A recent course in Egypt’s southern city of Aswan has raised a few eyebrows after it was announced that the course would be an “anti-Christianization course” aiming to educate youth about Islam and how to respond to attempts of converting by Christians in the country.
The course, which started on Saturday and will continue until Wednesday, is run independently, according to coordinator, Ibrahim al-Etmany, a student at the engineering faculty in Aswan.
“Reoccurring attempts at the university in Aswan to convert Muslims to Christianity or provoke them with misleading information was the drive behind the course,” Etmany told Bikyamasr.com via telephone on Saturday.
“We want to avoid confrontations and provocative talk and focus on civil and enightened dialogue between the two religions,” he continued.
“You know young people could get upset or angry, but with knowing your faith, you could respond politely and respectfully to the other side’s claims.”
No official numbers shed light on the number of Muslims converting to Christianity, but evidence shows it is still well behind the conversion of Coptic Christians to Islam in the country.
A number of Muslims who converted to Christianity appeared heavily in the media during 2009 and 2010, affirming their rights to choose their faith, yet they were met with public anger, as their press interviews showed hostility towards Muslims.
“Confrontation is out of the question,” argued Ibrahim. “We are here to learn more about our religion and take violent responses out of the equation.”
Ibrahim spoke to Bikyamasr.com as he was expecting the three lecturers to arrive at the train station, with the course to start after the sunset prayer.
He added that many people have expressed their interest in the course and scores are traveling from neighboring cities such as Meniya and Qena, who were hit recently with sectarian clashes, to attend the course.
“We are expecting a hundred or more people to show up,” Etmany said.
The course is not the first public effort to combat conversion in Egypt. The Observatory of the Islamic Resistance to Christianization, an online resource, provides materials online to fight conversion.
“We are a scientific research body specializing in the resistance to Christianization and welcome the cooperation of all Muslims to confront this danger that exploits the poverty of ordinary people and their vulnerability to catch them and throw them under the feet of the Cross,” reads the about us section on the Observatory’s website.
“We welcome the cooperation of all Muslims in this vital area, stressing the need to adhere to the Qur’an and Sunna to understand the ancestors as our front line,” it added.
By Manar Ammar