MUSLIMS, CHRISTIANS AND UNREST IN EGYPT

Our media only seem interested in an ‘angle’ or in the negative side of a story, particularly if it’s religious, and usually play on people’s fears. So I was delighted to discover a good news story in my trade papers recently.

It followed bad news: the car bombing of a church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve, with 23 people killed, and much fear of more attacks.

The Coptic Christians (a very ancient church, one of the earliest) celebrate their Christmas on 6 and 7 January, and following the bombing this year there was huge security around the churches – rows of armed police, streets closed, plain-clothes security inside the churches with the worshippers.

But this time there was something different. This year, a large number of Muslims – thousands of them across Egypt – offered their services as human shields for worshippers arriving for the midnight Eucharist.

egyptian-muslims-coptic-christians-january-2011[1]

Others held candlelit vigils outside churches, and the President’s sons attended a service. The Imam of the al-Azhar mosque in Cairo said that Muslims had an obligation to protect churches and synagogues, as well as mosques.

We don’t have to be at loggerheads. We can live peacefully together. If we are as insistent on each other’s human and religious rights as we are on our own, together we can build a better world. Surely that’s got to be better than bombs.

So it’s sad to see the rioting in Egypt – but who knows? My hopes for them are that they might handle their politics the way that they handled the religious challenge, with goodwill, justice and mutuality.

Bishop Desmond Tutu:
Good is stronger than evil;
love is stronger than hate;
light is stronger than darkness;
life is stronger than death.
Victory is ours, through him who loves us.

 

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