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April 17, 2011

I have already written about the importance that the Copts construct their own political philosophy as I think no nation can fight for its fundamental freedoms and human rights without first being fully versed in the main schools of current and relevant political theory, and then, second, articulating its own political philosophy on how best to arrange its collective life – a philosophy that is able to answers the fundamental ‘ought’ questions that lie at the heart of its political belief. You can read more about that in: and also in:

Now, I think the Copts’ difficulty in political work is not confined to their struggling with political theory – much of their weakness is basic, and related to the confusion and ambiguities they encounter at the meaning of words and terms.  One cannot move any step forward, in intellectual and honest political debate, without first managing to define the words he uses. As our struggle is, inter alia, a struggle for the minds and hearts of not just the Moderate Muslims in Egypt and the international community at large, but in the first place a fight to win Copts over to our nationalistic, but moderate, cause, it is essential that the terms we use are as clear and sharp as possible, so that they produce the desired effect that is intended during conversations and dialogues.

The purpose of clarifying the meaning of words, and reducing their obscurity, is linked to the development of a comprehensive political philosophy of the highest standards since words are the building blocks for any intelligent theory. In this sense, I think developing a Coptic POLITICAL DICTIONARY will help Copts to become stronger in politics in general, and will hopefully advance their cause.

And lastly, but not least, this Dictionary of Politics will help to define the political thinking of the Coptic Nationalists, and make the distinction between them, as a mature and responsible political force in Coptic and Egyptian politics, and some other individuals and groups, that are amateurish in their approach and lacking in depth, clear.

I will start this Dictionary by introducing the definition of some words, all arranged alphabetically, and as time advances, I will introduce more to it. Let us start then, and may God make it a useful project. Amen.

COPTIA كوبتيا: the Copts’ physical space, community or communities, and NATION. For detailed definition go here:

ISLAM IN EGYPT الإسلام في مصر: the religion of the majority of Egyptians, and, in its traditional interpretation, is divided into NON-POLITICAL ISLAM and POLITICAL ISLAM.

ISLAMISTS الإسلاميون: those who believe in Political Islam and want to impose it on us, our opinion or will being inconsequential. The real danger to Egypt, its unity and progress, is the Islamists and the ideology of Political Islam.

ISLAMISM الإسلامية: is the ideology of the Islamists; i.e. of Political Islam.

MODERATE MUSLIMS المعتدلون المسلمون: those who don’t believe in Political Islam, and don’t seek to rule Egypt by it. It must be realised that some who pose themselves as Moderate Muslims are only so superficially – they can revert to Islamism easily when challenged. Moderate Muslims are also called ZAGHLULISTS, after the leader of the 1919 Revolution, Sa’d Zaghlul, who did not believe in Political Islam, and wanted to build, with the Copts, a secular, democratic and modern Egypt where all its citizens, regardless of their religion, are treated equally before the law.

MUSLIMS OF EGYPT المسلمون في مصر: are not one homogeneous group, but, from the Coptic point of view, are divided into two broad groups – the Islamists and the Moderates. Both are Muslims, but not all are Islamists. It must be realised by the Copts that not all Muslims in Egypt are bad or against us. Copts must resist falling in the political and moral trap of considering all Muslims in Egypt as anti-Coptic. It is not helpful to play the game of numbers – no one knows who forms the majority of the Muslims and who forms the minority; it is, however, clear that the Islamists at the present have a much wider influence, which is augmented by the widespread illiteracy, poverty and corruption in Egypt. The situation is not made easier by the apathy of the Moderates. It is the duty of the Moderate Muslim to check the spread and influence of the Islamists, and to convince the Copts, and the international community, that they are the real representatives of Islam in Egypt.

NATION الأمة: a group of people who possess all or some of the objective criteria of nationhood, which could include commonality of race, language, religion, culture, history, territorial contiguity, and economic interests, and which help inculcate in the mental constitution of that people a unique situation that creates in them common feelings of belonging and pride, and a will to live together for the future in order to enjoy their special way of life, and be able to defend themselves, and their way of life, against threats and aggressive behaviour by outsiders.

NON-POLITICAL ISLAM الإسلام غير السياسي: that part of Islam which is concerned with the personal relationship between the Muslim and Allah or other humans, and does not form part of POLITICAL ISLAM.

POLITICAL ISLAM الإسلام السياسي: a despotic ideology that is anti-democracy, anti-human rights, anti-Copts, anti-women, anti-progress. Its five distinctive features are to be found here:

RELIGIONISM الدينية: is the belief, ideology, that the followers of one religion are superior to the followers of other religions; that these latter are inferior in value by some divine pronouncement, and, in consequence, they should be held in a lower place in society and the body politic: humiliated, discriminated against, and their rights and liberties seriously curtailed.

RELIGIONIST الديني: someone who believes in religionism, and seeks to propagate or implement its ideology. Religionist الديني is different from religious المتديِّن.

ZAGHLULISTS الزغلوليون: those who, like Sa’d Zaghlul, do not believe in Political Islam, and want to build, with the Copts, a secular, democratic and modern Egypt where all its citizens, regardless of their religion, are treated equally before the law.

ZAGHLULISM الزغلولية: the political creed that Egypt must be secular, democratic and modern; and that all its citizens, regardless of their religion, should be treated as equals before the law.

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