Since the flame of democracy took root in Egypt and began it's inexorable spread across the Middle East, new issues - though derived from a very old conflict - are quickly arising. Violence against Egyptian Christians, particularly the large minority of Coptic Christians, has begun to bloom across the country as Egypt begins to sort out it's next steps in the process following the fall of the Mubarak dictatorship.
Muslim-Christian sectarian violence intensified in Egypt this weekend, spurring an emergency meeting of the Cabinet and public exhortations from Coptic Christians for international protection.
At least 12 people were killed and 232 others were wounded in sectarian clashes outside a Cairo church, according to state TV. Officials said violence began over rumors that a Christian woman who converted to Islam was being held at the church against her will
International opinions seem to be mixed on this sectarian fighting - though it appears to be clearly a religious divide - and whether it's just a birthing pain of the new democratic movement or a symptom of a much larger problem that may be facing Egypt, and by extension, any new government that arises from Middle East democratic movement.
Historically, most new forms of government, when taking the place of a previously entrenched tradition, are born into tumultuous times. Some go well or decently well - The United States, Russia after the fall of the USSR - while others falter, struggle or rip themselves apart in bloodbath of ideologies or sectarian hatred.
From a foreign policy perspective and from an American perspective, I believe it is in our best interests to ensure that revolutions like those in Egypt or the ongoing struggle in Libya are not only successful, but also come to some sort of stable fruition.
Nation building is difficult - and our former fearless leader George W probably set back the craft by a decade or so - but it can be accomplished through other means than occupation and foreign military dictation of government.
For the most part, this community strongly supported and continues to support this burgeoning and developing democratic movement throughout the Middle East. But we cannot stop or lose interest because the revolutionary stage has ended(Egypt) or the fight is descending into a longer, drawn out struggle(Libya). Our voices, and the voices of our elected leaders will need to present a clear and concise method of support to ensure that the people of these new nations - regardless of their race, ethnicity or religion - survive the next step in the process. A nation or nations- governed solely by the people's will - that will provide them with the liberties and opportunities to become equal player on the global stage.
Some important questions for the months and years upcoming with regard to the Middle East democratic movement:
1.) Will the fall of an authorization but mainly secular government like Mubarak's lead to an increase in the persecution and discrimination of the nation's minority religious groups, Christian or otherwise?
2.) With new, free elections being instituted across Egypt how will the various political parties, ethnic and religious groups strike a balance that will lead to pluralistic democracy not at the expense of the minority population?
3.) What kind of policies and actions should the U.S. - and by extension the U.N - enact or suggest to ensure the peaceful transition to democratic rule?
Just some thoughts. I don't have the answers obviously but I am curious for the Dkos community feedback and opinions.