Friday Prayers for Egypt: Naked Sectarianism

Flag Cross Quran

God,

It is ugly, but may it make a difference. It is embarrassing, but may it spur to action. Unfortunately it is real, and may it soon disappear.

In Upper Egypt a married Christian man and a Muslim woman had an alleged romantic affair. That was bad enough, but what followed was worse. A mob pilloried seven Christian homes in the village, and dragged the man’s mother naked through the streets. Police, say the reports, did not intervene.

Arrests have been made, but in similar incidents they have been made before. The authorities call for the guilty to be held accountable, but these calls have been made before. Church figures reject the extra-judicial use of ‘reconciliation sessions’, but they have been rejected before, and held anyway.

The state has a poor record in prosecuting sectarian crime. Society has a poor record in erasing sectarian sentiments.

Religious leaders have been dispatched to address the situation. God, give the people ears to hear.

Dispatch also the hands of justice. Empower police – whether scared or sectarian – to play their God-given role in restraint. Enable judges – whether heavy in caseload or light in concern – to establish patterns of proper deterrent.

But God, fundamentally reeducate in the virtue of honor. Bless the codes that preserve worthy morality. Bless the motivation that enforces its standards.

But better integrate the virtue of mercy. Better equip the discipline of discernment. Focus responsibility on the individual; strengthen prevention in the community.

And if at heart there is religious contempt, purify the heart in personal repentance.

God, help the aggrieved to forgive; help the state to judge. In cooperation with both, may you convict and transform.

Purge Egypt of this poison, God. Honor all who honor you, and gently – but effectively – rebuke where Egypt falls short.

Amen.

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