Monday, 10 January 2011

The Coptic Man on "Tiananmen Square"?

Photo © Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
A photograph by Amr Abdallah Dalsh, a Reuters photographer, stopped me in my tracks. It shows an Egyptian young man (presumably a Christian Copt) menacing or hurling a piece of iron at the cowering Egyptian police. This came about as a consequence of the heinous bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria on New Year's Eve which killed 23 and injured 100.

Egypt is still reeling from the violence, and its government has quickly blamed external Islamist terrorism, promising to bring the perpetrators to justice.  I'm not holding my breath on that eventuality, and neither are the Copts, who have been subject to discrimination at all levels in their very own country.

High on the Copts' grievance list is Egypt's policy to make it extremely difficult for them to build churches.  The country's prime minister recently rejected demands for Copts to be free to build churches, claiming that the government will make sure that there are enough worship places for both Muslims and Christians. A joke.

And this is one of our so-called stalwart allies in the Middle East. Another joke.

But let's go back to the photograph for a minute. A half-naked man confronting a phalanx of well armed, well protected security forces...and seemingly single-highhandedly making them cower like rats. This is truly an example of a picture being worth a thousand words.

Photograph courtesy Reuters Full Focus Blog