Strangely, however, it is only the Muslims who have boycotted the film, charging one of the Muslim actors of apostasy for playing the role of a Coptic infidel priest.”Egyptian movie confronts sectarian rift,” by Nadia Abou el Magd, for the National, July 20:
CAIRO // A new big-budget comedy starring two of Egypt’s most famous actors is attempting to defuse escalating tensions between the country”s Muslim and Christian populations.
In Hassan and Marcos Omar Sharif and Adel Imam play a Muslim preacher and Coptic Christian priest who are forced to change their religious identities and go into hiding after both come under fire from fanatics within their respective communities for being too moderate.
The film lightheartedly explores the causes behind the antipathy and mistrust the communities feel toward one another.
Simple: Copts “mistrust” Muslims due to the latter’s stated and daily demonstrated “antipathy” for non-Muslims, in this case, Copts.
“Why are Copts barred from holding important posts in the government? Why is the government always putting obstacles in front of building new churches or even repairing them?” ask Coptic clerics in one scene, at a national unity conference.
“Where did the Copts get their wealth from? Why is the state allowing them to control the country”s economy? Why do they build their churches near the mosques?” their Muslim counterparts reply.
Such ludicrous questions, indeed. Copts are far from wealthy–indeed, this video depicts them as the “rubbish people,” who have been reduced to living off refuse. And on those very, very rare occasions that Copts are allowed to build churches, it is well known that new mosques instantaneously sprout out all around it, their minarets blasting day and night that “infidels are they who say Allah is one of three” (Koran 5:17).
Egyptian society has been on a knife edge in recent years as the gulf between the country”s religious communities widens at a time of growing conservative Islam and dire poverty.
Back to reality. Note: the “gulf” is due to “conservative” Islam and poverty–not to anything the Copts have done.
But many major political and religious figures still insist there is no discrimination in Egypt.
“All the problems related to Christians in Egypt are made up,” said Mohammed Mahdi Akef, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest Islamic group, in a recent interview with the leftist daily Al Badil.
And some reactions to Hassan and Marcos give little cause for hope.
Guess which group, Muslims or Copts, have given negative reactions? Read on.
Activists on the website Facebook launched a group accusing Adel Imam, a Muslim, of apostasy for playing a Coptic priest in the film. Under the slogan “A call to all Muslims, boycott Christian Adel Imam”, the group accuses him of promoting Christianity and discourages Muslims from attending the movie.
Still, thousands of Egyptians have already gone to see Hassan and Marcos, and most were impressed with the movie’s timely message of national unity. “A film with such a name is a frank call for national unity,” said May el Telmesany, an Egyptian novelist. “But the movie wrongly tried to equate Christian fanaticism with Muslim fanaticism, which is stronger and oppresses moderate Muslims too.