Egypt without Jews, Christians, and Pyramids?

Jews have been a part of Egypt and its history for over three thousand years, but Islamic fundamentalism’s steady rise in the country has absurdly driven their numbers literally into the dozens. A new documentary, made by an Egyptian and titled Jews of Egypt, documents the tragic history of the Jewish community there. Here’s part of The Daily Beast’s report on the film:

In one telling scene from Jews of Egypt, an elderly man is filmed telling an interviewer how much he likes the famed Egyptian singer Leila Mourad. After being told that she was Jewish, he then changes his mind.

“I did this film because I’m very concerned about where we are going as a society,” said [filmmaker Amir] Ramses. “My utopia was Alexandria in the 1940s. But I feel a depression about where we are now.”

Alexandria in the 1940s was secular.

Adherents to Christianity in contemporary Egypt are also being placed under enormous pressure. Christians represent 10% of the Egyptian population, and this appeared today in the National Catholic Register:

Tonight, an Egyptian Christian mother will lie awake, worrying if her kidnapped daughter was merely forced to marry a radical Islamist and convert or if her fate was much worse.

This Sunday, an Egyptian father will hitchhike more than 10 miles to the nearest church with his sons, not knowing whether the boys will be kidnapped by gunmen who don’t conceal their identities. Also uncertain is whether he and his fellow congregants will make it through Mass alive or whether extremists will set off explosives and shoot those inside.

Any day of any week, a priest in this ancient land will wonder how he can help his tiny flock survive against a system that basically says, “If you are not Muslim, you are not Egyptian. Therefore, you have no worth.”

Furthermore, Christian families all over the nation will wonder, “Do I stay or do I leave? For no one should have to live like this.”

Such questions have been a fact of Christian existence for a long time, but the situation appears to be worsening under the fundamentalism of the Muslim Brotherhood regime that took over leadership of Egypt two years ago.

The most recent spate of violence broke out in a northern Cairo suburb on April 5, leaving eight Copts and one Muslim dead, the Christian advocacy group Voice of the Copts reported.

There is no way to rationalize this. It is religion unapologetically fanatical, intolerant, and murderous. This is Islam in Egypt in the 21st century. We have an enormous and ongoing human rights tragedy unfolding, and we may find it coming to a head in a new Exodus. Good for Europe and the United States (Coptic Christians will no doubt prove themselves productive citizens for their adopted countries), horrible for the future of Egypt. A completely Islamicized Egypt might even spell the destruction of the pyramids (absurd as that sounds).

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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