There has been much rejoicing in the world today, and especially in the interfaith community, when we learned of the downfall of the tyrant Hosni Mubarak. As we try to assess the import of this watershed moment—comparable to the fall of the Berlin wall—it is worth noting that Egyptian Muslims and Christians, women as well as men, risked their lives and worked together to bring about freedom and democracy for their country. As one Egyptian protester put it, ““There’s an overwhelming sense of solidarity here between Muslims and Christians.” Let us hope this sense of solidarity continues and becomes the cornerstone of a new society in Egypt and throughout the Middle East and the world. This is my prayer as a Universalist Friend.— Anthony Manousos
Egyptian Muslims and Christians are One In the Struggle for Freedom
CAIRO, Feb 9 (IPS) – Over recent years, Egypt has witnessed mounting tension between its Muslim majority and its sizeable Coptic Christian minority. But in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the site of ongoing mass protests against the ruling regime, members of both faiths chant in unison: “Muslim, Christian, doesn’t matter; We’re all in this boat together!”
Since Jan. 25, Egyptians countrywide have hit the streets in the hundreds of thousands – even millions – to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak and his 30-year-old regime. The first week of demonstrations was marked by almost daily clashes between police and protesters, in which hundreds were killed and thousands injured.
The demonstrations were initially organized by online activist groups of no particular religious affiliation, such as the 6 April protest movement and the Youth Movement for Freedom and Justice. Nevertheless, some commentators have attempted to paint the uprising as a would-be “Iran-style” Islamic revolution.
In statements that would later be parroted by much of the western media, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Jan. 31: “Our real fear is of a situation that could develop and which has already developed in several countries including Iran itself – repressive regimes of radical Islam.”
But according to protesters arrayed in Tahrir Square, which on Tuesday was home to hundreds of thousands of protesters, Muslim-Christian unity remains a central feature of the almost daily rallies.
“There’s an overwhelming sense of solidarity here between Muslims and Christians,” 32-year-old Muslim protester Ahmed al-Assy told IPS. “Practically all of the protesters’ rallying cries, and all the sermons led by Muslim sheikhs, stress the importance of national unity.”
This week NevineZaki posted this picture on Twitter, saying it shows Christians protecting those praying in Tahrir Square amid violence between protesters and Mubarak supporters. She wrote “Bear in mind that this pic was taken a month after z Alexandria bombing where many Christians died in vain. Yet we all stood by each other”