The Copts – Part VI

Is it enough to have the Sheikh of al-Azhar embracing the Coptic Pope in front of TV cameras as a Sign of National Unity as the Egyptian government claims? On that, the Egyptian writer from New York sarcastically calls it the Embracing Show. He adds that: "The Egyptian government maintains that the Copts should be satisfied and thank God for gestures that are a great honor for them. What is the matter with this Coptic greed?! Isn't it enough for them when the sheikhs embrace the priests in front of the television cameras? After all this, they whine about the burning of a few houses, the destruction of a church, and a few people wounded or murdered when a church is opened or rebuilt?! We, Muslim Egyptians have a philosophy according to which we burn the Copts' homes and churches and then apologize to their clerics. Be grateful to Allah that we do not annihilate you!"

The writer further added: "Interest in image, disregard of essence: All that interests the Egyptian regime is its image abroad; the facts on the ground are a secondary issue. To this end, the regime recruits businessmen to take out advertisements in leading American and European newspapers on various occasions, to say that all is well. It launches delegations at the expense of the Egyptian foreign ministry and with funds from the Coptic taxpayer to say that everything is just fine and we have come to establish a cultural dialogue!! They deny the known facts and disseminate words of deceit. Unfortunately for them, since September 11 these methods are of limited effect. The renovation and rebuilding tax: For every attempt to build or rebuild a church, Copts must pay in lives and property, even though they have building permits. In July 2000, Coptic citizen Fakhri Ayad paid with his life for his attempt to build a church in the village of Sol in the Al-Fayyoum district. The same thing happened in August 2000, at the Qasr Rashwan Church in al-Fayyoum. The church was attacked, and then seven Coptic homes were attacked. Four people were wounded. Thus, while a church is being renovated, some Coptic homes are burned in exchange, or people pay with their lives."

Aladdin Elaasar is author of The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Obama Age (Excerpts from The Last Pharaoh in this article by permission of Beacon Press). Email: [email protected]

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