are similarly alarming. In the past few weeks:
Democracy cannot function when “the least of His peoples” [sic] are attacked with impunity by radical elements, and the government is unwilling or unable to respond given sympathy to Islamist views or fear of reprisal in response to a crackdown.
It’s a sad fact that Egypt is hurtling in the wrong direction, and the promise and premise of the Arab Spring is locked in Cairo’s tailspin.