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Christians Oppressed in Egypt

The Second International Coptic Conference convens this week in Washington. Often overlooked is the fact that Egypt's population of nearly 75 million includes the Middle East's largest Christian minority, over seven million, the vast majority of whom are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church and have in the last half-century experienced institutionalized discrimination that renders them little more than second-class citizens. From today's Wall Street Journal, an Op-Ed by Saad Eddin Ibrahim.

Reader Comments (4)

The only hope for democracy to truly flourish in the Middle East is if there is a flourishing Christian minority. I venture to say that Lebanon has a functioning democracy despite the civil war precisely because of the Christian presence there.
- DB

November 19, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The presence of a "flourishing Christian community" does not guarantee the consolidation of democracy. In more precise words, the Christian religion per se is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for democracy. Regarding Christianity -Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant-, think about these historical examples: Fascist Italy, Franco's Spain, Vichy France, Pinochet's Chile, Tzarist Russia, or even pre-civil war America (can there be a democracy that tolerates slavery or racial discrimination?). In all these cases, important segments of the Christian community actively supported or justified non-democratic regimes, believing that authoritarianism or inequality were the will of God or "the lesser evil." Furthermore, non-predominantly Christian countries, such as Israel or Japan, have had successful democracies. And modern Turkey or most American Muslims demonstrate that Islam is not neccesarily opposed to democracy. What is needed, perhaps, are religious communities (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc.) truly commited to democracy and human rights. There are good examples of this in the history of Catholicism (and in the history of Protestantism too): the Christian Democracy in pre-Hitler Germany, the Catholics who contributed -sometimes giving their lives- to democratic transition in Central America, Chile or Spain, etc.


November 20, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Call me crazy....but according to the article Egypt's ruling muslim majority doesnt seem too "truly commited to democracy and human rights." What article did you read?

Let us not live in a dream world. There are serious human rights violations going on in these middle eastern countries and these countries are predominantly muslim. Moreover, they have no interest in helping these native, ancient christian communities in living and prospering.

What will help the ideals that you indirectly refer to in your comments are the fruits of a christian society. And if you want to enjoy the fruits of a christian society you can't kill the tree.

I agree completely with DB.

November 21, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

What do you think of this?

Coexistence With Islam Is Possible, Says Journalist

Luigi Accattoli's Book Talks About Muslims in Italy

ROME, NOV. 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- A journalist who covers the Vatican
has written a book showing 150 episodes that reflect the good relations with Muslims in Italy.

"Good coexistence is frequent, but rarely does anyone talk about it," commented Luigi Accattoli, a reporter for the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera.

His book "Islam: Italian Stories of Good Coexistence" was published by Dehonian Publications of Bologna. The Italian bishops' National Service for the Cultural Plan contributed to the volume.

"I would say that the stories came to me spontaneously," the journalist recalled. "It was enough for me ask, for example, when arriving in a city or a parish of Rome for a conference: 'Do you know a Muslim who lives peacefully and is well integrated?' The response was immediate: 'Go to this association, speak with that Caritas volunteer, visit this bookstore,' etc."

From here it was a short step to hear stories about good coexistence, Accattoli told ZENIT.

Prayerful Islam

"For example," he said, "the discovery of seven Muslims who study at the Gregorian University, of a Muslim who works in the Vatican, of another who is sacristan in a Milan parish, of Muslim immigrants who have become directors of Caritas; mayors; heads of ACLI [Christian Associations of Italian Workers] departments."

Accattoli insisted that "four Muslim interlocutors must be distinguished: prayerful Islam, Muslim fundamentalism, political Islamism, and Muslim terrorism."

"The prayerful Islam must be respected," said the 24-year veteran of Il Corriere della Sera. "According to specialists, it represents 85% of the whole of Islam. It is to the latter that I have turned preferentially to look for my stories."

"Muslim fundamentalism must be combated," the journalist continued. "There must be a political reaction to political Islamism, and Muslim terrorism must be prevented and suppressed, with intelligence services and arms, but not with war, which affects peoples and increases the challenge of terror. It encourages, exacerbates and multiplies it.

"Day in, day out, I think the best reaction to Muslim terrorism is to encourage good coexistence. To make achievements in coexistence known is a variant of this attitude that is especially appropriate for a journalist like me."

November 24, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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