Atheism By: Hager Ibrahim
In a previous issue of Caravan, my dear fellows Mai Shams el Din and Heba Khalil wrote about atheism On Campus. At the first glance I was very attracted to read their articles as it is such a sensitive issue to be addressed in Egypt… well, yes AUC is still part of Egypt! I wouldn’t lie to you, I just didn’t feel well after reading. I won’t deny the fact that I know “Egyptians” on campus that are atheists, yet, I felt like I got a lot to say.
My friends talked about the Egyptian Law that AUC abides by; about foreigners on campus who feel that they are not welcomed enough; about the diversity that AUC offers; about the tolerance we shall have. Yet I wonder what is it exactly that we are requested to have in order to be tolerant enough?
We accept very liberal dressing styles inside AUC as a community, it’s not against any Egyptian law, but I wouldn’t say that our average dressing code is the acceptable dressing code within the Egyptian community. Yet, we are still not tolerant enough? I believe this tolerance issue leads us to a deeper question. As students in AUC we have to revisit out perception of out university. Is AUC actually American? Egyptian? Or simply and American-based system on Egyptian Land? To what extent are we truly conforming to the Egyptian perception about AUC what states that AUCians are spies on Egyptian land and that its youth are being transformed by the Powerful state of America to serve its own interests in the Middle East specially in a country that is considered one of the centers of Islam in the World?
Knowing that the Religious distribution of Egyptians- according to CIA world fact book 2009- is approximately 90% Muslims and 10% Christians; and taking into consideration the profound religious roots that are deepened in the Egyptian community, we find ourselves (Muslims and Christians) opposing many of what could be considered in America “Freedom of Choice”.
An American thinker would say that you are free to choose your religion, and a Religious Muslim would say that as well. Yet, a Muslim would have much more to be concerned with. We would care that Muslims stay as is, for we shall not forget that as Muslims we have the “Redda” concept that applies to Muslims who convert into other religions. Although this concept is heavily debated in religious arenas it should be taken into consideration. The same shall applies to Coptic Orthodox Christians who care to preserve their unity and belief. Additionally, a religious Muslim would take into consideration the concept of “Al Amr del maa’roof wal nahi a’an el monkar” which entails that a good Muslim shall advice others of what’s right and speak out when seeing something wrong. Finally, if a person is a true believer in any religion, he/she would probably like to see his/her children believing in the same religion out of the love of seeing the children doing what is right.
I am not sure how foreigners feel that of whether they are accepted enough on campus. But my guess is that, at the most, Egyptians are very welcoming to foreigners, and they don’t try to change them. It’s out of the concept that “it’s none of our business!” Yet, tolerating Egyptians getting affected by American thought to the extent that it contradicts their basic religious beliefs… That gets me back to the semester I spent in Portland, OR, USA. Portland is known to be a place for what’s ever is freaky and unusual in America, a place of maximum liberty, a haven for athiestsand a place where almost 10% of the population are homosexuals. A place where the last generation that considered itself Christian is over 60 years Old. Moreover, it’s a place where I found that homosexuality is encouraged more than being straight! I just wonder if this is the development of freedom of “everything” kind of thinking, would that city exists in 50, 100 years from now?! I Doubt it! There wouldn’t be enough straight people to produce new generations!
Forgetting about the Egyptian Law, We need to ask ourselves several questions. Could we reach that stage one day? Is that what we want? Are we supposed to be more tolerant forwards accepting the existence of foreigner atheists? Are we being transformed into what America wants????