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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Jan 5, 2011

الدين لله والوطن للجميع

The Alexandria church attack caused outrage among the Egyptian public in particular and the world in general. The savage terrorist attack that caused the deaths and wounding of innocent people after a religious mass was also condemned by the top political and religious leadership of Egyptian society. President Mubarak, Dr. Al-Tayyeb the rector of al-Azhar, Dr. Jumma, the Islamic Mufti of Egypt and Pope Shenouda, the head of the Coptic Church in Egypt. All expressed their rage and stressed Egyptian unity. In addition, protest movements by university students and the public expressed their support of the Coptic community and stressed Egyptian national unity as the main policy to combat terrorism and foreign interference.

As an academic who lived and conducted research in Egypt since 1960, I have observed Islamic militant trend that began to rise in the 1970s during President Sadat’s government, where certain Muslim groups In Egypt viewed Copts as an alien minority. This wave of discrimination in the Arab world was also enhanced by the increasing influence of the Saudi Wahabi sect nearly all over the Arab world. Those Muslim fanatics including bin Laden and al-Qaeda are a disgrace for Islam and their phony struggle will lead nowhere. In addition, it will continue to enhance Islamophobia worldwide.

Furthermore, government policy towards the Copts enhanced discrimination. For example, Copts are not allowed to build their own churches or to renovate existing ones. The same laws are not applied to Islamic places of worship. In any society, when discrimination is based on religious affiliation, the society is in trouble.

Egypt is in big trouble and unless the government moves fast to remove the obstacles that prevent Copts from building their own churches, discrimination and upheaval will continue. Discrimination contributes to the weakening of a society’s social structure and opens the doors for foreign interference. Pope Benedict XVI called on the Egyptian government to protect its Christian minority. The irony is that throughout human history, Egypt created a more peaceful atmosphere for its people than other countries did, including those in the West.

In a speech given by Prince Hassan of Jordan at a Greek Orthodox church in Amman, he condemned not only the attacks on churches in Iraq and Egypt, but also emphasized the fact that such attacks are in violation of basic Islamic teaching. Prophet Muhammad emphasized that the followers of the Holy books (Christians and Jews) should be treated with respect and equality. The prince continued to point to the contributions Christians have made throughout history in all walks of life. They are the ones who introduced the first printing machines in Syria and Lebanon and were leading thinkers and contributors to Arabic language. Going back to the 7th and 8th centuries, leading Christian and Jewish scientists played a significant role in the development of Arab-Islamic civilization. The Christian minorities in the Arab world played a significant role in nationalist movements fighting European colonialism of the Arab world. As the common Arabic saying goes, الدين لله والوطن للجميع or “Religion for God,and national home for all”.

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