Proxy War with Two Coptic Children

Coptic CrossI get religious intolerance. It’s like someone saying your mom’s a whore: it’s upsetting if it’s not true; it’s devastating if it is. This is really all about civility. I don’t like rudeness.

Just the same, a lot of people are nothing so much as outrage springs ready to be triggered. And that is its own kind of rudeness—and worse.

Here’s the thing: there are those who are trying to offend and those who inadvertently offend. It is like the difference between someone who looks you in the eye and purposefully kicks you in the shin and someone walking past who does it by mistake. It may be the case that both of these kicks hurt equally. But no reasonable person is going to make a scene about the latter. Shit happens. Life is pain. Get used to it.

Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that I’m pretty liberal in defining what is inadvertent. I often write about religion in a very critical way. This will no doubt offend religious people, but that isn’t my intent. I am trying to figure out God, the universe, and everything else. Similarly, I think that the Muhammad cartoons were probably created to be funny, not to offend Muslims.

There was a really thought provoking article in Ahram Online today, Two Coptic children arrested in Egypt for ‘insulting Islam’. It’s not what you think. The two children in question are 9 and 10. The village Iman saw them tearing up pages of the Koran. But he didn’t take them to the police. Instead, he took the children to their church and asked that they be punished.

Thus far, I like this story. This is the way that civilized people behave. If some kids are vandalizing your house, you talk to the parents. Unfortunately, the story goes off the tracks from here. As far as I can tell (and I’m reading between the lines here), the people at the church gave the kids a slap on the wrist. They claim that the children were illiterate and so didn’t even know that the pages they were destroying were from the Koran.

I question this. I don’t think you have to know how to read to know you are dealing with a holy book.[1] Apparently, the Iman felt the same way and so went to the police. Just as I think the church could have been more understanding of the Iman, I think the Iman could have been more understanding of the kids.

What I think is going on here is that neither group particularly likes the other. So the children are being used as a kind of proxy war for the two local faiths. I cannot believe that the two groups couldn’t use this opportunity to break down the walls that are separating them instead of building more. But then, I’m a liberal and that’s just like us.

[1] What kind of a church is this that doesn’t teach their children to read?!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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