Christianity and Islam: Egypt During the Recent Revolution

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

Key West–January 10th–This piece began as the third section the report of the crisis of Christianity within Iraq, but in its composition, your composer believed that he should include the influence that minority made upon the events of the last several weeks.  Christian People of the Book populated ingeniously within the — what is now modern Arab, and several hundred years before Islam dramatically entered upon the Mediterranean plain from the Sahara.  The first installment of the Iraqi study was published in November; the second in December, and now they have made their voices heard on the Nile this month (February).

The Christians and other minorities — such as the Bedouins — play an important part in the Middle East.  For they can act as a bridge between whatever Islam may find itself in an adversarial role such as the West or even Israel itself.  It is a great tragedy of the depopulation of the people of Issa (Christ, PBUH) from the Holy Land (from c. 40% at Partition today).  The Arab Middle East is a multi-sectarian terrain, but with the ascendance of Israel it is less so polarizing all factions within the greater geo-political territory.

Today your author is writing from Key West, the southern most point, in the Continental U.S.  The greater series of islands are a “stone’s throw” off the North American shoreline.  (Long Island [New York] is probably the largest if one does not count Newfoundland.)

The Florida keys are at the end of the series of these islets.  They jut out from the Mainland near greater Miami to the north and the Everglades (a huge swamp) east.  These sandy masses continue thrusting out between the Florida Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.  in a southwesterly direction until they reach this final little city in (the Northern) America on the Florida Straits ninety miles from Havana itself.

Since your writer finds himself in this town of many well-known American writers for a few hours, he has decided to this examination of this ancient religion closely related Abrahamic religion as it as survives today through this recent crisis in Egypt.

Interfaith relations have traditionally been peaceful in this country of 82 million, of which Christians are estimated to represent between six and 12 percent.  Most Christians belong to the Egyptian Orthodox, or Coptic, Church, while the rest of the national population is almost entirely Sunni Muslim.  Sectarian fighting is not, totally absent, however, and tension had risen before the troubles on the Nile became apparent..

In Alexandra, a car bomb exploded outside the Coptic Orthodox al-Qidiseen Church as parishioners were departing a New Year’s Eve service, a car bomb blast took the life of seven from the congregation and injured 24 others.  Unfortunately, such Sectarian tensions have recently been on the rise recently in Egypt.

Although the Egyptian government reacted fiercely to this attack by tracking down the seven men who were most likely responsible quickly. Nonetheless, the Copts, also, rose up in rage against the corrupt state, and in many respects were the forerunner of the current revolt.

The possibility of foreign involvement is quite high.  The Guardian of London reported on January 2nd of this year that  “Al-Qaida’s Iraqi affiliate–the Islamic State in Iraq – claimed responsibility for [past] attacks, and then [warned] Egyptian Copts to free two Islamic women whom they claimed had been “imprisoned [with]in their monasteries” after converting to Christianity from Islam [although] the Coptic church has denied the accusation.  (Once I heard the Coptic Pope in Berkeley several years ago.  A young Evangelical (those who emphasize the injunction of Christ [Blest be his name] to spread his message [to missionize?] over the world.  His Holiness replied, “Look, my country is an overwhelmingly Islamic one.  We can only be tolerated if we respect the restrictions are neighbors have put upon us.”  Thus, your essayists prior research with the Iraqi Christians is quite relevant to the plight of those on the banks of the Nile,  also.  The  recent increase in violence against the indigenous Christians is meant to destabilize the Egyptian State (at this point on the 12th, it is in a post-Mubarak phase) and to increase Islamaphobia internationally.  The foreign-influenced (Al Qaeda) forces are being swept off the political stage.  If violent jihadism is to survive, it must make sure that Liberal Democracy (in whatever form it will blossom on the Arab landscape) must not flourish where repression has dominated.  For without despotism, they become an irrelevant political influence.  Modern “terrorism” became a methodology to resist the Mubaraks of the region
Strangely, your journalist came across a very perceptive web publication from Israel on Middle East politics, Ynet.  They quoted an American Paul Salem, Director of the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East Center in Beirut, who detected before the past twenty days that the “main danger of more violence was in Egypt itself due to multiple social, economic and political strains in that country.
“Big events [the slaughter of innocent Christians] like this raise tensions, put things in motion and [those] things might get out of hand as they did in Iraq…”  This is the intention of those who initiated these outrages” [Al-Qaeda of Iraq?].  “The situation (in Egypt) in general is about to explode…”

One of the most moving elements that passed over American television were surrounding Christian Egyptians clasping hands around their Muslim brethren to protect them from any sneak attacks from the police, for prayer, your conversation with God (Allah) is one of the most sacred and intimate moments in life.  I believe the average Muslim and Christian Egyptians are well aware of that.  Although they may have a way of relating to the Numen.  Everywhere the Divine is the same, and, thus, outwardly they are all Egyptians who will create a State in their own image  — not a foreign one!


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