Coptic Christians Support Mubarak
A delegation of Egyptian Coptic Christian supporters of President Hosni Mubarak march during a demonstration in Cairo’s Muhandisin district on February 2, 2011. (photo: Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

“He’s the best of the worst. Whoever comes after him might want to destroy us.”
— Sameh Joseph, a Copt who works at the Patriarch of the Orthodox Christians Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

Last Thursday, the Los Angeles Times ran this article on the mixed reactions of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community. According to the report, many Copts say they dislike President Hosni Mubarak but fear the alternative even more, the political leader who might replace him. People like Samya Hammoui, a woman who lost two sisters and two nieces in the January 1st bombing of a church in Alexandria, fears the situation wouldn’t improve with Mubarak’s ouster, “If one of the Islamic extremists took over, things for us would be much worse.”

I sense my lack of understanding of the complexity of the story, especially with all the loud voices shouting freedom and democracy and calling for Mubarak’s ouster. And, since I’m in the religious journalism business, I’m trying to understand what this means for Egypt’s minority religious community, which comprises more than 10 percent of the country’s population.

As I consume a bounty of news reports and tweets from the streets about Egypt and demonstrations in Tahrir Square, I sense that alternative viewpoints like the story above are being drowned out by events occurring “inside the bubble” of Tahrir Square.

Take, for example, the photos like the ones below. These stories inundated my news feeds yesterday: Egypt’s Copts and Muslims standing side by side, crucifixes and sacred texts in hands held high, as they call for Mubarak’s removal. They are striking and hopeful and needed. But these stories may be part of the picture that overwhelms the LA Times piece above.

Coptic Christian and Muslim Women Protest at Tahrir Square in Front of Egyptian Flag
An Egyptian Coptic Christian and a Muslim woman pause in front of their national flag during a joint communal gathering of anti-government protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on February 06, 2011. Writing on the flag reads in Arabic, “Christian and Muslim = Egypt”. (photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt's Coptic Christians and Muslims in Tahrir Square
Calling for the end to President Hosni Mubarak’s government, Egypt’s Coptic Christians and Muslims raise a cross and a Qur’an on February 6, 2011 in Tahrir Square in central Cairo. (photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

Much like most other conversations on this program, I’m constantly reminded that there is no one truth in matters of identity, the heart, and the future of one’s community. The point is to keep looking and piecing together the many parts to this story, and the many other stories out there.

Share Your Reflection



This whets my appetite but doesn't tell me where to go to look for those other stories. Is it intentional? Are you trying to get us to look for stories outside the perimeter?

Jeffrey Wright -- who wrote the book The Looming Towers -- spoke today on Fresh Air about all of this. I highly recommend his insights --

Fears of an Islamic state in the wake of Mubarak's fall should be roundly dispelled by a read of Stephen Zunes's lengthy piece posted last night (2/10/11) on HuffPost.

Egypt has no oil, no industry, no potrucdion of any sort. There is Western tourism, and there is Western aid, and that is all. Mubarak knew that Egypt couldn't survive without Western handouts. So he didn't take the Syrian route of violent supression. Thus he lost power, and eventually his head as well.So now that a middling dictator has been replaced by an Islamic theocracy, are we still going to feed the entire country ie do for the theocrats that hate us, what we wouldn't do for Mubarak, who supported us? By freely giving aid to a country that violates our principles in thought, word, and deed In other words, are we going to essentially pay Egypt to be violently theocratic, supressing and/or murdering it's minorities, while violating every Western Liberal value we hold dear? And if so, why? Forget humanitarian pc blabbering. The whole country voted to go that way, the whole country is agreed on the murderous suppression of minorities. The whole country voted to elect representatives to write a constitution that outlaws invididual freedom. They have no right to ask for any humanitarian anything. It's time to cut off the aid, and let them suffer the consequences of their own actions. The sudden discovery that the inevitable result of running a nation on the values and rules of Medieval Islam is mass starvation may just possibly wake them up. Nothing short of that will .