Copts Abroad: tone down the language
|Saturday, February 6,2010 19:12|
|By Joseph Mayton|
The Christmas Eve attack that left 6 Copts and one Muslim man dead on January 6, has reignited the Coptic community living abroad’s charge to Washington, demanding President Barack Obama intervene to “save” Christians in Egypt from the Muslim majority.
Back in Egypt, many Coptic Christians believe they are facing increasing oppression at the hands of the Muslim majority. In many cases, their inability to build new houses of worships, is a frustrating cause for anger, and rightfully so.
Christians in Egypt must acquire permission from the Egyptian government in order to build a new church, or even remodel an existing building. The discontent often drives much of the sectarian street battles in the country over where Christians can pray. At the same time, however, leading Copts, including George Ishaq, have argued that instead of constantly complaining over the situation at hand, Christians should become part of society.
But, Copts living abroad want nothing to do with inclusion. Leading that charge of hatred is Bikya Masr blogumnist Morris Sadek, the head of the National Coptic Assembly in the United States. He has, on a number of occasions, argued that Egypt is the national homeland of Copts and Muslims are an “occupying force.”
His statements are then transmitted through emails by leading Coptic activists in the country, including Naguib Gobrail – who is known among journalists as an unreliable source due to his embellishing of facts. Unfortunately, the growing influence of Gobrail and Sadek are seen on a daily basis in Egypt. A number of Coptic Christians have told Bikya Masr in recent months of their frustration and fear at the growing conservatism. They take their cue from the likes of Sadek, which do little to change circumstance, although this seems to be changing somewhat. In fact, his statements do more harm than good.
Even the somewhat realistic demands of the strike are creating anger among the community in Egypt.
The Coptic community needs to stand firm and not allow for Sadek and Gobrail’s lies to enter into the discussion of religion in Egypt. Just as knowledgeable Muslims discount almost immediately the crazy speeches by many sheikhs, Copts must also follow suit in order to show they are a part of Egyptian society, not against it.
Certainly, they have legitimate claims of discrimination that should be addressed. But, when leading Copts abroad report on the burning of Coptic homes, as a vast number did after an incident in Mansoura earlier this year, it begs the question: do they honestly believe what they write. The incident, which began after a Coptic street vendor stabbed to death a Muslim teenager after a dispute over prices, must be fully acknowledged. Reports highlighted the crazed Muslim mob, but failed to mention in detail the beginning of the confrontation.
If Copts abroad, whether they be Sadek or others, continue to pile false claims of Muslim crimes, there is no hope for Egypt. The country will remain divided. Copts will sit with Copts and Muslims with Muslims.
By using their pen to strike a chord with Copts inside Egypt, those living abroad are taking advantage of the rising fear of Islam, divulging information that is often untrue. This must stop. Copts living in Egypt must recognize what Ishaq argues: inclusion and participation.
Similar to how Martin Luther King Jr. talked of one nation for all, including black and white Americans, Copts must lead the charge of changing the rhetoric, because if they don’t and continue to express sentiments based on lies, Egypt has a dark future of fragmentation and separation ahead.