I surreptitiously pulled down my rolled-up sleeves to hide the fact that I didn’t have a cross tattooed on my arm like everyone else around me did. For the first time, I felt as though I was a minority in a group that wouldn’t accept me on principle. I forced myself to talk to the man next to me to give the appearance of normality.
Suddenly I saw Ibram, an old friend of mine. We were together at school and we took part in lots of activities together at university. He’s my neighbor, and his father owns one of the biggest gold dealerships in the area. Ibram was carrying a gilt wooden cross and shouting at the top his voice, “Kyrie Eleison.” I never imagined Ibram amongst people like this. He was always one of the gentlest people I knew and one of the most respectful of others.
So now I have a problem. On my right is someone who’s calling on people to uncover the Muslims hidden among them, and on my left is Ibram, who’s leading a group of his friends in a chant. He was riding on one of his friends shoulders. He knows me well. Any indication from him about my true identity would make me a dead man.
A Middle Easter blog The Skeptic has an English translation of the account of a Moslem Blogger who was present at one of the Coptic Church stabbings in Alexandria. The full post is well worth reading. The author, who seems to be moderate and tolerant and, after coming out of Friday prayers sees a commotion at the Coptic Church across the street goes over to see what it is about. He stays as the crowd swells and their mood gets uglier.
Among that crowd are people he counts as friends in the beginning of the article, but in the end he seems not to be able to understand even a slice of the crowd's anger.
A final word: This country is far more beset by meanness, racism, and hatred than I’d imagined. Of course I understand the Copts’ response. But just because a criminal comes from one religion doesn’t mean you should criminalize all his coreligionists. All this does is foster resentment, persecution, and bigotry—and more importantly, charges of betrayal.
As one of the demonstrators hysterically told me: “For more than 1,400 years we’ve been treated like shit. It’s enough. We’ve had enough of burying our heads in the sand like ostriches.”
And to Mark: There’s no brotherhood in this country, not a third brother, not a second brother, not a tenth brother. Nothing.--------------------
Via Rantings of a Sandmonkey who has quite a few more posts on the situation in Egypt after the attack on the Coptic Churches.