Opinion

The Ghosts Behind Egypt’s Sectarian Violence

The Ghosts Behind Egypt’s Sectarian Violence

 

An Egyptian man walks by a burnt out car and shop following sectarian violence in Kossous.

Sectarian violence has once again gripped the hearts and minds of Egyptians, following the tragic deaths of seven on the outskirts of Cairo. The small town of Kossous was shaken after its streets were left bloodied and littered with smashed cars, burnt-out shops, and shattered glass.

Yet the violence, which left mothers without their children, and daughters without their fathers, is not the first to challenge Egyptian society. For the past few decades, hundreds of Egyptians – mainly Coptic Christians – have been killed amid heightened tensions between Muslims and Christians.

The violence which impacts thousands of Egyptian lives each year is a mystery. The media is quick to show flashing images of rock-throwing, gun-fire, burning cars, and men carrying their comrades to safety, but a few days later Egyptians are left with no solution. The screams of those who were injured, the cries of the mothers of those who have died are instantly drowned in a sea of talk shows and empty promises by the government.

Unlike elsewhere, the perpetrators in Egypt are rarely brought to justice. While the USA plastered photographs of those involved in the Boston Bombings all over the media and shut down a whole city to capture the bombers (albeit kill one in the process), Egypt simply blames ‘unknown groups’ – ghosts – with no one ever standing trial for the horrific acts. Families are left with no closure and Egypt is left divided.

Violence erupted last week outside a Cathedral in Cairo following the funeral of four Copts who were killed in Kossous.

Yet, these ‘ghosts’ that are behind the attacks are not part of a foreign plan to destabilize Egypt. They are not remnants of the Mubarak regime (as in the recent Cathedral attacks) or members of a radical Islamist group. They are average Egyptians.

The ghosts are the result of a deteriorating society. They are the outcome of a media that sensationalizes and speculates. Above all, they are the consequence of stubborn religious and political leaders and a flailing education system.

The ghosts breathe radical religious speech that is spewed – un-moderated – on our television sets. They thrive on ignorance that is grown in Egypt’s deficient schools. And they are encouraged by the blind exchange of accusations between political powers and religious leaders.

Unfortunately, the government and the Egyptian people have failed to recognize that only through real, decisive action can this violence be stopped. They have continued to blame religious differences, while ignoring serious political, economic, and social problems that fuel sectarian violence.

Enough with the rhetoric and the blaming of ghosts.

Just two years ago, Muslims and Christians stood side-by-side during protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak. The unity displayed then has since wavered.

At a time where Egypt is entering a new-found era – an era where Egyptians are no longer afraid to let their voices be heard – it is each Egyptian’s duty to ensure that those who are constantly being trampled upon are allowed to stand up for their rights.

It is a time where we – as Egyptians and not as Muslims or Christians – unite and no longer accept the deaths of several Copts and Muslims over a weekend as a ‘normal outcome of religious tensions,’ but as a grave problem that requires serious action.

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