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My Take: Why Egypt's Christians are hopeful but nervous
Crosses and Qurans were raised in Cairo’s Tahrir Square this week.
February 10th, 2011
11:05 AM ET

My Take: Why Egypt's Christians are hopeful but nervous

Editor's Note: Ashley Makar is a graduate student at Yale Divinity School and co-editor of Killing the Buddha.

By Ashley Makar, Special to CNN

Photos from Cairo show triumphant hands in the air - some raising up Coptic Christian crosses, others holding up Qurans.

Egyptian Christians and Muslims gathered together this week to pray for those who’ve died in the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

Muslims formed a protective circle around Christians as they prayed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday, just as Christian protesters had done for Muslims during last Friday’s prayers.

As the daughter of a Coptic-American immigrant to the United States, I’m astonished by such sights. In the many summers I’ve spent between Cairo and Alexandria, I’ve never seen Christian prayers in a public square. I’ve never seen a cross anywhere near a Quran.

Most Egyptian Christians are Coptic, a group of orthodox Christians who trace their lineage to St. Mark, the apostle who evangelized Alexandria in the first century. The majority of Egyptians were Coptic by the seventh century, when Arab Muslims brought Islam to Egypt.

Today, Copts constitute around 10 percent of Egypt’s population.

Christian-Muslim relations in Egypt have been contentious, particularly in recent months. On New Year’s Eve, 23 Copts died in a church bombing in Alexandria. On New Year’s Day, Coptic protesters threw stones at a nearby mosque, clashing with local Muslims and riot police.

The Egyptian government blames the Alexandria church bombing on a foreign terrorist group linked to al Qaeda. The government continues to investigate the bombing.

But from Washington to Cairo, Copts are venting doubts about the integrity of the probe. It’s the talk of the Coptic town.

And it's one reason for a new solidarity between Egyptian Christians and Muslims.

Copts can’t trust the government to protect them. Some discern a pattern of Mubarak provoking Muslim-Christian strife to distract Egyptians from government corruption. When militant Islamists become scapegoats for violence, the Mubarak regime gains brownie points from U.S. supporters for helping the fight against terrorism.

At the same time, Copts really do feel vulnerable to Islamist attacks. Coptic churches received threatening letters not long before the Alexandria church bombing. Simply put, Copts don’t know who to trust.

Too often, I’ve seen that feeling of vulnerability morph into anti-Islamic sentiment. I’ve often found myself defending Muslims in conversations with Coptic-Americans.

It’s true that Copts have long been persecuted in Egypt, often at Muslim hands. Some Egyptian Christians have been killed by Muslims in recent years.

But I haven’t seen the Coptic Church do much in the way of reconciliation. I’m grateful for my Coptic heritage, especially for the beautiful litanies - ancient Coptic prayers - that I often recite on my own. But I can’t wholeheartedly be part of a church whose theology is too orthodox to engage in interfaith dialogue.

Many Copts are ambivalent about the uprising against the Mubarak regime. Though the official church remains silent on the demonstrations at Tahrir Square, Copts have participated in large numbers.

Egyptian Christians are excited and afraid: Excited to rally with the secular youth who began the anti-Mubarak demonstrations, largely through Facebook and Twitter. Afraid that the Muslim Brotherhood will swoop in and take the reigns.

Excited at the prospect of a democratic Egypt. Afraid that free and fair elections could turn into Islamist rule.

Until this month, Copts have tended to prefer the repressive stability of the Mubarak regime over radical change that may put Islamists in power. As my dad’s Coptic-American friends say, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.

But I’m cautiously optimistic that real change is happening in Egypt, that the solidarity between Muslims and Christians, between urban elites and rural farmers, and between computer-savvy youth and illiterate workers - is sustainable.

My dad left Egypt decades ago and settled in Birmingham, Alabama, where he has a small Coptic church community and invites Egyptian friends over for dinner - Christians and Muslims alike.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ashley Makar.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Egypt • Foreign policy • Interfaith issues • Opinion

soundoff (196 Responses)
  1. RHHaith, Houston, TX

    The author mentions that "Interfaith dialog" is important and it is true from the standpoint that Christians need to evangalize the Muslims with the good news of Jesus Christ. Respect for people, their culture, and their customs is very important, but the Lord wants his people to know that the way to his grace is through his Son Jesus Christ. Hopefully, the author and others don't respect the customs of men so much that the important message that God gave us all to deliver is neglected. This is true for Hebrews, Buddhists, and atheists as well.

    February 11, 2011 at 6:30 am |
  2. QS

    So the government used religion as a way to pit one side against another in order to distract them from government corruption?

    When are people going to learn that that is the only thing religion is good for...controlling people and treating them as puppets.

    Have whatever faith in whatever god you feel is best for you, but please, for the sake of the world and its entire population, drop the religion.

    February 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      It seems to me that atheistism it like a pounding headache after a night of drinking. You hate the booze and you hate yourself, therefore you hate the whole day.... You people always believe that religion is bad and evil using the logic from Marx and Engels, refined to pure hate by Lenin and Stalin. You don't want to deal with the concept of having to report your life to a higher being. You adopt Science as your saving grace in every conversation and blame religion for everything, including wars. All along, you just hate yourself and cannot deal with any authority. Am I getting close?

      Control...The best advice for a peaceful society came from the Almighty himself. It is called the Ten Commandments. Look them up. What problems do you have with these? If this is too much control for you then you need to either get religion or a therapist.

      Without religious morals we would have complete anarchy in our streets and governments. The simple rights defined by the founding fathers of the good old USA gives you the right to speak out, it was created not as a secular right but a religious right so all the people from Quakers to Catholics (and every Protestant division in between) could practice their faith as they wished.

      You should be thankful.

      February 10, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  3. MaryAnn zaky

    I am Coptic too and was born here. Thanks for blogging this because this encompasses everything I feel, I could not have said it better so thank you and God Bless

    February 10, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Peter Zaky

      I think , you are mistaken , but thanks god , I like what you said and I hope that you do mean it "Why don't you take time to learn about people and what they do/don't do before speaking?!

      August 27, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  4. scott

    and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight .... He again forbade me to join with any of them (Joseph Smith 2:18-20).

    February 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  5. Bruce

    Ashley, I am an Ethiopian who also resides in the US who has witnessed what the Muslims are capable of, no offense but the American life and view of the world have distorted your understanding about the way things are for the Christians under persecution of the Muslims. Muslims are masters of deceit. They are prophets of love and peace till they get the upper hand. As you have said, just in recent months, the muslims murdered peaceful Christians and not even one single muslim went out in defense of the Christians but rather more threats started coming after learning its possible to murder Christians in their own house of worship and now, they "formed protective rounds when the Copts pray openly" during a national turmoil where everybody is a target. The muslims got in your country as invaders while muslims got in my country as guests of honor and accepted and protected by a Christian King called Armah, now they have rewritten another history claiming he was a convert to Islam when they became the secong major population of my country and in the 15th century, they fought the same Kingdom who received and protected them when they felt like they are powerful enough to make the Christian Empire an Islamic empire. They burned our history, palaces, Churches adorned with gold. And they did that by breaking what their prophet of doom, mohammed told them, he clearly ordered muslims not to attack Ethiopian Christians for they have protected his immediate family when they needed it. Just few years ago, they became majority in some parts of southern Ethiopia and they burned Churches and massacred many Christians in cold blood. They were testing what the reaction would be if they try to do it in the main land but it was not favorable because we went out and burned their mosques down and drove them out from cities where they just started becoming outspoken and formed an underground Christian alliance to fight them whenever they try to kill our brothers and sisters. It sickens in my heart when my Egyptian brothers and sisters face threat from the muslims and i cry when i remember the late Emperors my country had who always stood beside Christians. I wish my country was led by the Monarchy that ended some years ago, we would have come out in rescue but now we can only pray for you. You are lucky to have fathers like Pope Shenouda whom I consider as a human angel living among us, may God be with you and your country, may the Blessed Mother of God, the Virgin Mary shield you from your enemies.

    February 10, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  6. phoenix

    read isiah 19 20 the heathens will perish and the christians will inherit the great sand castle.

    February 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • 808

      that's stupid
      the heathens need Gods help more
      the self-rightous will never win his favous

      February 11, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  7. jane

    They better start packing...

    February 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  8. nme421

    This article has been reposted in the World Faith Blog. To read more visit: http://worldfaith.wordpress.com/

    February 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  9. SilverWind

    That's ashame! I have posted a statement as to what is the difference between Hate and Condemn. I also listed from the dictionary it's definition and synonym to find that Condemn is listed under Hate. To my amazement someone reported my statement as "Report Abuse". It is what it is... it is much easier to point the finger that one religion is wrong and state one religion is right. So my question again...What is the difference between Christians and Muslims?! You both hate each other but you claim you "We love them but just condemn them for what they do." When will be learn to respect each other and just get along regardless of religion, race, color, creed and etc!

    February 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Ashley

      I don't know what Christians you speak for. But, I will tell you just because someone calls themselves a "Christian" it does not define them as one. Even if they take a seat at church on sundays, it doesn't mean they're Christians. Christianity is meant to be a lifestyle. If a Christian "hates" another person, it isn't parallel to the teachings of Christ. Christ taught to pray for your enemies. Otherwise, you may as well be blind. "The blind will lead the blind into a ditch."

      February 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • SilverWind

      Christians Condemn (synonym "hate") Muslims but state we love you even though you are an enemy to us because we condemn your belief because it is against the word of God. Muslims Condemn (synonym "hate") Christians for the same reason for it is against the word of Allah. Two religion that are very similar but one thinks they are right and the others are wrong. Christ never taught religion and Muhammed never taught religion. They've taught to love one another and respect one another. People created religion and religion must die in order for all of us to learn to love each other and accept each other for who we are. How ironic, there is a Christian song that states..."There's a place when religion Finally DIES, There's a place where I lose my SELFISH PRIDE", lyrics to the song, "Dancing with my Father God in fields of grace". That place starts within each and everyone of us.

      February 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • mnemos

      First of all 'condemn' and 'hate' are not synonyms – you may need lessons on how to use a thesaurus. This is just a symptom of something wrong in your thinking, though. You say "Christians Condemn Muslims" as if you are quoting something obvious – it is not. It certainly isn't from christian scripture – muslims didn't even exist at the time christian scripture was written. As far as I can tell, that's just something you came up with. The concept doesn't make much sense – where are Muslims being condemned for being Muslims? Christians certainly don't agree with Muslims on many things – in particular the verse in the Koran to "slay the unbelievers" (9:5). Christians don't have any equivalent to that in our scriptures.

      February 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  10. Kenny

    People of different faiths can live and thrive in this world without killing each other if they ever decide to do it. What they have to do is stop killing each other first. Second they have to stop killing each other and the biggest thing they must do is stop killing each other. Both do it for any number of reasons, none of which are valid. All they know is this is the way it has always been through out time. This is what they were taught. This is what they were told. Well it's time to open your own eyes and see the world for yourself. It's not to late but time is running out. My patients do have limits.

    February 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  11. koko

    Why do I see the Muslim Brotherhood taking over by years end. Then sending the Coptic Christians to gas chambers a few weeks after that.

    I really cant see weak willed Egyptian Hipsters dealing with hard line Islamists.

    February 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  12. cheflowfat

    Isaiah 19:2  And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.
    3  And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.
    4  And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.
    5  And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.

    February 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Misst

      cheflowfat,
      these are good scriptures, HOWEVER, I suggest you read the remainder of that particular chapter of Isaiah, specifically verses 19-25, which happen to end with the same words, in 16 variant translations and read thus;
      "Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, BLESSED BE EGYPT MY PEOPLE, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance."
      As several of my Biblical Studies Professors used to say – Text taken out of context is simply a CON...

      February 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Good job Misst.

      February 10, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  13. Sagebrush Shorty

    Don't be too hopeful, The Muslim Brotherhood (what a nice secular name) hates you.

    February 10, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Jamie

      They are a small minority. The danger with them lies in that they are organized at a time when no one else is. However, due to the photos we've been seeing, hopefully people will figure out they are about intolerance/hate, and will pass on them to opt for a better leadership.

      February 10, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • 808

      I am not of the muslim brotherhood
      I am of the international order of mutants
      like all royalty, born with only 3 strans

      I surrender my soul to the eternal god
      and know I have done no wrong
      the pr00f is in my bank account, for the fact that I have almost NO $$$

      February 11, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  14. Sarducar

    Gods look down from the sky and love it...its all amusing for them...

    February 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  15. Emma

    I think Egypt will follow the steps of Turkey with a relatively secular government and yes, there will be an Islamic party like Turkey has one (it is government now) but overall secularism will dominate. Nasser's influence is still felt. This is a country very different from Iran (Sunnis rather than Shiites) and there have been long Western and Ottoman presences in Egypt. If I am right, Christians will have a relative undisturbed coexistence with the Muslim majority although there will always be frictions.

    February 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Ashley

      Hopefully things go in that direction

      February 10, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Jamie

      I agree. On a recent trip to Turkey, I found it to be pretty stable and modernized. There are still some pretty bad tensions in the Eastern part, according to our tour guide, but most of the country is "live and let live". The little bit that I saw of their country was "live and let live", just as he said. It was refreshing. On the beaches I literally saw several women in swimsuits/bikinis, several women in full burka, and even a smattering of young women in bikinis with the hajib. An interesting mix, and very representative of how we can live together if we just accept our differences.

      February 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  16. SP

    The problem with religion has rarely been more pronounced. Place people with irreconcilable beliefs in close proximity, then ensure that the truth of said beliefs has no way to be verified or tested, and... "da da", needless conflict is sure to follow. What could be more predictable?

    I find this article a little frightening, because religions tolerating one another is pure fiction. History proves it. We need to give up on that idea. The seeds of intolerance are built into each of the major faiths, and though each has sometimes been successful in pulling local groups of people closer together, it's always been at the expense of some more distant group(s). An "us vs. them" mentality is inherent in each, since non-believers are simply wrong. And that is an absolutely combustible combination of qualities in a world as small as ours now is. Belief without evidence has never been more costly.

    Honestly, I would love to once-and-for-all hear an intelligent, articulate answer to this question: HOW can a true Christian "tolerate" a Muslim, and how can a true Muslim "tolerate" a Christian? If you're truly a Christian or Muslim, a believer in the fundamental tenets of either, then you may pay lip service to "tolerance", but secretly, do you not believe followers of the other religion to be fundamentally wrong, misguided, deceived into following a false prophet, and so on? Of course you believe they're wrong. Worst of all, the more right you know you are (the more invested you are in your religion's fundamental tenets), then the more wrong all others become, to the exact same degree. It's absurd. How can you, if you REALLY AND TRULY believe that Jesus Christ is God's Earthly embodiment, and the ticket to salvation, "tolerate" someone who knows (just simply KNOWS) that your belief is wrong? How do you tolerate someone who is also teaching others that you're wrong, teaching that you're squandering your life in the most dangerous way? I say no true believer ever truly tolerates that; they only *say* they're tolerant of it, but then become remarkably less tolerant of it whenever and wherever their majority increases.

    This is scary. Would we not all be better off if more people recognized that these bronze age myths are simply no longer relevant? They were once useful, but are now just dangerous baggage, in my opinion. One should not need to believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing man in the sky in order to be kind, charitable, empathetic, and so on. And all we lose by trashing such childish organized beliefs is the false comfort of "life after death"... but is that really losing so much? That we're dead after we die really should not be so difficult of a concept for an emotionally and intellectually mature person to swallow.

    February 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • jason

      well said.

      February 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • SSPP

      The essence of the word tolerate is to not agree or approve, but put up with something. Muslims can think, know, that they are right and that Christians are wrong but that doesn't mean that they feel the overwhelming urge to make the others see things their way. Some do, but there are radical athiests as well. I am a Christian and I tolerate Athiests – they can think whatever they want. I find Athiests to be the most intolerant of the entire lot, quite frankly. And the picture above with the Quran and cross together gives me hope. If more people would be tolerant – not trying to push their ideals onto others but just accepting the differences – the world would be a better place.

      February 10, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Mr. Bones

      I suppose one answer might be to reject the fundamentalism and orthodoxy of one's faith, and to understand that God need not fit in one's pocket, with the aim of understanding other faiths as expressions of the same fundamental principles. This will naturally land you firmly in Heretic Territory, but the world could use a little more heresy and a lot less orthodoxy.

      February 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Ashley

      To say peace between religions "frightens" you is disappointing. Is it possible? Bible-believing Christians recognize "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." (no one is without sin). The Bible states to pray for our enemies as well. These things are ideal, because meeting fire with fire will only escalate the issues...

      February 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • john

      And every thing you just said you are able to prove as right?

      February 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Jamie

      I cannot speak for Muslims, as I am honestly not well versed in their faith....However, for Christians and from what I understand of Judaism...it is rather easy to accept people of other faith due to a fundamental principle called "free will"...This is basically the idea that God Himself chooses to allow us as individuals to either believe or not believe. He will not force belief in/love for/obedience to Him on anyone.

      If God Himself will not force someone to believe in Him, who am I, a mere mortal and sinner, with all my imperfections, to try and force a belief in Him on anyone? I have no right. I do have the responsibility to be open about and share my thoughts, beliefs, experiences with others. However, what they do with that information is between them and God. It is just as if I were to find a wonderful deal on something...say a university scholarship. If I know about it, and know that you could possibly use it, it would be wrong of me not to tell you about it. However, it is no way my responsibility to hold you at gunpoint and force you to fill out and submit the paperwork. What you do with the knowledge I pass to you is your business.

      Some of my longest time, deepest friendships are with an agnostic (friend for 12 years), a Jew (17 years), and a Buddhist (around 17 or so), and I have in the last year become good friends with a Muslim immigrant to our country (he recently got Citizenship!!! I'm glad he's my American brother, absolutely wonderful guy!). I have learned a fair amount from each of my friends, they have learned a lot from me (I hope), and we're able to have respectful, open conversations with one another.

      To be honest, and at the risk of offending you, I have actually found that in general (not always, but in general), it is more difficult to have a respectful exchanging of ideas/beliefs with athiests than with people of other denominations or faiths. With one exception, every time I've gotten into a discussion with an athiest, the person has basically had a condescending tone and treated me as if I am incapable of logical thought, meanwhile, several of them have used circular reasoning. I have off and on had these discussions over the past 20 years, and I am not one to follow the rules of polite society about "friendly conversation"...so we can calculate that I've had these conversations with maybe and average of 1.5 athiests a year, over about 20 years, you're looking at maybe 30 or so athiests, and John was the only one who was not down right condescending and rude. I can only count two people from other faiths who were condescending to me, and people of faiths are fare more numerous.

      February 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • scott

      "...and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight .... He again forbade me to join with any of them " (Joseph Smith, book of Morman 2:18-20).

      February 10, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • TeeChur

      Christians and Muslims can (and do) "tolerate" each other because God is love and desires all to know Him. My Jesus stopped and initiated a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) because He loved her, and to show us how important it is for people to cross cultural and traditional boundaries in the name of God. I do not have to agree with how a Muslim friend interprets Scripture to "tolerate" them, nor do I have to disavow my belief that Jesus IS the savior and true Son of God to love my Muslim friend. I am grateful for the article by Ashley Makar, because it encourages people of all faiths to show love and support. I am sorry SP does not see the need to believe in God. The "bronze age myth" referred to here is so much more than that – not a myth at all but a very real relationship. I'm sure it seems like foolishness to someone who does not believe, something that Paul addressed in his first letter to the Corinthians ("The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.") But for those of us that do believe, God is very real and we are grateful for Him. Intellectuals and non-intellectuals alike are welcome, and there are believers from the entire spectrum of abilities.

      February 10, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  17. Strong Tower

    I thought the article was very fair and well written. I do NOT believe the author is taking sides or stating that one view or the other is correct, but using her personal view as a Coptic American Christian to describe the situation from her eyes.

    I would figure in journalism, as in life, if you take one side, you shrink the population that you reach, and thus 'lose' people that could be helped by your views.

    ANYONE with a belief in a TRUE God would agree that murder/ killing is not right. You will never find hatred in God (for He is Love) - just as light casts out darkness - the two can not be simultaneous. SEARCH in your HEART if this is your GOD?

    Her comment, "But I can’t wholeheartedly be part of a church whose theology is too orthodox to engage in interfaith dialogue," is a very sad statement. I am an American born Copt and know that the church is strict, but the road is narrow! I just pray the Coptic church in the US would make things more open to non-Egyptians (Egyptian culture and customs is so engrained in the religion). How can our US Coptic community grow, if we don't put more effort to evangelizing to non-Egyptians?

    I hope my comments do not have a negative effect on you, but encourage you to personal search for a Loving God and live as a living sacrifice. I also pray for the safety of those in Egypt and a peaceful end to Mubarak’s reign, and a leader elected that will give all people a better quality of life +++

    February 10, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Ashley

      Amen!

      February 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Amen!

      Great post. May the love of God be with you all of your days.

      February 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  18. Data1000

    If the Christians in Egypt are worried about their safety, why don't they pray to God to keep them safe? He's the one with all the power and who loves them so much.

    February 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Copt

      You're an idiot. What next, you want us to pray for world peace and the end of hunger (from God)?!?! I am Coptic Orthodox , and your statement is just down right offensive. The history in Egypt has that been of one attack after another against the Copts. Muslims attacked and killed the Copts, not God!!! The only real option my parents saw in Egypt was to move to America. The Copts on both sides of the Atlantic are nervous, they are very, very nervous as to what the future holds for the Copts in Egypt. Praying to God is not going to change anything. Changing government rules and policies with harsher punishments for those who kill Copts are far more productive.

      February 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Ashley

      they do, and Christ warned them of these things. "The world will hate you, but remember it hated me first."

      February 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Tim

      Silly. You love missing the point, don't you?

      February 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • vtwinr

      A Christian should pray to God to keep them safe from tribulation. However, God many times will answer such a prayer by sending them into a sanctifying fire, but which fiery holocaust exempts them from a far worse fire that lays beyond the grave for the wicked.

      February 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • MaryAnn zaky

      For your information we are very traditional in our religious practice and just last week we were asked by our clergy to fast and pray for three days specially just for the Egypt situation. Why don't you take time to learn about people and what they do/don't do before speaking?!

      February 10, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  19. Brian

    "Egyptian Christians and Muslims gathered together".........

    Well, they wouldn't "gather" apart. It takes a Yale graduate student to write like this? My high school English teacher threw a fit when she saw prose like this. Speaking of theologians, have they figured out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? The archbishop of Armagh thinks it's 324 but the debate is still going on.

    February 10, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Tim

      Your ad hominem rhetoric is rather unastute, itelf.

      February 10, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • hoofleau

      Come on, Brian. There can be two group gatherings in the same location. Either the groups gather together or the groups gather separately. You're just bored and need someone to criticize.

      February 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Kenneth

      The criticism of the author of this article, based on a technical grammatical rule, is unfair. It focuses on the wording and not on what she is actually trying to communicate. We can all be gathered in close proximity, such as a public square or a shopping mall, and have nothing in common as to why we are there. All of these responses are collected in one place, and in that regard, are "gathered", or are placed "together", but address various and significantly different topics or points raised in the article and describe experiences the various writers have had. They have little sense of "togetherness" in the context of all addressing the same precise point. They are just a collection of comments in one place, and hence, are "together". Contrasted to this, the author used the phrase "gathered together", and elsewhere wrote of "solidarity between Muslims and Christians" to describe not only the physical act of being in the same place, but also of being there for the same reason or purpose. It is obvious that, while perhaps technically and grammatically not the best form, she was describing and marveling at a historically rare phenomenon in her country's history, that being Muslims and Christians being of one apparent mind on a matter of national (and international) importance, of being gathered in one place for the same apparent reason, of demonstrating "together" in opposition to the government in "solidarity" with one another.
      And, please let me go ahead and apologize for any rules of grammar and punctuation I may have violated.

      February 10, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Brian's Mother

      It seems that Brian is a giant tallywacker and should probably get a life.

      February 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  20. Belyung

    Abraham, father of faith, is a leader of his people. He had taken the leadership role in the political arena. Joseph was playing another leadership role for the emperor. What make Christians think that Christians need to shy away from politics?
    Christians need to anticipate and to participate the earthly business just like the heavenly business.

    February 10, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • bob

      http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com nuff said

      February 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • scott

      I did not follow the link, so I don't know where you stand. BUT anyone who ends a post with "nuff said" only wants to end conversation with a closed mind.

      February 10, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.