"Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world's inhabitants - that is 7 billion - so that they themselves may live? Impossible!" - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Al-Azhar, January 1
The killings of 12 journalists and others at Charlie Hebdo in Paris has led many to wonder about the role of Islam in fueling vicious attacks on civilians in the name of the religion.
Policymakers wring their hands about how to curtail the spread of extremist religious ideologies that terrorize Western targets, but also Muslims and non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East, who are extremism's primary victims.
On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie. By Tuesday, the veneer of solidarity was exposed as tissue thin. It began dissolving as soon as the real, remaining Charlie Hebdo put out its post-massacre issue featuring a Muhammad cover that, as the New York Times put it, “reignited the debate pitting free speech against religious sensitivities.”
I had the opportunity of being present for the Christmas Coptic mass at the Abbasiya Cathedral last Tuesday and witness the president’s surprise and historical visit, the first of its kind, and the significance of which will be remembered for years to come.
Four years after the Arab Spring began, the new Middle East looks more and more like the old one—but worse.
Coptic Solidarity 2014 Conference
The Annual Conference was held in Washington, D.C. on June 26-28, 2014.