On Friday night, we held the premiere screening of One Hand at OnFire Youth Ministry in Myerstown. The film was well received and it was followed by an interesting discussion of the topics covered.
Many of the questions explored the current political situation in Egypt, the coming election of Mohammed Morsi from the Freedom and Justice Party, the candidacy of Ahmed Shafik, etc.
One question, however, brought up a point that I would like to address straightforwardly: Since there is so much talk of peacemaking in the film, there must be a level of conflict. Why doesn’t the film give more attention to the sectarian prejudices that exist among the Egyptian people?
It is important to note that, as young American filmmakers, we were not able to explore ALL the facets of interfaith relations in Egypt, which are immensely complex. The goal of the film was to highlight the efforts of peacemakers and the demonstrations of unity that emerged out of the Egyptian Revolution–to tell the positive side of the story that rarely makes the news. We did do our best to illustrate some of the key reasons that tensions exist to provide context (i.e. the Alexandria bombing and how it affected the victims’ families, as well as the intimidating political gains of the Islamist parties). We did not, however, spend a lot of time interviewing Egyptians who harbor religious prejudices. In Egypt, those individuals are the exception, not the rule. To be certain, sectarian feelings do exist, but we could not cover them all with our limited time and resources. Most Egyptians told us that they have friends of both faiths and that the situation between Muslims and Christians in Egypt is generally positive. A few (both Christians and Muslims) expressed concern about the Islamist political gains. One or two told us that, at times, they don’t trust members of the other faith. Thus, Christians and Muslims generally have good neighborly relations in Egypt, but there is always a prejudiced portion of the population, and our story was about the peacemakers who are doing all they can to address those prejudices when and where they arise.