Which ever way you look at it the disproportionate use of force over the weekend against peaceful demonstrators in Cairo is alarming and disconcerting, but we should be wary of seeing the recent disturbances as the start of some Iraqi style sectarian conflict.
The catalyst for the demonstrations was the destruction of a Church building in the Aswan Province on 30th September. Yet this was more than a Christian protest against Muslim mob rule. Those demonstrating on Sunday included Christians and Muslims.
What started out as a demonstration about the lack of effective intervention by the security forces and the attitude of the governor of Aswan Province developed into something bigger: protest against the lack of progress in implementing democratic political reform.
The most common rallying cry heard that day was the call for the resignation of the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. The ruling military council has set November 28 as the date for the start of the Parliamentary elections, but it has not as yet set a date for new Presidential elections.
This then was not a demonstration that pitted Christians against Muslims but one that saw citizens from across the religious spectrum join together in the ongoing struggle for liberty and democracy against repressive elements of the ancien regime. The interreligious solidarity that underpinned the demonstration needs to be noted and applauded rather than conveniently overlooked.
We need to support the democratic aspirations of those who demonstrated on Sunday rather than allowing our own distorted analysis of events to create division where none currently exists. If division does exists it is structured politically rather than religiously.
The struggle for human rights in Egypt is a transformative process against the politics of domination and exclusion. It is a struggle that aims to reshape the nature and exercise of legitimate political authority. The events of the last few days merely warn us that this struggle is ongoing.