Sectarianism is stupid.
I know, I am not breaking any new grounds here. Not exactly the mind-blowing thought-provoking statement one would hope would come out of the writer of those words after such a long absence, but.. it's nonetheless true. Sectarianism is stupid. There is no arguing that.
Unfortunately, in a country like Egypt, sectarianism is alive and well, because the people are mostly stuck on stupid. And when I mean people, I mean all people. The citizens, the politicians, the police, the whole shebang. They are all stuck on stupid.
And don't get me wrong…I am not saying that its stupid in order to cover-up the evil that is taking place here. Make no mistake, there is evil here; But there is also a whole shitload of Stupid. And we will go over all of it, because every now and then, you meet the kind of stupidity that just leaves you in awe. The kind of stupid that breaks stupidity records. The kind of stupid that will have the mentally disabled give you a dirty look and be like "BOY, you are RETARDED!"
The kind of Stupid only Egyptians are capable of.
Our kind of stupid.
So, where to begin this stupid tale?
Well, I guess some background information is in order.
It all started on January 6 — Christmas Eve according to the Christian Coptic Church — when six Coptic Christians (not one above 17 years old) and a policeman were killed in a drive-by shooting while exiting their church in Nag3 Hamady, Upper Egypt. The 3 killers were muslims, who claimed they did it in retaliation to some Christian dude raping some muslim chick in another town. Now, pay attention, cause this is where the special kind of stupid starts: The Killers instead of killing the alleged rapist, or even attacking his house or family house, chose to indiscriminately open fire on a bunch of Christians leaving the Christmas midnight mass, because really, if one Christian is to blame, then all Christians are guilty, so just shoot whichever one you find on your way home. Also, do that on their holiest of days as they are leaving church, because that's not bound to turn some heads or nothing.
And so it was…
Naturally, most of Egypt woke up to the news like a drunk college student with a massive hangover: Incomprehension followed by confusion followed by a sense of certainty that while you don't know how yet, this shit is gonna cost you. The Christians were all shocked, and then their reactions varied between fear, disgust and fury. There was no calming them. Nothing none of us could say. And of course what happened next did not help a bit.
The government of course tried to change the conversation, saying that this is not a sectarian-crime, but more of a criminal- crime, that just happened to have muslim shooters and Christian victims, done on the most important christian holiday, in front of the local chruch as christians were leaving mass. To corroborate their story, they dragged in the Christian governor of Qena- where Nag3 Hamady is- and had him say that to the press, even mentioning the alleged rape as if to somehow justify what happened. The Christians at Nag3 Hamady didn't take that too well, and started to demonstrate against the shooters and the government, to which the local state security troops responded with 1) beating them up or 2) letting the muslim residents of Nag3 Hamady beat them while they watched, hoping that this would scare the christians down, like it always does. STUPID!
It of course didn't work, and a riot broke out, which lead to clashes that lead to riots which lead to clashes and so one and so forth. The Father of the Church there, Korollos, tried to calm his people down, urging them to turn the other cheek like they always do, but for the first time in a really long time, many of his flock refused to listen, and started fighting with him in the church. The calm wasn't going to come without Justice, and the local police forces were not ready to provide the kind of justice the Christians demanded, because the shooters are muslims who killed defending muslim honor. So, if they do come down hard on the shooters, they will anger the muslim community in Nag3 Hamady, and they may start to shoot at the police as well as the Christians. And who wants that? Not the police, surely!
So the game starts getting fixed, with newspapers carefully pushing the line that the shooters didn't intend to kill the chirstians, but rather to disable them. I shit you not, they said that their aim was to shoot them in the legs and drive away, but when they started falling because they were being shot in the leg, some of those low-aiming bullets hit the fallen in their chests, killing them. Yeah. How about that for stupid?
So, feeling that someone needs to counter this level of stupidity with action, a group of 30 activists that includes bloggers Wael Abbas, Demagh Mak and Wa7da Masreyah, flanked by a number of opposition figured, decided that they will head to Nag3 Hamady by train yesterday morning, in order to pay their respect and provide condolences to the families of those slain in the shootings. The Police at Nag3 Hamady caught a wind of this, naturally, and feeling extra extra stupid, decided that the activists must be coming in to cause a demonstration and inflame the situation, which could piss the muslim crowds coming out of friday prayers off, and cause fresh clashes, and who would want that? So, instead of asking the activists what they are doing there, or even putting them on a train heading back to Egypt, the police of Nag3 Hamady chose to arrest them instead, figuring that detaining them for a couple of hours until the day is over would be the wisest thing to do. STUPID!
Next thing you know, you had a media storm on your hand, and lawyers were calling up the Police station by the droves, and journalists were demonstrating in Cairo, and the whole thing was getting out of hand. Realizing that they are the retards who arrested activists who came only in order to offer condolences in a symbolic gesture of national unity, the security forces decided that they needed to fix this before it gets out of hand. So, how would they fix it? Simple, keep them locked up over night, send a statement to the newspapers that you arrested them while they were attempting to riot and cause mayhem, and then release them the next day- Today- because they will be so tired from spending an entire day in your holding cells without food or water, that they will just go home. Media fallout? International pressure? Civil society condemnation? Let the government deal with that. What's important is that Nag3 Hamady is calm and stable for another day. That's all that matters. And surely this will have no repercussions on them on the local level at all, right? I mean, when the Christians see that not only is the police not interested in protecting them, not actively trying to bring their shooters to justice, beating the shit out of them every time they try to demonstrate , but are also arresting muslims and human rights activists who want to offer their condolences and pay their respect to the victims' families, surely they won't get mad about that. That's not adding insult to injury at all, you know?
Do I even have to say it?
And here we are, a country whose so called national fabric is being ripped at the seams, and its leaders-political and religious- are unable to lead or even gauge their people any more. What's new here is how widespread the Christian anger is this time, and who its targeting : The Coptic Church. The Copts have had it with the church and its leaders, who want to play politics and make small gains by gambling with the livelihood of their followers. It's even happening on the top level, with NDP, twice-appointed by Mubarak, Coptic Christian MP Gorgette Qillini started attacking the governor of Qena and Father Korollos for lying to their people and trying to appease the government. Yes, you have one of very very few Christian MP's, who was appointed by the government, fighting with the Christian father of the church of the slain Christians and the Christian governor of the governorate they were killed in, and accusing them of being beholden to the government, while the general Christian population is watching, dumbfounded on how this has become a fight between the Christians, instead of uniting, and trying to start a serious national dialogue from the ashes of this horrific incident. But no, that would be smart, and we don't do that around here, do we?
I love this stupid country and its stupid people. I really really do.