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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_custom_heading text=”By Claire Evans” font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1569337189559{margin-bottom: 22px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”99666″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]09/24/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)Extreme poverty. An absent education. Exposure to radical Islam. Seventy years ago, Egypt was a different country. People were poor, but secular. Old photos show women walking without the hijab, the Islamic head covering, and people wearing swimsuits on the beaches. Today, photos show a society that is completely defined by Islam. Local Christians are left wondering what happened.

It started with poverty. People needed jobs, and the Gulf countries eagerly accommodated. Many Egyptians traveled to Saudi Arabia, where they were exposed to extreme versions of radical Islam. This includes Wahhabism and Salafism, brands of Islam commonly associated with terrorism. Today, over nine million Egyptians live abroad, mostly in Saudi Arabia. Al-Azhar, Egypt’s leading Islamic institute, maintains a close relationship with Saudi Arabia and continues to promote these particular versions of radical Islam.

“Wahhabism and Salafism came to us from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries,” confirmed one Christian, Ibrahim. “Also, al-Azhar supports both. There are many preachers and teachers in schools and universities of al-Azhar that are supporting Wahhabism and Salafism. Killing and attacking the others is okay for them.”

He continued, “I think if Wahhabism and Salafism still control the educational curriculums, then Egypt will not get rid of terrorist members. Our future will be the same as our present, and maybe worse than it.”

As Saudi Arabia spread its spiritual influence throughout Egypt, Islamic religious institutions were established in the villages. Egypt’s secularism slowly eroded as radical Islamic preachers began a campaign, discriminating between Muslims and everyone else. This campaign was successful. Today, the implications are felt everywhere.

Mina, a university student, illustrated just one example, “Many uneducated and ignorant people who live in the villages look at Christians as if they are unclean or have a bad smell. I think that the Muslims are radical about the Christianity religion… Christians eat pig meat and drink wine. Surely the Muslims don’t accept the Christians’ behaviors and their own lifestyle!”[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“Many uneducated and ignorant people who live in the villages look at Christians as if they are unclean or have a bad smell. I think that the Muslims are radical about the Christianity religion.”” font_container=”tag:h5|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1569337286006{margin-top: 50px !important;margin-bottom: 60px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1569337314828{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

This perception was confirmed by a Muslim officer who works in Egypt’s Directorate of Education. He takes his job of educating Egypt’s youth seriously. That includes educating Muslim children about their relationships with Christians. He explained, “To be honest and clear, we as Muslims look at the Christians as infidels.”

“We don’t support shaking hands of Christians. And if one shakes hands with a Christian, he must wash his hands well before praying. We look at ourselves as superiors, and they are the inferiors,” he added.

This kind of mentality has serious implications for Christians. Often, Christian communities are attacked en masse by Muslims for the perceived wrong of one. Navigating this atmosphere is challenging for Christians, especially those who remember when society was more welcoming and open.

Egypt’s transformation from secular to Islamic achieved yet another low point this past August. Terrorists attacked the National Cancer Institute in Cairo, killing 20 and injuring at least 47.  The nation went into mourning, but for different reasons. Christians saw the incident as an attack on Egypt, and called for solidarity. But the national community showed a different perspective.

One TV interviewer, Tamer Amin, said, “When you are getting out to kill the infidel individuals, there are Muslim individuals in the streets too! How dare you to kill a Muslim person!”

The implication was clear. This national tragedy was only tragic because the victims were Muslim.

Over the last 70 years, Egypt has slowly marched away from diversity. But with every new terrorist attack in Egypt, society constantly reminds Christians that diversity in Egypt is no longer tolerated. For Christians, however, the solution is clear.

One believer explained, “The solution to the sectarian crisis is the establishment of an educational system against sectarianism, and the establishment of a movement of resistance to resist the wrong ideas and expressions, to remove the blindness of blind fanaticism and to resist the seditionists and their erroneous beliefs, which pollute the ideas of youth and spread quarrels among the sons of one nation.”

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]