Islamic law views Christians and Jews as renegades, guilty people (dhimmis) by virtue of their rejection of the Prophet Muhammad, and subject to numerous statutes that enforce their humiliation and subjugation.
Muslims therefore traditionally have not regarded Christians as equals, but as inferiors. If there were ever evidence of this, it is in the new bumper sticker war in Egypt.
Remember when atheists began responding to the Christian fish symbol in the U.S. by printing up stickers depicting a fish with legs, labeled “Darwin”? The message was, “We have moved beyond all that religious superstition.” Not a Christian-friendly message, but not a particularly threatening one, either. Contrast that to the Islamic response to the same fish stickers in Egypt: they have created a Muslim shark.
“War of Stickers: Christian Fish, Muslim Shark,” by Maggie Michael for AP:
First came the fish bumper stickers, imported from the United States and pasted on cars by members of Egypt’s Coptic minority as a symbol of their Christianity. Before long, some Muslims responded with their own bumper stickers: fish-hungry sharks.
It’s not exactly war at sea, but the competing symbols that have cropped up on Cairo streets are a tiny reminder of the tensions between Egypt’s Copts and majority Muslims. Some Christians are annoyed at the Muslim response.
“All I wanted to say is that I am a Christian, kind of expressing my Coptic identity,” said 25-year-old Miriam Greiss, who has a fish sticker on her car. “I think choosing a shark doesn’t make sense, as if someone is saying, ‘I am a violent, bloody creature, look at me.'”
Emad, a Muslim, laughed when asked about the competing symbols but was unapologetic about the two shark stickers on his car.
“The Christians had the fish so we responded with the shark. If they want to portray themselves as weak fishes, OK. We are the strongest,” said Emad, who would give only his first name. . . .
Relations are generally calm between Copts, an estimated 10 percent of Egypt’s more than 70 million people, and the Muslims who make up virtually all the rest. But tensions do occasionally erupt into violence, and Copts complain of job discrimination and being shut out of a share of political power.
The complaints, though, are spoken softly. Copts — who trace their history to St. Mark’s bringing Christianity to Egypt soon after the death of Christ — didn’t survive Roman persecution and Arab conquest by being overly assertive.
That is the iron law of how to survive as a dhimmi: shut up and take it.
Copts often wear gold cross pendants or have tiny crosses tattooed on the inside of their wrists, but the stickers seem a more public step. Karl Innemee, a specialist in Coptic studies at the American University in Cairo, said the arrival of the fish could reflect a new desire by Egyptian Christians “to express themselves openly.”
Still, the Coptic businessman who began importing the fish stickers two years ago refused to give his name when contacted by The Associated Press at the Maria Group — the company name on the stickers. He said discussing religion could be asking for trouble.
The fish stickers are sold in churches or Christian bookstores for about 8 cents. The Maria Group owner said sales of the fish, which come plain or with the word “Jesus” inside, have picked up in recent months — soon after the shark stickers first appeared in August.
Muslims apparently copied or adopted the symbol of an Egyptian sporting goods company to create their shark symbol. The stickers are sold in Islamic bookshops and also come plain or fancy — some with the Arabic phrase “No god but Allah” printed in the shark’s body.
(Thanks to nicolei.)