Last Update 22:51
Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Profound changes needed to end Christian-Muslim clashes

After a fight leads to clashes and a hundred Christian families fleeing for their lives, Said Shehata points out some short- and long-terms steps necessary to end the frequent violence

Said Shehata , Monday 6 Aug 2012
Share/Bookmark
Views: 2638
Share/Bookmark
Views: 2638

What happened in Dahshour last week confirms that there is a deep problem in Egyptian society. What I call "the sectarian syndrome" bluntly describes the crisis between Christians and Muslims. The current environment is unhealthy to build bridges between the two sides. The reactions by President Morsi and other organisations in Egypt, such as the Shura Council (upper house of parliament) and the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights are good and necessary, but they are not enough to end the repeated clashes between the two sides in different regions, such as Koshh, Al-Zawaya Al-Hamra, Atfiah and others. There are structural changes needed to tackle the roots of the problem.

Although the president's reactions can be described as wise and sincere, he repeated the same emotional and security rhetoric to the crisis. He called for a firm application of the law against perpetrators. He also said "I call on my Muslim brothers and my Coptic brothers to return to each other and for my Muslim brothers to provide security for the Copts."

This response deals with the current clashes and tension in this area, but not putting an end to this prolonged crisis of Christians in Egypt. What is needed is a package of short- and long-term steps as well as steps that can be taken in between.

In the short term, President Morsi should start appointing Christians in leadership positions, such as vice president, governors, chancellors of universities and others. This step will consolidate trust in Christians as citizens. It will also encourage Christians' strong sense of "belonging" to Egypt. Thousands of Christians left Egypt during Sadat’s era because of discrimination against them. This was also repeated during Mubarak’s reign and the same carried on after the January 25 Revolution. Copts need to be equal citizens in order to stay and build the future of Egypt with Muslims. Morsi should be brave and fend off any of his critics, especially Salafists, by taking courageous decisions with regard to appointing Christians in key position across the board based on their qualifications and not their religion.

In the medium and long terms: media, education and religious institutions are the key to end this continuous situation between the two sides. Antonio Gramsci, the well-known thinker, argued that changing the people’s minds required efforts on the part of the media, educational institutes and religious establishments. Egyptians, both Christians and Muslims, should change the stereotypes about each other. Raising the awareness about the importance of coexistence between them to build the country and achieve prosperity for all is crucial.

The burden is huge on both the Islamist education and information ministers. The minister of education should add the Coptic era in the history books that are taught in schools and universities. There is a need to know about this era in order to enlighten all Egyptians about the existence of Christians in Egypt and their contribution to Egyptian history. There is a need for weekly values session in schools for all pupils to enhance the efforts of peaceful coexistence in society. If young people grow up on tolerance and accepting others, it will be hard to brainwash them through false teaching. Media should have special programmes on state TV to challenge the radical religious discourses. Additionally, new rules should be established to stop some channels' messages of hatred that incite sectarianism. Religious institutions, particularly Al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church, have a big role in achieving this goal. The tolerance, love and coexistence discourse is vital in order to eradicate the extremist messages by both Christians and Muslims.

Finally, it is difficult to change people’s minds and attitudes, but it happened in other countries and it can work and succeed in Egypt. The president, ministers of education and information, Al-Azhar and the Church should have a joint vision and a roadmap to end those disturbing clashes through challenging the sectarian mind set.

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
4



Dr. Malek Towghi/Tauqee (Baluch) --USA
20-08-2012 07:26am
2-
1+
Christian-Muslim Reconciliaeion
Christian-Muslim as well as inter-Muslim reconciliation is impossible to materialize without a CONSTITUTION that clearly and unambiguously separates common educational, civic, State and international affairs fro religion, .... that does NOT mention a particular religion as the 'State Religion .... and that does NOT mention a particular religious institute, e.g. al-Azhar, as the ultimate legislative authority.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Hector M
09-09-2012 07:56am
0-
1+
To Malek
So Mr. Malek, you think until constitution is completed, the Egyptians should stop living now. The elected president has all Egyptians confidence,knowledge, and wisdom to run the country. The most urgent need is that librals, Copts, and youths, and othe minorities should immediately stop protests, and work hard. The president got the country looted by previous dictator,and his cohorts.
3



Salah
13-08-2012 05:57am
0-
6+
Egypt needs every one
It is not difficult to understand. Egypt is in a deep economic, social and political crisis, so who can afford to build it without the help of EVERY one. We need badly every one, so it does not make any sense to exclude a Christian, a Muslim or even an atheist. We need creative and energetic youth of all background. That is how civilized nations prospore and that is why Muslims living among us are treated equally because we need them as much.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
2



Mona
08-08-2012 06:09pm
2-
5+
Confident in Egypt
I am confident in Egyptian's cappacity in finding solutions.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
1



james i
07-08-2012 10:58am
1-
8+
bravor ! Mohamed Morsi,
you are on right channel to turn Egypt as a sectarian nation to a full Democratic state, by appointing Christians into your cabinet. God of heaven will surely back you up.
Email
 
Name
 
Comment's Title
 
Comment
Yue Ding
08-08-2012 03:28pm
1-
3+
Christians
Are there any Christians in the caretaker cabinet now?
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.