Egyptian dreams for a better future never died. They raised their prayers to heaven, and their prayers were heard: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears” (Psalms 34: 4).
Egyptians dreamt of change for the better, and Copts especially dreamt of life without discrimination. In January and February 2011, in Tahrir Square, Egypt’s young people chanted demanding “bread, freedom, social justice”. The young people succeeded in their revolution of change; however, the dream died when the Islamists exploited religion to rise to power. It was no coincidence that the Islamists ruled; everything was well planned and arranged by the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters. They wrote an Islamist constitution, curtailed freedoms, excluded those who did not ally with them, hegemonised State institutions, and marginalised other political movements. Egyptians lived through a year of unending economic crises, random decisions, oppression, and difficult circumstances. The original dream, however, they never forgot.
On 30 June, Egyptians went back to Tahrir to regain the dream they had almost lost. This time they were more persistent and their dream was bigger. They thronged squares and public places all over Egypt, and it was not possible for the army to plug its ears against their roar for a life not dominated by religious rule. Colonel General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Commander-in-Chief of Egypt’s Armed Forces said the army had to listen to the masses. The Armed Forces thus met with all national forces, politicians and youth, who together drew a roadmap that secured the essential, basic steps to build a strong Egyptian State and to end divisions and conflict.
Just as the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb participated in drawing the Roadmap for Egypt’s future, so did Pope Tawadros II. Al- Azhar and the Church are at the heart of Egypt’s faith.
The participation of the Coptic pope came as a collective awareness of Coptic Egypt. In his speech Pope Tawadros said: “This roadmap was drawn upon the agreement of all the participants; to secure a better life for the Egyptian people. It was put with deep faith and love for our homeland, and with a vision to its near and far future. It was put by honourable people whose sole aim is the interest of Egypt and Egyptians, excluding no one, marginalising no one, and excepting no one. “
Pope Tawadros’s words assured that there was no room in the new Egypt for discrimination. He said all Egyptians were gathered under one flag; and he gave his own interpretation of that flag. He said the black represented the dark-skinned Egyptian people, their land and Nile—Egypt was called Kemi, meaning black, by the ancient Egyptians before the world came to know it as the Aegyptus of the ancient Greeks; white represented the pure young people; red symbolised the sacrifices of the people and the police; and the eagle was the great Egyptian Armed Forces that Egyptians consider the guardians of their safety.
12 July 2013