56. Egypt’s Copts are not hostages

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Munīr Bishāy discusses the impact of the activities of Coptic emigrants in the U.S. on Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt.

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Munīr Bishāy believes that Muslim-Christian relations have witnessed a number of set backs during the last 50 years. The lack of mutual confidence and the spread of sectarian ideologies became the main characteristics marking their relations.
Unfortunately, Bishāy adds, people in Egypt tend to link the foreign policies of the U.S. toward Arab and Islamic countries and Copts under the pretext that the U.S. represents the largest Christian power in the world. This however, is entirely untrue as the U.S. can never be classified as a Christian country, regardless of the fact that the majority of its citizens are Christians.
The author believes that the emergence of a generation of Coptic activists in the West who defend the rights of Copts ignited further tensions within the Egyptian society. Muslims of accuse Coptic activists in the U.S. of attempting to pressure the U.S. Administration to cut out the annual U.S. aid to Egypt until Copts’ rights are granted. Bishāy asserts that this can not be true as the U.S. aid to Egypt is governed by certain agreements and not subject to individuals’ desires.
Moreover, the appearances of Coptic activists in the mass media, particularly satellite channels and internet Web sites that discuss comparative religions, have given Muslims the impression that activists possess hidden agendas of Christianizing Muslim youths, which adds more salt to the open wounds of the Muslim-Christian Egyptian society.
Munīr Bishāy exclaims that Copts of Egypt should not be taken hostages for the unintended mistakes of Coptic activists in the West, affirming that Copts in Egypt act according to certain rules that society has imposed on them. On the other hand, activists in the West enjoy a wider scope of freedom to complain and demand their rights, which is the main reason behind the differences in the approaches of Copts in Egypt versus Copts abroad in calling for full citizenship rights for Copts.

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