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RANYA KHALIFA: "Democracy Digest"...


"Black Sunday"...What Lies Beneath...

Posted on October 11, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Countless blog posts and articles have been written and pundits have analyzed the events that took place on Sunday evening as Copts marched from Shubra to Maspero on October 9th, 2011.  But this march wasn't like the others that were held by Copts in Maspero since January 25th.  This "Bloody Sunday" brought out all that has been lurking beneath the "Egyptian fabric", which is in my opinion, in desperate need for alterations. And it was about time that this fabric ripped itself apart in order to mend itself back again...only if we, as Egyptians, recognize the faults and diligently work to remedy them.

How many times since January 25th did we hear the famous chants of Tahrir Square "Muslim and Christian are one hand"??...and why do we so fiercely want to demonstrate that Muslims and Copts are living together happily ever after?  Is it because in our "collective conscience" we recognize that there is a deep rift between them? When and how did this rift begin? I don't wish to delve into a historical analysis of events nor do I intend to recount figures and data.  I prefer to speak of these changes from a purely socio-political point of view.  

We must admit to the fact that the events of Maspero have revealed the ugly face of sectarianism in Egypt.  Muslims and Copts are not "one hand".  Muslims make up 90% of the Egyptian population and our personal ID's provide hard evidence of our religious affiliation.  I personally believe that your religion is a personal and private matter, one that should not be made public so as not to deprive any individual of an equal opportunity or chance in life.  Isn't that the essence of equality?  Friedrich Hayek, an Austrian-born political theorist wrote in his "constitution of liberty"  that equality of opportunity demands that "there are no artificial obstacles, such as birth, race or gender, standing in the way of people making the most of their natural gifts and achieving their full potential".  Therefore, equality demands a level playing field

When our personal ID's display our religious affiliation, that exemplifies a contravention in the essence of "equal opportunity" and "level playing field".  Not only is religious affiliation mandatory as a required field in Egyptian personal ID's, but I recall stating my religion in my resume whenever I applied for a job! Why does my religion have to figure in my resume?  Here I was thinking that getting a job was merely based on merits and job experience!  Would my religion affect my salary?  More importantly, would my religion affect my chances of being interviewed for the job in the first place? And the answer is "yes", whether we care to admit or not.  In Egypt, your religious affiliation "matters".

This fact was blatantly evident on "Black Sunday"...after watching several Talk Shows and reels of video footage, I got the sense that some Muslim Egyptians felt offended that Copts would dare take to the streets and "demand their rights".  How could a minority of 10% brazenly stop traffic and demand to be heard? But, it is their right, assuming that things will change after January 25th and that our "mentality" will evolve as well!  Ladies and gentlemen, the most persistent anxiety that concerns me is the "tyranny of the majority"..."whereby the majority would abuse their position of power to trample underfoot the rights of minorities, vindicated by a system that seemed to legitimize the realization of their desires and aspirations" (Ben Dupre). 

And if we are steadfast in our efforts to build a "new Egypt", one that is founded on equal opportunity, respect for human rights, and the empowerment of women, then we must come to terms with the fundamental term, "equality".  It is a long road ahead...but there's no turning back now.  Reversing decades of repression and contention will not be swift, but we also cannot afford to have cosmetic, rudimentary alterations to our "social fabric".  The January 25th revolution demanded, "freedom and social justice". Martyrs died during January 25th Revolution... and others died on October 9th.  They were all EQUALLY martyrs...they were all EGYPTIANS.

Categories: Egyptian Politics Today...

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