From Christian-Muslim tensions to Christian-Brotherhood tensions in Egypt

Sent On: 
Fri, 2014-06-06
Newsletter Number: 

In the previous newsletter Jayson Casper wrote about church-state relations. We received a report from researcher Walter Geertz who continues the discussion from a different angle. Geertz argues that many Copts have sought the protection of the army and hence also voted for ‘Abd al-Fattāh al-Sīsī. Much of this is, Geertz argues, due to Coptic Christians rarely engaging in dialogue and in particular neglecting the dialogue with Islamists.

Copts are for this reason a closed group that, Geertz writes, regards outsiders with a high skepsis. On the Islamic side one sees an increase of social engagements, worship and of religious discourse but also the Da’wa, Islamic mission, has increased in importance. This scares Copts which makes them even more withdrawn inside their own community.

Geertz argues that Muslims are generally better equipped to engage with non-Muslims in dialogue then Christians are equipped to engage in dialogue with Muslims.

Geertz also discusses the massive violence against Churches and Christian objects in August 2013 and questions the much heard view that these have been carried out by pro-Morsī supporters.  Geertz does not trust Egypt’s Ministry of Interior since they have used thugs in the past. Thus could they not have used these again for political reasons? Geertz view on this issue is controversial. The main problem remains lack of sufficient information and thus people like Geertz raise questions.

I believe the paper of Geertz contains many valuable observations but where he discusses the violence against Churches and other buildings I believe he entered the realm of speculation. It is nevertheless good to read his observations about Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt.

For the full text please click here.


Cornelis Hulsman

Editor-in-chief,  Arab-West Report