Alexandria's Minorities Aim To Reassert Themselves For 2,000 years, Egypt's city of Alexandria was a haven for people from around the Mediterranean and beyond — a center for intellectual life that first defined the word "cosmopolitan."

Alexandria's Minorities Aim To Reassert Themselves

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


As NPR's Corey Flintoff reports, political change in Egypt could bring changes, good or bad, for these same groups.

COREY FLINTOFF: Human rights lawyer Alaa Setyan has spent much of his career defending minority members and dissidents in police brutality cases.

ALAA SETYAN: (Through Translator) I fear for the rights of all people, like the Muslim Brotherhood and Christians. I fear they might be treated unfairly. I believe we are all the same people, and everyone should have his right, whatever his way of thinking is, whatever his religion.

FLINTOFF: Alexandria's Jewish and Greek communities - groups that had been part of Alexandrian life for centuries - gradually dwindled.

MOHAMED AWAD: We don't still have a multicultural society today, in Alexandria. We don't witness this multiculturalism that was very specific to Alexandrian society.

FLINTOFF: Speaking in one of Alexandria's many cafes, he says the Nubians are now a marginalized people, scattered across Egypt.

HAGGAG HASSAN ODDOUL: They keep us out of our land, because you will not go back to your motherland. We ask all the people of the world, please, look at us. We are in trouble.

FLINTOFF: Unidentified Group: (Singing in foreign language)

FLINTOFF: Father Macaney Makra of Saint George's Coptic Orthodox Church says the Christians of Alexandria are concerned about the current situation, but he says they're resilient and well-integrated into the community.

MACANEY MAKRA: We cannot look about the Christians as an isolated minority. Of course, we have difficulties in some areas. From the Muslims, there is some liberals, and also there is this Islamic brotherhood. They are talking about a religious country.

FLINTOFF: Subhii Saleh is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who made an unsuccessful run for Parliament in the last election. He says Brotherhood members are committed to Islamic principles of tolerance and protection for religious minorities.

SUBHII SALEH: (Through Translator) The rights of minorities are sacred in Islam, and history will see that there has never been any problems to minorities, except when Islam is pushed away from the system of government.

FLINTOFF: The historian Mohamed Awad says Alexandrians saw a spirit of cooperation among minorities during the revolution.

AWAD: The recent problems we've had show that there is a solidarity between Muslims and Christians, and that, you know, I think Egyptians are becoming more and more aware that they have to take their own fate in their hands.

FLINTOFF: Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Alexandria.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.