After Egypt attack, sectarianism and extremism go hand in hand: Hellyer

Good commentary and linkages:

Here is something else we know. The primary targets of the attacks today were Christian – their Christian identity is what singled them out for the attackers, and they paid for that identity with their lives. No one should be under any delusion in this regard – IS propaganda spoke specifically about Christians, and Christians were specifically targeted. This deadly sectarianism has to be identified as what it is – hateful, bigoted, and murderous.

But blood doesn’t know those boundaries. Among the dead today, Egyptians shared pictures of Muslims who died in the blasts – more than half a dozen Muslims, men and women, who died in the course of their duty, as police officers, protecting the security of their Christian compatriots. Had they not fulfilled their duty, many more in Alexandria would likely have paid the ultimate price. Their being Muslim did not immunize them from the crimes of the attackers. It wouldn’t.

Indeed, it is also being reported that the Egyptian security services dismantled a bomb in a mosque in Tanta today – a mosque that is known particularly for an adherence to Sufism, which is part of normative Sunni Islam, historically. But the likes of IS, informed as they are by an extremist form of Wahabism which rejects much of normative Sunni Islam in the first place, may have targeted the mosque anyway.

There will be those from the majority Muslim community who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their Christian compatriots. There will be those who marched on the church to show solidarity with their Christian compatriots, which likewise happened in Tanta by imams. It’s one type of model. It’s a model which, regrettably if ironically, is rejected by anti-Muslim bigots in the West, many of whom took the opportunity today to further Islamophobia. Hatred, it seems, also loves company.

But there will also be those who will deceitfully condemn the murders on the one hand – and create the conditions for the sectarianism that inspired it on the other. Sectarian incitement has been an issue that far too few have been willing to tackle head-on when it comes to the pro-Islamist universe – and that includes the Muslim Brotherhood. For years, anti-Christian populist sentiment is a currency that too many in these movements traffic in – and too little attention is given to confronting it.

It would be wrong and inappropriate to associate the entirety of the Islamist camp with the radicalism of the likes of IS – but likewise, it would be the height of naiveté and an utter fallacy to assume that sectarianism is only a problem in the pro-IS faction. It goes far beyond that. Condemning the attacks, for example, in English, while propagating conspiracies and “false flag” theories about them in Arabic, only means that the mood music for sectarian incitement is left unchecked even further.

To avoid further tragedy, we need to recognize that sectarianism and radical extremism remain crucial problems to resolve.

Source: After Egypt attack, sectarianism and extremism go hand in hand – The Globe and Mail

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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