Friday, July 29, 2016

Regarding the recent "and never ending" sectarian incidents in Upper Egypt

Earlier Thursday, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with a delegation from the Egyptian Orthodox Church led by the head of Church himself Pope Tawadros II.
The meeting comes  after sectarian tensions and attacks took place in Upper Egypt. Despite Sisi told the church's delegation that all Egyptians were equal in front of the Constitution. He also added that all the recent sectarian attacks and tensions in the past few weeks were "individual acts".
Sisi and the Egyptian Orthodox Church delegation
Sisi and the Egyptian Orthodox Church delegation
"Egyptian Presidency" 
Amazingly the Church's spokesperson claimed that the meeting the Church leaderships with the President did not include any discussion about recent sectarian tensions !!
For the past four weeks, Egypt's south witnessed several sectarian tensions that evolved into deadly attacks in some cases.
 Most of those unfortunate cases were in Minya governorate. Interestingly , the head of Orthodox Church in Minya, Anba Macrious attended the Thursday meeting with the President.
At least three incidents happened in Minya's rural villages.
The last incident in "Tahna El-Gabl" village started as a fight between a group of young Muslim men "the oldest is 24 years old" and Christian children as the kids did not let the young men's car pass through their narrow street while playing !!
The fight ended deadly when the family of those kids came and a Christian man was killed and three other injured.
Many of the cases that end in sectarian fights and clashes start with trivial issues and end deadly because of the slowness of the security and executives authorities and their insistence to restore to the traditional reconciliation sessions between the elderly of both sides supported by the state, Al-Azhar and the church.

Then there was another incident in Bani Sweif governorate last Friday when an angry Muslim mob attacked after the Friday prayers the houses of Christians in a small village over a rumor that they are going to convert one of their houses illegally to a Church.
The attack was filmed on video that went viral on Egyptian social media networks.
This case was also resolved in another tradition reconciliation session where the Christian Copts promised that they won't build a Church in the village after taking an authorization legally.

Using a very old law , new Churches need authorization from the President or the governor with a lot of red tape to be built.
Supposedly , the Egyptian House of Representatives is going to discuss allegedly the Unified draft law of houses of worship that should solve the problem once and for all but we do not know when this will happen !!

Unlike previous times , the Orthodox Church in Minya began to take a firm stand against those attacks as well the officials in the Orthodox church in Cairo began to speak and wonder where the Egyptian state from what is happening to the Egyptian Christians.
Bishop Raphaeil , the secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church slammed the government directly following the sectarian fights in Minya.

"A Question to the executive authorities in Egypt : Does not what happens on a daily basis from humiliation and murder to the Christian Copts require a change in the local leadership ??"
In the past two weeks , I was angry at the Minya governor and I totally understand the calls for his dismissal.
But then I read the quote of the Bishop again and remember the words President Abdel El-Fattah El-Sisi said in his last speech about unity and that nobody was above the law.
The Family House initiative supported by Al-Azhar and Church and its members that went to Minya to convince the Christian families to accept reconciliation.

At first, the members of the initiative complained that those families were stubborn because they were demanding the law to be imposed but then they reached for reconciliation.
Of course , all the officials speak all the time about how the state of law but where is that state of law !??
Again to Bishop Raphael's tweet,I think the problem is not in the local leadership but rather the executive leadership and authorities that do not want or prefer the state of law to be imposed. The local leaderships act according to the orders of the centralized government. We are a centralized country.

Yes, Upper Egypt in the South got its own rules and I would dare to say that there is no state in law there for Muslims and Christians as tribalism and classism. Yet, the state only imposes law when it wants in Upper Egypt with no regard to the traditions or tribalism.

What I do not understand that the regime wants to appear as the savior and protector of Christians in the Middle East but in the real world , it does not do anything for real to stop sectarianism or have a real citizenship in Egypt.
Sisi just like Mubarak, is using the old technique that it is either "Me or the bloody Islamists who burn your churches" so far. That TV ad I spoke about earlier demonstrates this.
Still, time will come and this won't work I am afraid.

Even the legislative authority is interested in having a serious discussion about what happened in Upper Egypt. Ali Abdel Aal , the speaker of the House of Representative ridiculed MP Nadia Henry when she spoke about what happened in Minya and demanding the parliament to discuss it.
" Calm down, Nadia"  This was what Abdel Aal told MP Henry to do. It is worth to mention that after that incident , the active MP found out the once-liberal Free Egyptians Party dismissed her from the party's parliamentarian bloc deputy head's position !!
That meeting with the Church's delegation and insistence that we are all equal in front of the law and constitution won't solve anything because simply nothing changes in the real world.

You know this won't be the last post about this problem in this blog. I hope it will be the last but I will be fooling you and me. True citizenship that does not differentiate between races or religions or colors or genders or classes demands true state of law , justice , accountability and freedom of expression.

I do not think that any of those will be achieved now in Egypt.


  1. I hope al-Sisi does start to talk to the Governors in Upper Egypt about the expectations of Cairo towards their fellow men and women, the Copts. They are very important to the Christian world in general and should be respected for this.

    1. I do not think he will do anything for real

  2. In one level of dynamics, a dictatorial regime aims to keep minorities in state of fear in order for them to seek protection of the state. The minority support to the state is directly proportional to their fear. The regime will not only tolerate aggression against copts but may also instigate the actions by an extremist group. The events of Saint church 2011 in Alexandria are an example of the later.

    In another level, the regime will tolerate the venting of anger and frustration towards the copts instead of directing this energy against the state. Sectarian events are used by the regime as a diversion from serious problems and is manipulated to increase domination on both copts and extremists.


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