Egyptians in government and on the streets are no closer to a common understanding of the issues and problems facing the nation in the wake of the extraordinary revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
The latest violence has resulted in scores of deaths and hundreds of injuries, followed by dozens of arrests, but large crowds still gather in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Cairo, as well as in other cities, demanding that the caretaker government speed up its governmental change process. Already, the deadline for parliamentary elections has passed. Although minor political parties will have gained more time with which to challenge the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, the people in those minor political parties would no doubt rather have a clearer picture of where their country is headed, especially since the government continues to blame the violence on solely religious struggles. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf appeared on TV recently and asked people to remain calm.
Hazem al-Beblawi, the finance minister and also deputy prime minister, announced his resignation in response to the latest violence, but that resignation was refused by the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi. Criticism of the military's actions, which included armored vehicles confronting protesters armed only with stones, came from world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet announced that it would consider recommendations for amending restrictions on building churches, which would satisfy critics within the Coptic Christianity community, which makes up 10 percent of the population. Thousands of people attended a funeral for the people who died in the latest attacks.
Some of the violence has been Christians fighting Muslims; in other instances, protesters have battled government security forces.