Last Sunday more than a thousand Coptic Christians dared to stage what was supposed to be a peaceful protest in Cairo. They were protesting violent state-supported attacks on Christians by Muslim groups and the recent burning of churches.
It was not long before they were attacked by angry Muslims and by the army. They were beaten, shot and dragged through the streets. Two armoured vehicles belonging to the army drove into the crowds of unarmed demonstrators, going backwards and forwards, mowing people under their wheels. What some eye-witnesses saw was so horrific that I would not want to repeat it here.
Between 20 and 40 Copts were killed and hundreds wounded. Some were dragged into dark alleys to be dealt with. One had his throat cut.
Egyptian authorities put out a report that soldiers were being killed by Copts. The report was later discredited. It was said that no soldiers had died.
The US President issued a statement expressing concern for "the tragic loss of life among demonstrators and security forces" and appealing to "all parties" to refrain from violence.
Said one commentator: "Perhaps I ought to join the president in his concern and call for restraint. I call upon the security forces to refrain from killing Christians, and upon Christians to refrain from dying."
As another pointed out, the Muslim spring in the Middle East is a Christian winter.
How could such a thing happen as happened in Cairo on Sunday? Mark Durie explains that Islam demands that a state be ruled by sharia law, which demands that non-Muslims live under dhimmi status.
"The 'crime' of the Copts in Aswan province was simply that they wished to repair their church. This is opposed by the (theological) logic of the dhimma pact, which states that non-Muslims are not allowed to repair places of worship, on pain of being treated as 'people of defiance and rebellion,' from whom 'safety and protection' have been withdrawn. In other words, such a person can be killed and their belongings plundered (because they are entitled to no protection under Islamic law).
"For some pious Muslims in Egypt today, the act of repairing a church is a flagrant provocation, a breach of the peace, which amounts to a deliberate revocation of one's rights to exist in the land. This becomes a legitimate topic for sermons in the mosque, as the faithful are urged to use their hands to defend the honor of Islam. It is seen as no injustice, and even a duty, to destroy the church and even the lives of Christians who have the temerity to repair their churches. Likewise those who go to the streets to protest church destruction are also rebels who have forfeited their rights to 'safety and protection.'"
Melanie Phillips wonders if Messrs Obama and Cameron realise what they have helped unleash by promoting the removal from office of Egypt's President Mubarak. It is hard to know, she says, which is the more terrifying - the malevolence displayed by the West towards Israel, or its sheer craven stupidity.