Sectarianism will only get worse in Egypt

This apparent pointlessness has poured fuel on the fire of Egypt’s ever-smouldering conspiracy theories. Some believe that pro-Mubarak elements in the army and from his old front party, the NDP, are deliberating orchestrating violence to promote a return to military dictatorship.

Others believe that Islamist agents provocateur are seeking to create an instability in which radicalism will flourish. There is evidence for both of these stories.

But the Christians, too, have hardline spokesmen who feel they need to present as forceful a face as possible, given the numeric weakness of the cards in their hands. The church’s head, Pope Shenouda, discredited himself in the eyes of many Egyptians by his support for Mr Mubarak, meaning that the loudest voices in the church rather than its head are most readily heard.

But that is true for the whole country, until the promised establishment of a civilian political structure.