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Two incidents that happened yesterday shook me up.
The first is a little piece of news on Facebook that mentioned that the Minister of Education has donated – of course this is public money, not a personal donation – the amount of Fifty Thousand Egyptian Pounds as compensation for the death of a young Muslim boy, killed in a demonstration against the MB, and by the MB. He was shot and killed. This would not have been something to give pause except for the fact that it was a young boy who was shot and killed. But what gave pause was the fact that this same Minister of Education had also given compensation to the families of both Christian young girls who were shot, one eight times and the other thirteen times, by the MB, in front of their church while attending a wedding there. The compensation given by the same Minister, for the same loss, and from the same fund, was Five Thousand Egyptian Pounds for each girl!
This case is such an obvious case of religious discrimination it is embarrassing. Or so you would have thought. If it was not for a very courageous female reporter, Fatma Naout taking up the case and bringing it to the attention of the public, it would have been swept under the carpet and media blackout would have been the norm. What does this Minister think the effect of such behavior could have on the feelings of all Christians in Egypt? Worse still this is the Minister of EDUCATION! What kind of message is he sending to his Ministry, to the educators and teachers in schools, even to the students in schools, of how Christians are to be treated? The straw that broke the camel’s back in this incident is that the Government has completely ignored this incident, not a single statement or a single spokesman to either deny or justify. Well, there IS no justification. Such flagrant religious discrimination was expected under the rule of the MB, but that this should happen under what is supposed to be the “Revolution’s Government” is absolutely unacceptable.
The second incident was a statement made by a lady who happens to be on the staff of the Azhar University, and is a reserve member of the Committee of Fifty who are setting up the current Constitution. This lady categorically stated that neither a woman nor a Christian is to take a position of leadership, when a qualified male is available! She managed to hit two birds with one stone. In one swooping statement she swept aside all principles of equality, be it between Christians and Muslims, or between men and women.
As a Christian Egyptian woman I have lived in Egypt all my life. Egypt is my country which I love unconditionally, it is my home, my roots, my life. I have a large number of friends who happen to be Muslims. It never mattered to either them or me, what religion we belong to. My family has many mixed marriages, quite a few are Muslims, and they are all family. Despite all that, I have met some people who discriminated against me as a Christian.The first incident was in school, but this was quickly nipped in the bud by the school’s administration. Later on, in my career in the workplace, I did encounter several such incidents, but was lucky enough being a good worker, to overcome such discrimination. These acts were, invariably, by people of a certain social and educational background, and I always took it in stride that they did not know any better. But what is taking place now is too obvious and coming from OFFICIAL sources. This is dangerous.
That the Government representative in the person of the Minister of Education, and in the very official act of the Government’s compensation for the death of an Egyptian child at the hands of the MB, that there is such an obvious and complete discrepancy in the amount of the compensation given to a Muslim and that given to Christians, is very disturbing indeed. Even should the Government want to undo the negative effects, this would be very difficult. No apology, even should it come, can wipe out the very obvious act of discrimination.
The final straw is the mentality of a WOMAN who is on the Constitutional Committee who finds it normal to discriminate against women and Christians.
Although there was talk of the resurrection of the infamous Article 219 of the previous Constitution, the Spokesman for the Constitutional Committee of Fifty has categorically denied it. Had that Article been put in, it would have opened the door for a theocracy. But the fact that it was reported by the media that it was put in is enough to demonstrate the state of confusion and suspicion we are all in.
We still have a very long, hard road to travel to reach the establishment of the type of country we would all like to live in. A country where the Bill of Rights of Man is meticulously applied, where the rule of law prevails and applies to all indiscriminately, where the preservation of human dignity and freedom from want are the norm, where happiness is a given right.