January 7, 2011

Egypt's Muslims Unite With Christians: “We either live together, or we die together,”

Egypt's Muslim majority has made as definitive an anti-radical muslim statement as can be made in the wake of the devastating attack on Saints Church in Alexandria on New Years Eve that killed 21 people.  Thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches throughout Egypt, offering their bodies as human shields, following threats posted online by terrorists groups to attack Christians in the mid east. The Copts are the biggest Christian community in the Middle East and account for up to 10 per cent of Egypt's 80 million population.

After brutal attacks on non muslims by terrorist groups, it has been typical to hear people say something along these lines; "why doesn't the Muslim community take a definitive stand against terrorists"? This was many times my own reaction. Now, it wasn't as if individuals and representative organizations within the Muslim world didn't decry terrorist acts, many did.  But those verbal repudiations either were received as tepid or worse, were offered alongside criticisms of US foreign policy that made those offering them sympathetic to the terrorists point of view, negating the impact of such repudiations. 

Egypt's Muslim majority however, by showing up at Coptic Churches to participate in New Year's Mass and thereby placing themselves under the same threat of death as Egypt's Christian minority, communicates their good will and desire for peace in a way mere statements of abhorrence for violence could never do. For Muslim populations elsewhere, whether in the majority or the minority, this is the template to follow to make a convincing statement against radical muslims using violence and terror to achieve their political objectives.
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