Easter is becoming a rough time for Christians in lands where Islam is the dominant religion. It’s likely to become still rougher, as this preeminent Christian holy day packs the elements that most enrage Islamist sensitivities into one dense cluster of hours.
A poignant and stirring pair of paragraphs closes today’s Wall Street Journal coverage of the pain and anger that follow upon this weekend’s double massacre in Egypt.
The Journal‘s Maria Abi-Habib and Dahlia Kholaif introduce us to Hoda Ibrahim, a 20-year-old Egyptian university student, who says with a grim determination that is familiar on the lips of Christians in the Middle East these days:
We no longer see a future for us in Egypt, but we won’t leave … Yes, we’re very angry at the government. After each attach, they make the same promises only for it to happen all over again.’
Yet the article’s enduring resonance takes shape in its final paragraphs, which signal that this mess is not nearly as easy to figure out as Muslim-v.-Christian rhetoric suggests:
Youths sobbed on the sidewalk as they waited to enter the church, some clutching white flower wreaths shaped like crosses. Others had come immediately from class, textbooks in hand.
Ms. Ibrahim showed photos on her phone of 11 friends killed on Sunday. Her Muslim classmates also attended the funeral, women wearing the hijab embracing friends donning crucifix necklaces, crying alongside them.
However we may choose to come to grips with the pluriform shapes, convictions, and impulses of Islam as a religion, it is a mistake to indulge the feel-good language that lays such evil violence at the feet of all Muslims, let alone those of my Muslim neighbor.
Those hijab-covered friends of Hoda Ibrahim accompanied her into a Christian holy space to mourn the violence that their co-religionists have once again perpetrated upon the innocent.
There is no blood on their hands.
We may in good faith ask them what holds them to a religion that appears to engender such horrors at its margins. But we must not demonize them or suppose that theirs are crocodile tears.
The Middle Eastern man whose resurrection is celebrated this week would not have done so. Probably, he would have looked them in the eye, taken them at their word, found his heart moved by their grief and confusion. Likely, his tears would have mingled with theirs. In time, he would have taken their hands in his and shared with them some good news.