Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1132, 24 - 30 January 2013
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1132, 24 - 30 January 2013

Ahram Weekly

Saga of patriotism in revolution square

Images of Egypt’s Copts and Muslims acting together to overthrow tyranny are still engraved in the world’s consciousness, writes Michael Adel

Al-Ahram Weekly

Egypt’s 25 January Revolution that overthrew the regime of ousted former president Hosni Mubarak has had a strong influence worldwide, with its epic scenes and images, especially of “revolution square”, or Cairo’s Tahrir Square, in which the unity of national forces was expressed. During the revolution, Muslims held hands with Copts, and all present walked around the square chanting “Muslims and Copts are one”.

The world viewed such scenes as a poignant indication of the strength of the Egyptian people, which played a key role in the success of the revolution.

Yet, what we witnessed in Tahrir Square was not unprecedented. Hundreds of people raised pictures of the crescent and the cross as proof of national unity, bringing back memories of the 1919 Revolution. Throughout the 25 January Revolution, the square generated images that caught the world’s attention. Foreign observers were surprised to see hundreds of thousands of Muslims performing Friday prayers, followed by hundreds of Copts singing hymns in the square.

Such acts showcased the historic relationship between the Muslims and Copts who came together to spark the revolution, and they indicated the equality that prevailed between men and women. Some Coptic Church leaders have suggested that the 25 January Revolution should be taught in history courses in schools and colleges. Everyone then stood together as one: Muslims and Christians; men and women; and young men and young women. All came together out of love for their country.

One of the most moving scenes of the revolution in Tahrir Square came when a group of Copts formed a human chain to protect Muslim worshippers as they knelt down in Friday prayers, with Coptic youth falling silent as they waited for the prayers to end. After the prayers, thousands of people chanted “Muslims and Christians are one” and “the origin of the revolution is the cross and the crescent.”

Bishop Moussa, bishop for young people and a senior Coptic Church official, said that “we were heartened when hundreds of Christian youth participated with their Muslim brothers in the blessed January Revolution that overturned corruption and tyranny. Egypt was born again. I even know some Coptic young people who have rarely left the Square since 25 January.”

 “We were delighted with the sight of our youth, as Muslims prayed and their Christian brothers stood next to them and then Copts prayed and their Muslim brothers looked on. Everyone merged in a wondrous love that transcended all religious, social, financial, party and factional differences. The only thought on the minds of our youth was Egypt and the future.”

However, precious blood was spilled, Bishop Moussa said. Of the 365 martyrs, 12 Copts were killed and 35 injured, and other figures are still being tallied. “Egypt is blessed with this love that we witnessed in the eyes of everyone and the victory that everyone took part in. Long live Egypt, which God promised when He said that ‘Egypt’s people are blessed’. I cannot find better words than ‘national fusion’ to describe the situation in the square, which I prefer to the phrase ‘national unity’.”

The role played by the Al-Dubara Church in Tahrir Square during the revolution also cannot be denied, especially its taking in the injured and treating them. The Church protected the demonstrators against bullets and the tear gas that formed a cloud above the Square before the army intervened to protect the revolution. Father Sameh Maurice, pastor of the Church, said that it was continuing its support for the revolution and the revolutionaries. It had also opened its doors to Muslims in Tahrir Square, he said, allowing them to use the premises to perform ablutions.

Such acts, Father Maurice said, were not unusual, given the spirit of the 25 January Revolution and of Tahrir Square. This spirit had given rise to unity between Muslims and Christians, who had come together to reject corruption and tyranny. The Church had been converted into a field hospital during the cabinet office clashes and the Mohamed Mahmoud Street confrontations, he said, and it had provided first aid to the injured.

Many Muslims also praised the role played by Al-Dubara Church during a march on Christmas Day from the Omar Makram Mosque attended by several key figures from the revolution.

On the second anniversary of the revolution, Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark, said that “the beginning of 2013 marks the second anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, which has been enough time for the transitional process. Now we should begin a new phase to revivify the economy, security and social justice.”

The 25 January Revolution, Pope Tawadros added, had broken the fear barrier for all Egyptians.


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