The Copts – Part XII

Khalil says that, while al-Awa portends to discuss the rules regulating relations between Muslims and others, his book is full of lies, invention, mistakes, and provocation of hatred." According to al-Awa, adds Khalil "the Copts control 60% of the Egyptian economy... This is not a problem if an individual has economic power as a result of his own efforts... but if this [superior] economic situation is the result of external help, is linked with external forces, or stems from help that is contingent upon conditions that must be met - herein lies danger."

In four places in his book, al-Awa reiterates that the Copts constitute only 6% of Egypt's population; this figure is in line with that given by all the Islamic streams. However, Egyptian government figures state that Copts constitute 10% of the population, while according to the Copts themselves; they are 15% or more.

According to al-Awa, the Copts have privileges that, by right, Muslims should enjoy: "If the state is fanatical, it is fanatical in the Copts' favor. There is no oversight of the churches, and the Egyptian security forces protect them - even though no one knows what is going on inside them. In contrast, the security forces come to every prayer service in the mosques to oversee what is going on - and this is in addition to the 10 conditions for the construction of mosques set by the Ministry of Religious Endowments."

In addition, al-Awa justifies the acts of the young and violent Muslims who damaged Coptic property during the incidents in Alexandria, and even called upon Muslims to visit them in prison: "The best sacrifice to Allah is to visit them in prison on holidays, and for everybody to ease their situation as best they can. Even if they committed an offense, it was done out of fanaticism for the religion, and in order to defend their religion," al-Awa said (5)

In concluding his article, Khalil completely rejects the moderate Islam presented by al-Awa: "We do not agree to rights originating in the religious texts. The only acceptable source of rights is citizenship as defined by modern international law, and rights as set out by the international treaties. A man receives his identity with his birth, and this identity gives him the right of citizenship. In contrast, religion is a personal matter, and a man can adopt it or change it as he wishes, at any time. He is not committed to a specific religion at birth, except in backwards countries..." Khalil concluded.

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]


1., Special Dispatch Series, November 16, 2005 No.1023

2.  Special Dispatch Series - No. 352, March 8, 2002 No.352

3.  Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 7, 2002.

4., July 9, 2006. Also mentioned in, Special Dispatch Series - No. 1306, October 5, 2006 No.1306

5.  The reference here is to the events of October 2005, which followed the performance at a church of a play that was perceived by the Muslims as defaming Islam and Muslims. Four people were killed and dozens injured in the subsequent rioting in the city.

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