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There is absolutely no doubt that the attack on a church in Alexandra that killed 21–including this beautiful young woman–was an attack, specifically, on Christians and part of a pattern of recent, barbarous attacks on Christians in the Middle East.
Martin Peretz suggests that there has been no protest against this by Muslims:
Yes, of course. The majority of Muslims are against terror killings of Christians. Maybe even a big majority. But the fact is there is little evidence and, in fact, almost no evidence of revulsion at what has become the distinctive imprint of Islam in the modern world. Alright, I’ll note the most important caveat: it is not Islam but Islamists and Islamism that are at fault in this ongoing outrage.
But still! Wouldn’t you think there’d be a protest or two somewhere in the arc of Muslim faith that stretches from Indonesia to Morocco and southwards to the deepest reaches of Africa? OK, maybe it takes courage in those lands to stand up and say, “No, this is not the Islam I was taught and in which I believe.”
There has, in fact, been protest, and quite a bit of it:
Meanwhile, a few thousand demonstrators gathered in the area of Mar Morcos, where the bombed church and the Mari Girgis hospital are located, chanting “Muslims and Christians will not be disunited”, protestors told Ahram Online that they are residents of the area, and do not belong to any specific group or organization.
Torkeya Abdelsalam, one of the demonstrators and a Muslim, said she lives near the Saints church and has witnessed the explosion. AbdelSalam said, “this is not Islam,” and that she was taking part in the protest to demonstrate this.
The call for protest has been widespread in Egypt:
Different political groups called for a demonstration today at 7 PM in Shubra in front Dawaran shubra square, under the slogan “one nation one country one worry” to condemn attacks on Saints church.
Parties and groups who answered the call and declared that they will be participating include Karama Party, El-Amal Islamic Party, the recently formed leftist group Hashd, The National Association for Change, the Justice and Freedom group, The Revolutionary Socialists and the 6th of April movement.
The condemnation of the bombing has been universal among heads of state in the Islamic world, and in fact, even the most extreme of Islamists have expressed their revulsion:
Palestinian factions and society have condemned as one the act of terrorism in Alexandria which killed 21 members of the congregation of Saints Church.
Hamas lambasted the bombing as a barbarian act targeting innocent people. Aziz Duweik, speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, called the bombing “a criminal and sinful act.”
“I condemn this criminal and sinful act in the strongest terms and without any reservation.”
He called the perpetrators and their abettors and supporters “enemies of Egypt, enemies of Islam and enemies of humanity.”
Another Palestinian Islamist leader, Muhammed Jamal Natshe, said Islam would never justify “such barbarian acts.”
“This is a murderous act that is totally unacceptable. It is rejected religiously, morally and humanly,” said Natshe, an Islamist lawmaker in the Hebron rejoin.
Natshe, who spent many years in Israeli jails for peacefully resisting the occupation, said whoever committed this “sinful act” does not represent Islam in any way.
You might say–and I would surely agree–that these comments are grotesquely hypocritical, given that they come from Hamas, but it is just factually wrong to say there is no evidence of revulsion in the Islamic world. Why does it matter? Because it’s too easy to adhere to this narrative--all of Islam’s the problem, somehow–in place of asking the serious questions that need to be asked about this bombing.
The question that needs to be asked above all is which group exactly was behind it? The next question is what does this mean about what’s happening in Egypt? Because some group clearly is trying to start a sectarian war, and may well succeed–an unimaginable catastrophe for Egypt and for the region. It’s pretty damned important to know which group. It matters a lot whether this was the work of al Qaeda or the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The implications would be very different.
The answer “Don’t get bogged down in the details, all Muslims are the problem–they’re either doing this or they support it somehow” is not remotely useful to formulating any kind of policy response (and also not true). It does not clarify the picture in some salutary, common-sense way–it just throws ink on the very details that most need to be understood, and understood quickly.