Generally we can be skeptical of belief systems which position themselves as the “single bearer of truth” being amenable to other belief systems, but we can see this as a nod in the right direction to how tolerance may be done.
“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.
“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy* (see below for information), a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.
Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.
“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”
In the days following the brutal attack on Saints Church in Alexandria, which left 21 dead on New Year’ eve, solidarity between Muslims and Copts has seen an unprecedented peak. Millions of Egyptians changed their Facebook profile pictures to the image of a cross within a crescent – the symbol of an “Egypt for All”. Around the city, banners went up calling for unity, and depicting mosques and churches, crosses and crescents, together as one.”
* The Coptic community in Egypt has been the target of acts such as this: a powerful bomb, possibly from a suicide attacker, exploded in front of a Coptic Christian church as a crowd of worshippers emerged from a New Years Mass early Saturday, killing at least 21 people and wounding nearly 80 in an attack that raised suspicions of an al-Qaida role. The attack came in the wake of threats by al-Qaida militants in Iraq to attack Egypt’s Christians.”
*The Cultural Center “Culture Wheel” or El Sawy culturewheel (Arabic: ساقية الصاوى) is an all-purpose, private cultural center, located in Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt. It is considered one of the most important cultural venues in Egypt receiving over 20000 visitors monthly. El Sawy culturewheel was established in 2003 by Engineer Mohamed El-Sawy. The art center was named after El-Sawy’s father, Abdel Moneim El-Sawy, who was a well known Egyptian novelist and a former minister of culture for that country. El-Sawy, was the author of a five-part novel series: “El-Sakkia” or (The Wheel) from where the center also takes its name. As it states about its mission: The center is home for a wide range of activities and cultural events. It hosts seminars, workshops, art exhibitions, book fairs and movie shows. Being the first non-government controlled private cultural center in Egypt, its events are claimed to have more freedom and higher quality than those in government-controlled centers. In addition, it organizes a number of conferences and festivals, including an annual theatre festival, the “Sakkia animated film festival”, El Sawy culture wheel festival for documentaries, and El Sakkia conference for Arabic language. The Sawy also includes several sections for arts and music training and a number of libraries, including a musical library and children library and it offers several art classes in painting, sculpture, piano and violin for children and youth.