11 April 2010
More often than not Copts complain about the hate messages loudly spewed by the microphones of many a mosque during Friday sermons; in many cases, the verbal attack against Copts is based upon gross misinformation. Such sermons were the topic of a feature recently published by the weekly State-owned al-Mussawar.
Al-Mussawar reported on a number of Friday sermons in various Egyptian governorates. In several cases Copts were branded as pagans or worshippers of multiple gods—as opposed to the monotheism of Islam. The imam of one mosque in the Delta region of Gharbiya described Christians as “worshippers of the Cross”. He called upon his Muslim congregation to “change any sin that you see [in this case ‘worshipping the cross’] by your own hands”, according to the Qur’anic text.
The sermon broadcast through the microphone of al-Sahaba mosque in al-Ishreen district—one of Giza’s poor vicinities—was no different story. This mosque’s imam accused the Jews of worshipping another God besides Allah, and Christians as well since “they believe in Jesus Christ who they claim is the son of God”.
The al-Mussawar story, replete with the full names of imams and mosques, ought not to go unnoticed. It should be brought to the attention of Religious Endowments Minister Mohamed Hamdi Zaqzouq to take action concerning it, since the ministry is the principle authority concerned with mosques and religious activities.
The new talk-show Masr ennaharda, literally Egypt today aired by Egyptian TV warrants praise for the transparency with which it tackles current issues. It is obvious that the new talk-show which replaced the once widely viewed al-Beit beitak (Feel at home) is enjoying a margin of freedom of expression and opinion. Following the late sectarian incidents in Marsa-Matrouh, Masr ennaharda was the only talk-show which interviewed a young Coptic man who explained that the allegations referring to the Church having built a fencing wall that blocked a street, were untrue. The young Copt also talked about the suffering of the Christians who had remained 14 hours besieged inside the church. This episode of Masr ennaharda came at a time when all other talk-shows aired by privately-owned satellite channels handled the Marsa-Matrouh incidents by merely reporting the official version of the story, which justified the attack by claiming the Church had blocked a road.
What if it were a sheikh?
The talk show 48 hours aired by the independent al-Mehwar satellite channel every Thursday and Friday, recently hosted a Muslim convert who was previously a Catholic priest. The conversion of Idris Tawfiq was met with much praise and applause by 48 hours. Tawfiq gave no clear reason for his conversion, and insisted he would not be drawn into any censure of Christianity, the Church or the Pope. The publicity granted to Tawfiq’s conversion and the applause with which it has been hailed as a triumphant victory of Islam, however, raises the very obvious question—from a citizenship perspective—had it been a sheikh who had converted to Christianity, would he have received the same publicity and praise?