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The Power of Stereotyping the Forgotten Copts


07-10-2015
English | العربية

Mohammad Fadhel Al Obaidly

Advisor, Public Opinion Research Center


Tag: Public Policy
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Before sunset this day, 42 years ago, in the second day of October war, 1973, Regiment 18 of the Egyptian army was able to take full control the city of (Qantara Sharg). It was the first city in Sinai to be liberated from the grip of the Israeli military occupation. That regiment was led by Lt. General (Brigadier at the time) Fouad Aziz Ghali, who was promoted in December of the same year, to commander of the Second Field Army.
On October 6, the first Egyptian infantry solders, who crossed the Suez Canal under Egyptian shelling cover, commanded by Major General (Colonel at the time) Shafiq Metric Siderak, the commander of Brigade 16. Siderak was killed in tank battles on 9 October, along with five soldiers and was the first martyr of the officers in that war.
In that war, the Egyptians surprised the world by using a very simple tactic to open gaps in the impregnable Bar-Lev wall. They simply used a high-pressure water cannons, and were able to open gaps within 4 hours, while the best optimistic projections indicate that it would take 24 hours. However, what many people do not know, is that the idea of using water cannons, was the idea of one officer in the Corps of Engineers, Bagi Zaki Yusuf, who suggested the idea for the first time in 1969, but it has been kept secret until that day.
Fouad Aziz Ghali, rural, born in the province of Minya, Martyr Shafiq Metric Siderak, rural, born in Assiut, and Bagi Zaki Yousef, born in Assiut also. What brings these people together, other than (rurals)?
They are Egyptian Copts, along with other leader in October War, Colonel George Habib who was wounded in the second day of the war. Copts are still serving in the Egyptian army, but how do we explain such information with the popular stereotyped images of the Copts in the minds of the Arabs? which is reproduced from time to time, and illustrate them in a very negative way?
Restoring Biographies of those Egyptian Copts officers bring us back to a famous statement of a former famous guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, (Mustafa Mashhoor), he called to prevent Copts from service in the army, because they are Christians and they could be able to leak secrets to the enemies of Egypt. This statement is not the only one of its kind, but it represents the peak of the war waged by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis against Copts over the past three decades, on flimsy pretexts and wrong understanding.
Such a statement, and others, and practices on the ground, explains the isolation of mentality experienced by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists in Egypt and other Arab countries, and erroneous understanding of the religion. From other point of view and opposite to this distorted understanding, Egypt is full of a long tradition in brotherhood between Christians and Muslims that have not absorbed by the mentality of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists in Egypt. In last Ramadan, Egyptian television hosted a Coptic Egyptian citizen residing breakfast tables for his Muslim citizens in the holy month of Ramadan for 35 years. For the record, they are not able to understand this.
This Coptic Egyptian citizen (we are forced to define him Thus, in line with the logic of the popular doctrines) remained resides Iftar throughout these decades, which has witnessed the war waged by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis against their fellow Egyptians Copts. The examples of the traditions of these brotherhoods are many and varied in Egypt, but the dysfunctional understanding for the doctrine, and isolation experienced by the Islamic brotherhood, offer only stereotyped image of Islam in its early stages and wars period against the infidels of Mecca, and are promoting a large mixing between the historical facts and the teachings of Islam itself.
October War is not listed in the literature of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists originally, as they consider it a war of national liberation of land, and, therefore, the conduct of ignorance Copts officers in the October War, apparently comes as a result of this projection to separate the war in Brotherhood's version of modern Egyptian history.
This also applies to the collective memory of Egyptians, too, and attempts of correction did not begin until later, after 2011, where the Egyptian media started to mention those Copts. Perhaps this seems logical in one of its aspects, if we know that the official propaganda in the days of former President Hosni Mubarak, reduced biography and tournaments of war in the person of Mubarak himself, by focusing on the air strike, considered it the key to victory, and later was to involve his image in the place of Lt. General (Saad El Shazly) in the famous picture of the president (AlSadat) with army commanders.
Americans also contributed their part, in the creation of a stereotyped image of Egyptian Copts, but in a different sense, which is the image of an "oppressed minority" . This was through the annual reports of foreign office over three decades ago, an image picked up by the international media which inturn began to re-produce it for years and even till today. And then came year 2011 with all its variables when the Americans stop all their attempts for a simple reason: the representatives of the Copts refused to meet with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Egypt in 2011. In other words: refusing to be a private issue or paper, however, in the Americans hand.

Originally published in the UAE (AL Bayan) October 7, 2015

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