First of all, I want to start this entry by stating: the Copts of Egypt are the sons and daughters of this country, and every true Muslim knows that and admits it, too. During the Egyptian revolution, millions of Copts filled the Squares and streets of Egypt. The Copts were the ones who protected the Muslims while they prayed, and vice verca. During the 18 days of our revolution there was no single attack on a church or a mosque. Those 18 days are the strongest evidence that the Egyptian people are one no matter their differing religious views.
Since Mubarak`s removal, the Copts started to feel more vulnerable, especially in light of the rapid growth of the Islamic parties in Egypt’s political life. To complicate matters, as Egypt awaits her new constitution—to be drafted—Copts fear that equal rights may not be granted.
Who is Pope Shenouda the III?
Pope Shenouda III
Pope Shenouda was the spiritual leader of all Middle Eastern Christians since 1971 until his death on the 18th of March. He alone was facing all the problems and demands of the Copts of Egypt. He loved Egypt and wrote poets about her, one of his most popular poems says, “Egypt isn’t a home we live in, Egypt is a home that lives inside of us”.
In 1979, after Camp David, Pope Shenouda announced his opposition to the peace treaty with Israel and also banned the Copts of Egypt from visiting Jerusalem. Following the Pope’s actions, Anwar Al Sadat put him under house arrest and eventually exiled him. Three years later, once Mubarak became president, he granted the Pope amnesty. A year later, the Pope created a new tradition in which he hosted a yearly Ramadan iftar banquet at his own residence for all the Muslim figures of Egypt. He really treated all the Muslims like members of his own family.
He was indeed a very kind, wise and brave man. He had the political know-how to handle those extremists who seek and sought to divide the unity of Egypt. His death is a major loss to all the people of my Egypt.
The important question now is how Pope Shenouda’s eventual successor will react to the situation in Egypt, handle Church affairs and guide the Copts? Is he going to take the same steps as Pope Shenouda? Or will he use a different approach? Will he change the current stance on Israel and allow Copts to visit Jerusalem?
Before trying to answer the all of these questions, we all have to consider the generation of young Copts today and their feelings towards the Church and the revolution. They do not want to be tied down or to have curb their demands to the precincts of the Church. Although these young people are very loyal to the Church, there is a growing movement among this generation towards emancipation from the Church. After the revolution, this new movement grew rapidly because the young Copts felt betrayed after the Pope banned the Copts from joining the protests. This ban, however, didn’t stop the Copts of Egypt from doing their solid part in the revolution.
It is too soon to tell what`s going to happen in the future, but this is a very crucial period of time in my Egypt. We all have to unite together and stand undivided so we all can achieve the dream of being free Egyptians.