From tweets and other postings, and stories from various news sources, I’ve been able to peace together this version of the big picture here in Egypt regarding tonight’s violence:
There is a powerful, small minority of ultra-right-wing Islamic theocrats called the Salafiyun, with ties to the supreme military council running the country. They want to rid the country of Coptic Christians (and, of course, Jews), and want to force Islamic law on Egypt.
Coptic Christians are angry at many violent and deadly attacks on them over recent days and months, and were demonstrating today in Cairo, when thugs of unknown association(s) attacked them. The Copts attacked back with weapons (perhaps ones taken from police or military).
There has been hatred exacerbated and promulgated by many religious groups: Sunni, Shiite, Sufi, Coptic Christian (with everyone hating the Jews). This is accelerating and getting worse. If this hatred and violence continues the “Freedom Revolution” is under threat of becoming a big win for the Salafiyun. (And many believe that it is being purposely spurred on by provocateurs from the previous Mubarak government and the Salfiyun.)
Let us hope that the majority of people here, who want to live in peace, and enjoy the freedom to be themselves, continue to prevail without violence (since, in my view, any apparent gains by violence will be of little long-term value).