65. Why changing Christian names of villages at the present time

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Reviewer: Nuhayr ‘Ismat
Mājid ‘Atīyah gives a brief history of eminent Christian figures whose villages are named after them.

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In the past, when Ismā‘īl Sidqī, former Egyptian Prime Minister, tried to cooperate with the British colonizer, supported by the palace as well as religious powers like the Muslim Brotherhood, a huge fire broke out in a church in Zaqazīq. The nation at that time was torn apart between those who talk about apostates and those who call for national unity. During that time, an unexpected incident took place; the palace changed the name of Ra’s al-Kanā’is village to Ra’s al-Hikmah. However, national powers did not pay attention to this development, being too pre-occupied with national issues..
Mājid ‘Atīyah says that he gives this historical background to reflect what is being repeated at the present time. ‘Atīyah explains that the whole scheme started when the governor of Minyā suggested that the name of Deir Abū Hins village be changed to Wādi al-Ni‘nā‘. The governor found support from those called ‘security Christians’ [Reviewer: this is a phrase used by some writers to refer to Christians who allegedly act as catspaws for the authorities] who blamed residents of the area for protesting against the idea instead of resorting to legal procedures.
Mājid ‘Atīyah then wonders who would benefit from spreading such feelings of fitnah tā’ifiyah among Egyptians, asking whether those who arouse these feelings are aware of their schemes. “Let me say that it is politically stupid to encourage discrimination in the state without knowing the consequences.” ‘Atīyah writes.
He then gives a brief history of the Christian names of some villages in Egypt, saying that they are named after eminent Christian figures who contributed to Egyptian society. For example, Bishrī village was named after Bishrī Hannā, who was the owner of the village’s land and an influential figure in the 1919 revolution. He was known for his contribution and help to the people of his village, Muslims and Christians alike. He even built a mosque in the village before building a church.

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