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Columnists debate sectarian tensions in Egypt

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After the recent incidents in front of St. Mark’s Cathedral, writers in major Egyptian newspapers have explored the issue of sectarian strife in the country, believing that the extremism spreading across Egypt is the primary cause of the sectarian violence.

5-1 Mohamed AbulGhar

The road to fascism

Mohamed Abul Ghar

Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper

Abul Ghar condemns the recent crackdown on prominent media figures and activists. He criticises the ruling administration of the Muslim Brotherhood and states that they do not understand concepts such as creativity and innovation. Therefore, Egypt is becoming a closed country more than it used to be even during the dark 30 years of Mubarak’s rule. Abul Ghar mentions the summoning of the Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef and hopes that presidential aide for foreign affairs Essam Al-Haddad, one of the most reasonable among the Muslim Brotherhood in Abul Ghar’s view, will stop the “hassle” of Youssef’s interrogation. The writer censures the Muslim Brotherhood, who said they will ban American satirist Jon Stewart from entering Egypt because he strongly criticised President Morsi and his group in the last episode of his show. If the Muslim Brotherhood, as a conservative group, dislikes creative personalities and innovative figures, then they are destroying the basis for freedom of media and expression in Egypt.  Abul Ghar concludes his column by stating that the Muslim Brotherhood’s recent behavior is scandalous, and is tantamount to fascism.

5-1 Hassan Nafaa

The extremists

Hassan Nafaa

Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper

Is there anything more awful than extremism, especially if it relates to religion? Nafaa explores the issue of extremism, stating that it denotes a person’s intolerance of different views.  Therefore, extremism is a social disease that should be eradicated completely. The writer recalls the recent sectarian incidents in Al-Khasous where a number of Christians were killed and injured. He also condemns the clashes in front of St. Mark’s Cathedral, stating that spreading extremism could lead to complete destruction.

Even before the 25 January 2011 revolution, sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians were obvious, as a number of Salafis called for a protest to start from Abasseya’s Al-Nour mosque heading to the Cathedral and called for the overthrowing of the late Pope Shenouda. Muslims at the time accused the church of not adhering to the constitution. Tensions accelerated after the revolution when the security vacuum widened in the country. The writer believes that the only way out of sectarian tensions in Egypt is to establish a genuine civil state based on equal opportunities.

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