Al-Ahram Weekly Online   16 - 22 June 2011
Issue No. 1052
Opinion
 
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Egyptians, not Copts

By Gamal Asaad

A revolution has taken place in Egypt, one that should change the way we act and think in every way, especially with regard to Muslim-Christian relations. It was the habit of the old regime to use the Coptic Church to shore up its own power, without caring to resolve the problems of the Copts. This made Copts cling more to the Church. It also made the Pope imagine that he is a political leader and the sole guardian of the Copts. This was a disaster for national unity.

After the revolution, we were supposed to have a fresh start, and for once begin acting as Egyptians, not as Muslims or Copts. We all have a duty to build a new country, to establish a modern and civilian government, and to interact in a democratic rather than a sectarian manner.

Alas, the Copts are still caught up in their sectarian ways. When they take to the streets, they chant sectarian slogans and they act as if they are separate from the rest of the nation. Some of the clergymen encourage them to do that. And some say that this is the best way to confront the Salafis. This is wrong and can be perilous not just for the Copts but also for the whole nation.

The Copts must stand by the national political objectives that are shared by all Egyptians. If they act in a sectarian manner, they would be reinforcing the idea of a religious state and giving ammunition to Islamist parties. This would be detrimental to democracy, and a sure way to complicate the life of all Copts in this country.

The Copts must forget sectarianism and act as Egyptians. Their rights are the rights of all Egyptians and their concerns are the concerns of all Egyptians. If you want your problems to go away, stop acting sectarian.

This week's Soapbox speaker is a political analyst.

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