Abdel Hakim Al-Shamy writes: The Church must revise its positions
It was very strange for some Copts to chant inside St. Mark’s Cathedral in Abbaseya against the Brotherhood and its supreme guide in a precedent that has not happened in the history of the Egyptian Church, particularly as the occasion was a “mass” for the souls of those killed in the events of the village of Al-Khosous last Saturday.
The clergy were witnesses to the enthusiastic demonstration that “politicized” the mass and called for the “downfall of the rule of the Supreme Guide,” and not one of them moved to correct the response of the demonstrators and remind them to respect the situation and occasion and negate the troublemakers on the worshippers for the souls of those who died and disturb the spiritual atmosphere of the church!
The Brotherhood and its supreme guide of course were not a party in the events of Al-Khosous and the subsequent events at the Cathedral on Sunday and more fatalities, but it is noticeable that the “people of the Church,” moved by the scene, chanted funerary chants that reflect a political position hostile to the Brotherhood and the Supreme Guide, which represents a continuation of biased positions in which Coptic brothers are hostile to the Brotherhood, or more specifically the “Islamic project,” especially referendums and elections, which took place after the 25 January Revolution.
It is clear from the scene in the church and previous scenes that there is a growing case of hatred of the majority of Copts towards Islamists in general, which is surprising and indicates the presence of dangerous signs that need to stop. Islamists, and the Brotherhood specifically, are not hostile towards Copts and none of their literature incites hatred or abuse, but the opposite is true, as we find in the words of Brotherhood founder Hassan Al-Banna and his practices which hold a fine and very advanced perception of the relationship between Muslims and others in Islamic society, saying- God’s mercy- in his message to the youth, “Islam is extremely careful to respect the humanitarian connection between people. Islam has also come for the good of all people and their mercy from God to the universe. It forbids attacks even in anger or during quarrels and demands equitable and good treatment of dhimmis, for they have the same rights and burdens as us. We know all this and thus are not calling for discrimination on the basis of race or sectarian tension.”
And do not forget that “a brave Egyptian Christian man remembered in history” marched in the funeral of Imam Al-Banna, said current Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, which for those who do not know was Makram Ebeid Pasha, a Coptic leader and a prominent member of Al-Wafd Party at the time.
The Coptic spirit of hatred for everything Islamic must decline, because it represents ready fuel for strife with which haters want to ignite Egypt. And this does not at all mean that a section of ignorant Muslims, the common man, and a small number of extremists are exempt from the responsibility of “counter hatred,” which does not represent in one moment, the public spirit or even orientation the vast majority of Muslims of Egypt, and the social reality is evidenced, including the coexistence and intermingling between Muslims and Christians in almost everything.
Party and Coptic leaders have emerged holding President Morsy responsible for the events in Al-Khosous and Abbaseya, and demanding the resignation of the government, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Prosecutor General (all at once) and those who say, “There is a chain of accidents that outweigh what happened in the last 40 years, and the only variable is the emergence of Islamist movements,” and in the media began the sedition that Copts are targeted and need protection!
The truth is that dealing with such sedition must go beyond the limits of temporary painkillers, verbal pleas, and constructive statements here and there to address the root of the problem, which is currently represented by a Coptic class of hate and a few strained ignorant Muslims, and a league that has no religion working to drive a wedge wherever there is the chance, often for reasons that have nothing to do with religion.
In my opinion, the first step towards treating this issue is for the church to firstly retract its position and adopt a moderate, patriotic discourse that on the one hand doesn’t conflate sectarian incidents with anti-Islamist rhetoric or take political positions that could adversely affect the country. We need to stop ultra extremist Islamists and their polarising, inflammatory speeches, abnormal protrusions that appear from time to time and don’t represent the general Islamic current that is moderate by nature. All state institutions, particularly those concerned with education and the media need to perform their role of spreading a culture of tolerance and educate coming generations in it in order to protect society from the dangers of discord that rears its head every now and again and which if – God forbid – it erupts would destroy everything and leave nothing in its wake.