Reasons to be Optimistic about Egypt

At the beginning of the year, there was a story about Coptic Christians in Egypt suffering from attacks by Muslim radicals. In response, large numbers of their Muslim neighbors joined them at church to offer a human shield for their protection.

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside. [...]

From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

Now it appears that in the midst of the uprising, some Christians are returning the favor. Via Reddit, here’s a photograph of Egyptian Christians forming a human chain to protect a praying group of Muslims:


Another story comes from the Egyptian Museum, which houses an enormous number of artifacts from ancient Egypt. The museum suffered from looting, vandalism or both during the early part of the protests. Then, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Egyptian citizens once again formed a human shield around the museum until the military could arrive:

One man pleaded with people outside the museum’s gates on Tahrir Square not to loot the building, shouting at the crowd: “We are not like Baghdad.” After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, thieves carted off thousands of artifacts from the National Museum in Baghdad — only a fraction of which have been recovered.

Suddenly other young men — some armed with truncheons taken from the police — formed a human chain outside the main entrance in an attempt to protect the collection inside.

“I’m standing here to defend and to protect our national treasure,” said one of the men, Farid Saad, a 40-year-old engineer.

Another man, 26-year-old Ahmed Ibrahim, said it was important to guard the museum because it “has 5,000 years of our history. If they steal it, we’ll never find it again.”

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  • JC

    Soemtimes people surprise me in a pleasant way.

  • Lowtuff

    Things like this warm my heart.
    PEACE! :D

  • Thin-ice

    I am torn: are moderate forms of religion actually a positive force, or, like Sam Harris (was it him?) says, does moderate religion form a cover or shield to protect & nurture fundamentalism?

    • Elemenope

      The almost-too-easy answer is: they do both.

    • D’n

      Religious moderation is a rejection of certain parts of the religion because they don’t agree with actual reality. This is a step towards a complete rejection of faith. I think that it should be encouraged, but never mistaken as the true goal/desired final outcome.

  • Yoav

    These stories are a real cause for hope, it shows that the people of Egypt see themselves as one nation rather then as muslims, christians, whatever that just happen to live in the same place. If the people who were willing to stand up for their neighbors against the radicals can win then there is real chance for Egypt to transit out of the Mubarak dictatorship into a nation that is working for all it’s people. I truly hope the people of Egypt can get it done it’s in their hands. At the moment the rest of us can just watch and wish for the best since there is very little the west can do right now (a too strong involvement of the US may even hurt).

    • Thomas Urashi

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Yoav, on all your points.

      In my opinion, before a nation can begin instituting republican pricinciples in government that nation’s people need to demonstrate not only a tolerance for pluralism but also an appreciation of its cultural/societal value as well. Also, I may be wrong about this, but it doesn’t seem that Egyptians embrace the sort of clan alliances and tribalism we see in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc. Sadly, those are the places where some sort of dictatorship seems a practical necessity.

      The new Egyptian Vice-Prez, Suleiman, says Egypt isn’t ready for democracy. Is he right, or is this just the usual authoritarian bluster? I can’t decide, but it seems, aside from Lebanon — which always seems on the verge of something great only to be shot down by inside fundamentalism and outside political intrigue and assasinations — Egypt and Iran have the best chances of incorporating the kind of republican/democratic ideals that could really make a positive difference in the region.

      It may be that a new lesson of history is that it’s a real bitch being dictator in the Information Age. So don’t look for N. Korea, Myanmar and such to start raising new cell towers any time soon.

  • Rechelle

    Covered in goosebumps. So brave and so good.

  • mikespeir

    That is encouraging. We’ll see.

  • LabRat

    This is pretty cool. I visit Unreasonable Faith every day and have finally decided to post. I agree with mikespeir, “That is encouraging. We’ll see.”

    • LRA



    • kholdom0790

      I’m encouraged. This sounds good. I hope it stay that way.

  • LRA

    The Religious Right needs to pay attention to this…

  • Sundog

    In every faith, as among we faithless, there are good people, bad people and other people.
    It’s a wonderful thing to see the good people take a stand, and espouse through their acts what they espouse with their words.