Strife in Egypt

By Sami Aboudi

CAIRO, May 27 (Reuters) – Last January, Nazih Moussa Gerges locked up his downtown Cairo law office and joined hundreds of thousands of fellow Egyptians to demand that President Hosni Mubarak step down.

The 33-year-old Christian lawyer was back on the streets this month to press military rulers who took over after Mubarak stepped down to end a spate of sectarian attacks that have killed at least 28 people and left many afraid.

Those who camped out in Tahrir Square side by side with Muslims to call for national renewal now fear their struggle is being hijacked by ultra-conservative Salafist Islamists with no one to stop them.

“We did not risk our lives to bring Mubarak down in order to have him replaced by Salafists,” Gerges said. “We want an Egypt that will be an example of democracy and freedom for the whole world.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Robin

    What was it, one week ago where you posted an article comparing the Egyptian uprising to the Civil Right Movement? Except for me and one other poster everyone else seemed to agree, no one else thought to bring up the Christian churches that the gallant heroes of Alice Walker were burning, or the fact that these modern day “freedom riders”, as they were called in the article, were raping women in the streets. Jeff Cook even asked how the church could aid in encouraging the revolution.

    I am glad that you see the truth is more complex than it appeared a week ago.

  • Ryan

    Yeah you are dead on Robin. When much of the Egyptian revolution was going on, posts were frequent on this blog how this was a secular revolution that would bridge the divide between Copts and Muslims. I remember countless comments on here outright dismissing the role of the Muslim Brotherhood or other extremist Islamic groups going forward.

    Now we are finding out just the opposite is true, including Egyptian authorities horrifically conducting “virginity checks” on women. Absolutely disgusting.

  • Jeremy

    I’m not sure it’s early enough to call. It may be true that a religious rise to power will occur, but it does not necessarily follow that it will last. You may get the rise of an Islamic Fundamentalist state. However, the revolution itself was largely secular, so a religious rise to power that does not perform may very well get far less patience. Whatever happens, Egypt is a long way from being stable…Change is risky and difficult though, yes?

    Ryan – Disgusting, certainly, but not as extreme or even religiously motivated as you might think. We’re talking about a very conservative, patriarchal society. Even though we wouldn’t dream of doing something like that now, “slut” is still a pretty nasty assault on a woman’s character.

  • Caleb

    It is crucial to understand the diversity in Islam and the understanding of Islam’s role in society between the various groups in Egypt.

    Much of the negativity directed towards the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, is based on an understanding of the group’s beliefs that was true thirty years ago, but no longer applies. A few weeks ago, the political party that the Muslim Brotherhood is backing/helping to found, voted to have a Copt as the Vice President. 10% of the charter members of the party are Copts. So, what the west often considers as a “fundamentalist”/anti-diversity group is actually doing very much the opposite.

    We need to be more careful about slinging terms like “extremist” and “fundamentalist.”

  • Scot McKnight

    Robin, now just a little comment.

    Since I posted the Freedom fighters with no comment, and this one with no comment, how do you know that I’ve changed my mind?

  • Daniel S

    Egypt is walking on a knife’s edge right now. Along with the political changes and uncertainty, they’re also facing a pretty bleak financial outlook (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-schenker-egypt-20110601,0,7650558.story). If there’s no jobs and no bread by the end of the summer, electoral candidates who proffer scapegoats could do very well. Jews are the traditional target of blame, but Copts and other Christians are closer at hand…


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