A few months back, in my post “President Morsi, do something, or else this will become the norm,” I had begged President Morsi to come out and denounce the horrendous actions taking place against Copts. I had asked him to lead democratically, and become, as he promised, the president of ALL Egyptians, so that Egyptians would take heed and ultimately follow his footpath.
And they would. They wouldn’t have followed Sadat’s or Mubarak’s wishes because they were not Islamists, and they were not revered by all Islamist factions across Egypt. However, Morsi is. Utilizing this ability is vital. Fairness and firmness by Morsi would cut the aggression short.
But it has become the norm since President Morsi did not do much. And the Islamists inferred the message: it’s acceptable to wreak havoc with this country, do what they please, and treat Copts the way they deem fit.
The events have been taking place with fierce rapidity—leaving Copts homeless, dead, imprisoned, evicted, detained in juvenile establishments, and much more. And the Coptic community in general is feeling the bias and discrimination. They also feel estranged and helpless in their own country.
Copts in Dahshour, Arish, and elsewhere have been evicted from their homes. Homes and stores have been destroyed; Churches torched and vandalized. By the looks of it, Copt may soon fear stepping out of their homes.
Then we come to detainees and investigations. Albert Saber has been detained pending investigation after he posted the blasphemous movie of Prophet Mohammed on his Facebook account. Bishoy Kamel was sentenced to six years for posting blasphemous cartoons, too. And now we have two children—a nine-year-old and a ten-year-old who were treated as juvenile delinquents and placed under the custody of the court, for tearing pages of the Koran and destroying them. [Both kids have been released today, but not acquitted.]
And the worst way to deal with this strife is the double standards. The Sheiks and Islamic TV figures are by far worse than the youngsters tearing the Koran. The Sheikhs reach out to millions; they can manipulate the naïve public, who upon hearing the Sheikhs “wise” sermons, gets enraged.
But when Sheikh Abou Islam burns the Bible in front of the US Embassy and yells disdainfully, “And next time, I will urinate on it,” he is not called on his action. When on TV he refutes the Bible’s existence, no one questions his remarks. And when Sheikh Wagdi Ghoneim behaves similarly degrading Christians with foul language and subservient insults, he remains free. Wagdi Ghoneim went even further—he showed the 14-minute movie of Prophet Mohammed on his TV program. I call this double standards in every sense of the word.
Islamic dominance is leaving not only Christians but also followers of other faiths in the same jeopardy. The modified constitution and Article 8 in particular is making people of other faiths, the Baha’is in particular, and Shiites, though not as much, fearful. Practicing their faiths, building their temples, and living their lives with equal rights in a democratic society will be compromised.
Sectarian strife in Egypt will remain the worst of all challenges, and unless it is nipped in the bud, it will mushroom into a civil war. We’ve seen countries and regions such as Lebanon, Northern Ireland, South Asia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, etc., stagger under the burdens of civil wars lasting decades.
Once Egypt enjoyed an open unprejudiced society. It was the chosen place to immigrate to because it was safe. Muslims, all Christians, Jews, Armenians, Italians, Greeks, Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians mingled easily and lived in the tolerant society called Egypt. Today we have succumbed to religious intolerance.
Interestingly enough, all Muslims in Egypt would consider Israel’s actions against the Palestinians despicable. They believe that the Palestinians were there first, and they have every right to live in peace in their own homeland. However, they wouldn’t see similarity between this scenario and what is happening to Copts in Egypt. But Copts existed in Egypt before Muslims; they, too, like Palestinians have every right to live in peace in their own homeland. Wouldn’t it be a revelation if Muslims see the resemblance?
Intolerance breeds hatred and injustice. It also leads to further ramifications such as needing to rebel and retaliate, so the cycle never ends—from all sides.
It is with a heavy heart that I plead with President Morsi yet again: please do something, or this will become become the norm.
Images: Urban Christian News and Quite Normal Blog