Saturday, January 08, 2011

We Either Live Together or We Die Together: Human Shields in Egypt

A good friend posted an article on her Facebook that caught my attention today. I seem to be saying that a great deal lately, don't I? This article, in particular, was interesting. It was written to talk about one of the many responses to the church bombing in Alexandria on New Year's Day. You'd have to have been hiding under a rock (or maybe in America) not to have heard about the bombings. But, I expect most people may not hear about the various responses.

Personally, I've been heartened by the responses we've seen from the Muslim world. The leaders here have been unanimous in denouncing the bombings and those who carried them out. Our own, King Abdullah, was one of the earliest to speak out against it. For those who may not be aware (most of the world), yesterday was the Eastern church's Christmas. The Eastern churches (including the Orthodox and Copts) celebrate both Christmas and Easter on a different schedule than the Western church. The response of the Muslim community in Egypt to the Alexandria bombings gives me some measure of hope.

As you can read for yourself, the Muslim community came out and made a wall of human shields to help protect those going into churches for their Christmas day services. The man who championed the idea, Mohamed El-Sawy, is quoted as saying, "We either live together, or we die together." And in the spirit of that, famous actors and every day people from all walks of life took the streets by the thousands to show solidarity with their Christian countrymen. El 3atal's perennial favorite, Adel Imam, was there as were two of the President of Egypt's sons.

I wonder how it must have felt to the Copts and Orthodox heading out to church, uneasy and uncertain. They went forth to celebrate one of their most holy days knowing that they could have been risking their lives just by going to pray. How must it have felt to find your church surrounded by Muslims there to help protect you? I will admit that the mere idea brings tears to my eyes. In this region, we hear talk, talk, talk about extremism. We see a squeezing out of the Christian population through hardships, both large and small. And, as a Christian in the Middle East, I can assure you I often feel marginalized and somehow second class. Seeing these people willing to stand for their fellow countrymen, their fellow humans, is moving. I would like to see more of this. Across religions and across cultures we need to realize that "we either live together, or we die together." There really aren't any other options, now are there?

Happy Human Shields!


At 8:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful thing what the Muslims in Egypt did.

However, I also considered that most extremist/terrorist groups would tell them to die together. As we have seen time and time again, Al-Qaeda and similar groups have no qualms about blowing up fellow Muslims either...

At 12:38 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Emi, that is true. However, as the more mainstream groups begin to show solidarity the extremists have fewer places to hide. Once the silent complicity stops, the terror campaigns are harder to perpetrate. After all, usually the friends and neighbors know what's going on. If they are no longer ignoring it, then the world becomes a better place for everyone.

At 12:45 AM , Anonymous kinzi said...

I got teary reading your perspective on it, MB.

Breaking denial, breaking silence, is a courageous and easy first step of solidarity.

At 10:59 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Thanks Kinz.


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