Reflections on the Visit of His Exellency Ambassador Sameh Shoukry

It was a pleasure for the congregation receiving H.E. Ambassador Shoukry and the senior staff of the Egyptian Embassy. The meeting was very cordial and amiable.

 It was a pleasure for the congregation receiving H.E. Ambassador Shoukry and the senior staff of the Egyptian Embassy.  The meeting was very cordial and amiable. The main purpose was to discuss consular issues but apparently, H.E. was prepared for other issues by accompanying his section heads to the meeting. He graciously encouraged the congregation to discuss any issue. Members of the congregation also demonstrated their usual civility, respect and love as requested by H.H. Pope Shenouda and beloved Fr. Bishoy Anderawes. It was a pleasant evening and I hope Amb. Shoukry repeats his visit to our Church which he rightly called "home". The Coptic Church is the loving mother of all Egyptians.

The news coming from our Homeland is indeed very disturbing. I left the Country 40 years ago and am very agitated that Egypt of today is not the one I knew and loved and is deteriorating rapidly. It is very distressing that attacks and violence against the Copts became a national sport of our compatriots. In some cases, like Ain Shams, the participating mobs are bigger than those in a stadium for a national soccer game between Ahly and Zamalek. Why and how the attitude changed and where is it going from here, is there a way and hope to reverse the direction?

What is astounding is the stand of the branches of the Egyptian authorities; Executive, Judicial and Legislative. It makes me, and many others, wonder whether the authorities are incapable or unwilling to protect the Coptic citizens and whether the Copts are regarded as full citizens.

I believe impunity and silence of the authorities encourage these injudicious attacks. For example; 21 were killed in the tragedy of Kosheh with total impunity and recently in Minya, a confessed killer received a one-year suspended sentence for a pre-meditated murder. In both cases, as in many others, justice has been aborted and a very dangerous message has been sent out to the public that Coptic blood has no price. The report of the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights and others disclosed grave violations, of commission and not omission, against the Copts in Kosheh by high ranking government officials and Mr. Hafez Abu-Se3da paid dearly for his courage and for revealing the truth at the hands of security forces. It has been said that the exonerations in that case (not a single conviction) resulted from errors of the prosecutor but we did not hear about condemnations of the massacre or mourning of the victims by the President, the Parliament or any official. That was the least the Government could have done to express its disapproval.

I’m no expert in criminal law but I know that a felony is an offense against the nation’s sovereignty before it is an assault against the victim and it is appalling that the nation’s sovereignty is violated repeatedly with total impunity. Add to that what we read and hear in the media that the law is suspended and crimes are being mediated in reconciliation sessions or the victims are treated as criminals and forced to surrender their rights for justice.

Amb. Shoukry stated that Egypt is making progress and is preparing to combat prejudice against the Copts. One sign for the progress he cited is recognizing the prejudice reality and discussing it openly with the congregation which was a taboo only a few years ago. It took the Government a long/long time to recognize and admit the problem. It was in a state of denial and going against strong evidence by blaming the incidents on mentally deranged individuals or describing the incidents as isolated rather than a trend. And now, recognizing the problem with no rectifying action could send a strong signal that it is being condoned or even encouraged.

Another sign H.E. cited is the work on the Unified Code for the Construction of Houses of Worship. While we applaud it, we are not sure when if ever this Code will see the light and might end up in the same drawer with Al-3oteify’s recommendations which was the tranquilizing pill after the infamous massacre of Al-Zawia Al-Hamra when 86 Copts were massacred. Even if the Code is not another sedative, it is like applying a band-aid to a cancer patient. We all know and must admit and recognize the real size and might of the monster the Egyptian society is facing today which was fed and fattened over 50 years by the education system, public and private media, and fanatic preachers who made a profitable career spreading hate and leading the masses astray.

Just as examples; Dr. Zaghlol Al-Naggar alleged that the Coptic Church murdered Wafaa Costantine and kidnapped hundreds of Moslem girls and holding them in locations known to him. The Public Prosecutor should have taken this report of major crimes very seriously. Depending on the results of the investigations, either the Coptic perpetrators or Dr. Naggar are brought to justice. Same thing should apply to many others like Dr. Zainab Abd Al-Aziz who wrote in Al-Masrioun that the Copts are traitors and collaborated with the invading enemies in 1956 and faked the massacres of Al-Zawia Al-Hamra and Kosheh. The purpose of these allegations is very obvious. They are very/very dangerous with very dangerous consequences and must not be ignored by the authorities. Ignoring such destructive activities will lead to break down of law and order. The simple-minded person on the street reveres these personalities and believes every word they say.

At the end of this write-up, I attached a recent article of the great thinker, Mr. Tarek Higgy whom I call "The Sheikh of the Enlightening Intellectuals". I lived through the critical era of Civil Rights Movement in the USA and witnessed the dramatic changes in the public attitude. What Dr. Higgy is prescribing as a medicine for badly needed reform to the Egyptian society is exactly what affected the cure to the American society. I hope his wise ideas don’t fall on deaf ears.

Europe made the mistake of the civil wars between Catholics and Protestants and in the tragedy called the 30-year war, one third of Europe inhabitants perished before the two sides realized their stupidity. Why the human race can’t learn from its past mistakes and keeps on repeating them?

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