Friday Prayers for Egypt: Upper Egypt

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All too often Upper Egypt is neglected, unless there are problems. Then, they must be extraordinary and embarrassing; normal problems go unheeded and have for decades. Almost by nature, farmers do not agitate, and this nature has permeated much of the region’s character. But is Upper Egypt the frog that boils heedlessly or the camel on which one last straw is placed?

May a better metaphor be found, God. Both of these imply portending ill; perhaps others would imply continued suffering. Surely there is much to celebrate, if ever news would carry. But as the situation deteriorates in Egypt the pain is acute in the south. Some anticipate a revolution of the hungry.

Much is out of their control, God. Governors are appointed from Cairo and most decisions are centralized in the capital. Elected representatives often come from large families and patronage networks. Education is worse than the rest of the nation while religious and tribal rivalries are strong.

Even if Egypt requires a strong central government, God, provide this region the ability, space, and will to shape its own future. May innate common sense and practicality yield fruit; to these add cultural enrichment, political participation, and economic opportunity.

God, in these regions where Christians are plentiful, save them from surrender to a narrative of oppression. Where they have grievances may neutral arbitrators grant justice through the law. Where they suffer bias, rebuke and rebuild soiled mentalities. In both cases may they respond with love and forgiveness, even as they stand for their rights. But may they never generalize their neighbors or pull back from integration. Give them friends, God, but make them friendly. May they creatively initiate for the good of all.

And God, where Muslims see Christians withdraw into the church, expand unlicensed places of worship, and quietly whisper about the nature of Islam and oppose a particular political version thereof, give an understanding and engaging spirit. May they do what is necessary to reassure a troubled community of the unity of all. May they, too, resist the temptation of escalating rhetoric and accusatory recrimination. May Muslims be agents of peace and social healing.

God, provide for the poor. Grow the crops. Multiply the livestock. Establish business. Employ laborers. Upper Egypt is in great need, but has known this need for generations. You have provided, God; you have given patience and contentment. Chastise those who grow rich off their good nature without returning in kind. But make the region an example for the nation to follow.

To a fair degree Egypt is of their nature, for good and for ill. Preserve and transform, God. May Upper Egypt know and increase its strength.


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