Religion and Ethics Newsweekly—Egypt’s Coptic Tensions

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[FRED] DE SAM LAZARO: Author and democracy activist Alaa Al Aswany also blames poor governance for Egypt’s persistent poverty. He says the resulting frustration has often fueled sectarian tension, and beginning in the 1970s so has a steady rise in the Wahabi brand of religious conservatism, imported and financed from Saudi Arabia.

ASWANY: You have, for example, in Egypt more than 17 TV channels every day promoting the Wahabi ideas, and this way of understanding the religion is very exclusive in the sense that they are against anybody who is different. They are against Shia, people of Iran. They are against even Muslims who are for democracy, like myself, accusing me of being secular, against the religion. They are against Jews, of course. They are against Christians. They are against everybody who is not with them.

DE SAM LAZARO: Egyptians who grew up in the 50s and 60s see the growing influence of Wahabism. Most Egyptian women cover their hair today, and growing numbers don the niqab, covering all but their eyes. It’s evident even in cemeteries like this one, where you can see disagreement over allowing inscriptions on tombstones.

AHMED THARWAT (reading inscription): This is “the most merciful” whatever, and then somebody says we’re not supposed to do that, he wipes it, and you actually see the culture clashing in print, right before your eyes.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church

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