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Egypt: Commemorating 40 Years of Pope Shenouda on Twitter

This post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.

Pope Shenouda III celebrated on Monday the 40th anniversary of his ordination as Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt. The 40th anniversary coincided with the end of the 40 day mourning period after the Maspero massacre, where 27 Egyptians, mostly Coptic Christians, were killed.

In the Egyptian tradition, the 40th day after death is normally a mourning day, so many Coptic Egyptians did not expect Pope Shenouda to celebrate his ordination anniversary this year.

Naglaa Atef Beshay (@Nanyatef) wrote comparing the two events [ar]:

Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark Episcopate. Image by Mahmoud Khaled, copyright Demotix (14/09/11).

Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark Episcopate. Image by Mahmoud Khaled, copyright Demotix (14/09/11).

جاء هذا الاحتفال متزامنا مع الذكري الاربعين ايضا و لكن لاستشهاد شهداء ماسبيو.. و هيهات ما بين هذا “الاربعين” و ذلك!

استشهد قبل حوالي 40 يوما 27 شهيدا في يوم دامي مورست فيه ابشع انواع العنف ضد متظاهرين سلميين خرجو تنديدا بحرق كنيسة.

في الوقت الذي ثار الثوار احتجاجا علي مذبحة ماسبيرو و ادانوا المجلس العسكري بشكل واضح و صريح، استقبل البابا شنودة و المجلس المقدس المدبر و القاتل و المحرض بالابتسامات و الترحيب في صفقة اعتادنا عليها بين السلطة و السلطة، السياسية و الدينية.

The celebration coincided with another 40th commemoration, but this time it's the end of the 40 days period after the death of the Maspero martyrs. And there is a huge difference between this 40th commemoration and that.

About 40 days ago, 27 martyrs died in a bloody day when one of the most brutal acts was committed on peaceful demonstrators, who went out to condemn the burning of a church, which happened earlier.

At the same time the revolutionaries demonstrated to clearly and directly condemn the Maspero massacre and SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces), Pope Shenouda and the Holy Synod met with those who planned, instigated and committed the massacre with a welcoming smile, in a deal we are used to see between the two authorities – the political and the religious authorities.

She then compared the stance of Alaa Abdel-Fattah – an activist who is currently detained [ar] – to that of the Church:

دافع علاء عن مظاهرات المسيحيين ضد عنف و جرائم العسكر و تضامن معهم جسديا و معنويا… بينما عقد المجمع المقدس اجتماعات ودية مع القتلة
Alaa defended the Christian protesters against the violence and the crimes of the military and stood in solidarity with them with his body and soul, while the Holy Synod had friendly meetings with the murderers.

Seeing this Diana and Mina Zekri decided to create a new hashtag on Twitter to celebrate the Pope's 40th ordination anniversary in their own way:

@minazekri: @_TaMaTeM_ or #40fuckinyears

Diana started by criticizing how religious figures in Egypt want people to follow them blindly.

@_TaMaTeM_:مشيت شعب كامل وراك زى البهايم بدون تفكير بمبدأ “ابن الطاعة تحل عليه البركة” .. لدرجة اقنعتهم انها ايه فى الانجيل.. و صدقوا
@_TaMaTeM_: You lead the whole country to follow you without thinking, using the principle of “Blessed is the obedient son” … you even convinced them that it's a verse in the bible … and they believed you. #40fuckinyears

The Egyptian law makes it harder for Christians to build new churches, and that's why some people called for a unified law for building places of worship for all religions. But according to RunGeo, Pope Shenouda had a different opinion.

@RunGeo: ولما نقول قانون دور عبادة موحد،تقولوا لأ عشان الطوايف التانية ماتبنيش على كيفها وتتساوى بالأرثوذكس، أبو أم كده
@RunGeo: Whenever we ask for a unified law for places of worship, you refuse op that the other Christian sects are not able to build as many churches as the Orthodox. What the hell! #40fuckinyears

Mina Zekri added that sectarianism and hatred for other religions and sects in Pope Shenouda's era reached an unprecedented level. He then continued to explain to Rehab Bassam (@hadouta) what he means.

@minazekri: @hadouta انا اتعلمت في مدارس الأحد وانا في إعدادي أني ما اصاحبش مسلمين وبأدلة من الكتاب المقدس :D
@minazekri: @hadouta I studied in Sunday schools and in preparatory schools not to make friends with Muslims, and [my teachers] cited evidence from the holy book.

Nany Atef shared the same opinion with Mina about Sunday Schools [ar].

When it comes to the Pope's political role and relation with the regime, Hany George wrote that the Pope was against the Maspero protest. Wael El-Moghany described Pope Shenoda's era as 40 years of deals with the regime and Mina Samir criticized the Pope's preference for the Copts to be protected by the regime's politics and police instead of them being protected by the love of the people around them.

And Mina Zekri reminds us:

@minazekri: قداسته سنة ٢٠٠٩ اعلن تأييده لجمال مبارك فى سباق الرئاسة، وقال أنه أفضل مرشح لخلافة والده رغم انه لم يترشح اصلا
@minazekri: In 2009, His Holiness announced his support to Gamal Mubarak in the presidential elections and said he is the best successor to his father even though he wasn't even running for president yet.

Michael Makary added:

@iMakary: #40FuckinYears of not perusing prosecuting anyone who killed Christians in cold blood. #fact

Zekri then noticed that almost all those who are participating in the hashtag are Christians, so he called on Muslims to participate too [Ar]. So Mahmoud Kassem compared the Coptic Church's ideology to that of the Salafists.

@Ma7moudkassem: نفس المعركه الفارغه مع الانجليين هي نفس المعركه الفارغه بين السلفيين و الصوفيين والشيعه معاده كل ما هو مخالف و تكفيره
@Ma7moudkassem: The battle with the Evangelists is the same silly one the Salafists have with the Soufis and Shiaa. Standing against anything different and calling it infidel. #40fuckinyears

Mohamed Fouda added his two cents to the hashtag:

@mohamedfouda: We should learn that no man is above criticism even those who call themselves clergy men, as no man is divine #40FuckinYears #Salafis

Finally, Dalia Ezzat called it “an amazing courage by some Egyptian Copts criticizing their religious leadership”, while Sotsoy – like many other users – found it “distasteful”. Peter Gamil said he is against ordination celebrations now, but he is also against the way people criticized the Pope in the hashtag. He also added that they Pope did not forget the Martyrs of Maspero, however in the Christian traditions they should be happy for the martyrs and celebrate their martyrdom instead of mourning it. Beshoy Naeem called it “social hypocrisy” and Fadi Mckean sees it as a way for some Christians to prove how secular they are.

@fadimck: الهاشتاج ده ابسط مثال لناس مسيحين بيمثلوا انهم علمانين و علشان يثبتوا ده هاتك شتيمة متدنية في البابا ، بطلوا دين ام التمثيل
@fadimck: This hashtag is a simple example of some Christians who act as if they are secular and to prove that they are cursing the Pope. Stop acting.

And Heba Khafagy added:

@HebaKhafagy79: #40FuckinYears I really feel that this hashtag is uncalled for..plz u guyz show some respect..criticize but i must draw a line for cursing

This post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.

I removed the hashtags from some of the above-mentioned tweets for better readability. Also most of the links above are for tweets in Arabic

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