Monday, October 10, 2011

Egyptian Christian/Muslim Conflict was Inevitable

What happens when parents of fighting children just tell them to shut up and behave rather than helping them work out their differences? The first time the parents leave the kids alone, the kids get into a fist fight. Instead of teaching them how to solve problems before they boil over, the parents put a lid on the pot so that the anger boils over and explodes.

What happens when a brutal dictatorship suppresses all dissent and prevents ethnic and religious groups from working out their differences, and then is overthrown by those same groups in a revolution? They attack each other (AP photo story) ... with deadly results.

My first (and still strong) reaction to the stories coming out of Egypt was, "This is why we need to get rid of religion!" How can anyone look at bloody rioters carrying crosses and throwing stones and not be horrified at the hypocrisy? Islam is the religion submission and peace. Christianity is about forgiveness and turning the other cheek. And yet there they are, out in the streets killing each other over these same two religions.

But then I thought about these people's history. Christians and Muslims have been living side-by-side for decades in Egypt, but haven't had the opportunity to air their grievances and work out problems. Religions naturally clash because it's difficult to reconcile two faiths (unlike most other human knowledge, where truth actually matters). The Egyptians were living under Mubarak, who suppressed all dissent and dialog. The democratic process that lets disputes get aired and defused in free countries was absent in Egypt – for longer than most Egyptians have been alive.

So it shouldn't be a surprise to the rest of the world that these frustrations are now boiling over. Twenty four dead and counting. The Coptic Church is shouting about persecution. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf laments that the riots have "taken us back several steps."

I hope that this inevitable period of violence that grew out of Mubarak's repression will be short-lived, and that more reasonable factions will prevail once the pent-up steam has boiled over.


  1. Not surprising. Started listening to "The Better Angels of our Nature", and while it talks about a recent drop in human violence, it doesn't gloss over the centuries aof horrific violence practiced by all stripes of humanity, including the religious.

  2. You do realize that Atheism also is irreconcilable with other religions as well, right? Suggesting to get rid of religion is causing religious frustration too; it can't be a solution.

  3. Vid – you have it backwards. Religion is the problem, not atheism. Atheism doesn't advocate anything. It's a non-belief system. It's like saying, "Non-belief in Thor is irreconcilable with other religions."

    It's religions that make the positive and unprovable claims about the nature of the world and morality. All the atheist does is to say, "That is an amazing claim ... can you prove it?" Christians, Jews and Muslims claim all sorts of impossible miracles have occurred, and that God spoke personally to their prophets. To say that atheism is irreconcilable with those claims is just another version of the classic flawed argument, "You can't prove God doesn't exist."

    It's only because the Christians and Muslims disagree over their various unproven and unprovable miraculous claims that they are fighting with each other.

  4. Claiming religion is the root of all of humanities problems is very naïve. Humans are not all that different from their animal brethren and will wage war against each other regardless of whether religion acts as a catalyst. It’s nature…


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