January 7, 2014.
Merry Christmas, if you, as most Egyptian Christians do, follow a Julian Calendar.
And what a merry day it was. The President visited the Pope. The Army defended the Cathedral. Politics and Religion came together on pews of supplication to celebrate the new deliverance of Egypt at the hands of People and Soldiers.
(Soldiers in Egypt are not part of the people, in case you don’t know. They are a species apart, as evident in the infamous battle cry of the “post-revolutionary” era which praises their on-again, off-again unity.)
No unfortunate incident of Black Terrorism occurred that day, which reveals a great deal of prudence on the side of the terrorists, than it does a diligence on the part of security forces.
As the Pope spoke of Egypt’s new era of hope, and praised the Army and State for their resolve and benevolence, long forgotten seemed the martyrs of Maspero, Egypt’s Bloody Sunday, who fell at the hands of the military in October 2011. Not a word of detraction was aimed at the security forces which failed to prevent scores of attacks against Christians in the follow-up to July 3rd. And the Christians of Minya, still suffering routine kidnappings and harassment were unmentioned, left to fend for themselves in the battle to save the larger communion of Christians.
The Army and Police must have been jubilant. Here they were, those Christians, who have often been a thorn in the side of the State, reminding the world of the incompetence and brutality of the country’s security apparatus, here they were singing the praises of the Armed Forces, even though security hadn’t really improved, none of the antagonizers against Christians had been brought to justice, and the State hadn’t made any real concessions on religious rights and freedoms.
A genuine Christmas Miracle.
St. Nicholas came down the chimney of every police barracks in the country, handing stacks of get out of jail free cards to every bad copper and soldier.
But for the sake of the majority of Christians, it was alright to let bygones be bygones, forgo the need for swift justice, and tell every bereaved Coptic mother that her son died for a good cause, that in exchange for her agony on earth he will find peace in the heavens, and that the nice soldier is really (really) a friend.