The Big Pharaoh
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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

What’s tearing my country?

I usually take the underground metro to go to work. At 8 am, the subway is usually packed with people and so I just have to squeeze myself inside if I wanted to arrive on time. I lately discovered that if I heard a Christian name being uttered inside the metro, the gang of friends around the owner of this name will likely turn out to be Christians as well.

I know this is perfectly normal especially with countries with significant minorities. Black churches in America are usually dominated by black worshipers and Muslim blocks in Paris are usually dominated by Muslim immigrants. People tend to flock to their flocks. However, I always tended to believe that Muslims and Christians in Egypt somehow “grew out” of this flocking habit due to their long history together. It appears that life is not as rosy as I want it to be and I am beginning to feel concerned about this. I am concerned because I can feel (I hope I am mistaken) something tearing my beloved country apart while I, along with millions of Egyptians, are happily cocooned within the country’s upper and upper middle class thinking that all is well “down there”. I am equally concerned because my grandfather and father told me that it wasn’t like that during their days.

Christians, especially those in the middle and lower class of our society, are beginning to feel marginalized and threatened. They are becoming increasingly aware of their rights as equal citizens and they are feeling threatened from the rising level of Islamic fundamentalism in the country. Muslims on the other hand are puzzled by this sudden surge of Christian activism and they ask themselves “what’s wrong with these people? don’t they know that Islam guarantees their safety? They have been protected for over 1,400 years?”. A Muslim friend once told me “homa ayzeen eih tani?” or “what more do they want?”

I cannot predict what the future is holding regarding this issue. However, I want to say something that might upset many of my Christian friends: I feel sorry for Mubarak. If he exceeded in granting Christians their rights as citizens, he might agitate many who belong to the fundamentalist ilk. I am not defending him nor trying to offer a justification for the lack of Christians rights, but I am just saying what I think might happen. It is a dilemma.


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