The late Naguib Mahfouz once said: “If you want to move people, you look for a point of sensitivity, and in Egypt nothing moves people as much as religion.” It continues to move the social and political mechanics of the people, the future of Egyptian politics and the consciousness of our nation's bloggers alike. These are the current issues of Egypt illustrated through their words.
I remember when I spoke about the Burmese Buddhist Monks protests and I wonder why we do not have religious men like them,the photo I posted about the Sheikh of Al-Azhar drew some criticism , well I am sorry I will have to post this photo again in this post because it is too relevant
First of all as man of religious knowledge I respect Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy, the current Sheikh of Al-Azhar ,even before he was appointed in the position “Sheikh of Al-Azhar ” -“the head of Al-Azhar University” which is considered the highest religious position inscan0002 the Sunni world yet since being appointed in that position , the man seemed to be following the regime's orders in a way that sometimes contradict his role as a Shekih and his responsibility towards the Islam and Muslims from fighting injustice in land ,seeking equity ,freedom and fighting corruption with all its kinds .
As in most of the Arab world, faith and politics are very much intertwined in Egypt and the impact of the two stretch far outside the countries own borders encompassing those in the diaspora. The political concerns of Copts outside of Egypt are equally relevant and arguably significantly harder hitting than those of Copts inside of Egypt. Understanding that dynamism is paramount to understanding Egyptian religious relations.
Many things were written about Copts that live outside of Egypt and many accusations were leveled against them from treason, collaborating with Zionists, calling for Aid to Egypt to be cut and generally being fanatic Christians that exaggerate about the situation in Egypt.
When I was invited to attend the Coptic Conference being organized by the Coptic Assembly of America in Chicago, I had mixed feelings about it and felt hesitant to accept. My own experience in meeting some of the Coptic Political leaders abroad had not been very encouraging and I knew that if I attended I was going to be automatically labeled with all sorts of terms.
I thought a lot about it and decided to attend. Part of that decision was based on my interest in meeting those people that are so much hated by the Egyptian media and forming my own opinion about them
It was religious sensitivities in a country often described as a powder keg waiting to explode, that sent Kareem Amer to jail for his controversial statements about Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Several rallies are being held today, November 9th, all around the world in protest of his imprisonment. Check FreeKareem.org for details of protests held in 15 cities around the world.
Kareem is not alone in being oppressed, in many ways he is lucky to be alive and presumably free from the constraints of torture due to his very public case. Many others have not been as fortunate as more police officers are arrested for torture and more of their victims die as a result of their heartless actions…
Just one day after two Egyptian policemen were convicted of torturing a man, another 22 year old man gets beaten to death by policemen in Giza.
If this happened in any slightly civilized country, governments would fall, ministers and top officials would be sacked and people would be demonstrating in the streets.
The issue of religion is not always a mixture of politics, more often than not its an obsession of people handed down to others in a sometimes unfriendly manner most apparent in the work place.
New Office-girl started at the office today. She's not veiled. She seems really sweet. Especially with her tight jeans and belly&cleavage-revealing top. I asked her if she can make some tea and she said sure. Then I asked her what her name is and she told me it was Rana. She then asked me what my name is and I told her… Then came the very first question of my relationship with the office-girl:
“MUSLIM OR CHRISTIAN?”
My eyes went as wide as physically possible while I was trying to understand why the very first question in my relationship with the office-girl has to be concerning which God I believe in. Apparently my name made her believe I could be non-muslim. I jokingly answered:
“Haahaha… I'm still making up my mind”
Then she said with a lovely smile:
“It's okay honey we're all sisters and brothers.”
Then I told her:
Her response was:
These issues are hardly new to the country and show no signs of change, they will continue to shape the minds of the people and the relationships of individuals. Naguib Mahfouz was a tolerant and reasonable man who put it best because he saw the country from an unblurred perspective. Till we meet again.