Egypt's intellectuals, public figures say no to sectarianism

Ahram Online, Saturday 23 Aug 2014

Intellectuals and public figures started an initiative Saturday under the slogan “National Unity is a Red Line,” warning against sectarian speech and the conflicts that are raging in some other Arab states

Hamdeen Sabahi,Khaled Youssef and Mohamed Abul-Ghar

A number of Egypt’s prominent intellectuals and public figures started an initiative Saturday, under the slogan “National Unity is a Red Line,” against sectarianism.

The initiative include signing a statement to warn of the “imminent danger” of sectarianism against Egypt’s Coptic Christians, in light of present regional conflicts.

The signatories include former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, long time farmers rights activist Shahenda Maklad, political activist George Ishak, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party’s Mohamed Abul-Ghar and Egyptian films' director Khaled Youssef.

The signatories affirmed in the statement that they, along with the Egyptian people and national elite, wouldn’t allow the destruction of Egypt's national unity, as has been the case in some Arab countries.

The statement read that the signatories condemn and warn of any and all attempts to stur sectarian discord.

The statement added that there is a prominent danger of a return to sectarian speech in Egypt, especially after “terrorist elements torching churches and attacking Copts last year.”

Following the forced dispersal of two pro-Mohamed Morsi vigils on 14 August 2013, riots erupted nationwide and included the ransacking of a large number of churches.

Rioters held Egypt’s Christians responsible for the violent dispersal of the protest sites, with many hundreds dead and injured. Christian properties were also attacked in the aftermath.

One of the signatories, prominent media person and leftist activist Hussein Abdel-Ghany, told Ahram Online that the initiative is a “preventive or preemptive measure, so we won’t be surprised by an attack on Egyptian Coptic identity, or incitement against them.”

He added that the signatories have noticed sectarianism emerge in the everyday language of Egyptians, and that instead of holding an objective political debate on the current situation in Egypt, the Coptic Church is being held by some responsible for Egypt's present problems.

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