The truth about Muslim-Copt Relations in Egypt
I finally settled in Egypt in 1986 when I started med school at Cairo University. It took only one year for my Muslim friends to teach me about what was proper in Muslim-Coptic relations in the country.
I remember befriending Mariam who had come from New York. She had the dark black hair of an Egyptian but an uncanny New Yorkan accent. It was nice to meet someone who came from a background similar to mine. Quickly my Muslim friends explained I could not befriend her. She’s Christian, I was told. So what, I asked. In Egypt, it’s not all right, was the answer.
By the end of that same year I had heard my Muslim friends say it was yucky to drink out of a cup a Copt had drank from; they explained that the way to identify a Copt was by their odd smell and their oily hair; and I saw them secretly sign to each other if someone speaking to them was a Copt by making a cross on the inside of their wrist or by whispering the word “Kuftis”, a word Egyptians use in place of Copt, stupidly thinking the Copts don’t know that’s what they mean.
Read also Nadia on the Hijab and Sarrah's World about being a "halfie" or "half blood" in Egypt
My grandmother once told me that the root of all evil was money. I have since learned that the root of all evil is actually ignorance.