In the last couple of days, the Egyptian city of Alexandria witnessed angry demonstrations organized by Muslims to protest a play they claimed insulted Islam.
During these demonstrations, a nun was stabbed in the back, and so was the man who rushed in her help. Meanwhile, a large number of Muslims attacked the church where they claimed the play was shown.
They tried breaking into the church after having thrown it with stones, which caused the destruction of its windows.
The play mentioned is not new. It took place in the church two years earlier and did not cause any problems at that time, since no one had heard of it at that time.
The latest tension started as the word spread that the play was being sold on CDs, which angered Muslims and caused them, as is always the case, to rely on violence.
The play, titled "I was blind and now I can see", tells the story of a Christian young man who converted to Islam and joined Islamic radical group, but who having realized his mistake and refused to kill Christian priests and burn churches as the group leaders told him, eventually decides to return to his original faith.The oppressor asks the victim to apologize
As if not satisfied with their barbaric reaction, the Muslims went on to ask H.H. Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic Patriarch, to apologize. But the Pope refused and denied that the play includes any offense against religious symbols.
In a statement, H.H. declared that some groups are trying to initiate sectarian tension and harm Egypt’s national unity. The statement also mentioned that the play was shown for only one day two years ago within the church complex and not a single Muslim had attanded it.
Furthermore, it did not address religious symbols but rather religious extremism. The statement further noted that the play did not cause any tensions two years ago and that bringing up the topic nowadays aim at destroying Egypt’s national unity. The Coptic Pope’s statement wondered if it makes any sense to neglect the responsibility of the newspapers that initiate sectarian tensions and instead accuse Christians of the rumors spread by those newspapers that Islam was insulted. Finally, the statement blamed the demonstrators of surrounding the church, banging violently against its doors and shouting provocative statements , which scared those who were praying inside.The Copts as the Elections' Scape Goat
On the other hand, the Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, denied any insluts on the CD against Islam and urged all Egyptians to ignore rumors, noting that some are trying to cause sectarian tensions and to claim that the relationships between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians are fragile in order to make personal benefits or electoral propaganda regardless of the country’s interests.
The situation had indubitably its effects on the electoral race in Alexandria, since the different candidates made sure to comment on it. Thus, in that respect, the Christian candidate Maher Khella told AFP (Agence France Presse) that the demonstrators burnt copies of the Holy Bible and added that this is totally unacceptable and we cannot even accept apologies for such acts.
Furthermore, he confirmed that he asked the (ruling) National Democratic Party to which he belongs to withdraw his candidacy documents to alleviate the tension.
Khella also stressed that the play that initiated the demonstrations did not include any offense towards Islam.
Meanwhile, an Alexandrian priest said the fearful Christians in the North of the country closed their shops and remained home following the violent demonstrations that took place outside the church. Father Yohanna Naseef told Reuters that the demonstrators destroyed many shops and burnt many cars that belonged to Christians. He also said the door of a small church in Moharram Bey’s neighborhood was destroyed. Father Yohanna further confirmed that the play entitles I was blind and now I can see was produced by a young men more than two years ago, and that some extremists have lately uploaded it to the internet. The Coptic priest also said that the play addressed and opposed extremism and fundamentalism and that it was based on the movie El Erhaby (The Terrorist) that was produced in the nineties, starring the famous Egyptian actor Adel Imam.The reasons behind the attacks are known
If it were indeed true that the play pictured the return of the prodigal son to his home, after the radical Muslims urged him to burn churches and attack Christian priests, then those demonstrating Muslims have proved - by their barbaric reaction and their attack on the Coptic nun - that all what appeared in that play was not mere imagination of some amateurs but rather the truth reflected by the ugly teachings they receive in mosques.
In fact, those Muslims never needed such a play to attack or justify attacking Christians. Their attacks took place over the course of many years and are still taking place as part of an organized plan to force Christians out of their native countries. The radical Muslims will not relax as long as there is one Copt on the Coptic Land of Egypt. All the Islamic attacks to which Copts were and still are subject have no justification, except the hatred that inhabits their hearts and that they learn from their Islamic literature.It’s about time for the free world to interfere
These aggressions on the lives of Egypt’s Christians and on their churches and stores, as well as harassing them, discriminating against them and kidnapping their daughters, became part of their daily sufferings. It’s about time for the UN and for the free nations of the world to put and end to these tragedies.
Two days ago, the Egyptian authorities arrested one hundred of those who encouraged the violence in front of the church, but what’s next? They will be released, and some maybe detained for a couple of months then released to continue their attacks.
We saw this happening numerous times before, one of which followed the massacre of El Kosheh where 21 Christians were murdered and not a single Muslim was punished.
Arresting a number of Muslim criminals is no longer satisfying. The entire Egyptian educational system needs to be changed. The sermons of the imams in mosques, where the hearts of the Muslims are fueled with hatred against the Copts and all non-Muslims , must be considered a crime punishable by law. And more important, Copts must be treated equal citizens, just like other Egyptians, all discriminatory laws against them must be abolished.
Until all this takes place, the Egyptian authorities must be denied any international aid. The billions of dollars that are offered to the Egyptian government from the pockets of the American tax-payers should not be given to the riminals but rather to the victim, or at least -for God sake, link these grants in billions each year that Egypt receives from the USA to the process of democracy and respect for human rights.
* Translation of an Arabic article titled "Barbaric Hurricanes Hit Alexandria