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El Nasara: Egypt's Copts - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I do not like to engage in discussions with readers, this is not out of aloofness, but rather in order to allow the comments section to be a space for different viewpoints, and in order to ensure that readers are able to express themselves. However a comment from a reader on my article “To the Egyptians: Take an Honest Stand” which was published yesterday caused me to stop and think. The reader wrote “I [also] have a comment on this article, and its author, who has a one-sided opinion.”

In this comment, the reader asks “why do you speak about terrorism and not about the reasons behind this, I do not want to justify this terrorist act, but don’t you see that the attempt to strengthen the El Nasara [Arabic term for Coptic Christians] in Egypt and the Egyptian regime flirting with them, is not out of love for them, but rather in order to weaken the Islamists?” The reader went on to say that everybody should be incited by this. This is precisely what concerned me about this comment, for regardless of the difference of opinion with, or the criticism of, the Egyptian government, or any government for that matter, is such talk believable? Of course not, especially as the reader ended his comment by saying that “a true Muslim is one who makes Islam a comprehensive approach to his life, and we are all proud of Sheikh al-Qaradawi and what has been achieved.”

I do not mean to enter into a political or religious debate here, but don’t we all recall a story that we studied at school, and that has been told to us a number of times by our sheikhs, which shows us how we are destroying our homes with our own hands today. The reader comments that the regime is moving closer to the “El Nasara” in Egypt in order to weaken the Islamists, however what the reader describes as “El Nasara” [which means those Christians who stood with the Prophet Muhammad] are nothing more than a part of Egypt, not just today, but since the dawn of Islam. This is the crux of the matter.

There is a great historical story that tells the tale of how a Copt traveled from Egypt to Medina in order to issue a complaint to the just Umar Ibn al-Khattab against the son of Egypt’s conqueror and ruler Amr Ibn al-As’, saying that he had struck his son. Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab called Egypt’s ruler and his son to attend him in Medina, where he granted the Copt justice, and it was on this occasion that he said one of his most famous proverbs, “since when do you enslave the people when their mothers bore them free?” The question here is, was the just Caliph trying to move closer to the al-Nasara at this time as well – as the reader says – or the forces of secularism?

Of course not! Rather, Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab was moving towards justice, and he was the most correct, for this great Caliph protected his people, preserved peace, and prevented bloodshed. Is this the Islam that is meant by those who say that “Islam is the solution” [a Muslim Brotherhood slogan]? I doubt it, for so long as we look at the world from the viewpoint that this man is an Egyptian Copt, and this man is an Egyptian Muslim, or even that this man is a Sunni, and this man is a Shiite, and so on, we will never have any security in our homelands, or even homelands at all!

Therefore we are facing a terrifying battle of ideas, and if we do not address these ideas and correct them, via the institutes of the state, this will continue to threaten our security, and our very futures. We must use all the facilities of the Arab world to develop a sense of citizenship; otherwise the future will be even more dangerous. It is our daily duty to protect the right of living together, prevent bloodshed, and correct misconceptions.

We warned of what happened in Iraq, and this today is something that has reached Egypt, and we do not know how far this evil will go, therefore this is an invitation to the intellectuals to raise their voices and drown our the voices of the extremists.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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