I read today that Egypt wants to preserve its Jewish heritage — to embalm what is left of the three families we pushed to extinction first. We always hear of churches being opened for Muslim prayer… I want to open the mosques to Coptic masses, to see the young volunteer groups fixing the devastated Coptic edifices. It’s the culture and the faith that is the backbone of the identity of Egypt as we know it. From our very name to our very soul. Egypt owes her Copts. Yes, let’s preserve our heritage. It means we push for Egypt to have a blind and equal measure of justice and rule of law for all of her citizens, especially the minority ones. It means we get frustrated and angry when we remember there are three Jewish families left in Cairo, and millions of Copts who live in daily fear and persecution. It means we’ll lose, I guess, and get swallowed up in the tide.
I don’t know what stops it except refusing classism in all its forms, refusing to assimilate into empowered groups that commit hate crimes against dark skin but revere the days of the Bashas and get excited to associate with the atheist artist in the salons of society. We stand up for good people and good ideas, and for the small little guy and the gay man on the street corner. Maybe we fight back when we are yelled at to cover our hair, and we flip out when we are told that this evil against one another is the will of God. It isn’t. This division isn’t. And I hope to God ultimately, in the end, it isn’t Egypt. Maybe that’s how. Maybe we take the stance of Ahmed Fouad Negm, in our love of the simple earth and the Egyptian homespun, who knew that “We are a society that only cares about the hungry when they are voters and only cares about the naked when they are women.”
— Mona Hamdy is a teaching fellow at Harvard University. She is a member of the Bretton Woods Committee and the co-founder of Al Baydha Development Corporation in Saudi Arabia. She is on Twitter at twitter.com/monabintaboha