By Raymond Ibrahim – Exclusive for Coptic Solidarity –
Recently during his televised program, Dr. Salem Abdul Galil—previously deputy minister of Egypt’s religious endowments for preaching, a governmental office—gleefully declared that “our prophet Muhammad—prayers and peace be upon him—will be married to Mary the Virgin in paradise.”
Needless to say, because the Virgin Mary holds a special place in Christianity, particularly within the Catholic and Orthodox confessions, his comments provoked shock and anger on social media—but no violence. Did it never occur to the learned sheikh that the very idea that the “Eternal Virgin” would be given to—and have sex with—somebody in what they believe to be a spiritual after-life (especially if it were someone such as Islam’s prophet), might be repugnant to them? Or did he just not care? Or did he, perhaps, say it precisely to vex them?
One wonders how Muslims would react if a leading Christian cleric openly declared that Aisha—Muhammad’s favorite wife, who holds a venerated place in Sunni tradition—will be married to and having sex with an enemy of Islam in Paradise? No doubt widespread outrage—plus bombed churches and slaughtered Christians.
Galil’s pronouncements are especially problematic in the context of Egypt. For here is a Muslim cleric—not a “radical,” nor a “Salafi,” but a “moderate”—openly degrading a symbol that he knows is venerated among the nation’s Coptic Orthodox Christians. How else can one describe his claim that the Virgin Mother of Christ will essentially be Muhammad’s concubine for all time?
Here, then, is yet another reminder that Egypt’s “anti-defamation of religions” law—which supposedly exists to protect both Christianity and Islam from any defamation, and which has been responsible for the arrest and punishment of many Copts accused of mocking Islam on social media—is in reality an anti-defamation of Islam law.
As for the sacred things of Egypt’s Christians, they are free game—including for governmental officials.