Both Egyptian Christians and Muslim are embracing nationalism to counteract the growing Islamist sentiment in the country, reports the Washington Post (Oct. 3).
The “swell of nationalism” the country is experiencing started during the revolution of 2011 and intensified when citizens took to the streets last summer to demand the removal of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, writes Monique El-Faizy. The tendency of Egyptian Christians to live a more cloistered existence in Egypt began in the 1970s but signs of interreligious cooperation began to develop since 2011. The recent opposition to Morsi was fueled both by religious minorities fear of discrimination and many moderate Muslims’ concern about a total Islamization of society.
Important to early nationalist protests against British rule in the early 20th century was the idea that both Christians and Muslims formed the elements of Egyptian society—a tendency that is appearing again under the threat of dominance of the Muslim Brotherhood, El-Faizy writes. Unlike pan-Arab nationalist movements in the region that tended to exclude Christians, the current protests are appealing to the strong patriotic sentiments of Coptic Christians. But such nationalist sentiment is concentrated among the upper and upper-middle classes, while the lower classes are more conservative and are dominated by Islamists. The mood of unity also may not last; it still remains to be seen how the constitution will be rewritten and who will gain power in parliamentary and presidential elections.