Each time I tried to start reviewing this book, there would be another act of sectarian violence that shattered the nation’s equilibrium, and mine too. If anything, this goes to show the immense value of books such as Laila Takla’s Christian-Islamic Heritage (Dar Al-Shorouk: 2010) when it comes to addressing relations between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians.

The revolution of 25 January brought hope to this country. It revived the promise that every Egyptian would rally around the same flag, regardless of background and affiliation. But before long the ugly face of sectarian sedition surfaced to dash our dreams.

Sectarian differences are not new to our part of the world. In ancient times, the pharaoh, priests and people struggled with the question of whether Amun or Aten was the true deity. Much later, the followers of Christianity diverged over whether St Paul’s teachings were truer than those of St Peter. In Islam, Ali’s loyalists took up arms against the supporters of Othman. The story is familiar, despite the change of faces. So do we really need another book to tell us about the mistrust people feel towards those who hold different beliefs?

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