It was a magnificent sight at most churches in Egypt on the Coptic Christmas Eve. The tens of Egyptian Muslims who joined their Christian countrymen to celebrate inside and outside churches did so on personal initiative, in love of the country and their brothers in it. They were not pushed by a political party vying for votes or a government pretending that all is well.
Muslims attended Christmas Eve church services to demonstrate to their Christian brothers that our lives are not more valuable than yours, and if terrorists are threatening you then they must also spill our blood with yours, and maybe even before yours. Muslims went to churches so that Egyptian blood would remain united and blended, as it was in the 1919 Revolution and in all the wars in which the sons of this country participated in defence against enemies.
Muslim and Copts together fought against the enemies of this country, and were victorious with their unity. And here they are today, again, fighting with determination new foes who hail from inside and outside the country. Muslims went to church on Christmas Eve to tell extremist sectarian terrorists, who want nothing less than the complete destruction of this country, that your conspiracy will not succeed and this land will remain one.
I watched Egyptians flock to churches on Christmas Eve and compared this to what takes place in other countries in the region, where places of worship are targeted by terrorists, and I said, “Bless you, Egypt”. Shias and Sunnis are fighting each other in Iraq and no one is defending anyone, the Iraqis leaving their country to drown in the chaos of sectarian war. Sectarian terrorists in Iraq attacked Our Lady of Salvation Church, killing 50 Christians, but no one in Shia or Sunni ranks made a move to console their Christian brethren. Meanwhile, officials merely rehashed sugar-coated statements.
Shias and Sunnis alternate bombing mosques in Pakistan and are pushing the country towards the abyss, but no one is trying to heal the wounds or assert the notion of compatriotism.
Only in Egypt did Muslims proclaim their solidarity with their Christian countrymen by laying their lives on the line. The anger of the Copts after the sectarian terrorist attack in Alexandria only persuaded Muslims further to shoulder their responsibility towards their brethren and country. They did not use it as a pretext to abandon the Christians of Egypt, even if the latter decided to express their grievances in their own way.
Talk of a cohesive Egyptian fabric is more than just words; even if it is in need of measures and policies to protect it and restore it to its former glory.