Not All Egyptians Join Religious Fray

By Hiel, Betsy | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 25, 2010 | Go to article overview

Not All Egyptians Join Religious Fray


Hiel, Betsy, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


CAIRO -- Not all Egyptians are caught up in religious turmoil.

On the capital's teeming streets, young men hawk light-up Santa hats and florists sell Christmas trees, poinsettias and wreaths. Some restaurants decorate trees and play Christmas carols.

Such spirits are not confined to the holiday for many Egyptians.

The band Ana Masri, which translates as "I am Egyptian," formed in 2007 with Muslim and Christian members who promote national unity. Co-founder Mohammed Ally, who sings and plays piano and violin, says the band's "very eclectic" repertoire includes Coptic Christian hymns and Sufi Muslim music.

"When you look at history, you find since 1914 there have been sectarian incidents, but the gap between them would be a decade," says band manager Heba Ahmed. "If you look at the last 20 years, the incidents have been increasing ... so you realize that there is danger."

Ana Masri first played at Cairo's two main universities before reaching out to remote areas where a message of religious tolerance was rarely discussed. …

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