Yesterday Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi delivered a speech during a ceremony in Cairo for Laylat al-Qadr, which is one of the odd-numbered nights during the last ten days of Ramadan. Since before the Egyptian revolution in 2011 propelled the country into chaos and till this year, Egypt’s Coptic Christian population has been facing a wave of persecution that some Copts describe as the worst in 700 years. President Sisi’s remarks, however, may be a sign of his efforts imploring peaceful coexistence in Egypt between Muslims and Christians, of which between the two there is tension. From Egypt Today:
Strong religion could be weakened by its believers’ behaviors,” said Sisi, adding that Muslims should represent Islam in a good way through their practices.
“When we wish our Christian brothers a happy feast or [congratulate them] on building new churches, we represent our religion,” he said, noting that such gestures are not meant to show off. “There is a big difference between practicing and understanding the religion,” he added.
President Sisi added that Egypt’s main goal is to preserve the essence of religion, to raise the moderate religious awareness and combat the extremist threats among the youth, adding that the enlightened religious discourse is the best way to fight extremist ideology.
Copts face daily discrimination; their churches often face attacks from mobs, or they are not permitted to participate in government or even soccer teams due to their conspicuously Christian names. On Saturday, Copts celebrated the first World Coptic Day, which President Donald Trump and Melania Trump wrote a letter to the community in support of. “Enlightened religious discourse,” as Sisi said, could be exactly what Egypt could use today to combat the threats that the minority Christians face and to demonstrate to the international community, and especially to the U.S., that Egyptians are moving in a direction of religious liberty.