CAIRO — After decades of polarization along religious lines, Christians and Muslims in Egypt are coming together to rally behind their flag.
The country is in the midst of a swell of nationalism that began during the revolution in 2011 and intensified when citizens took to the streets in June of this year to call for the removal of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egyptian flags adorn houses and buildings throughout the capital, and everything — from sandbags buttressing military blockades to pillars along the Nile Corniche — has been painted in the national colors of black, white and red.
These sentiments have served to unite Christians and Muslims. In recent decades, Christians had become increasingly cloistered — a trend of “closed communalism” that Gamal Soltan, professor of political science at the American University in Cairo, said has been building since the 1970s. That began to change during the revolution in 2011.
The 18 days of demonstrations during the first Tahrir Square uprising ushered in poignant displays of interreligious unity, with protesters sharing prayers and holding aloft Bibles and Qurans. Political writer and commentator Bassem Sabry called this the “grass-roots manifestation” of nationalistic coexistence.