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What Is the Racial Project in Egypt?

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Submitted By khara1
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What is the Racial Project in Egypt?

Introduction:

Our research paper will be based on the racial project in Egypt, and how people are acting upon this racial project without even realizing it. A lot of people don’t usually realize when and how they are being racist against an Egyptian person who is considered one of their own. Egyptians tend to think they are the nicest and least racists of all people around the world, but after conducting our research we will begin to discover whether or not this is the case.
After conducting research and observations, we came across the fact that the Egyptian people differentiate each other under the categories of religion. There are only two types of religions identified by the Egyptian government and are written in ID cards, those two religions are Islam and Christianity. Even though, there are some Egyptians who believe in other types of religions, the government does not recognize these religions, so they cannot be identified with what they believe in. So, what happens is that they are forced to be identified as either a Muslim or a Christian in their ID’s whether they believe in either form of religion because the Egyptian government and its people base religion as one of the main pillars of society and life and refuse to accept other forms found in Egypt such as Judaism, Baha’i, Atheism and Agnosticism.

The question here lies within the context of the people and the government. Why would the government and its people for that matter feel that they can only identify two religions, and why does the government feel the need to mention it in ID cards. The fact that religion is mentioned in ID cards, and the fact that they force people who don’t believe in either of the religions to be identified as either Muslim or Christian, is a racist act against the minority. It emphasizes the role of religion in the country, and makes Egyptians segregate against each other without even realizing it. As we know race is a social construct, but in this case the government helped emphasize the racial project by creating a bigger emphasis on religion and the role it plays in each individuals life. This created a conflict between Muslims and Christians, others who believe in other religions against the government, and conflicts between each religion on its own.
The racial project in Egypt created competition between Muslims and Christians. Christians are considered a minority in Egypt and only make up 10% of the population. This is why, Muslims tend to think that they are the majority, which means they have more power and say on what goes around in the country. This created conflict for Christians because they started feeling like they have no power or control, so they formed their own group of people. Having only Christians working for Christians, going to church regularly, and having church meetings and field trips to bring them all together. Secondly, the conflict between other religion believers with Christianity and Islam are that those people are not accepted in society; therefore they are discriminated against. Lastly, there are conflicts arising in each religion on its own, those conflicts occur from the creation of sub- categories that results with separating people from the same religion. For example, Islam is supposed to be one religion with one group of people who all believe in the same thing. But, now a days Islam in Egypt is subdivided into Ekhwan, Salafis, Sheeie, and Sunni. And to be in the Ekhwan group, you will need an ID card to be identified as one of them separate from the national ID. Its like a membership card, to be accepted as one of them. This is how, each group view themselves in different ways, which created a conflict between people with the same religion beliefs.

This is why; we believe that religion plays a really important role in determining the racial project in Egypt. We will use the racial project theory in determining how and why Egyptian people use religion to discriminate against one another. We will connect what race means and how it is recognized in Egypt. And it is used as a social structure and a cultural representation. In Egypt there are combinations of rules regarding the racial classification that they enforce without meaning to, and this is what we will try to prove to you in this research.

Hypothesis:
Racial projects exist in Egypt because of governmental classification through ID cards, which segregates between to religious entities; Islam and Christianity, therefore resulting in a division in society.

Many Egyptians especially Christians feel that because they are a minority in Egypt that the very nature of this classification was made in order to separate them from society This hypothesis will test whether or not the Egyptian people feel that classification on their ID cards through religion divides society or makes them feel segregated as a people. It is a sound hypothesis which is testable and how we will be testing is will be shown in the methodology below.

Methodology:
We decided to conduct our research in the city of Cairo, because it was the capital and probably had more reliable and trustworthy results to be found. We began by choosing our sample first of course; this meant that we needed to find an ideal sub unit of the population that was applicable to our hypothesis and would be reliable and verifiable. After thorough research, we discovered that the ideal location for our sample would be in Zamalek, we chose this area because it has always been known that Zamalek was an area that was home to many diverse cultures and religions mostly Islam and Christianity, yes it can be argued that all the areas around the city are like that as well, but with Zamalek, it was always different because of how it was westernized and more open minded because of that. We also decided to compare the results we got from Zamalek with results from Mohandiseen the area across the river to make our sample relatively large considering the size of the Egyptian population and also to try and see whether or not living in an area which is well of and considered wealthy makes a difference as opposed to living in an area considered to be average or “middle-class”. We drafted a set of questions that we would ask each and every one of the people we would interview, the questions included were as follows: * Are you Muslim or Christian? * Have you ever been treated differently by other people because of your religion? * Have you had trouble working in the past because of your religion? * Do you think that being classified as a Muslim/Christian on your ID card makes a difference in your daily life? * Do you ever feel different or segregated from other Muslim/Christian citizens?
These questions were asked to 30 people in the area of Zamalek and 30 people in the area of Mohandiseen, this including walks in the streets of Zamalek/Mohandiseen and asking random people these questions after making sure they were okay with the subject and its sensitive nature. We wrote down the answers for each person separately and began comparing answers to see whether or not or hypothesis was in fact correct or not.

Results:
Out of the 30 people we interviewed in Zamalek, 8 were Christian and 22 were Muslim. The questions were received with some criticism and some were wondering about the nature of this research, we discovered that after talking to the 8 who were Christian, that they had felt segregated with or without the classification on their ID cards but that it did in some cases play a large role in their lives. One subject said, “I’ve been in and out of jobs for as long as I can remember, and for as long as I can remember, me being Christian has always been a deciding factor with all of them”. Another said, “When interacting with the police, being Christian made them look differently at me every time”, from the answers we were collecting we began to see a pattern, Christians were beginning to segregate and isolate themselves because they were beginning to feel the pressure of the “miniority” breathing down on them. Being classified on their National ID as Christian, really had affected their treatment at some point in their lives whether it be work-related or the simple social relationships they had with people. On the other hand, however, some Christians said that they had never felt that their classification on their ID made them feel different, they said people would make them feel that not “a piece of plastic”.

The rest of our sample in Zamalek were the 22 Muslims, who after asking them the questions above answered with no surprise being that Muslims are a majority in Egypt, one subject said “I’ve never had trouble working because of my religion, I’ve only had trouble working because of this country!” some of the Muslims being interviewed stated that they thought the classification of religion on ID cards was a bad idea because “everyone is entitled to their own beliefs”, and that the government had no right of enforcing it on the people because it only created problems for people in terms of work or daily life in general. It was as if some of the Muslims were just as outraged as Christians would be when it came to these National ID classifications, especially after the revolution on subject said “people need to be more unified, religion should never come between an Egyptian and his fellow Egyptian, we are a country based on brotherhood”.
In Mohandiseen, we interviewed around 4 Christians and 26 Muslims, the answers were more or less the same, and they were diversified. Some Christians said that they felt their lives were affected by the classification of their ID because of work mostly but the rest stated that it was because of how people treated them and not because of a card that clearly wasn’t a symbol of identity to them, and of course it isn’t. Therefore, a total of 60 people were chosen for this research and were all from different backgrounds and of different religions to keep the interviews relaiable. The results showed us that our hypothesis was in fact correct to some extent, some Christians have felt that they were separated/segregated because of the classification of religion on their National ID’s, some have said that if this country was based on brotherhood and a “one hand, one nation” standpoint, then why is it up to this day is a classification of Muslim and Christian done on National ID’s. On the other hand, our hypothesis wasn’t completely correct in some ways because it wasn’t the concept of classifications of religion that empowered the idea of a religious minority in Egypt but rather the way people in Egypt have treated the Egyptian Christians over the years and how in some ways it can be argued that because Muslims are the majority in Egypt, they feel the need to be kinder or friendlier to Christians just because they are a minority which indirectly starts to increase that divide between Muslims and Christians even more.

Hypothesis:…...

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