What happened in Alexandria is horrible beyond any description. There are no enough words that can describe the cruelty of this crime. I think Alexandria is just like any other Egyptian city, it witnessed times of peaceful coexistence and times of sectarian strifes and tensions. This is true since pre-Islamic times.
A couple of months ago I watched an interview with a Coptic historian who said that times in which the Egyptian government was weak and inefficient there was always Muslim-Christian sectarian tensions and violence. Whereas whenever the government in Egypt is efficient and intact sectarian tensions were at minimum. I totally agree, Egyptian government now lost its credibility. There are serous social, political, and economic problems in Egypt that are putting lots of pressure on the Egyptians, these pressures are causing other social tensions and problems in Egypt one of them is sectarian tensions and violence.
I also think that other global players are making use and encouraging these tensions. Many political analysts believe that the US have long terms plans to divide the current Middle Eastern nation states into smaller entities on sectarian and ethnic grounds. I think we can see the realization of these plans in Sudan (as you know the separation vote has just ended and it seems that the south will form an independent state). And in Iraq where Kurdistan is almost an independent state and Barzani did publicly hint towards a separation vote similar to the one happening now in Sudan. In Yemen the South also wants to separate.
I must also say that without internal factors causing these sectarian tensions the door would not have been open for the US to manipulate these problems. Egypt is a good example, the lack of democracy and a strong constitutional state based on the rule of law impedes solving social (including sectarian) problems. Moreover, I think the regime here does not want to see a harmonious relationship between Muslims and Christians. If such a harmonious relationship existed this might lead to having both Muslims and Christians rally behind one political group against the current regime. Of course the regime does not want to see sectarian violence on the scale we saw in Alexandria, but they want sectarian tensions to remain to some "controllable" extent.
What also happened in Alexandria is linked to the right wing politics that is on rise in many parts of the world including Western Europe and the United States. Within the Muslim and the Christian communities in Egypt the voice of extremists is louder than the voice of the moderates.
I do not want to exaggerate the extent of sectarian tensions in Egypt. I must also say that on every day to day basis Muslims and Christians in Egypt manage to co-exist together. There is not any other way in which life will be smooth in Egypt without the coexistence. Economic and social interests are extremely intertwined that a sectarian life in Egypt would turn life here almost impossible, therefore they are managing to some extent to live together and keep those sectarian tensions at bay as much as possible. On individual basis you will see many Muslims who have Christians friends and vice versa, in work places in schools and universities both communities are co-existing, The problem comes when each individual start thinking in a communal mentality.
In terms of the relation between religious minorities and foreign powers in the Middle East. Thats a tough question to comment on. There is not one general rule, within each community you can find elements who are loyal to their nation-state and others who are willing to collaborate with foreign powers against the interests of their fellow citizens who belong to another or even the same. This is true about Christians and Muslims. However from a historical prospective colonialism and foreign powers always claimed to be the protectors of religious minorties this is true about the British in Egypt and the French in the Levant. After the Alexandria bombings Sarkozi and the Catholic Pope called for the protection of Christians in the Middle East, so here we are again the same old manipulations. We all know that these people do not care about other humans, but they might use other humans to reach thier own political goals.
Ημερομηνία: Τετάρτη, 16 Φεβρουάριος 2011
Egypt is now a new country, a country free of Mubarak. However, not yet free from tyranny. I just hope that the coming few weeks and months will see the military allowing free and genuine elections and the military withdrawing from politics. Nonetheless, I must say that as far as the military is concerned "so far so good". The Military decision to join the people and oust Mubarak was among the major reasons why this revolution was successful in toppling this bloody dictator.
I can not speak about other societies but when it comes to Egypt, I do not think that Muslims in general view Christians in Egypt as a "colonial danger". Some of them are, and some Egyptian Muslim might see all Christians as a colonial danger. But I do not think that this is a position adopted by the majority of Muslims. Personally and speaking: I will never consider Egyptian Christians as a colonial danger. Christians are a genuine part of Egypt, its history, and culture. Moreover, I totally agree that it is absolutely unjustified to hold all Egyptian Christians responsible for the behavior of a few. Just like Christians would be wrong if they hold all Muslims responsible for the behavior of few extremist Muslims.
Let me say something here about Abd al-Nasir's expulsion of Europeans from Egypt. I think -and many others do- that this was totally a wrong decision. I never met an Egyptian today -who was an adult during Abd al-Nasir's time- who supports this decision. My parents and grandparents all have good memories about Italians and Greeks who worked and lived in Egypt. My grandparents even used to praise their British teachers. I also think that Egyptians view Greeks who lived in Egypt during and before Naser with special favor. This is quite evident in the media, I have never watched a movie -old or new- that gave a negative image of Greeks (or Italians, excluding King Faruq's famous Italian friend Polly) who lived in Egypt before the 1960s.
A union between the northern and the southern shores of the Mediterranean; this sounds like a very interesting idea that deserves discussion and studying. I think the Greeks share more with the Turks than they share with the Danish or the Dutch. And the Spanish share more with the Moroccans than what they share with the Czech or the Belgians. No body ever predicted the fall of Ben Ali and Mubarak so we must uplift the ceilings of our dreams now and allow more imaginations, more things now seem possible.