Offensive

This post will be offensive. I am not sure how else to announce that more clearly than to have this as the title. If you are easily offended, then please read no further. This is the truth of my opinion at the moment, no holds barred. Deal with it.

 

Like many of you, I have been greatly disturbed by the Church Attacks in Imbaba, so much so that I found myself in the middle of Imbaba, at midnight, in front of the 3adrah church , as it stood there burning with people still locked inside. I wanted to see for myself who was behind this, scared shitless of course, envisioning myself arriving there to find myself attacked and surrounded by fundamentalist Islamists who will be less than friendly towards someone like me. What aided that paranoid perception was my Phone call to the Daily News Ian Lee, who-in abated breath-informed me that he was attacked by a mob when he arrived to Imbaba with a number of fellow foreign journalists, and had to escape it with his life. So, here I was, going there, with-mind you- a female activist friend, heading to what I was expecting to be a completely violent situation, in order to get the truth of what’s going on and confronting those nice violent people who did this. Total Insanity on our part, but completely necessary none-the-less.

When we arrived there, there was a huge crowd (maybe 7000 men, not a single female in sight, even though I knew Sarah Carr was there) gathered in front of the burning church, and they were visibly upset and angry. Their anger wasn’t directed towards the Christians in the area or the church, but rather at those who did this. More than one eye-witness told me the same story: That the people who attacked the church were: 1) not from that Area, 2) Not Salafists, but rather clean-shaven thugs, one even identified one of them as a paid thug that he has seen before, who threatened everybody with knives and blades, set the church on fire and escaped the moment they heard the Police were coming. The locals were busy trying to put out the fire, getting people out of the church and the adjacent building, cheering on and helping the Fire Fighters as they were putting out the fire and getting victims out. For about two hours I watched the population as they expressed their anger and frustration at those who burned the church, many of them expressing the phrase over and over “We don’t know who did this, but it can’t be from us. Egyptians were never like this!”

Those words kept circulating in my head all of the following day and yesterday. “Egyptians were never like this! Egyptians were never like this!” And the more I hear it the angrier I get, and the more I read of people’s responses on Twitter I get even angrier. It’s easy for us to be Egyptians and Proud when we don’t engage in sectarianism (or in the case of that church, have someone paid to fuel its fire), but we cannot fool ourselves or others. This is not new. Egyptians were like this for a long long time, and this is not likely to stop anytime soon either, if we are completely honest.

Actually, if we are to be brutally honest and realistic, we would have to admit that sectarianism has its roots deep in the foundation of our society, and that, in reality, as horrible as this situation is, it’s not nearly as bad as it was in the 80′s for example, when all of Imbaba was declared an Islamic state, or when churches and movie theaters used to be bombed (Now they just burn them…Progress). And if this is planned by a country that doesn’t wish to see us democratic and Independent (Saudi) and with the objective of burning the country to the ground and make Egyptians fight each other over religion, then in all reality we need to expect this not to be the last attack, but rather the harbinger of things to come in the following few months. That we should expect about another 20 church attacks and about 9000 more dead, Muslims and Christians, until every single Egyptian in this country, with unbending conviction, decides that this cannot be allowed to go on anymore. Sure, we could take steps to mitigate the damage from now, but that would require us to face a number of issues we don’t want to face, and actually do something about it instead of demanding that others do. Luckily, there is enough blame to go around for us all, so no one is walking away clean from this one: Muslims, Christians both share the blame. Let’s explain how in precisely that order, shall we?

How the Muslims are responsible for this:

It’s unfair to say that a group of fundamentalist extremists or a group of paid thugs- and thus a minority- should by their actions define the behavior of an entire population of people. True, but that doesn’t mean that the Muslim population can walk away smelling like roses from this one. Far from it. If anything, the Muslims of Egypt have created the chasm that exists today between Egyptians of different faiths through 1) Ignorance of the “Other”, 2) complete lack of interest in learning from the past and its mistakes and 3) total deficiency in self-awareness as to how they are representing themselves and their religion. If we ignore the sectarian nature of some of them, and everything else is being equal, those 3 reasons are responsible for all of the sectarian problems that remain pervasive in Egyptian society today.

Ignorance of the “Other” is where it all starts. Let’s start with a simple test: What do you know about Egypt’s Christians and the Coptic Church? How many of you know anything of the Church’s history, and the history of Muslim/Christian co-existence in Egypt, besides what government issues history books tell us, which is absolutely nothing? Are you aware that historically it is the only church in the world that can go head to head with the Catholic Church in terms of history, importance and influence on Christianity as a whole? That it has reach all the way to Ethiopia, and has directly influenced Rastafarianism at its inception? Or let’s take it on a more basic level: Are you aware that not all Christians in Egypt are orthodox Copts? Or that the Bible was not written by Jesus? I know that putting those last two questions here is offensive, if not downright condescending, to many of you, but please go and ask your friends and family members. Their answers will be incredibly amusing to say the least.

The Muslim population doesn’t seem aware that saying that Jesus was never crucified or that the Bible has been altered is offensive to Christians as a whole. They don’t seem to have a problem with a government educational system that forces Christians to read Koranic verses as part of their Arabic language education. They don’t seem to mind when on Islamic holidays, the nice lady on TV congratulates the entire country, and on their singular holiday that we recognize, the same lady wishes “our Coptic brothers & sisters” all the best on their holiday. In reality, the Christians in Egypt know more about Islam and Muslims than they ever wanted to, and the Muslim population, well, they don’t know much and almost never ask. But don’t you dare call us sectarian, because we all have a Christian friend that we have known since forever & always been “cool” with his religious orientation, despite the fact that we don’t know anything about his/her culture, except that they have weird vegetarian dietary habits most of the year, which never stops us from eating meats in front of them, regardless of how offended we get if they dare to drink water in front of us during Ramadan.

And if we can’t learn from those amongst us in the present, we definitely won’t learn about the history of Christian-Muslim relations in this country. No one wants to learn about the atrocities committed by Amr Ibn ElAss, when the Muslim army “opened” Egypt, which lead through a series of unfortunate events to the eventual assassination of Osman Ibn Affan on the hands of Abdullah ibn Abu Bakr, which in turn lead to the “War of the Camel”, the first true Islamic civil war, which also lead to Sunni-Shia divide. No one wants to know when we actually stopped making Egyptian Christians paying the “Jizzyah”, which they had to pay till the mid 19th century (only 150 years ago, which means they had to be second class citizen- by virtue of their faith- in their own country for a good 12 centuries). But, then again, no one wants to remember the 90′s or the 80′s, where Christians were attacked and killed in droves by fundamentalist Islamists , and definitely no one has learned the lesson of the new Year’s eve bombing of the Alexandria Church, which later on was proven to have been planned by the Mubarak State Security apparatus. You want to hear a funny story? When they asked Camilia Shehata on TV, if she never converted, then how did the Salafi Sheikh have her ID and marriage certificate, she said that she doesn’t know how that happened, because the people who took her papers from her were State Security. You would’ve been able to see it, but it was broadcasted on an Egyptian Christian TV channel. Oh yeah, those exist. I wonder how many Egyptian Muslims watch them, even for educational purposes.

Which brings us to the final point: How Muslims present themselves to those around them. Let’s just focus on two examples for the sake of not making this article 17 pages long: Religious sermons in Mosques, and general population behavior. Now, we all have heard Friday sermons where the Imam does nothing to talk about the evil Jews and Christians all the time, and how we have to be vigilant and other such beautiful example of hate speech that we just shrug off as normal (It’s not like we ever listen to what the Friday sermon says anyway; The guy could be reading from a phonebook for all we care!). Now, I often wondered what the reasons behind such sermons were, because they don’t reflect current reality. We live in a country where the supreme majority is Muslims, and there are maybe 100 Jews left in the entire country, and Islam is the world second major religion, & gaining more ground rapidly. Why the defensiveness and paranoia? And then I realized that the problem is very simple: the religious discourse of the Friday sermons has apparently not evolved since the days of Islam’s inception, when Muslims were a small but scrappy bunch and the entire world was against them. But now? Now Muslims are over one billion people, and their countries are rich and influential, i.e. Big Time Players in the world’s stage now. They are no longer a persecuted scrappy minority, but they still act like and see themselves as one, instead of acting with the Grace required of people in their position. Over one billion people and they are still paranoid about & scared of maybe 20 million Jews worldwide and 10 million Christians here. Imagine!

Which brings is to the general population behavior, which is a paradox of its own: the complete disconnect between piety and morality. I left the country in 1999 for college and returned in 2004 for good, but I visited the country every few months, and noticed a very peculiar thing: The Muslims were getting more and more religious, yet they are not becoming better people. They pray 5 times a day, most of the girls got veiled, almost everybody had Amr Khaled fever, and yet, they had no problems with lying , or cheating, or trying to rob you, or treating you rudely. For example: The Taxi driver would be blasting a religious sermon and then try to rob you blind on the fare, and sees no contradiction in his actions. The guys who would be late for class because they had to pray gamaa for every prayer were also the same guys that cheated off of each-other at tests. And let’s not even mention the amount of lying I’ve seen veiled girls engage in. All of that schizophrenia, dirt off their shoulders. Also dirt off their shoulders: attacks on Christians every time they wanted to build a church. Hell, some of them justified and defended such attacks by stating that the Christians were trying to provoke Muslims by building a church, & that those Muslims were simply- and I quote- “jealous for their religion”, like that’s supposed to be justification or an excuse. Never mind that it is the right of Christians and Jews to build places of worship on land that they own as they damn well please. Never mind that this behavior signifies a serious insecurity in those Muslims belief system, where they seem to believe that their religion can’t handle local competition (and its hilarious byproducts- like the unannounced but totally noticeable competition of making sure that the Minerate of any Mosque built next to a church is always taller than the church’s Tower). Never mind that Jealousy- in general- is an inferior negative emotion practiced by the immature and the senseless. But then again, Salafists Fundamentalists always claim that their actions are out of “jealousy for their religion”, so I guess the shoe fits in this specific case.

Now, for anyone paying attention, none of this is news or in any way informative, but unfortunately very few do, and even fewer attempt to address those issues. Our country has sectarian undertones, and many of which come from the Muslim Population (I will address the Christian ones in the Christian section) and its daily social practices, and therefore can be exploited. Please note that I never even touched on how Muslims find it acceptable that many companies will simply never hire Christians, or that they will never reach certain positions- no matter how good they are- because of their religion, and other such embarrassing topics, because they are not reflective or pervasive in society as a whole. But everything else, well, Muslim readers, you tell me! How comfortable was reading those last few paragraphs for you?

 

What they need to do now:

Well, needless to say that all three issues presented above need to be addressed by Egypt’s general Muslim Population if we are ever to be a country not divided by sectarian lines. However, since we are facing a crisis, let’s just focus on damage control for now. And here is all I will ask of you dear Muslim reader who is concerned about the unity and well-being of his country: Talk to people. Seriously.

Talk to your life-long Christian friend and ask him or her about their culture, their family, what they go through and what they don’t say in front of you. Tell them that you won’t be offended. Try to understand where they are coming from.

Talk to your family members and friends who have repeatedly said hateful or ignorant stuff in front of you and explain to them what they are doing. That they are fermenting the ground for future sectarian attacks by their rhetoric and behavior.

And finally, you know that Imam in that mosque near you that week in and week out does nothing but insult Christians and Jews in his Friday sermon? Well, bring a bunch of like-minded people from the neighborhood and talk to him. Explain to him that he embarrasses Islam & Muslims by his narrative, that because of such sermons that some people find it justifiable or acceptable that churches or Christians get attacked and that given that this is your mosque you will not allow it to be a center for spreading hatred and division amongst people from the same country. Do you realize that religious stances, radical or conservative ideas are influenced by the congregation and not by the religious leader? Well, you, by being part of the congregation, have the power to change the stance of your leader. Same goes to all the Islamic Tele-evangelists. Inform them that you won’t allow them to define you or your religion by the other religions anymore. That they should focus instead on how to bring us together by advocating the principles of tolerance that Islam preaches. Do that, and we won half of the battle right there, at least where you live. Now imagine if this spreads to the entire country.

Also, when such attacks like the Imbaba attacks happen again, please be the first one to call for a show for national Unity, and make sure that all of your Muslim friends show up. If we hope to beat this, we have to show Unity like never before, because the enemy this time doesn’t just want to scare the Christians into voting one way. The Enemy hopes to destroy any hope for us for a post-sectarian future. And we can’t allow this to happen, now more than ever.

 

How the Christians are responsible for this:

Now, I am not in the habit of blaming the victim for being attacked, so nothing here will be related to this attack directly. However, there are a number of things that the Egyptian Christians need to face, and there is no better time than the present. The first part is the harsh truth: Many of them are equally as sectarian as their Muslim counterparts. Sure, a lot of it is a reaction to the actions taken by the Muslim population, and yes they are not a quarter as vocal, and not even a tenth as violent, but what’s good for the goose is good for the Gander, so we will deal with their sectarianism here as well once and for all. Please note that the Christians I will discuss here are mainly the Coptic Christians, even though the other denominations share similar symptoms to various degrees.

If there are roots to The Christian sectarianism in Egypt, they come down to two main reasons: 1) victimized minority/Ghetto mentality amongst the poorest Christian social classes and 2) the role the Orthodox Coptic Church, and its leadership, plays in their lives. Let’s talk about them in that order.

The first problem is the easier to identify and explain: due to what they perceive to be a hostile antagonistic environment against them in every facet of society (in terms of rights, work opportunities, career advancement, not to mention education & entertainment), the Christian community, with notable exceptions due to intellectual or social status (i.e. this doesn’t hold true to the rich Christians), has closed its self off on the outside world and started functioning in their own little hidden ghetto society that exists all around us all over Egypt. Churches become more than simply places for worship and fellowship: they become the focal point, if not the universe, of those who attend it. Christian Boys and Girls go there and only hang out with Christian boys and girls, and then go to camps together to make them even closer, and thus ensuring that the supreme majority of the friends of those Boys and Girls are also Christians, with, as always, the random Muslim friend or two that they acquire. And even the relationship with that Muslim friend can never truly be honest, because Christians are taught not to engage their Muslim counterparts in direct discussion or express their grievances from them to them directly, because, well, how “sensitive” Muslims get and how “extremely” they will react to such a discussion. So instead they deal with the problem internally, by praying away their grievances or injustices that they face daily, by never vocalizing them out to the world if a Muslim is around, and by being internally resentful of the fact that this is the life they have to lead.

To most, it never passes the point of silent internal resentment and feeling victimized in their own country, and thus start feeling that this country, despite how much they love it, is not their country anymore. How could it be when they are afraid of, well, everything, and not without reason? So many seek to just leave the country, while others stay and accept this as their reality and try to be part of the society as much as they can, within the small parameters they allow themselves to function in. As for the rest, well, they go full-on sectarian, and start mimicking their Muslim counterparts. They engage in equal insulting of the Islamic religion on every platform they could find, and many amongst them start advocating adopting the “islamist” idea of not dealing with those “heathen Muslims” all together, because “they are filled with deceit and hatred towards us”, which is exactly what the “heathen Muslim” counterpart say about them, verbatim. But all in all, all of the groups above suffer from the same ailment: as much as they love this country and are attached to it, they don’t feel welcome here at all. Only inside their social ghetto they get to feel as if they belong to something, that they are accepted for who they are, and thus become totally invested in protecting it above all else, and anything else is irrelevant. And nowhere is that more apparent than in their demands. If you looked closely at their demands, you would notice that they are all sectarian in nature: a number of rights for Copts; not equal rights for all. And while you understand that they naturally want to address the issues that affect their livelihood as a minority, those in the end are religious sectarian demands. Fine. Noted. But besides that, if you ask what their demands as Egyptian citizens for Egypt are, they will tell you that they only have those demands, and if they get them, they are fine with whatever else happens. I was once having a conversation with a Coptic rights activist, where I was discussing how the secularists and the Christians should align themselves together against the Muslim Brotherhood in the elections, and he basically told me that if the Muslim Brotherhood give the Christian community those demands, they won’t mind them being in power, as long as they leave them alone and in peace, while “the Muslims can burn fighting with each other over this country”. I wanted to explain to him that, actually, no, because at the end of the day secular Muslims and religious Muslims are both Muslims, so they can always work something out, just like what’s happening now, which leaves the only people burning being the Christians, literally.

But this is the crux of the problem: Coptic Christians don’t exactly want a secular state, they just want a state that lets them live their lives by their own rules and that’s it. How is that different than a secular state you ask? Well, because the country has more than just Muslims and Christians: It has Shia, Baha’ais, some Jews and a whole bunch of atheists and agnostics. A secular state would give rights to all of those groups, and make everyone equal. The Christians have another thing in mind, which is nowhere more apparent than their proposed position on the infamous Article # 2 of the constitution : They don’t want it removed, they just wanted to add a sentence that basically states that Christians get to follow the laws set by the church, because it says that other religious minorities based on their religious institutions, and Egypt only recognizes Islam, Christianity and Judaism as religions, and since there are practically no Jews, this will only provide preferential treatment to the Christians and the Christians alone. I have to say that their suggestion an amendment is brilliant though, and we should all follow it: The 100 Jews should ask that they follow Jewish laws, the Baha’is can follow Baha’i laws, the secularists can demand their own laws, and I will demand that they also add my name to the article, and create laws specifically tailored for Mahmoud Salem and Mahmoud Salem alone. Let’s all just follow our own laws, like we are separate countries, despite the fact that we share the same space. Brilliant.

The thing is though, we joke about how the Coptic Christians act as if they are part of a separate parallel country that occupies the same borders as Egypt, but at this point, they are not just acting like it: they are flat-out demanding it. And why wouldn’t they opt for a secular country, where civil law would rule supreme and make everyone equal? Well, mainly because the Coptic Orthodox Church doesn’t want that. Why not? Well, because a secular state where civil law exists means that alongside religious marriage, there will be civil marriage, and thus civil divorce. And we can’t have that for Coptic Christians, cause, how else would we control them? No, it’s better to keep it this way, making the only way for orthodox Christians to get a quick and immediate divorce is through conversion to Islam, which was Camilia Shehata’s motive, in case you didn’t know. She wanted to leave her husband, couldn’t, escaped, some Muslims took her in, presented her with the idea that since we are in an Islamic country, no Christian man can marry a Muslim woman, so if she converts to Islam, she will be automatically divorced. All of those who died in the name of Camilia, they wouldn’t had there been civil divorce, but since the Coptic Church doesn’t allow divorce and would probably fight a civil marriage law as much as the Muslim Brotherhood would, we will probably be in a similar situation like Camilla’s sooner than we would ever want to be in. (And while we are on the subject of the church and Camilia, what does it mean when I read in the newspaper that the Prosecutor General Office formally called for Camilia to come in for questioning, and the Church refused? How could the Church refuse the formal request for investigation by the government for an Egyptian citizen? How? Not only did they simply deny Camilia her agency rights, they are also getting her to break the law, because if you get called in for questioning and you don’t go, well, that’s a crime right there, and one that she could end up going to Jail for. Can someone explain this to me please? I am all ears!)

And this brings us to the Coptic Orthodox church, and the role it plays in aiding this sectarianism as well, because, well, it’s good for them in terms of Power, and by them I mean Pope Shinouda and his crew. Who could deny that during his reign, which now outlasts Mubarak’s, he has managed to turn the Church into more than just the spiritual representative of Coptic Christians in Egypt, but the political representative as well? Or how he managed to turn the church almost into a parallel government, and one that negotiates with the Egyptian government on all the concerns of its subjects, usually for a Price that is usually too low? I recall during the 2005 elections reading a scan of a Coptic church newsletter that got sent to me by a Coptic friend, and its two top news bits were “Pope Shinouda declares in the name of of all Copts in Egypt support for Mubarak for President” and right next to it “President Mubarak agrees on giving permits to building 2 new churches in Egypt”. At the time there was serious uproar amongst the Coptic Christians in Egypt, who openly wondered 1) how dare he speak politically in the name of all Coptic Christians and 2) If this means they are bad Copts if they vote for someone else and 3) if their voices worth is so low that it only equals two new churches. But this Power-sharing agreement between Shinouda and Mubarak continued all the way through the Revolution, where –in case you forgot- The Pope, in the name of the church, announced his support for Mubarak throughout it, and many Christians violated his orders and went anyway. Now while it would be disrespectful to ask the Coptic Christians to hold this position against him religiously, one has to wonder why he is still their leader politically, especially after 30 year of continued political marginalization under his political leadership. One also has to wonder where the Christian politicians are. How insane is it that for 10 million Christians, I can only name Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, Naguib Sawiris, Mona Makram Ebeid and Ramy Lakah as actual politicians? Oh yeah, I forgot Nabil Louqa Babawy. My bad. But on a serious note, can someone explain to me, in the absence of independent Christian politicians, how exactly different is the Coptic Church under Shinouda from the Muslim Brotherhood? Both are religious organizations with political agendas that only aims to consolidate their powers over their respective religious sects, both provide a parallel society to its members and their children since they are very young, both employ similar social models of dealing with the outside world, and both don’t want civil law or a secular country. For all intents and purposes, both are almost identical, to the point that I sometimes wonder why they don’t just join forces.

The Point is this: the moment the only political representation you have is the religious representation you have, and all of your demands are religious and sectarian in nature, is also the moment you lose the right to complain if the other religions did that and you become equally as sectarian as you accuse them to be. Think about that!

 

What they need to do now:

Well, there are two concerns right now: one is immediate, which is to try to prevent more church attacks now. The other is to prevent this insane situation to continue to influence our lives.

The solution for the first concern isn’t having more security or army personnel protecting the churches, because that never really did much in the past, and especially not now, given the state of anarchy we live in. The reality of it all is, if those churches are to be protected, they have to be protected by the people in the neighborhoods that they are in. That means, the Muslims have to help protect them, and many of them are sectarian as I previously mentioned. How do we manage to swing that?

Simple really, ask them to. For real. I am not kidding. If you are a Coptic Christian and you live in a neighborhood that houses your church and you are concerned about it getting attacked, gather all the Christians in the area, divide the streets of the area between them and have them go to all the Muslims in their respective locations and tell them the following: “We are worried about the safety of our church. Not from the people of this neighborhood, but from the outsiders who are trying to destroy Egypt by engaging in such attacks, thus make us all fight and hate each other. If we ever hope to defeat those dark and evil forces, as our Lord-of-the-rings-reading-SCAF likes to call them, we have to band together, and protect the church”. I guarantee to you it will work, because even the most sectarian Egyptian will not be able to stop his nature of trying to protect his neighbors and friends, especially if they are asked to. Hell, go to the Imam of your local mosque after your conversations with the rest of the neighborhood people and take a bunch of Muslims with you, and have him call for the protection of the church during Friday Prayers. The people will form groups, be vigilant, and from that moment on it will engraved in their psyche that no one should attack that church. It’s their area’s church now, and under their protection first and foremost. Social engagement. Creating a sense of communal responsibility. This stuff works.

Now, on to the second concern: how Coptic Christians make sure that those insane situations stop. Well, the first thing they need to do is decide if they are all for inclusion in post-revolution Egypt or not. If they are not, and would rather live in this parallel universe that occupies the same space like the rest of us but not with us, that’s their right, but they have to be honest about it. And they have to let all of us know. Because the revolutionaries all want them to participate: we all want them to be part of the Egyptian society again. Not because we need their votes, because if the referendum is any indication, Coptic Christians are as voting averse as ever, but because we could use their input. Because a country divided alongside sectarian lines is not a country, and it’s definitely not what I signed up for in this revolution.

Secondly, they need to decide what they want in this country as Egyptian citizens. What is their position on the social issues? What is their position on economic policy? What is their position on freedom of speech and artistic expression? What each one of them envisions this country to be and for them to act on that vision. And then thirdly, they have to either join a party or form a new one, and partake in the process of building a new Egypt. To say that it is imperative that every single one of you that is interested joins a party or a movement is an understatement. Some of you will join the liberal parties; others will join leftist parties, while 3 will probably join the Muslim Brotherhood party. It doesn’t matter. What matters is this: have an actual and real political representation in all parties. Run for office even if you believe you will lose. Be part of this and help rebuild this society, because otherwise this rift will continue to exist and it really shouldn’t any longer. And finally: talk to your Muslim friends. Explain to them everything from your side. Trust me when I tell you that they don’t know. A lot of us got to know each other in Tahrir and in our neighborhoods people’s committees; it would be a shame if we stopped now.

191 Comments on Offensive

  1. Mindy Baha El Din
    May 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    We were hoping you could bring attention to this story. Please contact us if you need further information or have any questions.

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    “PORTO FAYOUM” TOURISM DEVELOPMENT PLANNED AT
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    Reply
    • Sousie Hares
      May 10, 2011 at 5:27 pm

      Hi Mindy,
      I believe that Porto Fayoum, will definitely be on hold now, as it was announced yesterday that a complained has been filed to the General prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, against Mansour Amer. Accordingly I assume that in few days he will be put under investigation for all his land projects….
      All your efforts are usually highly appreciated

      Reply
  2. Kat-Mo
    May 10, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I’ll drink to that!

    Pretty good and only one mention of the Saudi conspiracy. ;) You’re improving.

    The mention of Shanouda’s demand for an Article II for Christian law I thought was interesting. The first time I read it I thought that he was simply making a point, the point that you make, if Egypt has Islamic law then why not a laws for each sect or community?

    Of course, that fails because then it would create whole separate government systems and the government would fail. The only way to have a strong, but just government is through civil laws that do not encroach on religion yet allow people to practice their religion freely.

    It isn’t hard, really and is much better in the long run for creating a peaceful society.

    Reply
    • DementedBonxie
      May 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      I agree. Civil law should apply to everyone. A faith community might have laws for its members, and impose a penalty on a member who breaks it. If divorce is not permissible for members, it would be up to the member to choose to abide by the group’s rule and stay with the difficult marriage, or divorce according to the civil law and accept whatever membership restriction the group applies.
      Well, that can work for Church groups – if painfully. There must be some way of Civil law and Sharia being in tune?

      Reply
      • Ormond Otvos
        May 14, 2011 at 12:40 am

        DEAR PRESIDENT OBAMA!

        “a country divided alongside sectarian lines is not a country”

        This is the ground truth in the whole discussion.
        This is the ground truth of the Consitution.

        Religion is irrational and faith based.
        Government must be evidence based.

        End of lesson.

        Reply
  3. Riham
    May 10, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    WAW!!!

    I am not offended at all.

    This is a great Blog! I can’t believe how expressive and aware you are.
    You summed it all. This act on the Imbaba church is a terrorist act. The people who are responsible should be in trial. All Egyptian Muslims must be involved in showing solidarity and act on it.
    I am a Muslim that live in a western country. I do feel what minorities feel in a society dominated by a different religion. We are hardly acknowledged at all. We are never greeted in Ramadan or Eid . My Children know a lot about Christmas and Hanukkah from school than Eid or Ramadan. However, as Muslims we were never attacked in a Barbaric way like whats is currently happening in Egypt. There is law and it is effective on every single individual.

    I also appreciate what you said about the isolation of the Christians that is created by the Coptic Church. It grows with them even when they live outside of Egypt. I have been trying to have Egyptian Christian friends were I am right now, with no luck. They are just not interested! They have there own group through Church and that’s more than enough for them. My Egyptian Christian friends are the one I know since school, nothing is added in my all adult life.

    Again, I am very proud of you. Its a great effort!

    Reply
    • Bisbis
      May 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm

      Speaking as a Copt, I know that once a lot of them leave Egypt, they decide they want to have absolutely nothing to do with any Muslims ever if they can avoid it- the only thing that stays with them is bad memories of how they were treated in Egypt, not the good. Some of them are even paranoid and feel that making friends with Muslims is “unsafe.” This is what discrimination does- it leaves scars and it makes everyone crazy.

      Reply
      • Sarah
        May 10, 2011 at 8:15 pm

        This means no one will ever want to deal with an egyptian, not just a muslim, if they can afford it.
        Each of us had his share of shit in this country. Some more than others.
        But if this thing we r in the middle of right now is ever to work, we’ll all have to hold on to the positive memories only. At least for a while.
        I’m really sorry you guys feel this way.
        I’m a muslim & I had a coptic subordinate that I dragged around everywhere I worked. She was my favorit. I never thought of her as coptic though although i used to ask a lot of questions about her religion…i’m nosy & curious :)
        She wouldn’t allow us to order food while fasting but i bribed her into getting me coffee to the lounge when i was off my fasting in Ramadan becasue, u know :)
        I think it’s a very negatie culture that we were subjected to for the past 60 years…Discrimination is more common among the uneducated, & most common around those educated in systems like ours.
        I wear a 3abaya & that gets me discriminated against a lot now :) Mostly by family members.
        But this revolution was only about changing that. We can’t give up or expect miraculous change.
        We’ll only get what we dream of. Common ground is not that hard to find. After all, who doesn’t like nutella?

        Reply
        • cyberstorm
          May 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm

          I still can’t get into nutella, but if I know you like it – I would have some available for you. =)

          Persistence is difficult, but important. No country is perfect, but Egypt as a chance to own a better future. Those who are less intimidated by other religions are the ones who are not afraid to find out and respect others, even if their views on religion, or whether or not they like green.

          Man has manipulated people for too long by using religion, if it is left to the individual/family etc. rather then in politics – there can be common ground.

          Reply
          • Sarah
            May 10, 2011 at 11:55 pm

            U cant get into nutella? I don’t think my brain is capable of processing such data :) In total shock.

            Intimidated. That’s the word I was searching for in my brain.

            That’s how u feel when u don’t trust your knowledge, I think at a certain point not just of the other’s perspective but of yours as well.

            My recommendation is that people should deepen their knowledge of their own religion before the others’, and the others’ is still important as well…We should educate..specially ghalaba people..they r very easy to educate..they dont suffer from complex ignorance like some of the educated.

            Man has manipulated man with everything else including religion…
            I keep on humming MJ’s They don’t care about us…it’s so descriptive of the world today…specially after the uprisings everywhere..not just MENA.
            Money owning control lunatics control each society with what it can b controled with based on the dominant culture. Not saying owning money is a crime…badly used by some, that’s all :)
            Free people have a tough job in freeing minds everywhere…

        • cyberstorm
          May 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm

          had to reply here, couldn’t below your last comment.

          Yes – manipulation comes in all forms. Hate is used to weaken, and it is easy to do. Look at the history in all countries – wars in every country, religion issues too. I think there has to be dialogue, good and respectful dialogue. Look what division has done. Even Palestine needs to stop the inter-fighting and decide how to define Palestine so more can see how they will fit into the world, instead of letting the “scrappy fighting” define them. I see a brighter future for them – but I don’t support the continued hate and conflict. This has ruined countries and people within them.

          Hate makes monsters – and there are many examples of that. We can’t let hate define who we are as people, or create silos of countries either.
          But, starting out within your own (ah – every country) self, family, community, and more is the best way to achieve the goal

          Here is what sticks in my mind. I watched that Laura Logan story about what happened to her. the mob mentality and what happened to her was very hard to hear, and the recounting of it made my skin crawl. But the most defining part, and heroic part was when she stated that it was a woman who reached for her and took her in her arms, during that violent and dangerous time. Can you imagine what it took for that woman to reach in and do that under those circumstances? We hear so much about violent and acts of hate. But what sticks with me are those who seem to do amazing things under the worst of circumstances. I know others helped, but that one act by this woman is what actually saved Mrs. Logan. It may have seemed normal to do for this one woman – w/o thought of doing it – and this is what I see as the real promise. That action – of being a normal thing to do. Promise in that is pretty precious.

          Sorry – Just for you, I will give nutella another try. (wink) I do love chocolate and hazelnuts, the spread thing just didn’t do it for me.

          Reply
    • elleelle
      May 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm

      Thank you for feeling for the Christians BUT please i hate the comparison between any immigrant minority in a foreign country and the Christians in Egypt because the Christians in Egypt are not immigrants they are citizens since the start of time as well as the Muslims of Egypt.it is just wrong.I am very sorry because you are being discriminated against in the place where you live though just based on how you dress.Good luck in everything.

      Reply
    • Amani
      May 13, 2011 at 3:19 am

      Hi Riham:

      I am a copt in the US, and I agree with you how crazy that is, I have no Egyptian Muslim friends here, my best friend is a Morocan Muslim, and of course the mandated church friends. Most of my Muslim friends are the ones I know from school, and 20 years later still my best friends.

      Reply
  4. sip
    May 10, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Excellent, impartial, accurately historical and ethnological……good insight and empathetic and social dynamics are depicted accurately …yet the (r)evolution is precarious……..

    Reply
  5. DementedBonxie
    May 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    What an excellent rant!

    As a Christian, I support what you’re saying. As a Presbyterian, I’d say the Costs need a John Knox to bring Reformation, bringing an end to Popes and theocracies.
    As a Scot, I am ashamed of our sectarian violence exhibited in the fans of 2 football teams. And we still don’t have a remedy that we can depend on.

    Oh, that we might celebrate difference, and the enrichment it brings us, rather than use it as an excuse to exercise the violence on our nature.

    Reply
    • ellen
      May 11, 2011 at 6:20 am

      ah yes. perhaps you should read monkey’s brave words again. wow, let’s ‘celebrate difference’, but let me, bigoted presbyterian, keep all my worst anti-catholic hate, ignorance and prejudice unexamined and intact. you’re a fine one.

      Reply
      • Scampi
        May 13, 2011 at 10:55 am

        It’s not anti-Catholic. It’s an acknowledgment that a papacy was always a political entity as well as a religious one, ie theocratic. I doubt he meant that he hates Catholicism or the papacy as it is today. He was meaning an end to one religious leader taking a political stance for all of the followers of a religion and making religious laws, an end to which is what this article recommends, too.

        Reply
  6. Sama Singer
    May 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    This is a good one !
    In my Catholic School we used to have a common class taught by a nun about the common “ethical ” principles in Christianity & Islam.

    Maybe something like this should be done .. People should establish people’s committees and start working : Friday’s speeches or the After-Maghreb lessons can talk about Christianity : what common basis do religions have? , Tolerance .. etc I don’t know if it’s possible but hosting a christian during these lessons may help a lot

    The same goes with Sundays lessons in churches .. ever Committee start with its own neighborhood and try to expand the idea as wide as possible.
    I guess the difficulties will be in areas which has almost its population with one of the two religions Like 7ay zbaleen for example or Sayeda aicha

    I guess I can make my brother talk to the Imam of my neighborhood to c if this can be implemented

    I still think this should be translated to Arabic ! yaay it shud as it must spread among ppl who can’t read English

    Nice Bp as always Monkey! à bientôt !

    Reply
    • Hans
      May 12, 2011 at 12:02 am

      That’s very nice. In my european school in Egypt we had a religious class with two, sometimes 3 teachers simuntaniously. A muslim, a christian and for a few lessons a coptic christian. They would teach us about their religion seperately.

      I can’t remember much tough. I fell asleep fast when I heard about the islamic rules of inheritance and also some storys about Jesus for the 10000s time.

      It made the muslims and christian students united in desperately wishing the lesson is over.

      Reply
  7. Mohamed
    May 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Great blog….
    My suggestion is to enforce a civil society. Get rid of religion. I’m sick of all this violence, vengeance and murder in the name of religion you’re born into. Its time to open discussion about atheism and not having it be taboo. No one dares to talk about atheism but instead refutes all comments.
    Muslims: take a look at Islam (yes I’m taking a shot at Islam) and the thoughts it en grains in you. It is NOT a coincidence that Muslims who follow ISLAM, have blood on their hands right now. Believing violence is the way of GOD is major undertone right now.
    Copts: Simple again, get rid of religion in your dealings. Go to church, thats fine but don’t depend on it.

    Its tough to say all this but now is time to openly accept a civil society with no religion. Learn it at home if you want.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Dina
      May 11, 2011 at 10:21 am

      So, Islam as a religion is responsible for the shedding of blood or any atrocities made falsely in its name? I would beg you to examine history carefully, at the Crusades, the Spanish inquisition, or the role of the Church in the wars in Europe and see whether you would take a cheap shot and say the same of Christianity as well…People are responsible for their own actions, and if they hijack religion to do so, they are not true representations of the religion itself.

      Reply
      • Sarah
        May 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm

        Dina, I second your every word…But the problem is we always focus on people hijacking religions, each has its share of bloody history & ignore people hijacking ideologies as well…How much blood was shed in the name of communism, capitalism & even social welfare?

        Man is man..Some will always see what’s fit to use in the moment to fight people with..be it religion, an ideology or even a small stupid thought.
        Some will fight this by defending religion or ideologies or stupid thoughts.
        My opinion is that the only chance humanity has is when people educate each other & then they will be able to make the right decision..most of them…

        The intimidation has to end…People mostly fear what they don’t know…

        I’m a born musim, I lost faith for years, then decided to find my way to God. I was intimidated by religion, until I actually decided to know what it’s all about.

        Read about so many religions, then converted back to Islam..My point is, it scared me because I didn’t know it…After I did, and not through the handicapped available means, I utterly love it…But I don’t hate others who don’t.

        It requires honesty with urslef, that’s all.

        Reply
      • Daniel
        May 13, 2011 at 12:09 am

        Dina, While I’m not saying the crusades did not commit huge crimes (and remember the Coptic church was with Salah-Eddin against the crusaders), please don’t forget that the Crusades were a response to the invading Islamic Arab armies into ‘Christian’ lands and the maltreatment of Christians. (Just as the excellent writer of this article mentions, don’t forget the atrocities that 3amr Ibn El 3as’ army committed against the Copts.)

        Regarding whether Islam encourages violence, I’ve always found that a very difficult topic. There are tens of verses, especially in the 9th chapter of the Quran which appear to incite violence against Christians and Jews. (Please read it.) And there is the Hadith also (e.g. Hadith 9:4). Most Muslims quote Surah Al Ma2ida (5:32) in response, although this talks about the Hebrew prophets in previous times. So regarding your defence of Islam encouraging violence, it’s hard for me to give a definite answer as I’m not a Muslim and I may be misinterpreting your Holy Book. But my point is that I hope you can simply empathize with comments like those from Mohamed, because I can certainly at least see where he is coming from.

        Reply
      • Dominic
        May 13, 2011 at 11:41 am

        The crusades, the inquisition etc were hundreds of years ago, and as a response to muslim aggression or rooting out the remnants of the muslim occupation.
        Whilst the catholic church did make some rather horrific choices during WWII, they have since done something that we will never see from an imam of any widespread influence, they apologised and admitted they were wrong.

        Taking the years since 1945, the number of people killed with the christian religion the specific reasoning behind it, you will more than likely come up with a number smaller than those killed in just one infamous day in 2001 by Al Qaeda. Every day in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in Indonesia etc etc there are people killed and properties destroyed with one phrase on the perpetrators lips.. “Allahu ackbar”.

        It is a grim representation of Islam, but one that has been persistant since it’s inception. To stop this, muslims need to confront their imams whenever the hateful sermons occur, even if only 0.1% actually listen and agree, that is still 1.5 million potential mass murderers around. As a contrast, the only christian groups advocating any kind of hatred in the name of god are lunatic fringe groups that are mocked by the rest of the world .The likes of Westboro baptist church, whist definitely a hatemongering group, still don’t advocate violence.

        Whilst Islam is not totally irredeemable, it does have some serious issues that are way beyond anything that christianity as a whole faces. And the primary difference is the amount of blood being spilled in it’s name now, not 900 years ago

        Reply
      • ella
        May 14, 2011 at 7:09 pm

        Ah, but the crusades were couple of hundred years ago. Christianity changed, Islam has not.
        Plus why do you blame Crusades on Christianity? Crusades happened because Muslim armies conquered non-Muslim land. The Jerusalem and the area were non-Muslim before , weren’t they?

        Reply
        • Youm
          May 18, 2011 at 7:37 pm

          Just like there are verses in the Koran that discuss war and fighting, there are verses in the Bible and the Torah that incite the same violence. Whether people openly act upon these verses or incite religion in their actions is a different story. We cannot overlook the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The tens of thousands of innocent cilvilians that were killed or mutilated in US bombings and wars. So please do not claim that Christianity or Christianity-tooting countries have not led to the destruction of thousands od lives since 1945. The crimes’ record is plentiful. Please do not forget the massacres in Bosnia and Herzgovena and in Kosovo against Muslims where thousands were slaughtered and raped.

          Just like I am sick and tired of Muslim apologists, I am equally tired of Christian apologists who constantly put a meek front of so-called tolerance to promote Islamophobia and defame Islam as a bloody and abhorrently inhumane “cult”. The crimes done by Christain countries and Christains in the name of their religion are horrendous; we are talking about the killing and mutiliation of millions of people; this is no small feat and no small incursion to downplay. On our hands, we have two world wars, the atomic bombings of Japanese cities, ethnic cleansing in various parts of Eastern Europe, the Holocaust, the inquisition, the Crusades, slavery and colonialism and the massacres and horrors it brought upon Africa and Asia, the current wars in Iraq and Asia.

          How much more bloodshed can we apologize for? Can we stop apologizing for Christainity and can we be honest in facing that much of the blood shed was by Christian powers? Also can we admit that most of the fundementalism that is sprouting in some Muslim communties is caused by extreme paranoia on the part of some Muslims who fear that the West is coming to colonize their lands and rape their land and enslave their women? The fear that Muslims have to fight before they are attacked or destroyed? Can we also face the fact that much of the extremist ideology that spread in Afghanistan and Pakistan was promoted by the CIA and signed off by Reagan during the Cold War to use these extremist groups–al Qaeida–to fight the Soviet Union? No to mention the fact that the US supports and defends Saudi Arabia which spreads with its oil billions its wahabi thought throughout Africa and Asia. When we come to blaming, we have to blame all parties, not just the pawns!!

          Reply
          • Daniel
            May 19, 2011 at 2:42 am

            It is absolutely true that the crusaders (and we know they committed horrific crimes which no christian supports) were a response to the muslims invading ‘christian lands’ (if there is such a concept) and mistreating christians.

            Regarding your comments Youm, you are absolutely correct that many Christians have done awful things, and in the name of Christianity. But the problem is because they did not follow the example of Jesus Christ. They claimed to be Christians but they did not follow Christianity as it is meant to be. Remember what Christ said to Peter when the Roman came to capture Him to later put him to death: ‘Put down your sword.’ This is different with Islam.

            Jesus Christ himself and All 12 of His disciples of (except one) were killed by others for spreading their faith, whereas the Prophet Mohammed and the caliphate successors that came afterwards, were involved in killing others in the name of submission to Islam. I would think this would be the key comparison to make. Not corrupted examples of people who are just Muslim or Christian by name.

        • Masry
          May 19, 2011 at 11:23 pm

          Christianity changed?how did it change?who changed it?so was the form it was delivered in through the testaments imperfect?
          Your answer and the one above it are so shallow it is almost funny.
          Please read the testaments… have your read Genesis? oh nevermind it is all metaphors. okay, how about all the sex going on, and what about those times when the prophets err and sleep with their inlaws.
          and to say 1945 was the end of violence incited by christianity is also absurd, what about the koreas, the vietnam war? Bosnia?or that was payback for something that happened 600 years earlier too? What about those african nations and massacres? To say that the christian world has progressed because of christian values is misleading. It would also imply that China will never make it past 2nd base.
          War is usually not about religion, it is about power that is attained via the control of a resource in some fashion. Religion is often used to mobilize the simple masses. Ethnicity is sometimes another ingredient in the mobilization.

          Islam in some way is the middle ground between aggressive overreaching jewish law and pacifist christian teachings. It is also important to understand the history and the context of the various “controversial” verses, etc.

          Now, to the main topic of the post:
          I am overall deeply saddened by all the events. I see a huge risk that Egypt will fail. Although I know there is a lot of ignorance on muslims side and prejudice on how they treat their fellow christian citizens I must say that activists among the orthodox christians appear to be either dumb or had hit the walls and are only thinking of making the “ghetto” approach bearable. Those idiots who think that calling upon the US to get involved or putting together some “show of force” is going to make things better must be high on cough syrup or really bad bango. A few had made very offensive comments like how muslims are guests for example. Using the word “copt” is even a subtle reference to that. Guess what, I am muslim and I am copt. I , like SM, believe that if the Egyptian Christians break that fear of Egyptian Muslims then we will have reached a great milestone. Why should it be the Christians that reach out? I am not sure, I would imagine if the muslims in some neighborhood tried to approach the christians then it might make them feel uncomfortable that they might just play nice or pretend nothing is wrong. somethings are wrong, they need to be fixed but only egyptians can fix them.Not to say we can’t learn from others experiences but you sir, we can only learn to ignore

          Reply
  8. Sarah
    May 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    NOT offensive at all..
    Mostly true
    The damage control measures are handy
    BUT
    How do you want muslims to get to know about the “Other’s” religion when they don’t even bother get to know about what their own religion?
    SHALLOW is the word.
    Both muslims and christians in this country were subjected to an educational system that kills critical sentence which is key to creating an opinion & knowing that if u object to the Pope, Imam Al Akbar or Al Morshed or Ra2s Al Jama3a, it doesnt make u a bad person or will give u a free passport to hell…specially when the matter is not religious or objects to a religious law…we simply prefer to be told than to dig for information…we r very shallow & superficial when it comes to everything, y exclude religion?
    I’m not with u at ALL with all the salafi/MB hatred..simply they to me r the “other” that I should get to know as well…
    They have issues, just like everyone
    The media parades a lot on salafis, which i find kind of fascist really
    I know many salafis who r normal & balanced btw
    Setting them aside is not smart
    Some of them r extremists indeed, just like in every ideology…i recommend u adding a section reaching out to the moderate balanced ones…that’s if u really want to end the many parallel countries occupying the same space
    I’m starting to create one for my own, a whole country just for me, where no one hates Salafis, MB, christians, Bahais, Jews, Atheists or anyone for that matter. Where people are treated as individuals who matter, and not as ONLY a part of their group. Oh, and where there r animal rights.

    Reply
    • Tallulah
      May 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      After reading some disturbing stuff today about animal cruelty, your ‘country’ sounds like paradise, especially the animal rights part. May I join too? :)

      Reply
      • Sarah
        May 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm

        Yes please…I still can’t get over myself after the dolphins in a pool & the dog thrown from the roof incidents.
        In my country, we will all live in peace of mind, right?
        Politics were invented to solve people’s problems & serve them better..
        Politics r used by everyone, & I mean EVERYONE to incriminate the other & redicule him..
        Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right. H.L. Mencken, 1956
        People will only be free when they r freed of their biases…And simply people can’t be free others around them r not free…mentally before all
        I’m happy someone wants to join..u get a free ticket :D

        Reply
        • Tallulah
          May 10, 2011 at 11:26 pm

          Spendid! I will bring my cow and cats! :)

          Reply
          • Sarah
            May 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm

            And donkeys please.
            They r the worst treated animals ever!
            I always fight for them…I know a teacher who got roughed up in a fight over donkey rights :(

    • Ibrahi
      May 10, 2011 at 6:46 pm

      Exactly Sarah!

      Its incredibly ironic that we’re attempting to mend sectarian fences with Coptics while on the other hand feeding right into the hate by repeating the regular stereotypes against MB and Salafis.

      Yes, there are extremists within both groups just as there are crazy extremists within the Coptic Church (some of whom I have heard promoting genocide against Muslims in Western nations as the ‘only’ way to deal with terrorism).

      The inclusion of the sane, from all groups, is what is necessary.

      Reply
      • Sarah
        May 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm

        Yes, to make this point clearer, who surprised us today with joining in the doctors’ strike? MB doctors & Salafi doctors.
        This requires a stand from all of us…Social, not political, participation of everyone is the only way to dissolve this madness…The new wave of eagerness to politically participate by everyone is scary…This energy should b directed towards social participation…If we all join political parties, who r we going to serve? And who will have the time to do other things?
        Honestly, I think that the mind-numbing imbaba massacre (I still can’t emotionally react to what happened) was horrific but the doctors strike today, & the participation of all sects teaches us one thing, the unity or solid country or whatever u wana call it, has the highest chance of taking place by directing people to their common grounds…Those r many, we r all human beings at the end of the day…I’m suddenly optimistic…even though i feel very heavy about imbaba..i still agree that we have to save the churches..i swear that burning a church to me is a lot worse than burning a mosque…hope we will all recover soon

        Reply
      • ella
        May 14, 2011 at 7:15 pm

        Hmm, crazy Copt extremists killed…how many Muslims?

        Reply
  9. Bob Reis
    May 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    reminds me of something I wrote a while back: http://anythinganywhere.com/prose/fundamental.htm

    it would be good to leave this up for a long time. we get the same mix of attitudes here though of course the sects are slightly different.

    i think you’re doing good work. hope you keep your strength.

    Reply
  10. Ameralda
    May 10, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Full disclosure: I didn’t read the whole thing. It’s just a little emotionally exhausting and needs to be taken in small doses. And I agreed with a lot of what you said… but this part?

    “Well, because a secular state where civil law exists means that alongside religious marriage, there will be civil marriage, and thus civil divorce.”

    Copts don’t care about civil marriage or civil divorce. In fact, if a Coptic Christian becomes a Protestant Christian in Egypt, he or she can marry and divorce however s/he likes. We don’t care what non-Coptic Orthodox Christians do–that’s their business. But within our church–like membership to any club–there are particular rules. We like people who CHOOSE to be part of our faith to follow the rules of our faith. That’s all. And that means no divorce and remarriage without adultery/deception as factors.

    Many Egyptian Copts (American Copts are a different story) aren’t outright supportive of a secular society for the very reason you said before: “because [of], well, how ‘sensitive’ Muslims get and how ‘extremely’ they will react.”

    The truth is that as long as we can follow the tenets of our faith freely and “you” stop killing us, we’ll agree with whatever the other 90% want. The problem is the killing doesn’t stop, and “you” are never satisfied whatever answer we try to give to please you.

    Reply
    • Ibrahi
      May 10, 2011 at 6:58 pm

      Unfortunately this isn’t possible in a civil state. In a civil state, Coptic Christians and Muslims will have the ability to deal with their civil issues directly through a secular institution instead of through a Mosque/Church.

      Obviously this means that the Church loses its overwhelming authority over the lives of Coptic Christians who feel that the Church is not accomodating their needs; but thats the price of a Civil state.

      Reply
    • A German from Berlin
      May 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      I would like to emphasize, that all forces opposing a secular government really have the goal to impose their ideas and ideologies on as many people as possible and to keep their members under control.
      A religious state can and will never be a free state, as the religious leaders will always push for restricting the people more and more to prevent any sins from happening at all. And after a while they will even try to prevent anybody from even opposing them, because that is blasphemy, insulting of god or the religion or the like, up to the point where opposing them means to oppose god himself.
      In all of human history there has never been a state based on religion, where people didn’t get suppressed and religion has in those states, without exception, only served to keep certain groups of people in power. To my knowledge the best example of today is Saudi-Arabia.
      On the other hand, a separation between state and church doesn’t harm anyone, but allows everybody to live his religion freely and to be protected even from the followers of their own religion that disagree with their particular view. And let’s face it: Even if there is only one right way to worship god, not a single person on earth is doing it that way.

      Reply
    • Masry
      May 19, 2011 at 11:27 pm

      I don’t want to kill you. I love you as my fellow human and you can believe what you want. The One who judges, will judge us all.

      Reply
  11. Tallulah
    May 10, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Once again, an insightful article!

    Imagine what it would be like if people from all religious backgrounds could stop the rhetoric preached from the pulputs, and just talk to each other, learn about each other, embrace each other’s similarities AND differences.

    Will keep praying and cheering for Egypt.

    Reply
    • Sarah
      May 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm

      EXACTLY

      CounterImagination
      Imagine if all people give up their differences just to be accepted & able to be part of the bigger group, how DULL & BORING would life be?

      Reply
  12. Bisbis
    May 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Outstanding post- the only thing I wonder is, did Pope Shenouda choose to become a political representative of the Copts? My understanding of it from my reading a few years past was that in the 70′s, when things were getting really bad, he was a lot more aggressive, and wanted more rights for Copts, and he was the only one to make those demands to take that responsibility because it was unsafe. And instead of being a temporary situation, it just never changed. But you have to realize, what does a Pope or Imam or religious authority know about establishing a legal regime, religious or secular or otherwise? Nothing. The Church is definitely not a democracy, or a regime I would want to live under. That is why theocracies are a disaster. Religious authorities should feel free to give their opinions on these matters, but no one should feel compelled to take them seriously.

    Reply
  13. Sameh Ahmed
    May 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Well, I used to get offended by the language of your tweets and decided to unfollow you some time ago. I was expecting you to use the same vocab but good thing that you disappointed me on that front. I can not say the same on the front of Ideas and analysis. You raise a lot of important points that deserves to be discussed in a much wider forum. Good Job

    Reply
  14. Dena
    May 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Thank you. This is great and very honest. As a Coptic Orthodox christian born in Egypt but mostly raised and living in the US, I’m not offended at all, but have a few points I’d like to make.

    1. Just as you spoke of ignorance from the Muslim community, fear is a huge motivating factor for Coptic Christians currently and in the past 30 years. Can you blame them? Getting over this fear is the current biggest challenge facing them. While almost all Coptic Christians look towards Pope Shenouda as a very well-loved religious leader, very few look towards him as a political leader. And those that do (usually those poorer, less educated living in those “coptic ghettos”), do so because of the lack of coptic political leaders, and the fact that they’ve been excluded from political life, as you mentioned (yes, partly by choice, but nevertheless, they have not taken a role). What I do think is we should not judge him and the church leadership so harshly – we don’t know what happened behind the scenes during the Mubarak era, and the Pope and church leaders have been in a very difficult position – the unwilling (yes, I think they are unwilling at this role) but main option as political leaders for the Christians. And, yeah I’m offended when I hear people calling our Pope a “dog” and disrespecting him, just as I would be offended if they did the same of any religious figure.

    2. I want to disagree with your statement that Coptic Christians and the church leadership want separate laws for Christians – We would ALL embrace equal civil rights and application of a secular, civil law, the challenge is getting to people to get over their fear and believe that this is a realistic possibility. Is it???
    You mentioned civil law, including divorce. Part of the reason the Camilia issue exists at all is the lack of civil law governing divorce, adoption, etc…The church only allows divorce for certain reasons, and rarely allows re-marriage within the church. Agree, or disagree, but this is part of Coptic Orthodox religious law. They should not be forced to change this. For example, in the US, I have friends who have been granted divorces/annulments by the church (extenuating circumstances), and have re-married within the church. I also have friends who have not been granted divorces within the church, but have gotten civil divorces, and re-married according to civil law. This is a solution to avoid such issues in Egypt, but means their MUST be an equal, separate civil law (that is equally applied!)

    3. That mentality of isolating oneself amongst other Coptic Christians does extend to the Coptic diaspora abroad, unfortunately. I can’t judge my family or others for raising me semi-isolated within the Egyptian coptic community – they moved to a new country, they surrounded themselves with people and traditions they knew from home. But this sadly only compounds the issue from the Coptic perspective. We’re isolated there, we’re isolated abroad. How do we get over this?? The isolation only makes the fear worse.

    4. I know you brushed over the discrimination that happens in the workplace, schools, etc to Copts, but I think this issue is pretty big. How do you get over the “victim” mentality, if you and everyone you know has at least one memory of being treated differently because of their religion. An example – my father – who is a very open-minded man who grew up in Shobra with tons of Christian and Muslim friends, and I had a discussion during the revolution about these issues. He hasn’t lived in Egypt in almost 25 years, yet he remembers in detail an incident where he fought with a Muslim colleague at work, and was almost beaten up and fired by others. 25 years later, and this incident is still vivid in his mind. Most Copts have a story like that, they need to be convinced that this CAN change.
    5. Finally (sorry, my comments are almost as long as the post), I feel like many people are blaming religion for these issues and sectarian violence. I firmly disagree with this. I love my faith, but I would never force someone else to do the same. Religion is not these people’s motivation – it is hatred and ignorance. And I think we can beat this. I just hope it’s within my lifetime. I’d love to bring my theoretical children back to Egypt someday, and have them see a country like the one my grandparents lived in – where you truly couldn’t tell the difference between a Christian and a Muslim or an athiest or a whatever – and nor did you care.

    Reply
    • Candace
      May 10, 2011 at 7:52 pm

      I completely agree with your critique Dena. I think the blog and your post make complete sense.

      Reply
    • Timothy
      May 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      Dena,

      As another Copt raised in the states who now lives in Cairo I have to disagree with you and endorse Mahmoud’s assessment. The church actively fought a law proposed last year that sought to allow precisely what you described; civil marriage and divorce for Christians. The proposed law didn’t require the church to divorce or remarry anyone. It simply allowed Egyptian Christians to have the equal right to divorce and remarry by civil means. The church didn’t want that. It wants to control the marital practice of Copts and prohibit civil alternatives. Also the church does actively position itself as the political representative of Copts and has been doing so for the duration of Shenouda’s time as pope. Even Coptic churches in the US have told their congregations how to vote and supported anti-gay marriage campaigns. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. While Copts may not call or officially recognize Shenouda and the clergy as their political representatives they do, for the most part, de facto accept that they play this role some more actively than others.

      Reply
      • copticme
        May 12, 2011 at 5:17 pm

        Dena,
        Absolutely well said. Perfectly put! I agree with absolutely everything you said and I pray and hope that the changes we strive for and hope for occur. I also want to bring my children to an Egypt where you can’t tell the difference between a Copt or Muslim.

        I’d also like to add that the church does not politically position itself in any way except as an advocate for the copts who do not have a voice. Our Pope has no political aspirations, however, as the leader of a flock, I am sure he feels inclined to speak on their behalf and in their interest BECAUSE there are no political representatives of the copts. If they had representation, if their voices were heard, if they weren’t harboring fears of their homes and churches being under attack, then he wouldn’t be involved in the politics. But yes, because over the course his papacy copts have become more and more alienated, he feels the need to defend them and to try to negotiate on their behalf. He is, however, a religious leader, and we shouldn’t begrudge him his inadequacies within the political arena. We should be grateful he cares enough to try. As far as his statements supporting Mubarak and his regime, this was a fear strategy. Any father would say and do anything to protect his children, and this protection was the only motivation for his support. After the toppling of Mubarak, our Pope encouraged his entire flock to register and vote. He told them that if they wanted to be heard and if they wanted to see change, they needed to play a part and vote.

        As far as the Camillia Shehata situation, divorce, Article II, etc. I agree. The church should not be involved in anything civil. The details in Camillia’s case are very blurred, so I cannot comment on that. However, regarding divorce and Article II, the coptic church does not allow divorce or annulments unless there are extenuating circumstances. That is not to say that a church will not allow a civil divorce. Let’s get our facts straight. The Catholic Church also does not allow divorce. The issue in Egypt is that there was a court that was trying to force the church to allow a remarriage of a person, who had violated the church law by getting a civil divorce. No one can force any religious body to do one thing or another. Agree with them or not, the church has laws. All religious entities do. No one can expect them to change their laws to accommodate one individual. If this person wanted to get divorced civilly, then remarry civilly, then the church cannot stop him nor does it. However, the church has the right to say “we will not remarry you.” And quite frankly, no one has the right to force it to do otherwise. And this does not only apply to the Coptic church, but to any religious body.

        As far as Timothy’s comments that the Coptic church and it’s leaders try to impose their opinions on the Coptic Christians, well, couldn’t the same be said for Muslim, Catholics, Evangelicals, etc. Leaders of any religious body feel that it is their responsibility to “guide” their followers toward a path of righteousness. However, as individuals, we all have free will and I am more than sure that if you disagree with the stand a religious group has, you will vote with your own opinion and not that of the religious group. Our pope and our priests do not hold our hand in voting booths (or hold guns to our heads as we vote). They do not force anyone to vote in either direction.

        As far as Article II is concerned, I agree with Mahmoud. It should not be period. The Constitution should be rewritten to make it all inclusive. There should be a law of the land that all must follow equally. Then, if the laws of religious entities require that there be even more strict rules, then the followers should abide by those rules – from a civil standpoint not criminal. However, leaders cannot make the laws less strict. I believe that the church has made the request to add that Christians should follow Christian law because there is opposition to changing or deleting Article II. If we are to have a secular country, then we cannot have, within our constitution, a statement that says what the country’s official religion is. There shouldn’t be an official religion. There should only be an official Constitution that applies to all citizens of the country no matter what their religious affiliation and without alienating any religion.

        One last thing (my post is also just as long as the original). While I cannot take offense to someone who is not Coptic calling our Pope by the name Shenouda alone. I take tremendous offense to someone, claiming to be a Copt, who does the same. If you were a true Coptic Christian, you would know better. Please don’t claim to be a Copt when you do not have your facts straight, do not know the proper way to address or speak about a religious leader, and claim that what you are saying is first hand accounts. I take offense to that. I have an insider’s view on some of the things that you claimed to be true and they are NOT true.

        Reply
        • Shady
          May 13, 2011 at 3:18 am

          And I, dear sir, take “tremendous offense” at the bigoted, closed-minded and judgmental tone you with which you address Copts, like myself and Timothy, who have a different experience than your own and do not necessarily believe that Shenouda is our leader in all things political OR spiritual.

          Who are you to tell me whether I am a Copt or not? We all have an “insider’s view” and just because mine is not identical to yours does not give you the right to tell me what to believe or who I am or am not.

          My own distaste for our church and its leadership stems from exactly the kind of attitude you just exhibited, and Sandmonkey correctly described in many ways. The Coptic Orthodox Church can use a little more critical thinking and democratic structure. If not, we’ll continue living in the middle ages together with the Salafis.

          Reply
          • copticme
            May 13, 2011 at 10:40 pm

            I apologize if you find my tone to be bigoted and closed-minded. However, I would not address a religious leader of any faith or any organization without using their proper titles. That has to do with respecting their position whether or not I agree with their views or their teachings. I wouldn’t call a minister or sheik by their first names alone.

            When I said that I have an insider’s view, I really mean insider. I am privy to information that may or may not have been public. I am not negating the information that anyone has obtained, I am simply stating that the fact that our church does not allow a civil divorce or marriage is simply untrue. As a matter of fact, in order to expedite your request for a divorce in the church, it is recommended that you first obtain your civil divorce. However, I do not believe that a civil court has a right to force a church, mosque, or temple to perform a marriage. That is not the call of a civil court. No one can make a religious institution change their way of doing things. I’m not saying that I agree with the rules, but no matter what they are, a civil court cannot make those demands.

            If you don’t like the rules of a certain religious institution, then it is your right and your prerogative to disengage. I just don’t see the point in being disrespectful toward the religious authority no matter how much you disagree with them. If you don’t like Pope Shenouda, that is fine. But why be disrespectful toward him? I am not trying to be condescending and if you find my tone to be bigoted, I apologize once again. I am just stating that I don’t think using his first name without his title is making a statement of disagreement, it is coming across as disrespect. We have a culture that uses titles like 7adrit, bash mohandis, dr, ostaz, madam, etc. So, to choose to not use a title is deliberately disrespectful. I don’t see the point of that.

            Also, whether we like it or not, Pope Shenouda is our Church Leader. We can’t just decide that he isn’t. That’s not the way things work. President Obama is the President of the United States. Just because I don’t agree with his policies or how he does things does not give me the right to dismiss him as a president and decide I don’t have to listen to him. We may not agree, but we do live in civilized society, and we can’t just decide to ignore them because we don’t agree with them. That’s just not how it works. You have every right to disagree, however. And you have the right to disagree publicly. No one is going to come after you, throw you in jail or torture you for your views.

            This isn’t about similar or dissimilar experiences. This is about respect. And as a Copt, as an Egyptian, I think we should know better than to disrespect anyone. When we do it, we give others the right to do it as well. If we are so quick to publicly humiliate and disrespect our own, then we are pretty much opening the door for others to do the same. This is what offends me. If I choose to disrespect my father, mother, brother, sister, and other close family members, I should do it in private. If I do it publicly, then I am giving everyone the “ok” to disrespect them as well. As a Copt, I think we need to publicly show respect or keep quiet about our leaders. I don’t think we need to necessarily agree with everything they say. I could never say that. I just think that it isn’t necessary to be publicly disrespectful. It does not accomplish much.

            Again, I don’t know why you see me as bigoted or closed-minded, but if that is how I came across, then I apologize.

    • Daniel
      May 13, 2011 at 12:28 am

      Dena this is a very very good post. THank you. And I also want to commend Mahmoud the initial writer of the article for his fantastic insight, courage and honesty in what he wrote. Although I had a few disagreements, highlighted in Dena’s respnse, I want to say I’m very proud that there are Egyptians like you ya Mahmoud. And thank you for the practical nature of your article, as well as its diplomatic yet direct nature. I pray for more people like you!

      Reply
    • Masry
      May 19, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      I think you are spot on with the fear argument. I know egyptian muslims have sinned towards their fellow egyptian christians but we are not getting out of this rabbit hole without each other.

      Reply
  15. Amy
    May 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I love this article!! Love it with all the points.. love it

    Actually alot (almost most) Christians don’t consider the Pope as our political leader… He is our spiritual leader, and each one of us is free to politically choose for himself/herself.

    Reply
  16. Mary Madigan
    May 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Brilliant post – it really should be more widely read, in Arabic and probably other languages as well. I especially liked this point: “the moment the only political representation you have is the religious representation you have, and all of your demands are religious and sectarian in nature, is also the moment you lose the right to complain if the other religions did that and you become equally as sectarian as you accuse them to be. Think about that!” A lot of sectarian-wannabe Americans should be reading this

    And thanks for mentioning the Saudi/Salafi conspiracy – everyone knows they’re doing this but no one mentions it, which is really annoying sometimes…

    Reply
  17. Martin
    May 10, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you for this thoughtful article – we live in interesting times and the perspective you provide is valuable to us all.

    Reply
  18. Ismail Elshareef
    May 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I appreciate the effort you put into this post, but I find your argument that somehow Christians are responsible, albeit very little, for the hatred to which they are subjected preposterous. As a Muslim, I believe that Sectarianism in Egypt is lead, propagated and promoted by fanatical, brainwashed Muslims. Not Christians.

    The long and short of it is this: as long as Islam is favored as the “religion of the country,” nothing will change. Until Egypt’s Muslims resoundingly condemn AND unconditionally reject political Islam, nothing will change. Until the culture changes to confine religion to one’s house and mosque, nothing will change.

    Instead of “what they need to do now” I would have liked to see a “what WE need to do now” call to action. As long as we keep thinking of “us” and “them,” nothing will change. We are a nation that needs to act as one in fighting this scum of political and perverted Islam.

    I appreciate the effort, but in the end it’s inconsequential.

    (sorry to be a wet blanket, but I think you have the power to do more.)

    Reply
    • Ahmed
      May 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      Completely agree with you.

      I fear the thinking right now is “we’ve tried so-and-so years of secular rule how about some god-fearing folk ” they won’t be unjust they pray and have breads!!

      The ghetto mentality of Copts mentioned in the post is a complete by-product of the daily discrimination they face. Copts are/were generally pacifists that’s why they never retaliate, that’s why you never see a mosque lit afire. Whereas the average simple-minded Muslim would never hesitate attacking a church if he saw the mosque he prays in on fire.

      The state of Islam right now is absolutely deplorable and we can all thank the Sheikhs, Mullahs, Fatwas, Tele-Evangelists…etc. Too concerned with how to dress, how long your beards should be…etc.

      Reply
  19. Maged
    May 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    tamam el tamam…now that needs to be written in arabic and published it in a newspaper.

    begad lazem el 3alam kolo ye2ra el enta katabto…

    Please translate it, if you need help let me know, ana mosta3ed.

    Reply
  20. Ezzat
    May 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    SM,

    I agree with most of your analysis, but certainly not all.

    I am not an expert on Coptic affairs but let me address a few points very briefly based on my limited interaction with the Coptic community.

    1) Copts worry that calling for a complete secular state (and the direct deletion of Article II) would cause many Muslims to incite that Copts are trying to tear away the Islamic identity of the majority Muslim nation. Not to mention, it is highly doubtful that calling for the repeal of Article II would win majority public opinion in today’s Egypt.

    So, I view this position as a compromise solution of what might be achieveable, rather than a desire to empower some sort of Church dictatorship.

    2) You are correct that the Coptic Church has some arcane doctrine that needs rethinking in the modern world.

    However, my understanding is that the Church accepts the concept of civil marriage. Their argument has been that if people want to pursue civil marriage, then they have every right to do so. However, the Church has been pushing back on calls that it be forced to alter its own doctrine on marriage/divorce laws to fit with the civil model.

    But that is not their job. Neither the Church, the Mosque, nor any other religious institution is a “democractic” institution. If you want to marry before a civil court, then the Church has no objection. However, if you want to marry in the Church then you must respect its doctrine on this issue. Otherwise, you should choose civil marriage.

    And than is entirely consistent with a civil state because the Church is not an arm of the federal government and the government has no legal jurisdiction to dictate/mandate to the Church what its own doctrine should be.

    Either way, it regrettable that the internet propaganda on this issue has so completely distorted the issue. In that sense, the Salafist propaganda machine has been remarkably successfull.

    3) However, broadly speaking, you are absolutely correct that as long as Copts adopt this “ghetto” mentality and the Church resists calls to adapt its approach to the fast changing world reduces the prospects for mutual inter-faith understanding and social cohesion.

    4) On an unrelated note, there have been reports of large armed gangs breaking into various prisons and releasing prisoners. It is not clear who are the perpetrators but there is every indication that these are organized and deliberate campaigns.

    Logically, Mubarak’s prisons hosted a disproportiante share of extremist religious fanatics and fundamentalist groups have the most to gain from armed prison break-ins.

    If my conjecture proves correct, then this, along with the recent wave of pre-meditated sectarian violence, would be very worrisome. While not yet highly probable at this stage, we could be seeing the early attempts to stage a “second coup,” whereby the religious extremists create sufficient chaos and panic, futher weakening the already fragile military and then stepping in to fill the power vacuum.

    Even if this last possibility is still not yet entirely clear, it is absolutely necessary for all secular forces to join hands, even in the face of considerable internal disagreements on policy and goals. Without such unity, the Islamist onslaught might prove fatal to the revolution’s ultimate goal for a freer, more pluralistic and more prosperous Egypt.

    Reply
  21. Mona Khayatt
    May 10, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Excellent article (especially the part about pope Shenouda,I think he is a calamity for Copts )
    But you honestly don’t think the Torah team had anything to do with this?
    Another big mistake the Copts did is when they protested in front of the U S embassy,I mean that was retarded. By the way I am a Copt

    Reply
    • Mo
      May 11, 2011 at 7:12 am

      Very few copts, I think they said 200. And way more I think thousands rejected this. So a moot point.

      Reply
  22. giorgio
    May 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    It’s nice (sarcasm) to see that religious hierarchies are equal everywhere. A few years ago I used to joke that the Roman Catholic Church would’ve loved to make us ditch our annoying almost secular constitution and adopt in its stead the millet system, it seems that your almost there as well.

    Good luck in your search for a truly just, that is secular, Egypt.

    Reply
  23. fazetti51
    May 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Nothing will change until there exists in the whole of the Middle East comprehensive rule of law and accepted respect for private property. Only then can a civilization exist and become prosperous for all.

    Reply
  24. Zendette
    May 10, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Glad to see you posting again, and on such an important topic. I wasn’t offended, but then I’m Jewish, so we don’t really count in Egypt.

    As you say, a civil law is the only solution. Israel has tried to mix civil with religious, and it isn’t working very well. I question whether the majority would welcome a civil law code. I would expect that most of the Muslims would prefer to have Pope Shinoda’s addition to the law, rather than a civil law replacement, if they had to choose one.

    I’ve been following you since long before the revolution, and glad you decided to keep blogging, even if you only rant once every few months, and then, at great length.

    Reply
  25. Eowyn9
    May 10, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Wonderful & extremely insightful article. I’ve tweeted & RT’d it several times.

    One interesting – and perhaps unintended – thing I noticed as I was reading…well, let me take a couple of your paragraphs and change just a few words.

    “Which brings us to the final point: How [Christians] present themselves to those around them. Let’s just focus on two examples for the sake of not making this article 17 pages long: Religious sermons in [churches], and general population behavior. Now, we all have heard [Sunday] sermons where the [preacher] does nothing to talk about the evil Jews and [Muslims] all the time, and how we have to be vigilant and other such beautiful example of hate speech that we just shrug off as normal….Which brings us to the general population behavior, which is a paradox of its own: the complete disconnect between piety and morality. I left the country in 1999 for college and returned in 2004 for good, but I visited the country every few months, and noticed a very peculiar thing: The [Christians] were getting more and more religious, yet they are not becoming better people. They [went to church every Sunday], most of the [teenagers] got [baptized], almost everybody had [born-again] fever, and yet, they had no problems with lying, or cheating, or trying to rob you, or treating you rudely…Also dirt off their shoulders: attacks on [Muslims] every time they wanted to build a [mosque]. Hell, some of them justified and defended such attacks by stating that the [Muslims] were trying to provoke [Christians] by building a [mosque], & that those [Christians] were simply- and I quote- “jealous for their religion”, like that’s supposed to be justification or an excuse. Never mind that it is the right of [Muslims] to build places of worship on land that they own as they damn well please.”

    Yep, that pretty well sums up the state of religious sectarianism, paranoia, and rampant fundamentalism in certain parts of the US today… :( :(

    We could all take a lesson from this article, I think.

    Reply
    • Tallulah
      May 10, 2011 at 11:37 pm

      In parts of Canada too. This blog post should be shared world-wide.

      Reply
      • Eowyn9
        May 11, 2011 at 2:15 am

        Interesting – I’m Canadian and have never seen the sort of intolerance/xenophobia I’ve read about in the US. Mind you, I’ve always lived in large cities. Where do you find this type of thing to be common?

        Reply
        • Tallulah
          May 11, 2011 at 4:38 am

          I’m in a very small town in Ontario, and there is a local Muslim community in a nearby town. We have only had brief contact with them a few years ago, when a Pakistani girl on an exchange program in our community was killed in a car accident. People in the town were very nervous about meeting the Muslim community that offered to handle her funeral. It was the town’s first real contact with more than one or two Muslims. They were unsure what to say, or whether they would offend if they asked questions about the traditions for the funeral. The Muslim community was equally nervous about the Christian community, and said they’d wanted to reach out before (we had done other exchanges with a couple of participants who were Muslim) to “meet us” but weren’t sure they would be welcome.

          That was pre 9/11.

          A couple of years ago the school board sold an empty public school building to a Muslim group from Toronto, who wanted to start a boys school in the building. There was alot of discussion about “them” and whether we wanted “them” in our community. Many people were against the sale but it was out of their hands.

          After the sale, people began to wonder what was actually going to go on there. Ridiculous comments suggested it might be used a “training ground” for young terrorists. Lots of fearmongering occurred, but it was all quiet, never overt, as in the US. It was something they talked about over coffee or with your buddies. But it was seldom expressed outright.

          Then one night the building was vandalized. Racist epithets were sprayed over the windows and walls. It was the first overt racism this tiny farming community had ever witnessed, and it shocked people. In fairness, most were shocked into sense, and responded with condemnation in the local weekly newspaper, and on the street. We have four churches in our tiny community and a few people from three churches arrived to help with the clean up. But again, people walked on eggs, figuratively speaking, because they didn’t want to offend the Muslims, especially after the vandalism. The cleanup kept everyone busy so they really didn’t engage in any sharing of ideologies. Too bad, as it might have been a jumping off point for learning.

          There hasn’t been any further vandalism, but the school has kept the windows boarded up. People still wonder what is going on as no one sees the boys about. It seems, perhaps, they may have changed their minds about using the building, but no one knows, and no one asks.

          I know there is still hidden ignorance regarding Muslims by some in the community, but I am also, finally, seeing a willingness to learn more, at least at the church where I work.

          It is sad that intolerance exists in small towns, where everyone prides themselves on being open-minded, but it filters through, fueled by the media and lack of exposure to other cultures. It isn’t on the scale you see in the US, but it exists. It is my hope that education will one day eradicate this completely, but that will take time.

          Reply
        • ella
          May 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm

          Ah, so you READ about intolerance/xenophobia in US. But perhaps you tell me where you- or your friends – experienced it.
          There is a lot of propaganda going on so perhaps Tallulah READ about intolerance/xenophobia in Canada, too.

          Reply
          • Eowyn9
            May 15, 2011 at 9:32 pm

            As I freely admitted above, I haven’t experienced it from other Canadians. However, I’ve seen a great deal of anti-Islamic vitriol posted on Twitter and other social media networks. In the cases when I knew the locations of the tweeters in question, they were American. (I know several Canadian tweeters and have never seen them post anything of the sort.) Does this address your question?

    • Mo
      May 11, 2011 at 7:26 am

      In terms of mosques, I believe there are 100 give or take mosques in combination with Muslim community centers in Manhattan alone. So, if you are referring to the ground zero mosque, it is so clear by the funders of that project what that was all about. And in addition many upstanding Muslims appeared on many shows disagreeing with building one at that specific location. America, is not perfect, but, I haven’t heard of any mosques being burned lately, have you? If you have any other specific instance(s), please let us know.

      Reply
      • Kate
        May 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

        Southern Poverty Law Center has compiled a good but probably not exhaustive list of hate crimes against Arab/Muslim Americans and people thought to be one or both (anyone with brown skin can be targeted, I know of around 5 cases where Sikh men were murdered because people thought they were Muslims): http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/splc-testifies-about-increase-in-anti-muslim-bias/anti-muslim-incidents-since-9-11

        A couple highlights from the past couple years:

        • June 27, 2009 – Yermo, California
        Ali Abdelhadi Mohd, 51, a native of Jordan, was found burned to death in his family’s vacant house that had been set afire. Mohd was at the residence to clean anti-Arab and white supremacist graffiti that had been scrawled inside. A mosque on the family’s property also was set afire in 2007.

        • Aug. 6, 2010 – Arlington, Texas
        Pornographic graffiti depicting Uncle Sam having sex with Allah was spray-painted in the parking lot of an Islamic Center where other acts of graffiti and a fire have occurred.

        • Oct. 16, 2010 – Burien, Washington
        Jennifer Leigh Jennings, 37, was charged with a hate crime after she allegedly kicked one Muslim woman and slammed a car door on another at a gas station while yelling anti-Muslim remarks.

        • Feb. 4, 2011 – St. Petersburg, Florida
        Bradley Kent Strott, 52, allegedly stabbed a 57-year-old Muslim man during a conversation at a bar after the man told Strott he was a Muslim. Strott, who allegedly said, “Muslims are the root of the problem” during the attack, was charged with hate crime aggravated battery.

        • Feb. 13, 2011 – Yorba Linda, California
        A group of 100 protesters taunt Muslims, including small children, entering a fundraising event with statements such as “Muhammad was a child molester!,” “Go back home! Terrorists!,” and “Why not go have sex with a 9-year-old?” A city councilwoman had earlier told the protesters that she “kn[e]w quite a few Marines who will be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise.”

        Speaking anecdotally a little, I personally have yet to hear of a mosque in America that has not had some incident, whether it’s someone writing hate speech with graffiti, pouring pig’s blood on the mosque, or yes, setting it on fire. About the “Ground Zero” Mosque controversy, I can understand the desire not to offend people who suffered in the 9-11 attacks, but on the other hand, the whole discussion seems premised on the idea that a mosque is a symbol of terrorism, a symbol of what made 9-11 happen, which is wrong on so many levels.

        Furthermore, I’m rather skeptical about all the crap that was said about the project’s organizers and motives. For example, there were people saying that a project linked to the mosque was called Cordoba Initiative was a clear sign that it was meant to mock people, because all of sudden the Andalusian Islamic period and Cordoba in particular are universal symbols of Muslim victory over Christians. You can argue over how tolerant or intolerant the rule and society was during that era, but it is plainly untrue that the “Muslim victory over Christians” is the sole or dominant interpretation of what that meant. Actually, a lot of people look back to that time as an example of tolerance between faiths and a vision of Islam that is preferable to that of today. Maria Menocal’s book “The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain,” is probably the best known iteration of this philosophy, and while I do think it’s probably painting an overly rosy picture of the era, it does share some really interesting and positive vignettes that I think are worth looking at. Cordoba in particular is highlighted because it is the birthplace of both Maimonides and Averroes – Maimonides being a major Jewish philosopher, who actually mostly wrote in Arabic, and Averroes a.k.a. Ibn Rushd, a major Muslim philosopher, both of whom wrote about how to reconcile secular and religious understandings of the world, and are considered important figures in philosophy and the development of Enlightenment thinking in Europe. Suffice to say there is a reason people consider the Andalus a symbol of religious tolerance, and that there are a number of people who see it that way, meaning that calling something a Cordoba Initiative is really, really not an indicator that they have ‘Muslim triumphalism’ in mind.

        But the more important thing here is that actually, the mosque in Lower Manhattan is not the only mosque recently that has faced problems like that. Did you not see the signs that some folks were carrying saying that mosques should not be built anywhere in America? CNN did a (overly melodramatic, IMHO) special on an Islamic community center project in Murfreesboro, Tennessee where local legislators actually tried to argue it should not be allowed to be built on the grounds that Islam is not a religion.

        There has also been legislation proposed and passed in several states to ban shari’ah law based on the idea that the Muslims are trying to to take over and create an Islamic theocracy in America and that banning shari’ah is the way to prevent that. This is phenomenally stupid and wrong for several reasons. For one thing, the US constitution is very, very clear that you can not institute any religion as a state religion in America, and many Christian groups with much greater numbers have tried unsuccessfully for years to get Christian religious law to rule the land and it has never worked. Pretty much the only way that legal precedent is getting changed even remotely is if rule of law is completely overthrown in some kind of armed insurrection, which I think most rational people recognize is quite unlikely. For another thing, shari’ah law is not actually a distinct practice, it’s just the broad idea of Islamic law, about which there is not one single definition but a multitude of definitions, and theoretically all Muslims are supposed to follow it the same way that Jews are supposed to follow Jewish religious laws and Christians Christian religious laws, in their own private lives and not in any sense governed by federal law. People think Shari’ah law = flogging 75 year old women for being seen in public with a man she’s not related to, or stoning people for adultery, etc, which are really not how most Muslims understand their religious obligations (duh), and I don’t think it’s how even mainstream conservative Islamic legal scholars view it. And actually some of the proposed laws on shari’ah law would ban people from even following shari’ah law in their personal lives, which if enforced could mean the state would have to punish people for attempting to live according to any and all interpretations of Islamic precepts about right and wrong in the world. Which is fracking crazy, and definitely unconstitutional. The whole thing makes me discouraged, it seems pretty indicative that a lot of people are really ignorant about Islam, and the U.S. constitution, for that matter.

        And of course, it’s not just Muslims in America that face discrimination and hate crimes, but also Jews, and probably lots of other minority religious groups too though I haven’t read as much on those. But I find it really incredible that even though most people understand that anti-Semitism is totally wrong, you still have regular attacks and vandalism on Jewish houses of worship and cultural institutions. Some of that has come from Muslims in America, but by no means all or even a majority. Neo-Nazis still exist here, sadly.

        Oh back to the topic of mosques being attacked in America, according to the FBI’s 2002-2005 report on terrorism, http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/terrorism-2002-2005/terror02_05, they foiled a terrorist bomb plot that targeted a mosque:

        “August 22, 2002

        Planned Attack against Islamic Center of Pinellas County
        Pinellas Park, Florida
        (Prevention of one act of Domestic Terrorism)

        On August 22, 2002, police in Pinellas County, Florida, responding to a domestic dispute detained Robert J. Goldstein after finding numerous weapons and explosives and a “mission statement” threatening to attack Islamic facilities in the United States. Goldstein was later arrested and charged with weapons violations and an attempt to destroy property. Michael Wallace Hardee, Samuel V. Shannahan III, and Goldstein’s wife, Kristi Goldstein, were also arrested and charged in connection with the plot. An investigation revealed that the intended target of Goldstein’s planned attack was the Islamic Center of Pinellas County, in Pinellas Park, Florida, and that the attack had been planned to coincide with the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. Investigators also determined that Goldstein intended to target the Islamic Center in perceived retaliation for Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel. The four pled guilty in the Middle District of Florida to their roles in the plotting, and in 2003 received federal prison sentences ranging from three years to Robert Goldstein’s 12 years and seven months.”

        So yeah, I haven’t personally heard about incidents of hate crime or sectarianism, however you like to label it, that caused 12 deaths and 200 injuries in one night, or people throwing rocks at each other in a public demonstration in America recently, so I don’t want to get overly relativistic about it, but America definitely does have problems with religious tolerance in general and with regards to Muslims in specific, which have caused and continue to cause violence, arson, death, and a great deal of suffering. I think when you get into comparisons between what’s going on in different countries, it is easy to oversimplify or to make into who is worse, “us” or “them”, as if you could categorically divide humanity along national or religious boundaries, or that culture is monolithic and unchanging, or as if ultimately the point were to prove that your country is better (or worse) than others, rather than to make the world more a better place for human beings everywhere.

        Reply
        • leciat
          May 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm

          According to the FBI 65.7 percent of religious hate crimes in the usa are committed against Jews. Against Muslims? 7.7 percent. but you can’t be bothered researching about this of course

          You can try to re-write the history of Cordoba but in the internet age it generally doesn’t work

          Life for non-Muslims in Islamic Spain
          In Islamic Spain, Jews and Christians were tolerated if they:
          • acknowledged Islamic superiority
          • accepted Islamic power
          • paid a tax called Jizya to the Muslim rulers and sometimes paid higher rates of other taxes
          • avoided blasphemy
          • did not try to convert Muslims
          • complied with the rules laid down by the authorities. These included:
          o restrictions on clothing and the need to wear a special badge
          o restrictions on building synagogues and churches
          o not allowed to carry weapons
          o could not receive an inheritance from a Muslim
          o could not bequeath anything to a Muslim
          o could not own a Muslim slave
          o a dhimmi man could not marry a Muslim woman (but the reverse was acceptable)
          o a dhimmi could not give evidence in an Islamic court
          o dhimmis would get lower compensation than Muslims for the same injury
          At times there were restrictions on practicing one’s faith too obviously. Bell-ringing or chanting too loudly were frowned on and public processions were restricted.

          Sounds a lot like the Islamic/muslim majority countries today doesn’t it

          A man trashes the muslim holy book and he is fired from his job, 2 men trash the morman holy book and they are nominated for 14 tony awards….so forgive me if in my “ignorance” of the “true face” of islam (which i see on a daily bases in the ISLAMIC republic of iran ruled by ISLAMIC clerics who enforce ISLMAIC laws…if I go to iran and ask these ISLAMIC “scholars” if the stoning to death of a woman follows sharia law will he tell me no?) I find the muslims LOUD cry of racism (since apparently islam is now a race) disgusting …hey but what do I know I am just an “ignorant” racist islamophobic infidel

          Reply
          • leciat
            May 11, 2011 at 2:36 pm

            A judge in New Jersey dismissed a woman’s charges of sexual assault and criminal sexual conduct against her husband on the grounds that her husband should not be punished for spousal rape because Islam permits it.

            Said the judge, “This court does not feel that, under the circumstances, that this defendant had a criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault or to sexually contact the plaintiff when he did. The court believes that he was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.”

            The judge then refused to issue a restraining order against the man, leaving the woman vulnerable to repeated rape attempts with no legal protection of any kind.

            This verdict was later over turned on appeal. Which is beside the point. The point is that a United States judge used sharia law in a courtroom right here in the United States. I can find no protest or petitions to bar this imbecile from the bench IN FACT he was reappointed by Gov. Christie in May, and now has lifetime tenure….unlike the Louisiana judge who refused to marry an interracial couple who was forced to resign post haste

            How about the judge in Florida who is trying to FORCE one group of Muslims to use sharia law in their suit against another group of Muslims…..the first group is having to sue the judge in order to have their case heard under American civil law

            So yeah those “ignorant” racist infidels in Okalahoma and other states who want anti-sharia laws are just islamophobic bigoted morons.

          • Riham
            May 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm

            I think you lack a lot of historical details.

            Islam had rules for non Muslims, but never worked of eradicating any of these religions. Keeping in mind that we are talking about 1000 of year ago, were the word “Savage” was a norm. But Still Islam was never one. In comparison with the The atrocities that were done by Christians to Jew through history….Horrific.

            I visited Granada, Spain. They clearly talk about the Jews suffering after the end of the Islamic rule of Spain. The Jews were forced to convert to Christianity, tortured, had to hang dried pork in their windows..etc. Ofcource, they never said what did they do to the Spanish Muslims who were there for 800 years. I would leave this to your imagination…

            Do you know where did the Spanish Jews decided to immigrated after the atrocities they faced after the end of the Islamic rule in Spain? Any Guess? They choose Turkey!!! Its was the only Islamic Country in Europe. They choose it because they knew they will be safe, have a normal life, keep their religion and prosper.

          • Mo
            May 12, 2011 at 4:49 pm

            Please note that the language of the laws passed in these states DOES NOT specify Islamic Sharia. They specifically state foreign laws or some such… So, I ask, why oh why is CAIR so verbal about it? Please think hard about this… Is there any other religious group suing or trying to prevent the laws from being passed? Regardless of the original intent.

            People come to America for FREEDOM of religion, they should be protected as every other citizen. Women especially as in the NJ case. Rape is a crime and should be treated as such by US legal standards. That this could be subverted using the religion when the female is requesting assistance is not justifiable. yes, there can always be bogus cases, but, that is a matter of investigation and evidence, and a Judge does not have the right to strip a woman of her rights.

            I don’t care if it’s Sharia or any other religion, we need to know we are protected under US law and that we are treated as equal citizens. In the case of the will in Fl. There should simply have been a legal interpretation of what the deceased wanted. It’s not hard to add 1/2 of what any males gets…. that is a personal choice.

        • ellen
          May 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm

          Another impressive post, Kat. Chapeau.

          Reply
        • Fr. J
          May 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm

          Kate, if Spain was so happy under Islamic rule then why did they fight for over 700 years to be free? How many Jews live in Saudi Arabia? How many churches are in Saudi Arabia? The most persecuted religion in the world is Christianity. Muslims in the US have it far easier then Copts in Egypt. I think you need some non-PC education.

          Reply
          • Eowyn9
            May 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm

            Persecution isn’t a contest. It’s wrong no matter where it occurs, to who, and to what level. Religious freedom is a right of all human beings everywhere. Period!

        • Mo
          May 12, 2011 at 4:39 pm

          Who ever said that things were peachy in America? Yes, there is discrimination on more than religious level. But, nothing compared to what is happening now in Egypt.

          Reply
        • Mo
          May 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm

          In regards to CNN report, there are crazies everywhere, but again, I emphasize, they are not burning down mosques, kidnapping muslims, looting, burning and dislocating muslims. Muslims do not live in a constant state of fear.

          In regards to states passing laws. Language of the laws does not specify Islamic Sharia. And again this refers to any foreign laws should not supersede US laws, I don’t see the problem with this.

          Why were these laws even considered. The extremist sheiks, keep coming out and screaming how the US will be a caliphate one day, and unlike the small groups of crazies, they have a large following. Many say these laws are useless, so what is the problem, they seem to feel good laws put into place to placate certain factions. If they are not needed and useless what is the problem to putting them on the books? Why all the outcry and legal opposition from CAIR? again they do not specify any religion…

          Reply
  26. Mayhill Fowler
    May 10, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    This is a terrific piece, the best kind of call to action.

    Education is everything here. If Muslims and Christians (and Jews) knew more about the other two-thirds of the Abrahamic faiths, they would feel less threatened.

    The sad irony for Egypt is that the Copts are a national treasure. The oldest Christian monasteries (and Christian art) in the world are in Egypt’s western desert.

    Another sad irony is that repression degrades perpetrator and victim alike. There are similarities here–corruption, insularity, xenophobia, resistance to reform–between the Coptic Church in Egypt and the Orthodox in Ukraine and Russia. In both places, Christian Protestant evangelism has moved into the void. The Presbyterian Church in Cairo, I hear, is one of the fastest growing anywhere.

    Fifty-plus years ago, Egypt was a center of multi-cultural political, social and intellectual life. Now the door to restoration has opened. Cairo once had significant Jewish and Armenian communities. For that matter, the greatest rabbis and Jewish scholars lived and thrived in Alexandria over a thousand years ago. Why should Jewish young people now who oppose Israeli militarism exile themselves to Goa? Egypt should welcome them closer to home.

    This is a golden opportunity, if Egyptian leaders can grasp it. Trade and the revitalization of the Egyptian economy, moreover, are dependent upon making mercantilists–Chinese, Turks, Armenian-Americans, Jewish Americans, secular Americans–feel welcome. Sectarianism is anathema to development.

    Final observation. The world is returning to religion. Maybe this is cyclical–I don’t know. But I do know that Christians just like Muslims are growing more devout. Unfortunately, the world’s educated elites, who tend to be more secular than religious, not only misunderstand this development but feel threatened by it.

    As a Christian, and if I were living in Egypt, I would have no problem with an Egyptian government and rule of law that was not completely divorced from Islam, as long as my right to practice my own faith was protected. After all, if we Americans are completely honest, we have to admit that Christianity has so infused our culture that on the level of history, heritage and society a complete separation of state and religion is impossible.

    The task ahead is to find a new balance between the two–honoring both our Creator and our fellow man–and if the Arab Spring suggests anything, it is that the future will be forged this time in the Muslim world.

    Reply
    • Mo
      May 11, 2011 at 7:31 am

      What? “After all, if we Americans are completely honest, we have to admit that Christianity has so infused our culture that on the level of history, heritage and society a complete separation of state and religion is impossible.” Where do you live in America? This is complete nonsense.

      Reply
  27. Sally Salah
    May 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Absolutely not offensive!
    And to whomever gets offended by this; you are the problem.. Please fix yourself.. We want a better future, we share itm. Help us get there…

    Thank you mahmoud for writing this articulate summing-it-all fantastic article..
    I second every word of it..

    And I wish u post an arabic version so I can force everyone I meet to read it in exchange with whatever they want from me :D

    Reply
  28. Duncan Truscott
    May 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Brilliant commentary Mahmoud- keep up the good fight. I have forwarded same to a couple of Canadian media types!

    Reply
  29. Isaac MBazbaz
    May 10, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Excellent article – Thanks for this comprehensive analysis!

    Reply
  30. Fr. J
    May 10, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Really a very good post. I think the Copts suffer from Stockholm syndrome. They act out of fear and thus can undermine what would really help them. In the US we have civil divorce, but the Catholic Church has a parallel canon law system. The two systems are separate. It works quite well. You can get a civil divorce, but if you want to remarry in the Church you must seek an annulment. You can marry again in a civil ceremony, but then the Church forbids you Holy Communion, the State has no say in the religious rules. It shows how both systems coexist without conflict.

    All that said, the main issue is to combine separation of mosque and state with protection of religious liberty. It works in the US and it can work in Egypt. Copts and all religious groups should have equal rights. But for that to happen the Muslims, being the majority, need to implement your suggestions.

    Reply
    • Mo
      May 11, 2011 at 7:49 am

      If I recall correctly at the very beginning of the revolution, there was talk about repealing Article II and Immediately Sheik Al-Azhar and the MB, made a very strong statement, that this will not be discussed/allowed/considered (can’t remember the exact wording) but, basically it was forget about any thoughts on that. Shortly after the Coptic church published their position. Which at that time seemed the MB was the winner. What would be the plight of the Copts had they stood strong against that and lost. As it is lately, I’ve heard the Church did not stand by the revolution, which implies the copts as well did not. The church is in a tight spot, how can it advocate for itself, that regardless of the outcome, they will not be viewed in a negative light and thus protect its people.

      Recall that recently a christian need just be accused and he bears the wrath of muslims (whether thugs or extremists) even in his own neighborhood. And not only for himself, but for all his fellow copts (shops burned and looted) With a 1 to 10 ratio. Many such documented incidents. So imagine how much worse it would be if the church declared they wanted a secular state.

      Reply
  31. luchadora41
    May 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Very well done, Sandmonkey. I love you, man!

    Reply
  32. Emily
    May 10, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Nice try Mahmoud, but why are you blaming the victims?

    Reply
    • cyberstorm
      May 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm

      Everyone has to own to the problem, he isn’t saying to blame the victims, he is saying everyone has to own the problem as well.

      Reply
  33. deglamaadi
    May 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Why can’t a Copt convert to Protestantism or join the evangelical church as a way to divorce in an untenable situation? This to me makes more sense than converting to Islam just for divorce (or converting to Islam just to marry). They would still be Christian and could join and be members of those churches rather than sow seeds for these stupid rumors that always involve a woman “being held against her will in a church”.
    Another question is why does this stupid same rumor stir up violence, shooting, killing, firebombing etc when it is so obviously an excuse? Are Egyptian (men) not bigger than these creeps that start it, smarter, and have a kinder gentler world view than an excuse for violence? Have Egyptians not worked so hard for a new chance and nation to get sidetracked and Balkanize their country when the moment is so ripe?

    Reply
  34. Miriam
    May 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    YES! Rather true than offensive.
    Regarding the part where you say Muslims should be more informed about Christian culture, I can tell you than we (Muslims & Christians) once asked our (catholic) school for one or two mixed religion classes to get to know our different cultures & accept them. The result? It was strictly refused stating that each has his own religion & this class should only help him get closer to it.
    So here you go!

    Reply
    • Stevo
      May 10, 2011 at 10:55 pm

      because in the UK GCSE religious studies is a mixture of many religions and many families are reluctant as they don’t want to confuse their kids. I think up to the age of 12, teaching solely your religion is right. Beyond that, allow freedom in reading or integrate it into the educational system. I’m sure it will gain acceptance within the decade

      Reply
  35. Peter Abadeer
    May 10, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Excellent article. Thanks!

    As a Copt I just want to point out one thing, to a great extent the Coptic Church leadership did not choose to be the political representative of the Copts. I think, due to lack of other forms of representation, it was obliged to play that role. And overtime, it became the norm that Copts appeal to the church with their grievances and the church brings it to the state. It will take time for Copts to wean off this reality and start forming their alliances and have better political representation.

    Reply
  36. Jan Odden
    May 10, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    If only most people were like you. Then perhaps there would be hope fore this world:-)
    Best regards, and hope that you and people like you be leaders in Egypt some day.

    Reply
  37. Stevo
    May 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    well worth the read. Wish it would be translated to Arabic and explained to the rest of those who can’t read or write whether Arabic or English.
    I didn’t know the pope was against civil marriages and divorces but honestly, as a Christian, I’d rather see those and gay marriages happen rather than this insecurity. After all, let’s not have parallel universes, let’s live in a country where everyone has equal rights and freedom of speech and actions (within limits). Base the law on proper morales, whether Christian or Islamic, I’m pretty sure they both don’t mind like we currently don’t mind eating Halal meat. I mean, if something is compatible with all, keep it. Allow pork because many people like it – nobody’s forcing you to buy it. Ad put the same concept and idea into different prespectives over different issues and the world will be a better place. If you allow the prayers to be said country-wide, allow church bells to ring. If you don’t allow the prayers, don’t allow church bells, simple, yet effective and comprimises all. Soon, we will have the trust to be frank with the other religion and things will solve in a matter of time. If we only push…

    Reply
  38. MG
    May 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    I’m neither offended nor surprised, probably as pissed of as you are. However, I don’t see your solutions sufficient.

    I’d say people who have the time, will and maybe the know-how should get together and work. Why are we so scattered while we’re sharing one goal? You can’t really rely just on what’s received by your followers, can you?

    I’m not someone who you can really call an activist. But I’m kind of disappointed that there is no organized movement of any sort (that I’ve heard of) aimed at culturing and educating our beloved Muslim and Christian fundamentalists, who are both at the same level of ignorance but going in a different/opposing direction in my opinion. Even the parties, on the political level, are too slow and, I think, are not doing a good job in that respect.

    To cut it short, I think the answer is “forced awareness”. Do media campaigns, talk to people, arrange conferences or collect funds. By who? People who have social influence and thousand of followers whether they know how to do it or acquire that knowledge. Be a unit.

    Reply
  39. Ash
    May 10, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    As usual you right on target. now the challenge how you can combine your article and some of the below comments into a more condense , plain Arabic that is easily understood by the people of imbaba and the rest of Egypt. Also , an Egyptian version of the bill of rights and fair, firm application of the law is the foundation moving forward

    Reply
  40. Carmen
    May 11, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Everyone agrees with you SM! Don’t you miss the days when the haters were the first to respond with their inane comments!?! ;)

    Reply
  41. elleelle
    May 11, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I agree with most of what you said except that Pope shenouda is not elected he is not in reign and about Camilia the church didn’t refuse the formal request for investigation by the government for an Egyptian citizen.she simply does not live in the church and she is an adult so the authorities should address her where she lives if they don’t know where she lives they should do their investigations..plus she is not questioned for anything she is just a witness and about this silly subject of camilia she finally came out in a television show and said she never converted however there is a new girl now who did actually convert if interested in these subjects.personally these subject nauseate me..:S..other than that a lot of Christans hang out in church after mass for fun as a club i think ..that is wrong of course because it causes more sectarian tension but what can they do if they are not welcome where the muslims hang..?what is the solution for that..how do we get everyone to get together again..??

    Reply
  42. Ahmed Hafez
    May 11, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Overall, you do now what you are talking about. One minor but very important point. I did actually visit Imbaba as soon as I heard there were problems. I am a muslim and I went to Imbaba to help save the Church. Most of the people there that were doing the actual attacking were infact salafis and had long beards. Let us stop blaming the NDP for all troubles in our life. We have to admit that Egyptians are more of savages, sad but true.

    It is easy to throw the blame on NDP for anything and everything that goes wrong, while reality is NDP is dead and burried.

    Reply
    • Mo
      May 11, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      Thank you for saying that. I’ve heard it is now also being attributed to Israel, which just is offensive.

      Reply
      • Ahmed Hafez
        May 11, 2011 at 7:16 pm

        Indeed Mo, we need to face reality and stop blaming the whole world for our problems. The media is playing the same dirty game again by taking sides, all the articles are about el feloul that planned and excuted this, while I know from my first hand experience it was not! pathetic, nothing has changed. We are ending up with a weaker government and huge economic losses! bad deal if u ask me.

        Reply
    • Ahmed
      May 11, 2011 at 10:56 pm

      Thank you, exactly!! It’s easy to blame everything on the NDP or whatever, but it ain’t gonna solve our problems

      Reply
  43. blacklisted
    May 11, 2011 at 2:00 am

    This was great, and it’s particularly brave of you to tackle the issues concerning Copts as a non-Copt. Most Egyptians are not raised to think critically about their own religion, let alone someone else’s, and any critical thinking about it is automatically construed as being offensive.

    For this reason though, I don’t expect that many Egyptians will be going to their religious leaders and telling them that they will not accept their hate-mongering. It’s a matter of fear. Fear of judgment, and/or fear of someone perceived to hold a monopoly on salvation.

    I know both Muslims and Christians who have simply approached a religious leader to ask a question about the religion in genuine pursuit of knowledge; rather than leaders acknowledging that they think about their religion analytically, they are criticized for doubting, and then their identity as a member of that religion is questioned. And so much for getting a reasoned answer to the question.

    I hope what you have said will mobilize people to think and act differently.

    Reply
  44. chris mary
    May 11, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Fabulous post, Monkey. Articulate and honest. Forgive me for being fatalistic, but not unlike the sentiments between blacks and whites in the US (due to slavery), and Nazi Germany and Jews (due to Hitler’s insanity), even if there would be a ceasefire on the attacks against Christians, there will always be this harbored mentality of “we were wronged” – “we were abused” – “we were killed.” This is looking way into the future, assuming a secular Egypt is possible. You may stop the outward violence, but not change people’s inward mentalities; and if that inner change does occur, it is beyond our generation (I suppose we need to start somewhere though, right?) Till then, Christians and Muslims ping pong between fear, disgust and judgment. Your solution to this is simple. Communicate. Stop the isolation. It takes humility, an open mind and self-awareness to build this bridge towards a better future. But there will still be permanent scars etched on both sides.

    If I had to point out the negatives of both religions, I’d say Islam is concerned with gaining power, being “the only” way, gaining momentum, and numbers. It’s a popularity contest, based on insecurity as you so eloquently stated. Coptic Christianity harbors a cult mentality, where I feel the Church, as an entity, aims to control it’s people. If they’re in the business of saving souls, and Jesus said no divorce, well then….They seem to forget humanity was born with free will.

    In any case, i do wonder how a nation like Egypt that defines its identity by its religion can operate in a secular enviornment, and apply laws that protect humans and not skew towards Mohammed/Jesus freaks.

    Reply
  45. Emma
    May 11, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Hello, I just wanted to say that I found this post so insightful, containing one of the most profoundly and painfully simple facts that is too often overlooked: that we are all people and deserve to be treated as such. I admit, I feel that I am often ignorant of most religions (not ascribing to any particular one myself) and that I feel intimidated to ask questions of those for whom belief is an important part of their lives. I truly hope that everywhere around the world we can all work to overcome this ignorance and fear. (I’m an American, just thought I’d put that out there.) Thanks again for such a great post, I look forward to reading more like it.

    Reply
  46. may
    May 11, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Honesty will take us where we hope to be.keep sending me these posts, we all need to wake up get a grip and start doing…keep me posted

    Reply
  47. Mohamed El Sharkawy
    May 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Good piece.Not offensive at all. However the history also says that Muslims justified cold blood killing under the word Jehad. I did not hear after 25 Jan revolution , any statement or even insinuation that there is a regret ….
    I am fed up of watching talk shows showing MB selling their “civilized” tolerance of diversity and inclusiveness without even asking them about their bloody history .
    Please correct me if I am wrong ….did we have any assassination carried out by the Coptic population in Egypt ?
    Finally I like your analogy of Shinouda vs MB …both are intentionally mixing politics with religion.

    Reply
  48. BobbexX
    May 11, 2011 at 10:20 am

    dude i wonder how many hits did u get on this article!! BRILLIANT!

    Reply
  49. BobbexX
    May 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

    yeah, n thanks for mentioning the agnostics of Egypt!! cheers ;)

    Reply
  50. Balasticman
    May 11, 2011 at 10:35 am

    The article is interesting, but the effort to balance out the blame diminishes the analysis. First, if this is meant to be a truly candid look at things, certain of the very tenants of Islam need to be examined, particularly in regards treatment of Christians and the relationship between church and state. This is not something that street committees, as positive, well-meaning and as enthusiastic as they might be, or sit-ins by an enlightened elite with the local iman, can solve. Rather, a fundamental examination and reinterpretation of the religion must occur along the lines of the Protestant reformation of Christianity for there to be a lasting balance between the Islam and a modern, democratic society. That debate is not happening where it should be, and instead the religious clergy remains ossified. True, Turkey has managed to surpass this in part, but they have done so with an iron-fisted treatment of Islam that is tenuous, and their solution to co-existence with their Christian population is one that any Armenian will strongly recommend against (as would Copts, given that the most discriminatory sectarian laws in Egypt came during Ottoman, not Arab, rule).

    Second, while much of the criticism of the Coptic Church’s insularity is justified, the political context of the article is understated. Take, for example, the Article 2 debate. While the better outcome is to remove altogether references to religion in the Constitution (something, incidentally, few of your reform leaders are espousing with any degree of enthusiasm, which is hardly reassuring to the doubting Thomases), the votes simply are not there to make that happen. Coptic politicians (and indeed, there are too few), can advise throwing away their constituents’ votes and seek to reject the article outright, or make the most of what they can and seek an incremental improvement (and from a Coptic perspective, including a reference to Christianity in Article 2 is better than in its current form). And you might be more willing to excuse Copts for being somewhat hedged on their enthusiasm for jumping headfirst into the civic movement, when they have 1,300 years of doubts about the ability of being able to co-exist as an integrated, rather than separate but unequal, populace, a sense that is only being reinforced by current events.

    The reform movement will need to demonstrate its capability to Copts, and all Egyptians for that matter, if this is to work. The “revolutionaries” cannot simply shrug off if Copts shy away from political and end up in continued exclusion – it is for the nation state to reintegrate a discriminated minority; if it does not, it will fail. That might seem unfair for a movement that wants to effectuate grassroots change, but when you trigger this sort of upheaval and demand a radical break with the past, that is a responsibility you must assume, less being continually doubted.

    Reply
  51. J.
    May 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Well I am not offended…just wish you mentioned the Pope as pope throughout instead of “Shenouda,” it is borderline insulting :) bas peace yea3ni, ana 3arfa eno mesh 2asdak :)

    As Amy said, most Christians do not take Pope Shenouda as a political leader, I’d say about 50%, rather just a spiritual leader, because by church tradition that is his only role. I often would hear my family commenting that our Pope keeps getting himself mixed up in politics although that undermines his original calling as a spiritual guide and leader.

    However, as a Christian, I know Christians who follow the pope’s direction in endorsing Mubarak… I’ve also seen too many Coptic orthodox Christians, I am ashamed to say, who were following Bush(it) wholeheartedly and even praying for him….and the sad truth is that they tend to be the same people and the reason being: they think that Mubarak will protect them from terrorism, and that Bush is protecting them from terrorism and in a way vindicating all the persecution they lived through in Egypt before going to the promised land (!)

    When I am faced with bitter people whose pharmacy was torched in the name of Islam and they were forced to uproot their whole family and leave the country they love so much, I am faced with extreme pain that continued to grow and fester over the course of 30 years…and now they have turned…instead of turning the other cheek, they want to hurt them back…Not directly of course, they are not that horrible, but indirectly feeling vindicated by people like Bush :(

    dunno…what do you think? (I know its a bit off topic)

    Reply
  52. Mo
    May 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I think your article is interesting, not offensive, and a bit too simplistic.

    There are laws governing the country. If hateful acts are prosecuted to their fullest, as they should be, and justice is served, trust would eventually be gained and maybe the copts could breathe a sigh of relief. It would make a statement of non-tolerance.

    And on the other hand, muslims would think twice about doing what they have been unofficially allowed to do.

    I’ve heard where in the schools students have been told that they should not be friends with christians and I’m sure the same is reciprocated on the Christian side.

    So, changes in education AND a proper education are the foundation of a safe and stable future.

    The mob mentality that has been present, would dissipate quickly when all involved are punished.

    In cases I’ve seen recently, regardless, copt is victim or not, they are arrested. This seems to appease the other side.

    Don’t want to get into details…. but again if copts feel they are being treated with justice as Egyptians and not with the current level of injustice as Christians, a majority of these problems and feelings would go away for the copts.

    I heard a salafi on an interview and the host asked him, why do you stand against the copts? His answernot verbatim was, because he was arrested and tortured in prison for doing something (I think he has some foreign friends or something over) but copts are allowed to get away without punishment, they are not imprisoned and tortured. THis is how he felt. The copts are being favored in some aspect…. so feelings of resentment whether justified or not are in play here.

    Reply
  53. Hani Hamad
    May 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    What an article .. thanks man .. will share it all around .. this should be called offensive it should be called flashing light bulb :D

    Reply
  54. John Thomas
    May 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Very nice post. I can disagree on some points, I think there’s a greater responsibility on the majority to be non-sectarian than the minority, you don’t blame (or at least most people don’t) black people in the US for trying to build a united front to work against racism, but you would blame white people for banding together to explicitly advocate their interests (though the situation is different in part because the “white” American identity is not really an identity so much as a negation of minority status, though that’s a matter to discuss elsewhere).

    But interesting stuff all and all, it’s good to see that being a hero of the revolution hasn’t stopped you from being an iconoclast.

    Reply
  55. Mo
    May 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I want to emphasize, I said “muslim” above, but I meant extremist, so please pardon.
    In regards to Article II:

    The amendment made in I believe Sept 1971 that:

    Sharia is the foundation or source or whatever for all legislation, coincides with the start of religious tensions. In Nov of 1971 Pope Shenouda became the patriarch of the Copts and this was the first thing he had to deal with, this is what forced him into the political arena.

    If one looks back, that addition of this phrase regarding Sharia to the constitution was the instigator of sectarian strife. It was intentional and meant to do exactly what it is doing, and thus the most successful instrument of the old regime. Why? I can only hypothesize that it was fear on the Christian side that they are now officially unrecognized citizens and would be judged according to laws that could be very discriminatory (have proven to be) towards them. And possibly on the other side this was the approval of the mighty that only Islam is important and non-other matters (sorry not so eloquent, but you get the gist). Sharia in terms of legal matters (things that go to court, not the way of life) is, as we see interpreted differently by different sects and even areas of the country. And the police in those regions will act on their local peoples’ beliefs.

    I’m not sure that adding a phrase for Christians would change anything, maybe a feel good thing, since laws need to be upheld and they have not been. Is it possible to just remove that phrase?

    I remember the Jan 25 youth wanted a secular state from the onset and I’m pretty sure it was one of the demands. But “again” once the recognized and respected leaders of Islam came out and said, “no way,” that was the end of that. The revolutionaries put it on the back burner and we didn’t hear about it in future protests as a must-do/have.

    What you can do, is hate to say it, take advantage of what is happening to the copts, they are the sacrifice for the secular state argument. I think you referred to sacrifices previously….

    Also, I would say that when the events in Imbaba were occurring there was no official statement from the elshadeen page. Nothing until way later. It would have been better had they sent the call out to stand by their fellow egyptians, or to at least post their position for justice and against mob force. But the silence was deafening as they say, from whomever the administrator of the site was as to the official position of the Youth. Yes, it’s a segue but needs to be said. Again they did amend this afterward. That the copts denounced the revolution as making it even more difficult and a bigger target and in fact allowing for systematic attacks on them was the point that caused Jan25 to respond.

    The Jan25 Youth needed to take a stronger stand on the sectarian incidents from the start. And to say the revolution has no responsibility for these events is not true.
    The youth protested for the release of political prisoners, without specification…. many of these were just these types the extremists. The army released over a 1000, not to mention the escaped prisoners. Yet till today, they could not get their own protestors released. What does this say? Murderers and extremists released and protesters still in prison?
    I think the state/supreme council was sending a loud message, with this action. Did anyone hear it? Whether or not the MB is involved remains to be seen, but I keep hearing about a deal being struck between the army and the MBs and the fact the MBs are strongest in supporting prosecution of the old regime is a testament to this.

    These events are leading to the unification of Islamists (and I don’t mean extremists) under the umbrella of Sheik al-Azhar. And when you look at it objectively, what do we see, let the extremists take over? Or the MB? well I think that was the point. I don’t think it was the NDP, I think this was the goal. Hopefully the Jan25 Youth can turn it into something positive for their secular position.

    One last thing that not many talk about and that will eliminate a lot of hard feeling (IMHO): Removing religion for ID cards, that should be on the top of the list.

    Sorry long post.

    Reply
  56. Madaniya
    May 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you so so so much for this post. This is the kind of thing Egypt needs most right now: open, frank, honest discussions about these issues. The way things are going, if the Youth mvmnt and liberal activists don’t tackle sectarianism directly, this divide will have the potential to break the revolution’s goals (and it’s already beginning, w/ the provisional govt taking this occasion to ban numerous forms expression and sneaking in draconian measures and emergency-type powers to show their “strength” in the face of lawlessness; and, moreover, with Islamists rallying against the local “kuffar” as though Copts haven’t been here for thousands of years and have as much if not more claim to “Islamic” Egypt as their Muslim neighbours!).

    Just one point of critique: You open this post by arguing that the sentiment of “Egypt was never like this” is a bit naive, if not false. While Copts (esp poor Copts) have certainly been the object of religious and especially state-directed hatred and discrimination over the centuries, these last few decades have truly been a low-point – ie. some people can be forgiven for feeling that Egypt is at a historical nadir of inter-religious relations. My parents and grandparents, for instance, recall very fondly the period from the 20s-70s as a kind of “golden era” of Coptic-Muslim relations, where most people hardly noticed or cared about their religious differences. In short, I think your analysis has to take into account the changes brought by the rise in Islamist fervour that resulted from various factors including the decline of Arab Nationalism generally, the influx of Saudi $$/influence into Egypt (which you do note briefly), and most recently, the US ‘War on Terror’ which has been a globally polarizing force (I think it’s no coincidence that this violence spiked shortly after the death of Osama bin Laden).

    Finally: I really appreciate your idea about Copts simply going out and asking their Muslim friends and neighbours to help protect the neighbourhood church. I hope this becomes a movement in itself – and can show how local, community-based grassroots mobilization is more effective than the state-based, top-down securitization being led by the SCAF.

    Keep up the brilliant work!

    Reply
    • Vera
      May 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm

      Thank you,Madaniya, for writing for me…This is exactly what I think…I agree with every of your points ..Sandmonkey is good as usual…thank you too..

      Reply
  57. Nanou
    May 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Great article, as usual. I don’t think anyone should be offended by what you said. You’re objective, accurate and insightful.
    We need to figure out a way to make this blog a little more widespread!

    Reply
  58. lydia
    May 11, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    i really like ur article i think its really honest but i think u missed some things

    “And while you understand that they naturally want to address the issues that affect their livelihood as a minority, those in the end are religious sectarian demands. Fine. Noted. But besides that, if you ask what their demands as Egyptian citizens for Egypt are, they will tell you that they only have those demands, and if they get them, they are fine with whatever else happens”

    perhaps you should ask more Christians :D am a Christian who have demands for Egypt i want a better country where i can vote and know my vote is valuable . i want to walk without comments from boys . i want to have cleaner streets and alot more

    about Article II why would i have to live by other rules ? ur making fun of the fact that Christians are asking to follow their own rules
    well, if we dont have civil laws i would definitely rather follow my rules

    and about the revolution pop shounda never said he supports Mubarak
    he did ask Christians not to go to protests though which came out of fear for them . although i dont agree i dont think its a problem since most of my Christian friends did go to protests

    “Churches become more than simply places for worship and fellowship: they become the focal point, if not the universe, of those who attend it. Christian Boys and Girls go there and only hang out with Christian boys and girls, and then go to camps together to make them even closer, and thus ensuring that the supreme majority of the friends of those Boys and Girls are also Christians”

    and about that well, just as u said its a place where i belong where people accept me for who i am
    but i dont agree that its the only community Christians are involved in
    am a Christian and i tell my and my friends are involved where we live and with our friends in schools and college . we go out we have fun

    oh and about camilia i dont think its a subject worth talking about !
    if she converted into islam or if she didnt its between her and god and since it doesnt effect anyone else and its her very personal issue i dont get why people cant let go

    i really like ur article i think u know and read alot but i think u should get to know more Christians and talk to them

    Reply
  59. Copt
    May 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I really liked this post, but as many people have said, it’s a little bit simplistic and not really taking into account the fullness of the Coptic situation. So I wrote a semi-response here, from a Coptic perspective, if anyone would like to read it:
    http://www.copticadvocate.blogspot.com/

    Reply
    • Copt
      May 11, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      Oh, it’s the post titled “Isolated Copts btw…

      Reply
  60. Kelvin Deacon
    May 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    All well said….but did u know there are still religeons that are illegal in this country? Yes I’m not saying contraversial or border line but full on illegal….my parents belong to a religeon that is illegal in this country, I’ve been living here 12 years and when they come over to visit they live in fear of opening thir mouths. Although I no longer conform to any religeon….u can understand my discust…..I live in hope. Peace.

    Reply
  61. yogi
    May 11, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Great post, very compassionate and insightful in my opinion.

    The basic problem is the mix of religion and politics. Until Islam undergoes reform and becomes an individual religion – not a state or world religion – not much can change.

    Of course an individual religion needs individuals, an idea which is extremely difficult for Arab Muslims to accept. But individualism can and should be taught in schools and should be discussed and raised as an ideal in your society.

    Reply
    • Hazem
      May 12, 2011 at 2:36 am

      So you think that Muslim Arabs are that different from Christian Arabs?

      Reply
      • yogi
        May 12, 2011 at 7:14 am

        In my experience in Israel there is a huge difference between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims, even if they live in the same town. As far as I can tell this difference exists around the world.

        How to explain the difference? I think that it has something to do with the religious ideal. In Christianity the ideal is personal salvation exemplified by the Great Individual – Jesus. In Islam the ideal is group harmony and the individual is always sacrificed, physically or spiritually for that harmony.

        Of course, it’s just a theory. Personally I believe society would do best to find a middle way that will allow both the individual and the group to live in harmony. Currently the West has gone overboard with individualism, and the East is still not allowing individualism to any great degree. Probably in another thousand years humanity will figure it out…

        Reply
  62. DomainDiva
    May 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Can you come to the USA and go on tour with this?

    Proof positive that politics and religion DO NOT MIX.

    What a great post!

    Reply
  63. Basma fanous
    May 11, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Your article is.excellent. I feel that people have to educate themselves on other religions. And should not allow pope. Priest or sheikh to control them.
    Thanks for your honesty and bravery

    Reply
    • Hazem
      May 12, 2011 at 2:33 am

      Actually, i think it would be more beneficial if people would deal with each other according to the teaching of their religion. If that happens, everybody will be happy.

      Reply
      • thewiz
        May 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm

        hazem, Islam teaches that anyone that is not Muslim is an infidel and should pay extra taxes for their lack of religiousness. And even more radical aspects of Islam teach a more violent response. Not very beneficial.

        Reply
        • Kat-Mo
          May 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm

          Wiz, love you dearly, but Islam teaches whatever the student wants to learn. Not to say that some are not learning what you said, but it wold be inappropriate to say that is what all Muslims believe.

          Reply
          • thewiz
            May 13, 2011 at 2:29 pm

            Kat-Mo; True I stand corrected. Not all Muslims are the same. In fact, there is a huge diversity. But dealing with each other “according to the teaching of their religion” as Hazem suggested certainly will not make every one happy.

            And I am not sure that that “Islam teaches what the student wants to learn” is accurate either. Islam, like any other religion is open to interpretation and therefore can be manipulated by both the teacher and the student. And it is usually the teacher that does the interpretation and the student is taught not to question such authority figures. . And many, whether they be Imams, Priests, Reverends or Rabbis, are more concerned with their power than any over riding truth.

  64. Michele Dickinson
    May 11, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Thank you for saying what I’ve been saying forever, but more eloquently, more forcefully and with solutions to get us out of this mess!
    I’m usually stressed after thinking or speaking about the sectarianism here. This article organized all the points clearly and made me feel that, if readers take it to heart, we just might see some light at the end of a terribly dark tunnel.
    Thank you for all your ‘rantings’!

    Reply
  65. Luma
    May 12, 2011 at 1:05 am

    This is an excellent post. In many ways the same can be said for the rest of the Arab world too – the sunnis and the shia, the arabs and the kurds, and in Syria the sunnis and the Alawis. In the end, the only way we will change is by demanding an educational system that really analyzes our common history and presents both viewpoints.

    Reply
  66. Debora A.
    May 12, 2011 at 1:29 am

    You hit the nail on the head with your reference to Muslims still holding on to their age old, poor sense of self. These pyschological scars must heal before the Muslim community can evolve to a more secure and trusting place. Until that occurs, just as a emotionally damaged child carries feelings of inferiority and distrust to adulthood, the Muslim population will continue to have difficulties within their own community and the world at large. If you dont love yourself, you cant love others.

    Reply
  67. Hazem
    May 12, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Why would saying that Jesus was not crucified offend Christians and saying that Mohammad is not a profit not offend Muslims? Why would saying that Jesus did not write the bible offend Christians and saying that Mohammad wrote the Quran not… offend Muslims. Why would talks about Jizia would offend Christians where now they do not pay it and instead they have to go to the front line, fight for the country and die with fellow Muslims. In the past, they paid Jizia to enjoy the comfort of their homes when Muslims would go fight and die for the country, why would that not offend Muslims. Why would burning the Church offend Christians when finding bombs in Makram Ebei mosque did not offend Muslims. And why did Christians not make such a big fuss, neither did Muslims, when Sayedna El Hossein was bombed. Strange, it seems that Muslims are not offended by a lot of things. Could it be because Christians feel that they are more Christians than they are Egyptians? My belief is that somehow the answer is yes. There is the root of the problem and that is the key to solving it. I hope my comments did not offend Christians, I was not offended by the article. I say that from my heart, which beats for the pains of my fellow Christian Egyptians.

    Reply
    • A
      May 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      You haven’t educated yourself in the least. Christians don’t believe Jesus wrote the Bible. It’s pretty clear he did not write any book.

      Reply
      • Khadija
        June 23, 2011 at 6:11 am

        I think that Hazem was responding to this challenge to Muslims: “Are you aware that…the Bible was not written by Jesus?” and he may have gotten confused when writing his response.

        Reply
  68. Sally
    May 12, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Firstly, I would like to thank you for taking the time to write this article (I believe what you saw in Imbaba will remain with you for a while).

    Being the product of a Muslim father and a Christian (Coptic) mother…I would probably offend Christians and Muslims if I said I am a Muslim and a Christian….surely both sides would say you are either one or the other I am thankful to both my parents – each taught me what they believed and I was left to follow the faith that I believed in (not what they believed in, or by default of having being born to a Christian or a Muslim).

    I have witnessed discrimination on both sides in Egypt and outside Egypt. So I can relate to most of what you are writing about. I do agree that fear and ignorance are the primary reasons behind it all….but this is the same all over the world, with various forms of discrimination besides religion including race. There should be laws that deal with discrimination…every type of discrimination and no-one should be above the law and everyone should know their rights. This will take some time to achieve….but can be started….

    Religion should never be a reason to fight or discriminate.
    It doesn’t matter what I believe….what is important is to respect each other for our differences….if I like rice and you hate it and prefer to eat pasta…this doesn’t mean I should fight you. Why then can’t we assume that religion is a matter of taste – everyone has his own taste for his own reasons and as a country we should cater for everyones taste without rebuking the others.

    We should always keep an open mind….respect others…respect self….and always think before acting….what are the consequences of what I am about to do? Who is going to be affected? and always try and visualise how u would feel if someone else does it to you.

    Simply…at the end of the day….it is best to “Do Good – Because it is Good”!

    Also…you wrote the article in English – but what is the %age of people who will read it in English? As you refered to the “rich” Christians that are not affected – you are addressing the same %age of “rich” Muslims that are not affected too!! Whilst those who should be aware of this – are the vast majority of Egyptians – and many are not educated. How can we reach out to them…how can we start getting them to teach their children the right way to behave?

    Thanks for writing from your heart….all the best.

    Reply
  69. Nader Nashed
    May 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

    One word…Chapeau!

    Reply
  70. Amanda
    May 12, 2011 at 10:43 am

    All I can say is – GOOD FOR YOU! It is about time someone shattered the myth that ‘Egyptians could not do this’ and everything in the garden is lovely. This ‘revolution’ has opened the largest can of worms ever and it needs to be opened further till things start to change. After living in Egypt for six years and being subject to sexual harassment numerous times by my Coptic Christian landlord and by men with bruises on their heads (the result of vigorous prayer 5 times a day) and being told by a senior politician that ‘Prophet Mohamed sits at Gods’ right hand while Jesus sits further down the table’ (I kid you not!) it is good to see that Egyptians are starting to speak out. I just ‘pray’ that a new way of thinking and behaving can start to filter down to the person on the street through access to education and equal opportunties for all in Egypt. Perhaps not in my lifetime but in the years to come!

    Reply
    • James Cavalli
      May 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      Right on. It is not just a question of Muslim backwardness, it’s a question of overall political immaturity (only the Muslims have the greatest possibility to express it).

      Reply
  71. Aly
    May 12, 2011 at 11:12 am

    It shows you are well informed…
    If I have to comment, i’ll only have some minor tweeks but it will not affect the general direction of your blog.

    Congratulations on your courage to confront and your try to make a difference.

    Reply
  72. May Hobrok
    May 12, 2011 at 11:45 am

    The truth is clear for any one who wants to see it.
    Well presented and logical review of the situation in Egypt right now.

    Reply
  73. Hania
    May 12, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I understand that the church refused that Camilia appears because they are not gehhat ikhtisaas: they were saying it’s none of our business. this is not the official residence of Mrs. Camillia Shehata so we cannot accept a court summoning on her behalf

    Reply
  74. James Cavalli
    May 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    As a Europe-based foreign affairs analyst and commentator I’m already becoming disenchanted with the ‘revolution’ in Egypt. It seems well on track to realizing its sceptics’ fears. In Europe the fear is that repression of Christian minorities in Egypt will come to resemble that in Iraq and lead to a massive exodus of refugees, all wanting to enter Europe.

    However, far fetched and unrealistic it might seem today, in the end, if Muslims cannot tolerate Christians in their countries (and all the evidence points to this) then better the Christian minorities accross the Middle East form their own independent state(s).

    Reply
    • FromArgentina
      May 20, 2011 at 12:28 am

      oh im sorry is it sooooooo bad that a christian may habitate in EUROPE?

      Reply
  75. Mona
    May 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Wonderful. Exactly what I think. Very uplifting for our faith for Egypt to be again the most great country on earth.

    Reply
  76. Samantha Brook
    May 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I really like this article. I am a big supporter of Egypt and her people. I moved to Egypt in 2008 and I now consider it to be my first home. I struggle to understand politics in Egypt, including the differences between Muslims and Christians.
    I have a theory that people in Egypt are either really good or really bad, whereas in Britain where I come from, people are neither particularly good nor bad. Since I have been here I have met some really bad people. I have been lied to and cheated by supposed friends under the pretence that I am their “sister.” It is people like this that give Egyptians a bad name. “A few bad apples spoil the lot” as the saying goes.
    The majority of Egyptians that I have met, both Christians and Muslims, are truly amazing, warm, generous, and loving people, and many of them have treated me like family.
    I did convert to Islam last year, despite being put off by the hypocrisy of many Muslims in Egypt. I do believe however that all religions lead to God. As my friend Alicia says, “There are many flavors of ice cream, but they are all still ice cream.”
    I believe that there are forces at work that are working to incite hatred between the Christians and Muslims. Let us not be fooled, rather let us stand together; Christians and Muslims as one hand.
    Please like the Bridging the Gap facebook page, which aims to build bridges and increase understanding between different cultures and religions.

    https://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Bridging-the-Gap/166253453396789

    Reply
  77. Faisal
    May 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Well said, SM. 100% in agreement.

    Reply
  78. Sherine
    May 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    As a Muslim, I consider this article is excellent in initiating the urgently-needed discussion about Muslims-Christians relationship in Egypt. Actually, everybody is contributing to the current dilemma and all issues should be tackled in transparent and professional way so that to reach solutions. Now, main problem is not religion, whether Islam or Christianity, but people ATTITUDE & CULTURE. many things must be clarified, changed and agreed upon. I don’t like what most people say from both sides, but this article is one of the best trials to really touch this long-standing problem, which affects Egyptians’ lives. In brief, we need good will, transparency, logic, fairness, justice and open minds to discuss and find solutions, and most importantly, ENFORCE agreed upon solutions on ALL parties. There must be a COMMON CIVIL LAW enforced on everyone, based on all above.
    Thanks for the article and keep the sincere effort.

    Reply
  79. Shahira
    May 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    “They are no longer a persecuted scrappy minority, but they still act like and see themselves as one, instead of acting with the Grace required of people in their position.” Couldn’t have said it better. Brilliant article by the way

    Reply
  80. Dina
    May 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Love it. Really impressed. Finally someone dared speak what we all think and know, but are in intense denial about. It’s funny to see how people responded to my facebook post that linked to this article. Sad, but funny.

    Reply
    • Cris
      May 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm

      I’m an expat living in this lovely country since over 15 years. I deeply feel that Egypt now is home, my second, third home. I come from a mixed family and grew up in South America. But since over 15 years I can call Egypt “home”.

      The Roman Empire, which ruled over half of the known world at that time, had a basic rule : “Divide et Impera”. Means “DIVIDE AND RULE”.

      It is a basic, blatant rule that any marketing manager of this 21st century can recognise. It is very simple. You will never be able to subject an entire strong country when its people is strongly united in its purpose. You need to divide, you need to seed hatred, you need to create small groups, to be able to do whatever it suits you.

      Don’t ever let you be divided, you are a beautiful country with one of the richest and oldest cultures in the world. You guys are an asset to the planet, with the richness of your diversity. A unique piece of earth and soul.

      Just make sure that your people get decent eductaion, salaries, welfare. Stop the slaving for everyone, Christian, Muslim, Jew. Until now the country was based on slavery. Ridiculous basic wages, endless working hours. Only when everyone will have a respectful, decent living, will problems fade away.

      I will always support your bravery and culture.

      Thanks for having me.

      Reply
  81. Johnny Weixler
    May 12, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Painful but necessary medicine–excellent writing and incisive points. At the end of the day, hypocrisy is everywhere. I’m a follower of Jesus living in the West, and I must say that our society is plagued by many of the same group dynamics and quasi-religious motivations for sectarian infighting.

    For whatever reason, if God exists, he has chosen to remain unseen. If God was tangible, perhaps it would be appropriate to defend his kingdom with arms. But since he chose to leave room for uncertainty, it seems that we can only legitimately be seekers of his truth. Seekers can live side-by-side in humility, defenders cannot.

    Reply
    • homer9
      May 14, 2011 at 12:19 am

      good one

      Reply
  82. chris
    May 13, 2011 at 1:16 am

    This is a beautiful piece of writing. I hope this gets picked up by lots of newspapers. You’ve written something very special.

    Reply
  83. Seif
    May 13, 2011 at 11:01 am

    excellent tactic to get hits! “offensive”; yeah, well thought. however, my young friend, writing is a responsibility. it’s not only about awards, hits, entourage, and other fancy stuff. i am a moslem, and i’m “cool” – as you put it- about christians. not only do i have lots of copt friends, i had two girl friends in the intimate sense of the word. not for a second hadeither of us felt awkward about the different religions. and that was before i had cometo know a lot about christianity. but this is not the point. the latter is that as a moslem i will not argue with you about what you preached to christians because i’m no authority on that. my qualms are about your the top of the mountain speech to the moslems. how could you be urging moslems to learn more when you know so little? suffice it is to see your reference to “jezya”. in a true stereotype manner you cited it as a symbol of “qahr” and divisiosn which it was not! 2 simple aspects about jezya: moslems paid zakat to bait al mal which was used as government resource to spend for the welfare of ALL citizens; thus, non moslem citizens had to contribute so as not to live “safla2a”! secondly, it was for protection, given it was the moslem army which was protecting the state. and in which mosques are you praying jom3a?? not unlike me, you appear to be a resident of a good district in cairo. the only people imams in those districts attack are the jews. and let’s not get into the difference between jews and zionists; the point here is that i have NEVER heard an imam in egypt mention christians in this manner. this “might” be happening in slums or rural areas (which i doubt) but then don’t generalize. bottom line, please do view this as a responsibility. and one more thing: you’ve already passed judgment who’s the predator and who’s the victim. i disagree with the notion but it is your prerogative. what is not is imposing it on readers. and the result of that judgment of yours was a very clear biasedness against islam and moslems.

    Reply
    • homer9
      May 14, 2011 at 12:17 am

      Imposing his notion on reading is not wrong- its an editorial- his opinion.RE JEWS/ZIONIST- if a jew is egypt believes in a jewish state, is that a problem?If yes, then, u dont really understand democracy.

      Reply
  84. Gedo
    May 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Great post. I generally agree with your views. Probably nothing but the harsh truth.

    As a Copt, I too would love to see all politics handled outside of the Church.

    About Camilia and the Church’s refusal to receive the letter from the Prosecutor General, I don’t think it was properly covered by the media. She was not in the custody of the Church, and therefore, she was a citizen like any other. In other words, think of it this way, if the courts wanted to pull in any Muslim, why would they go to Al Azhar with a letter from the prosecutor general…

    Reply
  85. A German from Berlin
    May 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I would like to emphasize, that all forces opposing a secular government really have the goal to impose their ideas and ideologies on as many people as possible and to keep their members under control.
    A religious state can and will never be a free state, as the religious leaders will always push for restricting the people more and more to prevent any sins from happening at all. And after a while they will even try to prevent anybody from even opposing them, because that is blasphemy, insulting of god or the religion or the like, up to the point where opposing them means to oppose god himself.
    In all of human history there has never been a state based on religion, where people didn’t get suppressed and religion has in those states, without exception, only served to keep certain groups of people in power. To my knowledge the best example of today is Saudi-Arabia.
    On the other hand, a separation between state and church doesn’t harm anyone, but allows everybody to live his religion freely and to be protected even from the followers of their own religion that disagree with their particular view. And let’s face it: Even if there is only one right way to worship god, not a single person on earth is doing it that way.

    Reply
  86. FromArgentina
    May 13, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    hey! Im a christian evangelical that lives in Argentina, Im a theology mayor, I really wanted to understand what was going on in different parts of the middle east today, and not only history, mission acoplished for Egypt! I still need to read more on more countries but ur blog from now on, will be a site I will always go to and recomend, you are honest and want solutions, I apllaud you for that, u know.? not only in egypt christians are sectarians, here too, but not with muslims cause there are not many, but with ppl that are atheist or agnostics, but we re preaching about that and fixing it, that’s why im not offended as a christian, because I know its one of our mistakes, I loved the part where you actually encorage society to protect each other. I hope they can do that and respect their religions too.
    May God bless you!

    And if anyonw knows about great blogs in otehr middle east countries please let me know! :) thank u.

    Reply
  87. Regina hermel
    May 14, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I had a friand in the US who was a very devout roman catholic. Her daughter spent a summer in Israel and i asked her.” How will you feel if she finds a jewish husband?”
    She answered me ” i dont care what religion you practice, if it makes you a more compassionate person then it is good, if it makes you intolerant than it is worth little”

    Reply
  88. Joseph Gamal
    May 14, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Great article , with some concerns about the church position.
    do you have an arabic version for it , i tried to translate it using google , it the output was bad :( , if you have please send it to me or publish it.

    if you need to spread your words , it should be in arabic , because people who barely read arabic are your real audience

    Reply
    • Iwanttoknow
      May 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      what do they speak in Egypt? I want to know.

      Reply
    • Ezzat
      May 14, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      Joseph Gamal:

      Exactly correct. While I appreciate SM’s valiant efforts, he is the wrong messenger talking to the wrong audience.

      Religious debate in Egypt is very sensitive and some of the comments in the article (particularly about the tirbulence of early Islamic history) would be very offensive to many (and most likely most) average rural Egyptians – who are the critical people to reach at this point.

      As I have argued countless times now, you need moderate religious partners who are trained in the legalisms and intraciacies of Islamic theology and have experience communicating and debating these ideas before the masses at large.

      While SM is a brave political activist, he is not a religious scholar nor does he command sufficient experience debating and discussing these issues with his main intended audience in rural Egypt.

      It would be pointless to address this dialogue to English speaking fellow internet savvy twitters and bloggers (or Arabic speaking for that matter). Who, judging by all these comments, already agree with him anyway.

      Division of labour is a good thing. Let political activists focus on what they do best: political activism and grassroots organization and campaigning. And, let the religious scholars in your coalition talk about what they know best: the role of Islam within a modern social and political context.

      Reply
    • Ezzat
      May 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm

      Just to be crystal clear: I fully support what SM is saying and it is a very importat discussion to have. I just think the message should be delievered by someone else.

      Reply
      • FromArgentina
        May 14, 2011 at 6:11 pm

        The important thing is that the message is being DELIVERED, by saying it has to be someone else u are not even getting his message right.
        Yes it would be nice if the post would be also in arabic, but I dont know if he speaks it, neither should we judge him for it.

        Reply
  89. Fr. J
    May 14, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Ezzat, in a way you are right. Those at Al Azar should be doing this, but they don’t. What does that tell you? Islamic leaders need to engage in real reform. It will take many like SM to get them to do so. You have to start somewhere.

    Reply
  90. Shareef
    May 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    You almost got it, I think what matters is your action plan, very nice, add to that no hidden agenda from both

    Reply
  91. 2face
    May 14, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    What a moronic discussion. Take one look at fanatic Muslims with their pajamas and maniacal facial expressions. They are beyond reach. They have one purpose. They wanna hate. They wanna kill. And who gives a shit. They can go fuck themselves.

    Reply
  92. Dina
    May 15, 2011 at 7:32 am

    I agree with most on your analysis of the situation and I confess that being a muslim I was ignorant of the Christian religion and Judaism…Before reading your blog I intended to start reading the old and new testament and know about the three main religions. I also agree that most muslims have a dicotomy in practising their religion, i,e they view that religion is prayer, fasting, Zakat and veiling for women and yet fail to practice the core of Islam in their every day dealings and I have more than once said that you give a bad image of Islam to all the world. I would like to find Muslims say that they muslims by their actions not by what they wear or preach as the wisdom which says talk is cheap but action speaks..Same goes to Christians and Jews…Let us all see that GOD created people as tibes and community to get to know one another and that our might GOD said what means that the best of all is ATKAKUM I could not translate that in English but what I understand is the pure in heart, soul and action….

    Reply
    • FromArgentina
      May 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      Its nice to see open minded muslims that speak like that. Im also learing about Islam, although Im chrisian. :) blessings.

      Reply
  93. Really
    May 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    First Coptic Orthodoxy never influenced anything such as Rastafarianism. Secondly: trying to compare the Pope with muslim brotherhood is outrageous…such a lame attempt to neutralize things and create some virtual, non-existing, balance of powers. You can’t put the Pope and MB in one basket so that you can blame all parties as equally corrupt. The Pope was behaving in the very small space he is given from time to time, so excuse me if he did not speak against the regime, but he was wise enough not to, because if any coup d’etat against the regime was to happen, it had to happen from the people and not the Pope. All Copts knew that the Pope was just saying those supporting statement to avoid a bigger massacre inflicted on Copts. His supporting statements did not push any copt to support the regime, and did not make any copt think that he is less of a Christian for not supporting the regime. In other words, Copts knew that the Pope was just saying this for the press, but they knew that not supporting and even attacking the regime was not going to prevent them from going to Church and partaking in the Christian community.
    Thirdly: trying to accuse Copts of isolation because they go out together is also lame, because Copts never stop trying to befriend Muslims. It is Muslims who always start by isolating themselves and build up all those glass and even brick walls between Copts and Muslims. But Copts always welcome Muslims should they want to get closer. So you can’t blame Copts for standing together, for they never put up those walls.

    Reply
  94. Cameron
    May 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Why the fuck would Copts want to “get closer to muslims”? Unless they are suicidal, like the idea of their daughters being kidnapped, raped, forcibly converted to islam, and married off to some disgusting muslim drooller. Discriminated against on a daily basis, as Copts are, with their muslim neighbors ready to put in power other muslims that seek to deny them full citizenship. The arab colonists and descendants should get the fuck out of Egypt. End the Occupation of Egypt, NOW!

    A believing muslim is filthy scum, no longer human, deserving only extermination.

    Reply
  95. Marc
    May 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Don´t the egypt people need to built up a state now? Why do they have time to burn churches and demonstrate in front of the embassy of israel?

    Reply
  96. Salah
    May 15, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Honestly, Respect. very articulate presentation of the case. Honest Approach for a change!

    Reply
  97. Yvonne
    May 16, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I agree with almost everything is this article and am very happy that somebody has had the courage to bring it out in the open without taking any sides and showing exactly how things are and have always been in Egypt. It is true that this has been fed to us on both sides as we grew up and although we had very good friends, both moslems and christians, this was never discussed and if I could add, the state of things was “taken for granted”. I would have preferred however to know where was it published, what kind of a newspaper and of course the full name of the person who wrote it and not a nickname, although there again I wonder how dangerous it still is to be able to do this…..Would this have appeared in a national newspaper? I am just very sad because I have no idea where all what is now happening in Egypt is leading the country…..

    Reply
  98. E. Cate
    May 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I have followed your blog off and on since the Danish cartoon episode. Today I came to see what you had written about the attack on Lara Logan, the CBS reporter attacked by two to four hundred men, the day Mubarak resigned. I did a “search” for Lara Logan on your blog and didn’t find anything. Why? Why is this being treated like a “family secret”?

    I think it would be best to have full disclosure of what happened to Lara (with photos) and to also publish the results of research into who organized the attack on Lara and who participated. I suspect a group who wanted Mubarak to stay in power motivated (with hate and/or money) the men who attacked her . It could have been pro-Mubarak types or even people from other middle eastern countries who are afraid a successful rebellion in Egypt may motivate people in their countries to rebel.

    I also understand Lara’s desire to put this behind her and move on in life. Personally I believe she would heal better emotionally if the good Egyptians started a full attack on the monsters who attacked her. I refer to them as monsters because I don’t want to besmirch animales by calling Lara’s attackers “animales”.

    How could Egyptians “attack” Lara’s attackers? They can expose them as the monsters they are by:
    -publishing all the available photos of her showing what they did to her
    -publishing the medical records of the damage to her body
    -requesting all photos of the attackers attacking her to be posted on her website and thus revealing to the world who attacked Lara and how disgusting it is when hundreds of monster “men” attack ONE young mother!

    If the men who attacked Lara are fully exposed and prosecuted, it will save other women from being attacked and it will help Lara feel that someone in Egypt cares for her.

    Reply
    • chris
      May 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      I suppose SM was busy covering his country’s revolution. I’m from the US and I could give 2 craps about freakin’ Lara Logon in the grand scheme of things. Do you have any clue how many Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis, Palastinians, and more are currently dieing? TODAY!!!! And all you can consider is Lara Logon? Get a freakin’ grip. Get some perspective! Start your own blog and write about all the triteness you prefer.

      Reply
  99. Thomas E Christian
    May 17, 2011 at 3:26 am

    With all the news on this so called “Arab spring” listening to the western media in my country, it’s more like chaos and anarchy. It would seem to me the pro democracy movement is being hijacked by the likes of Iran, the Islamists and Salafists, Hamas and Hezbollah and all the other extremist groups I may have failed to mention. What the hell is going on over there? I know democracy is new to the Arab world but it seems to me it’s the Copts that are stuck between a rock and a hard place and the target of the extremists.

    So is sectarian violence to be the norm in Egypt? I know Tyranny and oppression is not the answer and the US needs to stop meddling in the Middle East or anywhere else for that matter. I just want to know the path you are taking.
    There are a lot of what if’s going on in my mind. What if the Muslim Brotherhood takes control in the elections? What if they decide to team up with Iran to attack Israel? Along with Syria, Lebanon. I’m no friend of the Jewish state but I’m pretty sure they will not stand idly by if attacked on all fronts. What about the Palestinians? How the hell are they not going to suffer if Israel is attacked. Rockets and bombs do not care if you are a Palestinian or a Jew.

    Maybe it’s all for nothing but this world is really starting to suck and there is too much darkness and hate going on. So I will get down on my knees and pray to God that there will peace in the Middle East and that the Arab spring will turn to calm and peace. Insha Allah. Tom

    Reply
  100. Mary
    May 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Great article… but would like to correct some info about Copts vs. civil secular laws: Many of coptic chruch representatives have been actualy asking for a civil law “even if only for non-moslems” however they have been told “agressively” that the civil law is against the islamic regulations “according to article #2″ and the copts in general are very much in favor of letting the church out of the “administrave/legal” actions. But do you think this can actualy take place without a loud voice from our liberal fellow moslems?
    As for article # 2: what do you think might actually happen to Copts is they “dared” to mention this article. Adding another part for other religions was the only possible compromise to avoid “mass killing” if i may say!

    Reply
  101. ESSAM HELMY
    May 21, 2011 at 1:39 am

    This is an enlighting article, eventhough it is a bit long and can lose the reader’s interest at the first 1/3. Your historical facts may be slighted a bit since i don’t take all historical “facts” as facts. However, the only soultion to the everlasting secterian divison in Egypt is to abolish the second article in the Egyptian constitution, which states that Islam is the offical religon of the repbuplic and Arabic is the offical language of Egypt. THANK YOU FOR YOUR GREAT EFFORTS IN EDUCATING THE MASSES ABOUT THE HITORY OF EGYPT AND KEEP ON GOING ON.

    Reply
  102. thewiz
    May 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    There is a post at Iraq the Model that shows Syrians burning the flags of Russia, Iran and Hezbullah. And they are chanting “No to Iran” “No to Hezbullah” This is a great thing to see but makes me wonder why the media hasn’t shown any of this.

    http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

    This also gives me some hope of a better future for the ME….which I needed because the news out of Egypt has not been good.

    Reply
  103. HH
    May 27, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Excellent piece! Absolutely outstanding anaylsis of the situation, just brilliant!
    The only thing that would make this better would be for you translate it into arabic. This is definetly a piece that should be shared and discussed by a wide array of people and I thgink translating it would do just that.

    Reply

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