23 January 2011
“Our community is suffering from a warped intellect,” says political and social researcher Ammar Ali-Hassan. “It is this warp that has led to a rise in sectarianism.” Dr Hassan believes that the problem is largely related to the culture that has come to dominate the Egyptian scene. The answer, thus, is to promote a culture that insists on coexistence, accepting the other, and curing the sectarian mindset of the Egyptian community. Dr Hassan speaks of the importance of eliminating fanatical religious teaching from schools and the media—which includes Islamic and Christian satellite channels. These, he says are the major contributors to the creation of a climate of sectarian sedition.
Atef Iraqi, professor of philosophy at Cairo University, says that what happened in the early hours of New Year’s Day in Alexandria is bound to leave a negative imprint in hearts and minds of Egyptians for years to come. Dr Iraqi called for the publishing in Egypt of books that are based on harmony between Christians and Muslims, books like Christianity and Arab Civilisations by Father George Qanawati and the Coptic Encyclopaedia by Sourial Attiya.
“Educating people about their human rights is the responsibility of the Culture of Citizenship committee, which was established in 2009 in collaboration with the national council for youth, the cultural palaces and some universities,” says Emad Abu-Ghazi, secretary-general of the Supreme Council for Culture, which focuses on cultural responsibility.
The Egyptian writer and journalist and head of the General Book Authority, Helmy al-Namnam, says that the main theme of this year’s Cairo Book Fair centres on ‘citizenship’ on all levels, expanding the enlightened idea that “Religion is for God, and the nation for all.”
Philosophy professor Essam Abdullah is calling for a comprehensive revolution by new figures who have new thought, or else the fanatic climate will intesify, he warns.