This AP piece on the Muslim anti-Christian riots in Egypt, “Egypt’s Christians, Muslims Clash Again,” (thanks to Bryce), suggests by its headline and the lead paragraphs about the destruction of a Muslim’s cafe that the violence is being perpetrated by both sides. Then you read on and find out that the Muslim protestors in Egypt destroyed this man’s cafe, and what have the Christians been doing to provoke all this? Burning mosques? Assaulting Muslims? No: “mocking Islam.”
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — Abu Abbas looked in disbelief around his ravaged cafe just a few yards from a Coptic Christian church. Its wooden chairs lay broken and strewn about and shattered glass from broken lamps littered the floor after his business was caught in the crossfire of Egypt’s latest Christian-Muslim uproar.
Abu Abbas’ cafe is right next to St. George’s, one of seven churches in two Alexandria neighborhoods attacked by thousands of Muslims on the night of Oct. 21. The protesters faced off against hundreds of riot police trying to protect the church. But in the melee, they shattered St. George’s windows and destroyed Abu Abbas’ cafe.
“The storm passed by my shop, and I had to escape from the shower of stones, tear gas and rubber bullets to save my life,” said the bearded Abu Abbas, a 57-year-old Muslim, who refused to identify himself beyond his nickname because of tensions after the rioting.
The violence was triggered by a play put on by Christians deemed offensive to Islam. The play had gone unnoticed when it was first performed at St. George’s two years ago. Though it has not been performed recently, it caught Muslims attention when, according to security officials, Islamic extremists may have been distributing DVDs of it to raise tensions ahead of parliamentary elections next week.
But many feel the cause of the rioting goes far deeper, rooted in the growing enmity between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians.
In Arabic chat rooms on the Internet, exchanges of insults between the two communities are routine. Christian satellite channels broadcast a heavy dose of hatred of Muslims and mockery of Islam is becoming commonplace among Egypt’s Copts.
Meanwhile, small mosques, unmonitored by the government, have mushroomed across Egypt, depicting Christians as “apostates.”…
Sitting at the headquarters of the Coptic Orthodox church in Alexandria, the cell phone of a Coptic community leader Kamil Sadiq rang constantly as frightened Christians called in to ask what they should do now….
The antagonism has swelled so much that after the riots, President Hosni Mubarak made a rare acknowledgment of the tensions. On Saturday, he told a gathering of Muslim scholars they need to promote “a religious discourse that cuts away intrigues and backbiting among Muslims and Christians — to preserve Egypt’s stability, social fabric and national unity.”
“Teach young people that heaven’s law prohibits spilling the blood of the innocent,” he said. “Remind them always that religion is between them and God, and our nation is for everyone. Nobody has a monopoly on faith.”
Good. Will they heed? Or declare that the Christians aren’t innocent, just as some Muslim jurists have declared that no Israeli is innocent?