Run-up to Christmas
Today seemed like a pretty ordinary day in many respects, in my area nothing seemed special or even out of place. I could still hear the recycling collector guy calling “bikya” from way out somewhere, his call for junk reverberating off the walls of the houses of our street.
I was on a mission to get to Rehab City as part of my new ‘pack in as much as I can’ weekend strategy. I decided to take public transport half way there to keep costs down because getting to Rehab costs almost an arm and a leg.
The route on the bus didn’t spring up anything remotely interesting until I noticed that there seemed to be more guys in a black uniform gathered on one street corner than there normally would be. The bus then crawled past a building that had a blue satin covering on the bottom half of its surrounding wall. Initially I thought ‘Hmm… maybe someone’s getting married. That looks pretty’. Then I spotted more men in black, aka policemen, putting baracades of iron ‘no parking’ barriers just short of the curb along the building. Odd.
My eyes scanned upwards and that’s when it became clear. The dome and minaret could easily have led me to believe it was a mosque, but the placement of crosses along the top of the structure made it quite obvious that it was a church. It was a beautiful structure and despite its design being quite simple the carvings along the top of the minaret were deliberately intricate.
‘Why are there so many officers outside?’ I thought, ‘And why is there satin cloth all along the outside wall? What’s special about today?’ Yes, I have conversations with myself sometimes.
Then… duh! Today is the 6th, and 7th January is Coptic Christmas. It should’ve been obvious to me because my students who are Christians told me earlier this week that they’ve been fasting, which I presumed is what they do during the days before Christmas, and because tomorrow is a public holiday the connection between police officers outside the church and the blue satin should have come to me sooner.
And with the recent bombing in Alexandria outside a church, and protests by Christians this week, heightened security comes as no surprise.
I’m slightly saddened that there should be fears of harm around a faith’s holy day and on a public holdiday too. It shouldn’t be this way. There shouldn’t have to be policemen out to protect people who have a right to celebrate the rites of their faith; there shouldn’t be people worried that others could cause them harm simply because they are participating in an act of worship.
It boggles the mind that there are people who’d want to cause others harm simply because they are participating in a celebration they don’t agree with. We’ve been given free will, and ‘live and let live’ should be the attitude we adopt. We may not agree with everyone’s beliefs, but ‘to you is your belief and to me is mine’.
I pray tomorrow won’t be peppered with stories of bloodshed or intolerance. As for today, baracades will still be placed outside churches.
– The Londoner