The Egyptian blogosphere has been agitated by the events in Alexandria that shook the country. Four died (3 killed by riot poilce), tens wounded and 100 detained after 5000 angry Muslim protesters demonstrated against a play that the protesters considered offensive to Islam. Protesters demanded an official apology from the Pope.
The two highest religious figures in the country, Sheikh Tantawy and Pope Shenouda III, published an official joint statement. Urging both Christians and Muslims not to resort to violence. The play was staged 2 years earlier, but have been released recently on CD.
Sandmonkey notes that the events did have a political impact. The Christian candidate of the ruling National Democratic Party in Alexandria withdraw his candidacy from the parliamentary elections as a result.
Friday events shook the Egyptian blogosphere. Nearly every frequent blogger did have something to say. Some were depressed others were angry, few others were in horror and fear. Everyone was feeling what The Big Pharoh said about the fabric of the society being torn apart.
“What those Muslims have done doesn't belong to the teachings of Islam.” This was mostly the consensus in Arabic blogs. Arabic blogs were also full of analysis. (Most of the following links are to posts in Arabic) But the wide spread response was either horror, fear or sadness.
Few think that what is going on is a normal reaction to the denial by the government to the increased sensitivity by the two groups. Some see that what is happening today is a result of years of increased sensitivity between the relationships between the two for years. Maged emphasizes governmental denial by finding nothing about the events in official newspapers for two days. And blames the government and both parties for what happened. And asks why the church insists on blindly following the government and never opposing it in any matter.
Yet some think that those events were politically motivated. Some think the events were perpetrated to tarnish the powerful Muslim brotherhood candidates in the next parliamentary elections. Spring456 thinks the exact opposite, that these events will make the brotherhood win more votes. Hazem asks why their newly elected president did not issue any public statement till now. He also thinks that the joint statement by the two highest religious figures will be of no impact on the angry crowd. Some ask the angry protesters why they were venting anger on the powerless few while the government is left to oppress its own people.
Alif, among other things, thinks that it is pointless to create any form of creative production that criticises other faiths. Since any faith will consider the other one as mistaken. It has been like that through history all over the world, and it should not be of any importance to the side making the production. And says that Coptic Christians are making the same mistake that Egyptian Muslims made several years ago. R says that it was almost a rule inside the church that it was not allowed to talk about Islam and asks if this play will open a discussion on what Muslims produce that might be offensive to Christianity.
Egyptian Person says “I downloaded and watched the play and I didn't find anything in it that conflicts with what a Christian or non-Muslim person believes in generally about Islam or some of its followers, so I don't see a reason for the astonishment or anger by some people.” And adds “Freedom of belief and expression must be given to everyone, and when people disagree, they can discuss and debate their differences, and at the end, every person follows what they believe.”
Mohammed, despite knowing that the police detains anyone on the streets in events like these. Decided to go to the street, the same day the events happened, after seeing horrifying pictures from Al-Jazeera. He went in the evening and discovered that the clashes with the police were still going on after the midday “Friday” prayer. He stood few hundred meters from the riots while shops where open and house wifes were normally buying food. Yet at the end of the road he can see young men dodging rubber batons and running away from tear gas. Shops near the riots were closed. Mohammed paints an eerie picture of what the atmosphere was like by quoting people who were involved. They were mostly anti-government and hateful.
In response, bloggers decided to take peaceful action and try to bring back peace and reconciliation.
Karim asks his readers to “set up a show of solidarity for the Christian community sometime this week.” While a group of bloggers are finalising, on a wiki, an open official statement in response. The statement is titled “An invitation to reconciliation and admission.” Which invites both Christians and Muslims to admit their own mistakes, apologise and oppose hate.
Even more ideas are appearing in blog comments. Some think that they should ask both Muslims and Christians to fast for a single day together. Others think they should hold banners and signs and stand in the place the events took place. While ikhnaton2 thinks they should hold regular seminars discussing issues and to open a dialogue between Muslims and Christians.