Dear Dr. Landi,
I’m referring to your expert intervention on the subject of citizenship.
Unlike the European citizen, and in particular the Italian, it should be remembered that the Arab citizen, both Christian and Muslim, has an identity intimately linked to his religious belief in his community even before the state he belongs to.
Between the 19th and 20th centuries, millions of Europeans migrated and settled in North Africa and the Middle East, contributing substantially to the economic and cultural development of African countries without almost ever taking root in the social fabric, and then found themselves expelled by returning to their countries of origin. At the same time the European powers competed to stand up as protectors of Christians before the Ottoman authorities in order to exempt them from the application of Islamic laws that discriminated strongly against non-Muslims in order to gain influence over the governability of these countries. Some Catholic communities, a minority of local Christianity, have used this influence to try to escape the discrimination of the legal system that still exists in our 21st century. This state of affairs has influenced the attitude of Muslims towards local Christians in the broad sense of the term, considering them foreigners in their own country.
This concerns especially the situation in the Middle East for the good reason that Christianity had disappeared from North Africa despite the fact that there were still a thousand two hundred bishops in the eleventh century.
As for the Copts, in Egypt there are the most numerous Christians in the Middle East who have survived numerous massacres of discrimination and harassment over the centuries thanks to their attachment to their land and their clergy keeping a low profile; unlike the other countries their emigration flow only began with the era of Sadat then continued with Mubarak, during that period you will remember that the Patriarch had been imprisoned for some years after raising criticism of the discriminatory and vexatious policies of the authorities towards Christians.
In short, the Egyptian Coptic Church is rooted in its land and has survived because of its low profile without seeking protection from the government, being very proud of their religious traditions. Following the destruction of 83 religious buildings in Egypt on 14 August 2013 by their Muslim brethren, I have heard some bishops say “they may burn the churches to the ground but they do not know that the Church is in our hearts”. I understand that certain appearances deceive especially those who do not frequent the local people, do not know the customs or cannot perceive their deep feelings due to ignorance of the language or different education. Incidentally, I am not Coptic but Egyptian by birth and I believe in dialogue with respect for opinions and facts.
Giuseppe Samir Eid
RC Milan South-East
Free web translation from the original in Italian
The published articles intend to provide the tools for a social inclusion of the migratory flow, shed light on human rights and the condition of life of Christians in the Islamic world from which the author come from. Knowledge of the other, of cultural and religious differences are primary ingredients to create peace in the hearts of men everywhere, a prerequisite for a peaceful coexistence and convinced citizenship in the territory.