From Egypt, an Islamic plea for peace

Aug. 14, 2013Smoke rises from a building near Cairo University in Giza, south of Cairo. Egyptian security forces cleared a … Continued


Aug. 14, 2013Smoke rises from a building near Cairo University in Giza, south of Cairo. Egyptian security forces cleared a sit-in camp set up nearby, triggering riots by supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.Hussein Tallal / AP

Ibrahim Negm is senior advisor to the Grand Mufti of Egypt

One cannot imagine a sadder day for the nation than the one we experienced yesterday. The scenes of violence and dead bodies from all around the country are heart-wrenching and devastating in both their scope and severity. The people of this great nation dear to all our hearts have turned one against another in the most dangerous possible way. Egypt is in dire need of the prayers and support of the world, national reconciliation and unity at all costs. These needs are urgent, and we must orient ourselves towards a genuine political resolution to the crisis if we are to avoid further bloodshed.

These events will have far-reaching repercussions on the national fabric of Egyptian society. The Koran says whoever kills a single person unjustly, it is as if he has killed all of humanity. It must be said in no uncertain terms that violence is always regrettable. It will never solve our problems. It will only exacerbate them, and further entrench two already polarized sides. The only thing that will indicate progress is a genuine desire to keep the interests of Egypt, and not of individual interests or ideologies, first and foremost in our minds.

The restoration of law and order cannot be accomplished by resorting to security measures alone. There is an urgent need for national reconciliation among all the country’s orientations and factions that can only be accomplished through transparency and honesty. There is an urgent need for an inclusive and just solution, which takes all grievances seriously.

The Egypt that witnessed scenes of joy and jubilation at images of dead bodies yesterday is not an Egypt to which we should aspire, or with which we should be content. We must be better than this as we are. Now is not the time to revive old grudges without due regard for the basic value of life. Now is the time to band together to save our country from further deterioration whether political, economic or moral. God affirms in the Holy Koran that though humans are capable of all sorts of bloodshed, they are also capable of heights of moral excellence and rectitude.

Among Egypt’s provinces, we also witnessed a disturbing rise in sectarian sentiment. Churches were vandalized and attacked. It is unacceptable that in such trying moments, our minority populations should have to bear a disproportionate amount of the burden. Egyptians are all in this together, as the nation belongs to all of us, not to members of one religion, sect, party or organization to the exclusion of all others. We all participate in a social contract, a vow before God to put peace and harmony first. In no circumstances, can we allow trying circumstances to transform us into partisan thugs.

These attack by extremist elements on churches as well as the subsequent clashes between Muslims and Copts cannot be the work of anyone who truly cares for religion or nation, and genuinely seeks to abide by their principles. Rather, this is the handiwork of those who put their interests and ideologies above all else.

Legitimate Muslim scholars like the Grand Mufti of Egypt Shawky Allam have spoken out repeatedly and forcefully that the targeting of places of worship is expressly forbidden. This is the case in times of war, let alone at a time when national unity should be our foremost consideration. Sectarianism is counter to the social harmony that Islam stresses, and anyone inciting sectarian sentiment, or participating in sectarian violence, must understand that he is acting counter to the essence of Islamic teachings. This is the example of the prophet, our greatest model, who was sent as a mercy to all mankind.

It is now upon us to take up this example seriously and refrain from unnecessary division for the sake of our country. Any attempt to sow discord among Egyptian people must be opposed in the strongest terms possible. I have no doubt that forces that seek to divide Egyptians or make them to plunge in civil war will ultimately fail, for Egypt has been a symbol of coexistence for centuries and will continue to be by the grace of God.

Now is the time to fulfill the legitimate aims of all Egyptians for stability, security, dignity, national reconciliation and social justice. Anything less will be a great setback for the nation.

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  • tianxiang69

    What Egypt needs is to keep religion and politics separate. The Muslim Brotherhood is simply an Islamist organization trying to use “democracy” to institute theocracy. The violent persecution of anyone who disagrees with the religious views of the MB does so at their own peril where the MB has power.

    The best thing the world can do is to not get embroiled in the affairs of Egypt. Let’s treat them like adults and let them figure out their own problems. Mubarak pushed to far, there was a revolt. Morsi pushed to far, there was a revolt. Now the military is pushing too far, let’s see what happens.

  • Ruhul Insaf

    The essence of democracy is that you speak and anyone else speaks, and let the people decide. When you subvert the rule and kill innocent people with the arms that you have, you stoke terror and civil war. Probably, that is what you are aiming for. There are reports that the army security thugs staged attacks on the Churches to make the Muslim Brothers look bad in the public. Look at the level of depravity the liberals have stooped to. They are killing innocent protesters, to begin with.

  • Secular1

    What a crock ” The people of this great nation – dear to all our hearts – have turned one against another in the most dangerous possible way. ” Egypt has never been a great country especially these past 2000 years. Its greatness was in the past, dating back to 2500 or more years ago. In fact the adulation it gets is more for the past beyond teh 2500 years or so. The past 1500 to 2000 years it has been a miserable wretch of a country.

    “The Koran says whoever kills a single person unjustly, it is as if he has killed all of humanity.” Another crock. If it was meant to be taken seriously then why do we have the verses castigating Abu Lahab and his wife.