Last week, I wrote about the killing of Iraqi Christians by extremists in the name of Islam. Unfortunately, events over the weekend require me to return to this topic yet again. Just after midnight January 1st, there was a deadly attack in Alexandria, Egypt on the Saint’s Church. Twenty-one people were killed and some 79 were injured as a car bomb exploded outside of the church after New Year’s Mass. Not only is this event tragic but it puts the Coptic community in Egypt on edge ahead of their Christmas on January 7th.
This news troubled me all weekend because this kind of violent attack does not represent the faith that I know and live everyday. There has been increasing tension between Muslims and Christians in Egypt recently and an event like this will exacerbate the situation. Moreover, these attacks raise more concern in Muslim communities worldwide, making it increasingly difficult to argue that Islam is a religion of peace as extremists continue to perpetuate acts of violence in the name of Islam.
However, Muslims around the world have spoken out strongly against the attacks. In the United States, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) issued a statement; Turkey condemned the attacks; the Algerian President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika denounced the violence; and King Abdullah II of Jordan as well as Jordan’s Islamic Action Front (IAF) condemned the attacks.
While it may be hard for those outside of the Muslim community to see that this violence does not represent Islam, it is important to remember that the worldwide Muslim community is over 1.5 billion and that the vast majority not only do not engage in violent acts but strongly reject those who have hijacked their faith for their own personal agendas. All that can be done is to reiterate that extremists, who use violence, do not represent Islam.
What was your reaction to the attacks in Egypt? What can the Muslim communities around the world do? Are Muslims as a collective responsible for the actions of a few? Please share your thoughts below.