A Lesson in Religious Tolerance

By Sahar El-Nadi
Freelance Writer - Egypt

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The sign reads: "Muslims and Christians... our demands are the same", and the name ‘Egypt’ inside the heart. (Credit to Sahar El-Nadi)

Sunday, February 6, was a special day in Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo, but then, every day since January 25  has been a special day in Egypt, hasn't it?

Yesterday, Muslims and Christians were holding special prayers to bless the souls of the martyrs who died as a result of the violent crackdown on the peaceful demonstrators. The bullets, the thugs' knives, and stones did not differentiate between Muslim and Christian. Almost everyone I know has a wound as a result, whether physical or psychological.

At noon, the Muslims lined up for prayer, we hardly had a place to stand, let alone bow and prostrate on the cold asphalt of the square while it rained. A special Muslim prayer for the souls of the martyrs followed the daily noon prayers.

Our Christian brothers and sisters waited for us in big groups and they switched off the loud speakers stopping the protest chants in respect for the Muslim prayers. They said "Amen" after the Muslim Imam as he asked God for peace, freedom and dignity.

Then Muslims and Christians gathered to attend Sunday Mass together, and they all said: "Amen" as the priest read from the bible verses that invoked peace, love, and dignity for Egypt and its people.

Tens of thousands of people held hands and roared: "Muslims & Christians... One Hand... One Hand... One Hand" Then they carried on top of their shoulders an Imam holding up copy of the Qur’an and a priest holding up his big cross and continued chanting: "One Hand... One Hand... One Hand" Everyone was moved to tears, but with the smiles getting wider. I was overwhelmed by a need to contain all those thousands in a gigantic hug.

Then everyone broke into song: first the Egyptian national anthem, and then a famous patriotic song from the 50's sung by the legendary Abdel Haleem Hafez- Famous Egyptian singer- which says that, "We all deserve a picture, to show us all united, under the banner of victory".

I will not give up such overwhelming love and liberty easily, nor would any of the millions who have tasted it for the first time in decades. (Credit to Sahar El-Nadi).

For the Entire World

Egyptians showed the world a practical lesson of tolerance, coexistence, and integration. Something many developed nations are still struggling with. I heard a Muslim say through his tears that it was amazing to embrace a Christian brother and share a human moment with him.

I saw a Christian almost jog to catch up with an elderly bearded Muslim to hold his hand firmly in front of press cameras. This is what happens when Egyptians, both Muslims and Christians, are left to their own simple and sincere feelings. Love prevails and conquers all.

This is what I believe will happen to any other nation on earth if they’re left to express their true human feelings without manipulation from politics or the media.

I’m grateful to have experienced this magic. Those were some of the best moments of my life. It’s empowering to feel unity and solidarity first hand.

I will not give up such overwhelming love and liberty easily, nor would any of the millions who have tasted it for the first time in decades at Tahrir Square, the beating heart of Egypt right now, overflowing with fresh, pure love.

Sahar El-Nadi is an Egyptian freelance journalist who traveled to 25 countries around the world and currently based in Cairo. Sahar also worked in many people-related careers in parallel, including presenting public events and TV programs; instructing training courses in communication skills; cross cultural issues; image consulting for public speakers; orientation for first-time visitors to the Middle East; and localization consulting for international educational projects.

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