I have been very conscious about not saying anything about Egypt and the current unrest/revolution. Partly that is because I’m very concerned to make contact with Christian friends in Cairo and check that they are okay. With the removal of the Internet and SMS, it’s proving hard to track them down.
If you want to know what’s going on, then I recommend that you keep an eye on The Arabist blog. Issandr really knows his stuff and is local and is managing to get stuff updated, despite the Internet troubles that the government have apparently instigated.
Beyond the obvious concerns that everyone has for the stability of this nation, which has been so key to any kind of wider dialogue with the Middle East and Arab nations as a moderate, relatively western-friendly voice, I am concerned for two things that I will raise briefly now.
- The safety of the Coptic people
There are two sides to this. The first is that the tensions we are seeing are not based around religion. It seems that all of Egypt is deeply angry and dissatisfied, regardless of whether they are Muslim or Christian. However, I am concerned that the violence becomes an excuse for persecution. My second concern is that when all this shakes out and one would presume Mubarak cannot possibly hold on, what Government will be set in place? I cannot see Egypt suddenly becoming another Iran, but some are drawing parallels (perhaps moreso than events in Tunisia recently) and that could mean even greater levels of pressure for the Copts than is already the case.
- The safety of Egyptian history
I have been to Cairo on three occasions. Midan Tahrir (Tahrir Square) is the real centre of Cairo in so many ways and, unsurprisingly, has been a focus for protests. However, the Egyptian Musem is also right there on Midan Tahrir with King Tut’s gold and all the rest. I’ve not seen much mention of it made in news reports here but if looters get into the museum, then there would be a major problem. It would be such a tragedy to see artefacts from the Pharaonic era suddenly being carted off or destroyed.