This paper provides examples of a Western discourse about Egypt, which is critical about Muslim-Christian relations and human rights in Egypt and is largely focused on incidents, but is also insufficiently aware of the wider context which is presented in this paper.
Three abrupt political changes in Egypt in the past four years are discribed; the fall of president Hosni Mubarak, Islamist president Muhammad Mursī coming to power and interim president ‘Adlī Mansūr (Adli Mansour) and president ʿAbd Al-Fāttah Al-Sīsī following his downfall one year later. The changes had a profound effect on the relations between people of different convictions not only Muslims and Christians, but also among Muslims of different convictions, from liberal to traditional and political Islam.
The Egyptian state in the last years of Mubarak was insufficiently capable of enforcing the law, which has had its effects on Muslim-Christian relations. The state had been greatly weakened after the overthrow of Mubarak and was further weakened due to the power struggle that took place during the Mursī presidency. Interim president ‘Adlī Mansūr and president ʿAbd Al-Fāttah Al-Sīsī have worked on strengthening Egyptian institutions to stabilize the country.
Foreign powers have sought to influence developments in Egypt, but since different powers supported different factions they have only further weakened the state. President Al-Sīsī has been able to make foreign influence align with the objectives of his government.
This has, of course, had consequences for Muslim-Christian relations in the country. Unity during the revolution was immediately followed by several church burnings and clashes in 2011. Muslim-Christian relations during the Mursī presidency started hopeful but deteriorated later. President Al-Sīsī has made great efforts to reach out to Christians.