Egypt’s Christians Fear Violence as Changes Embolden Islamists:
The headline screamed from a venerable liberal newspaper: Coptic Christians had abducted a young Muslim and tattooed her with a cross. “Copts kidnap Raghada!”
“They tied me up with ropes, beat me with shoes, shaved my hair,” Raghada Salem Abdel Fattah, 19, declared, “and forced me to read Christian psalms!”
Like many similar stories proliferating here since the revolution, Ms. Abdel Fattah’s kidnapping could not be confirmed. But for members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, the sensational headline — from a respected publisher, no less — served to validate their fear that the Egyptian revolution had made their country less tolerant and more dangerous for religious minorities….
1) Liberals and Christians know that there is simply no mass support for the revocation of at least a nominal tie between the state and the Muslim religion. That is actually not that great of an issue in this in my opinion; there are connections between religion & state in much of Europe as well as in places like Cambodia. The problem is that in Muslim majority societies the role of Islam tends to be heavy-handed, and the arm of the state becomes a tool for theocrats and populists against minorities.
2) The Coptic minority themselves are conservative and don’t necessarily want anything like a ‘uniform civil code.’ Rather, they want their own religious norms more equitably enforced, and a more “fair go” as far as the Egyptian de facto millet system is implemented. In other words, only a tiny minority of Egyptians seem to want to force through a change so that individuals are not identified with a particular sectarian community.
3) This section seems deceptive:
The most common sparks for sectarian violence, however, come from Egyptian laws dating from the end of the colonial era. One imposes stricter regulations on building churches than on mosques. Christians often look to get around the restrictions by constructing “community centers” with altars and steeples — sometimes provoking Muslim accusations of deceit and Christian charges of discrimination.
When you tell a Western audience that something dates to the colonial era you imply that this was a division or injustice imposed from the outside, by Western powers. That is not the case here. It was normal in the Muslim world that dhimmis faced such restrictions, and colonial powers simply codified and accepted the terms and conditions which had existed prior to their arrival.