Saturday, September 17, 2005

Young Copts: Take Action

A Watani poll of young Copts has revealed that—in the recent presidential elections—61 per cent of them did not hold election registration cards giving them the right to vote, while 31 per cent of those with election cards did not vote at all.

On this issue, Watani reader Dr Hani Ramsis writes: To all those Egyptians who have taken it upon themselves to voice the hardships and grievances of Egyptians in general and Copts in particular, I bow low in respect. I should like however, to add a few points from a young man’s perspective.

If at first you don’t succeed …

First, although passivity has become the norm among young Egyptians, Coptic youth in particular should come out of the cocoon they have woven around themselves. This cocoon has become the pretext and justification for all Coptic grievances.

It is true that elections may be stained with many irregularities, and that one might stand in a long queue waiting to vote while one is certain beforehand that a fanatic candidate will win, or one might go to vote and be surprised (as I was) by someone telling you your father has already voted for you—pointing to a priest.

However, if we do not keep trying we have no hope of improving things in the near or far future. And if the candidate for whom you voted loses, at least you would have done your bit by subtracting a vote from the score of the candidate you opposed.

Bewailing their luck

Second, young Copts seem satisfied with sitting around and competing in bewailing their personal experiences of being discriminated against. Yet they take no action whatever to try to improve matters, make their complaints public, or bring them before the parties concerned. So it comes as no surprise that many Muslims in Egypt are not aware of what we Copts endure.

If we believe that our Muslim fellowmen should sympathise with and defend our cause, then we should at least familiarise them with our grievances.

Third, our active involvement in nationalist and regional causes is natural, inevitable, and imperative. It is also an invitation to our co-patriots to reciprocate by involvement in our causes.

Try again

Fourth, most Copts, when oppressed, fail to take positive action. I believe that we ought to realise that, even if action does not yield the hoped-for results, the mere attempt to improve matters is an honour in itself. And we have to admit that in more than a few cases gratifying conclusions were brought to our trials.

Fifth, as the Lord commanded his children “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,” Copts should exude love and good deeds.In conclusion, I call upon the Church to encourage Copts to assume a positive role in political life. This will benefit the Church, the Coptic issue and the community as a whole. I also call for a change in attitude on the part of the government and the media, to put an end to the arrogant, one-sided vision, and dhimmi culture (regarding Copts not as genuine Egyptians, but as non-Muslims living under Muslim rule) which governs their address of the Coptic question.