On the 30th of March, residents of the village of Shoraniya attacked the homes of local Baha’is and set them on fire. Egyptian blogger “Ibn Rushd” interviewed one of the participants in the attacks (translated by Marwa Rakha for Global Voices Online).

Mohamed is a simple Egyptian citizen who shares with many other Egyptians his comforting calm features. He was born and raised in Shoraneya village and regularly travels to Cairo to earn his simple living.

Have you ever heard of Shoraneya before? Don’t rack your brain! It’s the same village that witnessed the burning of six Baha’i homes in the aftermath of the appearance of Mr Ahmed Abu Al A’ala, a Baha’i from this village on television saying that more than 1,000 Baha’is live in Shoraneya. His announcement infuriated people who torched the Baha’i homes.

I met Mohamed by mere coincidence in a local bread bakery in Boulac El Dakrour in Giza. When Mohamed learnt that I am a journalist, he smiled at me saying: “Do you know that I am one of the Shoraneya heroes?” His use of the word “hero” made me wonder so I asked him to elaborate.

“Do you consider your self a hero for burning down the homes of people who chose to worship God their own way?”
He looked at me and said: “You don’t understand; let me explain … we lived in a disgrace called Baha’is. Whenever we would leave the village to run an errand, people would mock us saying that we were “Baha’i atheists.” One day I needed to cross the island to finish some urgent paperwork and the ferry guy refused to take me on board because I come from Shoraneya. Our village is surrounded by water. He told me “I will not taint my vehicle with your Baha’i feet you SOB.”

Mohamed proceeded saying that the residents of other villages in Sohag governorate look down on him. They pick on me for neighboring those who attack Islam.

“How do you mean attack Islam?”

“Yes .. There was a guy who used to lead us in prayers and a couple of years later we found out that he was Baha’i. They say he used to pray without washing because he does not believe in washing the way it was mentioned in Islam.

“In Shoraneya, how do you view Baha’is?”

“Baha’is are bad people; they are Jews in reality! We know that they swap wives and that they are gay.”

“How did you find out such information, Mohamed?

“The Sheikh at the mosque told us so in a religious lesson after prayer, and since then no one could even stand those Baha’is. We hated them and when Ahmed Abu El Ela appeared on TV and scandalized us, we decided to torch their homes .. even the “sheriff” when he arrived and saw the flames told us that we were real men and heroes.”

“He really said so?”

“Yes .. he was even sad that the fire did not eat up all of their houses. At the time I was in Shoraneya with my brother and we were both setting the houses on fire. We were arrested and released on the same night and no one bothered us from the officers because they could clearly see that we were heroes and that we did the village a favor.”

I was not astonished by Mohamed‘s words; I have heard it a million times before about Christians, Jews, homosexuals, and “The Others” of this planet; The Other is always an atheist … rejected .. hated … or so most of us think. The question that echoes in my head now is: Why do Muslims reject The Other in such a harsh disgusting antagonistic way? More importantly, what is the future of a country where the majority of its people refuse to acknowledge The Other?