“Although 2011 started tragically, I feel it will be a year of eagerly anticipated change, where Egyptians will stand against sectarianism and unite as one.”—Father Rafaeil Sarwat of the Mar-Mina church following the suicide bombing left blood stained tragedy at the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt
Why would this priest say such a thing after so deadly an act of violence at a church during one of Christianity’s most holy times? Because the Egyptian Muslims repulsed by the senseless violence promised to act as human shields for the Coptic Christians in their Christmas Eve mass, and they were true to their words:
Egypt’s majority Muslim population poured out to support the grieving Coptic community by the thousands as Muslims appeared at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and more held candle light vigils pledging to fight the threat of Islamic militants and expressing their support for an Egypt free from sectarian strife.
“We either live together, or we die together,” said Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts dealer in Cairo Thursday night, and who is believed to be an organizer of the “human shield” idea that is both an act of faith and one of great personal risk.
Across Egypt the Muslins turned out– both common people and sons of President Hosni Mubarak— all people of good faith expressing their prayers for peace and their respect for the dignity of every person. It must have been an amazing experience for all.
“This is not about us and them. We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together,” said one Muslim student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church.
On our calendar it was our Epiphany here in America, but it Egypt it was a true Epiphany full of grace, and hope, and the kind of brotherly love Christ taught us until the end—and every day since.
Peace be with you!