They don’t make the rules, they just go on rampages to enforce them: Islamic law forbids the construction of new churches or the repair of existing ones. And closed churches are expected to stay that way. As usual, the headline does its utmost to make the hatred and violence appear to be a reciprocal affair.
This latest mob intended to send the message: What we decide to break, you must not dare to fix. What we close, you will not re-open. “Muslim-Christian clashes erupt over reopening of church in Egyptian capital,” from the Associated Press, May 19 (thanks to Twostellas):
CAIRO “” Muslims and Christians pelted each with stones in a Cairo suburb Thursday over the reopening of a church the former regime closed years ago.
The church is one of three to be reopened as part of the Egyptian authorities” plan to try to defuse recent religious tensions. They have promised to reopen nearly 50 churches across Egypt in an attempt to appease Christian protesters who have been holding a sit-in for more than a week along the Nile.
And how, pray tell, did 50 churches get closed? Rowdy Presbyterian tourists?
The protesters are also demanding the prosecution of those behind recent attacks on at least three churches in Cairo following the popular uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11.
Thursday”s clashes began when police accompanied a group of Christians to reopen the Church of the Virgin in the suburb of Ain Shams. More than 1,000 Muslims, including dozens of ultraconservative Salafi Muslims, tried to block the way, and the sides pelted each other with stones, a security official said.
Police detained a number of those involved and the scuffle was quickly contained, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. No injuries were reported.
The Christians then entered the church while a smaller protest continued outside, the official said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Christians who have been camping out along the Nile river outside the TV building decided not to break up their protest camp in anger at the harassment.
“It was a farce,” said Girgis Atef, a protest organizer.
About 10 percent of Egyptians are Christians. Earlier this month, mobs of Muslims, apparently urged on by the ultraconservative Salafi sect of Islam, stormed the Virgin Mary Church in the Cairo neighborhood of Imbaba and set it ablaze.
The attack was sparked by a rumor that a Christian woman planned to marry a Muslim, which some religious purists consider to be forbidden.
That description is a severe oversimplification and misrepresentation. Whether it is a lazy oversight or a deliberate revision, one cannot know, but it implies a “misunderstanding” of Islam, because Islam does permit Muslim men to marry Christian women (but, of course, forbids Christian men from marrying Muslim women).
This is what happened, according to another AP report after the incident: “A Christian woman had an affair with a Muslim man. And when she disappeared, the man spread rumors that Christian clergy had snatched her and were holding her prisoner in a local church because she converted to Islam, security officials said Monday. That brought out a mob of Muslims, led by members of the hardline movement known as Salafis, who attacked the church…. “