“The angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.“ Gospel of Matthew, 13 – 15.
Joseph is Saint Joseph or Youssef Al-Naggar; the one engaged to Mary the Virgin, and the child is Jesus… and Egypt is our beloved country that is guided and protected until forever as its ancient sages gave details of death, resurrection, doomsday and judgment. They also believed that heart is where faith lies, and confirmed that the word is the very beginning of everything; a truth mentioned in the bible: “In the beginning was the Word” and stated by Quran “Recite in the name of your Lord who created.”
Also, it’s recorded in history that in the moment when the Roman emperor wanted to impose his doctrine in the Christian faith, ignoring that the Seat of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the second largest one of the five Apostolic Seats in terms of proper faith and dogmatic theology, a new era of heroic national resistance was recorded in history as the era of prosecution of Christians.
And in the 1919 revolution that erupted against the British occupation in support of the nation leader Sa’ad Zaghloul and the delegation members exiled with him, the occupation authorities tried to fish in the troubled waters of religious sectarianism, but Father archpriest Sergios mounted the rostrum of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif to say that religions belong to God but our country belongs to everyone… then the bells rang and liturgies were conducted praying for God to protect our country, the Nile and the unity of our nation.
Moreover, when the Russian emperor wanted to spread his power to the warm Mediterranean area, under the pretext that Russia is the protector of the Orthodox in face of the Protestant, Catholic, American and West European oppression, he sent a message to the Pope of Alexandria offering the protection of Russia. The Coptic Egyptian Pope decisively and sharply answered saying: “We do not seek protection from one in need of protection… we seek protection in God and in our country.”!
Throughout history since Saint Mark arrived at Alexandria in 60 AD and established the Seat of Alexandria spreading its authority over the five cities in North Africa and later to Abyssinia and the rest of Africa, the one sitting over Saint Mark’s chair kept leading the Coptic Church to be the protecting shield against two main dangers: danger of heresy and danger of threatening the country by foreign enemies and those who want to dismantle it domestically… whenever anyone of those thinks he can make use of the Christian component of the Egyptian people in targeting our country, thinking it’s the strongest point in his conspiring scheme, the Egyptian Church takes a firm stance against such conspiracy proving that it’s deep-rooted in the theology and civilization of the Egyptian collective conscience.
It’s the unfailing defense that stood against Napoleon Bonaparte in his French Campaign when he tried to take advantage of the connection he had with some Christian families in order to rip apart our national unity. Again it’s the same defense that resisted Cromer when he employed the “Divide and rule” tactic and supported the 1910 conference that aimed at hitting our national unity after the assassination of Boutros Ghali. Later, the 1911 conference, which our national Church supported, rejected all those calls aiming at hitting our national unity. It’s our ever unfailing defense that had a decisive role in the 1919 revolution and always played this role in all times when flames of sectarian strife hit Egypt’s Copts; Muslim and Christian.
Enemies of our country, on the domestic and foreign levels, kept fueling those flames of hatred, incitement and violence against Christians. Those traitors distributed themselves into two tasks; first one is attacking the Christian faith and stigmatizing it with all flaws reaching to the flaw of infidelity. Second one is targeting the ignorant poor by the discourse of discrimination and spreading hostility behavior represented in not celebrating the Christian feasts and not having cordial relations with the Christians, in addition to the task of practicing violence against churches and all institutions that relate to them, so that the foreign enemy can interfere in our affairs under the pretext of protecting the rights of minorities due to the absence of the state’s role in protecting the citizenship rights of the religious minority.
In both cases, the Orthodox national Church does not hesitate to immediately declare its national stance stating that: Egypt is a country that lives in our souls and which we live in it.
Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar
This article was published in Al Ahram Al Arabi on January 4, 2018.
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