ONE USELESS STATEMENT ON THE COPTIC SITUATION
Pieternella Van Doorn-Harder has written a chapter titled ‘Copts: Fully Egyptian, but for a Tattoo?‘ in Nationalism and Minority Identities in Islamic Societies (Ed. Maya Shatzmiller; McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005).
The chapter is good but I am writing here to point to one useless conclusion; the sort of thing I often find in some Western writings concerned with the conditions of the Christians in the Middle East. Van Dootn-Harder concludes the chapter by these words:
It is true that Coptic children will never stop singing the words from the popular song ‘I am a Christian, a Christian … [Look at] the tattoo on my hand!’ but this tattoo will hinder the Copts’ full integration only as long as Egypt does not have a fully democratic system that guarantees freedom of expression and belief for all.
This is as useless statement as saying, for example, that a man in South Africa (under Apartheid) will never shed his black skin, but this will hinder his full integration only as long as South Africa does not have a fully democratic system that guarantees equality regardless of colour.
A more useful statement in respect of the Coptic child with a tattoo of the cross on his hand should be something like this: “… but this tattoo hinders his full integration and will continue to be so for as long as Political Islam and Arabism continue to rule the minds of the Muslims if Egypt.”
That would be stating the unhappy fact and pointing to the pathological causes of that situation at the same time. It’s not only useful but informative and brave.