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17. Arab-Christians… Copts as a model
Fri, 2010-05-07 15:09 —
Developments in Muslim-Christian relations in the Arab world
Arab-Christians… Copts as a model
Date of source:
February 16, 2010
Hanī Labīb Ishāq
Al-Fiqī discusses Arab Christians, especially Copts, and their national role over history.
Article full text:
Al-Fiqī refers to the role of Arab Christians in reviving Arab nationalism, and goes on to focus on the role of Coptic Christians in Egypt. He states that Copts are indigenous Egyptians, as the word Copt means Egyptian, who dwelt in Egypt many centuries before the arrival of Islam. In the article, the author discusses the relation between Coptic Christianity and Arabism. Al-Fiqī points out that Islamic missionaries were the carriers of Arabism and not vice versa. While the Arab countries have accepted both Islam and Arab culture, other Muslim countries have accepted only Islam as a religion, keeping their original cultures. Due to their ethnic specificity, Copts dealt with Arabism reservedly and believed that merging Egypt with Arab culture would lead to the disappearance of the Copts. Some Coptic figures participated in alleviating the historical sensitivity of Copts towards Arabism, and one of those figures was Makram ‘Ubayd, secretary general of al-Wafd Party [1919-1952]. He was an outstanding model in asserting the Arabism of Copts. ‘Ubayd was not the only Coptic voice, as many others followed his example, and defended Arab issues enthusiastically.
Al-Fiqī states that the proportion of Copts to Muslims is 1 : 10, and that it is logical to believe that all Egyptians are of Coptic origin who embraced Islam, consolidating Egypt's Arabism. Concerning this, the author rejects discrimination between Copts and Muslims concerning their Egyptian heritage. Another point that al-Fiqī refers to is the role of Pope Shenouda of Alexandria in consolidating the Arabism of Copts, and his well known stand concerning the Palestinian issue. Due to this role, many people call him “Patriarch of Arabs.” Al-Fiqī believes that all these facts confirm the Arabism of Copts.
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