Since Egypt’s revolution began, tensions among Egypt’s Muslims and Christians have only increased. Earlier this month, it once again turned deadly. Tit-for-tat killings left three Muslims and at least six Christians dead.
That and other religious violence is prompting a public debate about religious identity in Egypt. One group of young Egyptians wants to remove religious labels from national ID cards.
‘Where The Trouble Starts’
Aalam Wassef, one of those advocates, will gladly tell you he’s a video artist, a musician and a publisher. When it comes to his religion, though, he says it’s none of your business.
That’s the motto of his new campaign, too. Wassef, along with two other Egyptians, is calling on others to cover up their religion on their national ID card and start identifying as human first. They’re spreading the word on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
One of their videos plays images of a particularly bloody day for Christians last year, when the military — in power at the time — drove over Christian protesters, and state television called on “honorable” Muslims to come out and defend the troops from the Christians. Twenty-seven people were dead by the end of that day.
The lyrics sung to these images are just as chilling: “The racist republic of Egypt, the sectarian republic of Egypt. It’s ingrained on your ID, and this is where the trouble starts.”
“Egypt has a long history of sectarian violence and sectarian issues, which have always been covered up with this narrative of national unity,” Wassef says. “And so it’s a big lie, actually, because there’s a lot of embedded discrimination in the society.”