Updates in Egypt…
January 7, 2010
Add this to the disturbing list of trends being passed (or permitted) by Egypt’s government, as reported in my long article Egypt, Still Divided.
Six Coptic Christians have been murdered, as well as a security official, in a town outside of Cairo following the alleged rape of a Muslim girl by a Coptic man. Caught by surprise in a drive-by shooting, the seven were exiting a midnight mass celebration on this their Christmas Day, January 7th. At least ten others were injured in the attack.
The rape that is believed to have incited this violence occurred in November against a twelve year old female. Nearly a week of angry protests followed, during which Christian properties were the target of arsonists and other damage. BBC analysis asserts:
The most serious cases are usually in poor, rural areas where the trigger is often a dispute over land or women, which spills over into sectarian violence. Whole communities can become involved. Local authorities’ handling of such cases is often criticised. Police are accused of delaying their response to reports of fighting and then simply arresting equal numbers of individuals from each faith.
I am worried for Egypt. The government’s refusal to intercede and mediate the religious disparity is alarming. Effectively, they are offering arms to radicalism. Pacifying or ignoring these extremists on both sides leads only to more violence and repression. We need to educate (or, better yet, using the radicals’ terminology, indoctrinate) tolerance.
I am beginning to see that prior to eradicating religion altogether, Egyptian society (and all of them, really) must allow peaceful, tolerant coexistence. How can we ever get beyond these issues if we never address them through the correct channels?