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EMANCIPATING OURSELVES FROM ALL ARAB AND MUSLIM CULTURE

July 13, 2019

Identity

Painting by Guirguis Lotfi

WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE DIFFERENT – THAT WE SHOULD BE DIFFERENT; AND THAT IT IS GOOD TO BE DIFFERENT

There is no doubt that the Copts have been influenced by Arab and Muslim culture in many ways to the detriment of their character and identity. It would be unimaginable for that not to happen. Every nation that falls under the political, economic and social dominance of another nation will be influenced by the culture and civilisation of that dominant nation to a varying degree. Still we must pay tribute to the Copts’ resilience that kept them still in existence after nearly fourteen centuries of oppression. It is no less than a miracle that they have held tight to their religion and the core of their culture against all the odds. But no one should underestimate the changes that have occurred in our nation because of that dominance. These changes are acts of assimilation in many outward and inward manifestations.

Every Copt must work to emancipate himself from the Arabic and Islamic effects – effects that damage and distort our character, mind and tongue. To free ourselves from Arab and Islamic cultural influence, one needs a conscious effort – a mental decision – to do so. He must understand that we are different – that we should be different; and that it is good to be different. He must believe that we are a unique nation with distinct attributes based on race, religion, history, language, culture, art, etc.; and that it is a duty to preserve our nation, its ideals, its character and its culture. He must not just resist further assimilation – Arabisation and Islamic acculturalisation – but reverse external and internal change that have already been brought about by assimilation. And, finally, he must be strong and astute, and be ready to answer back criticisms: preservation of identity and resistance of assimilation are not acts of hate or disrespect: let the Arabs be Arabs and let the Copts be Copts; and let none oppress the other. Arab Egyptians have, without shame, the tendency to accuse us, once we call for preservation of our nation and our unique identity, of “عنصرية”, which is the Arabic word for ‘racism’: truly, as the Arab proverb says, “Those with a sense of shame have long been dead.”

 

 

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