A Cairo Christmas Carol
a brisk January afternoon in Cairo, as the Coptic community celebrated
the birth of Christ, demonstrators dressed in black lined the city's
famous, lion-headed Qasr al-Nil bridge, a busy span favoured by young
couples and tourists looking to catch a shot of sunset over the Nile.
Police officers standing nearby watched the group and the passing traffic warily, while squads of helmeted riot police arranged themselves at the bridge exit, waiting for orders. As is often the case in Egypt, the police outnumbered the protesters.
Holding a sign that read "Muslim + Christian = Egyptian" and dressed in black from her headscarf to her abaya, Dalia Salaheldin described her reaction to hearing news of the bombing as "sadness, grave sadness".
Salaheldin said she and and other Muslim friends had attended Christmas Eve mass on Thursday night to show support for the Coptic community.
"I didn't really care if the people are Muslims or Christians, they're just Egyptians, and for me, Egypt has always been home, and I want home to be safe," she said.
In Salaheldin's view, the bombing shouldn't be interpreted as a revelation that simmering sectarian tensions in Egypt have finally bubbled over. Though much of the country remains poor and undereducated, Salaheldin argued, the essential nature of the Egyptian citizen is still one of peaceful coexistence.
But she, like others, was reluctant to pin the blame for the bombing on anyone.
"Someone is not happy with this and wants the situation to be divided," she said. "I am sure that whoever has done this is not really related to being a Christian or a Muslim".
This article is continued on Al Jazeera HERE .