Coptic-Muslim coexistence: A far-fetched dream?

9 05 2011

I admit that this post will be biased! I can’t be neutral when I see my people getting attacked more frequently and more severely. I just can’t , but also I can’t lie, exaggerate, or accuse anyone without proof.

I also admit that I’m not optimistic regarding the current situation, but I won’t lose hope, not soon at least.

If you haven’t already heard yet, the Copts in Egypt got attacked AGAIN for maybe the 5th or the 6th time since the Egyptian revolution. This time the Islamic extremists (hopefully extremists not mainstream) gathered in huge numbers around a Coptic church in Imbaba, Giza. They attacked the Copts there, as a result 12 were killed, hundreds were injured, a church was vandalized, and another church was burnt down. The casualties included Muslims this time, which means that the Copts are fed up and will defend themselves from now on, even if they have to resort to violence.

So, the million-dollar question: will the Copts and Muslims ever be able to live together happily?

Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer. Do you?!

However, from what I see:

  • Obviously, a decent number of the Muslim population want the Christians either dead or at least out of Egypt.
  • Again many are either indifferent or absent minded with regard to the Copts’ sufferings.
  • I dare to say that the majority of the Muslim society act in a patronizing and condescending manner towards the Copts. Talking about dhimmitude, Muslims being the majority, and Muslims protecting the Copts are clear examples.
  • Prevailing ignorance cannot go unnoticed, and in my experience ignorance begets intolerance.
  • Official reaction from authorities is just disappointing, and in many cases I’d say that authorities are an accomplice in the organized discrimination against Copts.
  • In sake of neutrality, intellects shallowly denounce intolerance in both sides, without honestly assessing the real threat of Islamic intolerance.
  • When Muslims blindly base their judgment on Christians according to one verse in the Qur’an saying: “لَن تَرۡضَىٰ عَنكَ ٱلۡيَہُودُ وَلَا ٱلنَّصَـٰرَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَہُمۡ‌ ” “Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion”. I guess it’s easy to expect the prejudices against Christians if Muslims act solely based on this verse and not on actual experience. Frankly, there are many similar verses that encourage prejudices against Christians, but it’s not the proper place to cite them here.
  • Practically, there is no freedom of religion in Islam, A Muslim who converts is an apostate and should be killed.
  • Many Muslims have the tendency to believe rumors, and act blindly in response to these rumors, for examples (weapons in churches, women abduction, church magic, and the church secret plans)
  • Religious and theological differences between the two camps actually built a gap that is not easy to bridge, especially when the Copts hear their beliefs mocked in mosques and in mass media.
  • Copts have always felt abused, and discriminated against. They have emotional scars that do not heal by time.
  • Copts are not fully integrated in the society, or at least not fruitfully specially in politics.
  • Copts generally see religious Muslims as radicals, which is not true in many cases.
  • Copts look at their ancestors’ glorious history and feel heartbroken and helpless.
  • When criminals go unpunished incident after incident, a sense of resentment keeps piling in the Copts’ hearts, and more importantly a rejection to the cruel society they are living in.

All of these issues are huge obstacles in front of healthy coexistence, and it’s apparent from my observations that this is a complicated issue, and won’t be solved easily, specially if the whole society is not earnestly seeking genuine coexistence based on equality and acceptance. We will be on the right track if we started handling these issues and work hard on alleviating their effect.

One last thing, a living example of the problems I mentioned above can be found in this video:

On the latest Marian apparitions in Cairo

24 12 2009

our Lady of Zeitoun

I think it’s very natural to have people who believe in those apparitions and others who don’t. It is a matter of belief, nothing else. The problem rises when those who don’t believe ridicule others’ beliefs. I never thought that I would find these huge amount of mockery and derision online and on some TV programs. Come on, the media?! shouldn’t this be an objective source of information(I know, it’s only my imagination!). It now turned out to be a way to impose and force one’s thoughts, and in the same time, to degrade others thoughts.

An example of a biased handling of this issue, was with Mona Elshazly’s talk show, it started with choosing the biased guests for the show, to the way she blindly forced her opinion, and ended by the way she reacted to the audiences phone calls. It was a good example of an unprofessional and subjective production.

On the other hand, a better coverage, was Amr adeeb’s program, at least he tried to be objective most of the time, even when he heard a different thought than his. But the other presenter Mohamed Sherdy, he just wanted to show off that he was more knowledgeable than his guests , this was also unprofessional. But overall, I respected the way they handled this issue, they didn’t approve it, but also didn’t demean the opposite point of view.

On the other hand, the web is more independent and free, allowing people to say their opinions  fearlessly. This really gives me the possibility to study people’s ideas and views honestly and deeply.

And As usual, I got depressed after reading a couple of articles and the comments of the readers in one of the web-based newspapers.

Most of the opinions didn’t believe these apparitions _ ok no problem_ but they had really some crazy insane ideas of how the Copts are deceitful, and also the conspiracy theory came in handy there, like theories of attracting people to Christianity or orthodoxy using fake claims of the apparition. Some other opinions really hurt me, when they insulted us of being naive, stupid, retarded just because we believed in those apparitions. As I said before, it is a matter of belief, and I don’t think that any Christian asked a Muslim to believe in these apparitions. So, remember this my brothers, we didn’t ask anybody to believe in this. It is our faith and we are happy with it, meanwhile we didn’t force anybody to follow it.  We don’t ask your approval or acceptance, we ask your respect to us and to our beliefs, and this is a fair right. And I don’t think that you will betray your Islam if you respect us, but if you think so, then you have some serious issues.

I really want to imagine how the people reacted during the famous apparition of “our Lady of Zeiton”, back in 1968. Though I am sure that the Muslims were more tolerant back then, and they considered that apparition a bless to all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians. But now, it is something hard to find. I hope one day we become again one hand and let the religion aside. Let’s not be oversensitive towards beliefs. Let’s be more tolerant to different beliefs, It won’t harm us, on the contrary, we will then  be able to focus on more important issues. I am sure that when this happens will be in a totally different and better state. I am living on that hope!!

what’s happening in Malawy, Minia?

17 11 2009

If you haven’t heard about it here is a link:

Here is short summary in English: A Christian guy was stabbed to death, by some of the local people in Malawy, Minia. A governorate in upper Egypt. These people stated that they attacked an apartment they believed to be a whorehouse, found the Christian guy with a Muslim prostitute.  So they stabbed him. and then there were protests in the streets, against the Coptic families in Malawy.

I really wasn’t sure of my impression after reading about this incident, so I will just randomly share all of the thoughts that came on my mind then:

  • The first thing that shocked me, that some of the comments on the previous news article actually approved these actions, they liked enforcing the _Shari3a_(Islamic law) by themselves and using force. I wonder how many people in Egypt really approve these sort of violent and irrational actions!
  • I really spent some time thinking about the other Christians reaction in this town, they were afraid so they closed their shops and stayed at home, fearing some attacks targeting their shops!! I can’t imagine  how the lives of hundreds, may be thousands, of Christians looked like during these periods. Are we really that weak? we just get terrified and stay at home waiting for things to be better one day!!
  • I think that if Egyptians got to know how many places in Egypt running prostitution as a business, there will be a war all over the country if they reacted in the same way!!
  • I think that we are becoming day after day more overreacting, more prejudiced, and more extreme. I wonder if the guy in this incident was Muslim, will they react in the same way? or do we have double standards for equal citizens of our country.
  • One example of overreacting, that some Muslims think that this is an organized movement from Christians to have sex with Muslim girls!! I really don’t buy this nonsense, So what will we gain from this??
  • I will leave you with a comment that really pissed me off: “العيب فى حسنى مبارك وليس فى النصارى لأنه بصراحة شديدة النصارى أخذوا صلاحيات كبيرة جدا فى عهد هذا الرجل – ومع ذلك ينتظرون المزيد -على الرغم من أن أقباط المهجر يقذفونه ويتظاهرون ضده فى زيارات لأمريكا ، ورحم الله الرئيس السادات كان رجلا حقا”  So he basically states that Copts shouldn’t have the same rights as their Muslim co-citizens! _Ya 7alawa 3ala elmowatna!!_.