Sectarianism – Enough with the whitewashing!

So I feel compelled to share my thoughts on the current events at Maspero; it is actually a (re)tweet in my timeline that really angered me, one that in a very elitist way celebrated the “down with the Mosheer” chants by the Copts gathered there (and whose planned sit-in has been/ is being violently dispersed) – the said tweet was pointing out how this chant (down with the Mosheer, Arabic يسقط المشير) was a strong indicator of the people (الشعب) waking up and realizing that sectarian strife was a ruse by the regime and not “from us”. And I beg to differ.

Any authoritarian regime will definitely benefit from sectarian strife (or ethnic, or racial, or any conflict for that matter, real or not), it is the oldest trick in the book.
But I am always angered by those who simplistically dismiss such incidents as completely fabricated conflicts. I am angered because, while I firmly believe the seeds are sown by a regime that will use any means available to remain in and tighten its grip on power, I also very sadly observe how often these seeds tend to fall on fertile land.

You only need to have an open conversation in confidence with any Christian from a less privileged or more remote and closed-up, therefore vulnerable, area or community to feel how “fabricated” and “alien” this bigotry in reality is, to feel the anger, fear, and sense of oppression. You only need to observe the vile devaluation of the other and the blind intolerance of the instigators to realize that, unfortunately, this bigotry is not so fabricated, it is not all that alien.

The state is definitely complacent: six churches have been attacked in less than nine months; in all incidents (with the exception of New Year’s Eve bombing in the Qeddiseen Church), state authorities (sometimes quite literally) just stood by for hours on end and allowed the events to escalate; in all incidents, no one has been brought to justice (this also holds true for the Qeddiseen Church bombing, for which Sayed Belal was arrested without proof of guilt and tortured to death). And, many – myself included – would be willing to argue that possibly on one level or the other, some state authorities did somehow instigate these events.

The complacency of the state is too hard to overlook (hence the “down with the Mosheer” chants), but there do in fact exist bigots who will be swayed into devaluing the different faith of their compatriots and into denying them their right to free worship, who will willingly oppress, and pillage and destroy the places of worship and even homes of a minority – unless we are willing to boldly face the ugly intolerance within and seek out its roots, we will not resolve anything.

And as long as these bigots exist, I am not ready yet to dismiss sectarian strife in Egypt as “a ruse by the regime that is not from us”.

Read the report by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights on the events that sparked the current protests.


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