Tuesday, May 15, 2007

If I Were a Copt

One of the more interesting daily emails that I get is from The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). MEMRI monitors Middle Eastern media outlets picks up things that our Western media often misses. In today's release, they publish a summary of a May 12, 2007 article in Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt) by Egyptian Muslim intellectual Tarek Heggy. Entitled "If I Were a Copt," the author sharply criticizes the Egyptian regime's policy towards its Coptic Christian population. The following are the main points of the article:

"If I were a Copt, I would flood Egypt, and the world, with the facts about the overall atmosphere that is pressuring the Copts in Egypt today.

"If I were a Copt, I would familiarize the world with the injustices caused to many Copts in Egypt since [the Free Officers Revolution in] 1952. They don't get the high-level political posts and executive positions that they deserve, not to mention their sparse [representation] in parliament.

"If I were a Copt, I would create a ruckus in Egypt, and in the world, over the fact that I pay taxes with which the state funds Al-Azhar University, while [Al-Azhar] does not permit Copts to attend any of its institutes.

"If I were a Copt, I would make a huge commotion in the world, because my taxes fund the construction of dozens of mosques, but, since 1952, the Egyptian state has not participated in the building of a single church, except for president Gamal Abd Al-Nasser's participation in funding the construction of the St. Marc Cathedral in Al-'Abasiyya, 40 years ago...

"If I were a Copt, I would publish articles, one after another, about how the [Egyptian] media ignores matters [concerning me] and my religious holidays - as if I and the Copts did not exist in Egypt.

"If I were a Copt, I would tell the entire world [how] the Coptic history of Egypt [is handled] in the Egyptian curriculum, and how the study material for the Arabic language no longer [includes] literary texts, qasidahs, poetry, stories, plays, and legends, but [only] Islamic texts which [belong] with the study material for religion [class] for Muslim pupils.

"If I were a Copt, I would flood the world with complaints about the suffering Copts go through [merely] in order to obtain a license to build a church - with their own funds, not with the public taxes that [they] participate in paying.

"If I were a Copt, I would bring the world to its feet because of the terrible things that some Muslim writers write and disseminate - about how a Copt should not be permitted to be the head of state, on [how a Copt should pay] the jizya [poll tax paid by protected non-Muslims under Islam], and how Copts should not be drafted into the military...

"If I were a Copt, I would conduct a campaign within [Egypt], and outside it, to abolish the 'religion' entry on the Egyptian identity card. Why should someone who conducts a relationship with me on the general and public level want to know what my religion is?...

"If I were a Copt, I would make the world understand that the issue of the Copts in Egypt is one of the symptoms of a [certain] mentality, whose influence has spread through this region of the world, and that all humanity must force [those] with this mentality to reconsider this discriminatory path."


Anonymous said...

Tarek Heggy is the only Muslim in Egypt who defends Egypt's christians that forcefully. Isn't it amazing (and cheerful) that Egypt still able to produce an Egyptian Emile Zola ? Dr. Magdy Naguib Ibrahim.

Anonymous said...

Coptic Orthodoxy is more focussed on the everlasting life we will spend with our Lord Jesus Christ not the hardships we experience on this Earth.. Fighting will only cause more hardship.

Glenn Penner said...

I understand and appreciate this sentiment. And indeed, this is generally true of many, though not all, Coptic Christians. However, there is New Testament and historical precedent in Coptic church history for seeking to uphold religious rights and freedoms.