At this point in time, with so much turmoil in Egypt, and so much that is being said and done to blow up the age-old unity of Egyptians and divide Egypt along sectarian lines, any effort to unite Egyptians and foster goodwill among them warrants appreciation.
8 January 2012
At this point in time, with
so much turmoil in
and so much that is being said and done to blow up the age-old unity of
Egyptians and divide
along sectarian lines, any effort to unite Egyptians and foster goodwill among
them warrants appreciation.
I had the opportunity to
witness one such event recently. The
on the outskirts of
held a joint celebration to mark the Christmas and the Feast of the Hijra which
marks the beginning of the Hijri year. The feast also marks the date on which
the Prophet Mohamed left Mecca to Medina in the 7th century to flee the
persecution he and his followers faced at the time on account of their new faith.
As the school principal
Seddiq Afifi explained, the aim of the joint celebration was to promote among
students the values of tolerance, sympathy, and the common values Egyptian
“We are all one,
One God, one heart.
We care for one another,
Children of Mother Egypt.”
The musician Khaled Ali sang
the song to his own music and words by song-writer Magdy al-Naggar. The song
was an excellent prelude to the theatrical show which followed, and which
depicted the Christmas story and the Hijra story. The show was absolutely the
effort of the students of all ages, and was written and directed by the older
ones. Yet it was a very distinctive production, one that was obviously done by
a group of gifted, dedicated young people.
During the sketch that
depicted Christmas, one of the teachers, Magdy Maurice, played Santa Claus,
giving glimpse of the history of the real St Nicholas who metamorphosed during
the years into the beloved Santa.
Attending the production
were Muslim and Coptic clerics, as well as the veteran presenter of the
children’s programme on Egyptian TV, Fadila Tawfiq, fondly known by the
children as Abla (Miss) Fadila. Abla Fadila spoke to the children of the days
when she grew up in a building where the neighbours were both Muslim and Christian
families who lived in exceptional harmony and shared the good and hard times
with one another. Those were unforgettable days, she said, of unforgettable
The day wrapped up with
group photographs, after which everyone took part in a march around the school,
cheering: “No to fanaticism, no to violence, no to terrorism…One homeland, one
heart, one pulse.”