Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Danger of Sectarian conflict | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The last thing that Egypt needs is religious and sectarian conflict amongst its population. The demagogic demonstration that took place in the city of Alexandria, in which the people (instigated by some extremists) attempted to burn one of the churches, is a matter that requires firmness. To mobilize people against each other could potentially lead to civil war, igniting a fire that may consume all.

The majority of the thousands who filled the streets of Alexandria in an attack against one of the churches have not actually watched the play against which they protest and accuse of defaming Islam. Even if the play was genuinely offensive to Islam, the state should be responsible for legally punishing those who promoted it. The solution should never lie in the hands of the public who chaotically march in the streets. If some Coptic Christians acted in a provocative way, this does not justify the incrimination of all Copts. The same applies to Muslims. The attacks of September 11 do not give Americans the right to mobilize riot groups to burn Islamic mosques. The Egyptian extremists who harmed tourism and caused the economic distress of thousands of Egyptian families represented nothing but an ugly and exceptional image; never have they represented Islam.

Surely, there are certain extremists and Takfir ideologists that exploit the passion of Muslims that for many is stronger during the Holy month of Ramadan. How else could a demonstration against a church in protest of a play that was shown two years ago be mobilized so easily? Such extremists must be condemned, pursued and prevented.

The Egyptian opposition should act patriotically in such circumstances. What is required is a decisive condemnation from all opposition groups, without any attempts to justify these actions by involving their disagreement with the government. Egypt, the country that seeks economic and political reform, should not be anything but a country for all Egyptians regardless of their beliefs. The instigators of religious conflict and civil discord are not concerned about the lives of Egyptians nor do they care for their future. Extremism has no country and no case, and is indifferent to the number of its victims.