The Copts and civil disobedience
I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe–”That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which we will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to civil be abused and perverted before the people can act through it.
Civil Disobedience is the act of disobeying a law on grounds of moral or political principle. It is an attempt to influence society to accept a dissenting point of view. Although it usually uses tactics of nonviolence, it is more than mere passive resistance since it often takes active forms such as illegal street demonstrations or peaceful occupations of premises.
Throughout the history of the U.S., civil disobedience has played a significant role in many of the social reforms that we all take for granted today. Some of the most well known of these are:
1) The Boston Tea Party — citizens of the colony of Massachusetts trespassed on a British ship and threw its cargo (tea from England) overboard, rather than be forced to pay taxes without representation to Britain. This was one of the many acts of civil disobedience leading to the War for Independence, establishing the United States of America as a sovereign state.
2) Anti-war movements have been a part of U.S. history since Thoreau went to jail for refusing to participate in the U.S. war against Mexico in 1849. More recent examples were the nationwide protests against the war in Vietnam, U.S. involvement in Nicaragua and Central America, and the Gulf War. Actions have included refusal to pay for war, refusal to enlist in the military, occupation of draft centers, sit-ins, blockades, peace camps, and refusal to allow military recruiters on high school and college campuses.
3) The Women’s Suffrage Movement lasted from 1848 until 1920, when thousands of courageous women marched in the streets, endured hunger strikes, and submitted to arrest and jail in order to gain the right to vote.
4) Abolition of slavery — including Harriet Tubman’s underground railway, giving sanctuary, and other actions which helped to end slavery.
5) The introduction of labor laws and unions. Sit-down strikes organized by the IWW, and CIO free speech confrontations led to the eradication of child labor and improved working conditions, established the 40-hour work week and improved job security and benefits.
6) The Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, included sit-ins and illegal marches which weakened segregation in the south.
7) The Anti-Nuclear Movement, stimulated by people like Karen Silkwood and the Three Mile Island nuclear power accident, organized citizens throughout the country into direct action affinity groups, with consensus decision making and Gandhian nonviolence as its core. Massive acts of civil disobedience took place at nuclear power facilities across the country, followed by worldwide protests against first-strike nuclear weapons, occupying military bases, maintaining peace camps, interfering with manufacture and transport of nuclear bombs and devices, marching, sitting in, blockading and otherwise disrupting business as usual at nuclear sites.
Environmental and forest demonstrations, with acts of civil disobedience such as sit-ins, blockades, tree sits and forest occupations, have emerged in the last decade, prompted by the continuing mass clear cuts and destruction of the forest ecosystem and widespread environmental consequences.
In all of these struggles, citizens had reached the conclusion that the legal means for addressing their concerns had not worked. They had tried petitioning, lobbying, writing letters, going to court, voting for candidates that represented their interests, legal protest, and still their views were ignored.
In each of these movements, the protesters were compelled by deep moral convictions. Their distress was strong enough to motivate them to go against the grain, to sacrifice personal comfort, to face unknown danger, to give up their freedom and risk going to jail. Their love of truth and justice drove them to action. Many, but not all, of those committing civil disobedience in the last two decades have been trained in Gandhian nonviolence philosophy and tactics.
The Egyptian penal law gave the people the right to hold weapon and defend self and honor. For this reason, it is the right for the Coptic whose daughter or sister is being kidnapped to defend and kill the kidnapper. The Coptic people of Egypt are convinced firmly that the strategy of the non-violent resistance is the best way to obtain the political rights. The question is would the civil disobedience used to pressure the government help in letting the Copts obtain their legitimate rights? Civil disobedience is simply when you disobey and obey the law in the same time. It is the most elegant way in rebelling, resisting and protesting done in a civilized manner. It has multiple forms; for example one of them is when the opposition come out in a collective manner at specific times asking the authorities to do with their demands. One example, is when the Coptic employees would refuse to go their work and shutting down their businesses, they could even stop driving their vehicles and using gas stations. Another example is when the rebels would go out in either black clothes or white ones but all in silence, no slogans, no shouting and no hostile appeals sitting in the streets or on the sidewalks. As one of the characteristics of the civil disobedience is that rebels should keep silent even when police lay hands on them.
The Copts should work on this believing that their Lord, Jesus Christ would be the one who would save them and deliver them from the Arab Islamic colonization. In the days of the old, both English and French armies have moved to deliver the Copts and provide freedom to the oppressed in Egypt. In the forty day remembrance of the Nag Hammadi martyrs, they should remember in prayer the detainees, the kidnapped Coptic girls. Shops and business should be closed in this commemoration. In this sense, the civil disobedience would be practiced successfully when the Egyptian Copts from all denominations come together to stand for their rights and making clear their demands.