An attack on one and all

Gamal Abdel-Gawad , Sunday 2 Jan 2011

The bombing of an Alexandria church is an attempt to turn Egyptians against each other

The terrorist attack on Saints Church in Alexandria targets Egypt as a whole, not only Egyptian Copts. Coptic Christians are part of Egypt and anything or anyone who harms them harms the entire country. Egypt is not the country of Muslims alone or Christians alone —it is for Egyptians, who are divided among these two great religions. It is for all of them and anyone who attacks some of its citizens is attacking all of its people.

We cannot imagine Egypt without its Muslims and Christians. Al-Azhar, Al-Hussein and Fatimid Cairo are Egyptian, as much as the Hanging Church, the Monastery of the Holy Virgin Mary (El-Mahhraq)and Mary’s Tree are Egyptian. The character of modern Egypt is a mold that combines both Muslims and Christians; our country wouldn’t be the same without either of its two core components.

Saad Zaghloul, Wissa Wassef, Mustafa El-Nahhas and Makram Ebeid all helped build modern Egypt. If it wasn’t for all of them, we would not have had the renaissance and heritage we still live on and boast about to our neighbours. Egyptian art and literature, which have distinguished this country, would not have happened if it wasn’t for this combined mold. Yousef Chahine, Salah Abu Seif, Dawoud Abdel-Sayed and Sherif Arafa all worked behind the camera to create modern Egypt’s consciousness and temperament.

While Naguib Mahfouz reigns supreme in modern Egypt’s literary world, along with the late philosopher Zaki Naguib Mahmoud, the next tier of writers is abundunt with Egyptians from the country’s melting pot. Youssef Idris, Gamal El-Ghitani, Edward El-Kharrat and Louis Awad all partook in building the culture and values of this country. Without any one of them, Egypt would not have this special flavour that we know and love, despite the problems and diverging views.

Talk of a national Egyptian mold is not just sugar coating; it is the reality that was the target of the terrorist attack in Alexandria. The terrorists who carried out the attack did not only kill several Copts, but want the people of Egypt to begin killing each other. No matter how many victims the terrorists kill, they cannot harm the country as much as a war between Muslims and Copts.

Anyone who is managing the aftermath of the crime in Alexandria must be cognizant of this. Anyone who directs their anger at our partners in this country instead of the criminals who killed in Alexandria will be carrying out the plan — even without realising it — that terrorist leaders had in mind.

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