Egypt: Coptic Christians say they’re “no longer safe”

Why not? Are “right-wing extremism” or “Islamophobia” rising in glorious Arab Spring Egypt? “Egypt’s Coptic Christians say they are ‘no longer safe,'” by Charlene Gubash for NBC News, June 20 (thanks to Kenneth):

CAIRO — Thousands of Egypt’s Coptic Christians are fleeing to Europe, the United States and elsewhere rather than face mounting discrimination at home.

Copts, Egypt’s ancient Christian community, are the country”s largest minority, making up nearly 10 percent of its 85 million people.

But clashes between Christians and Muslims have become more frequent since the ouster of longtime authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak in the 2011 uprising — some say due to a breakdown of government security. Many Copts feel Egypt’s Islamist-led government is not doing enough to protect them from religious hate crimes and inflammatory rhetoric — so many are leaving.

“My sister in California wanted a better life for her and her two daughters,” explained Marianne Aziz, a 25-year-old pharmacist. “There was a big fight between us and our Muslim neighbors over our parking place … . They cut my brother-in-law’s face with a knife.”

Aziz said that after that incident, “My sister felt she was no longer safe anymore. She got a hospital report on her husband’s injuries and a police report and when they went to the U.S., she immediately [applied for] asylum.”

Egyptian now ranks as the second highest nationality to receive asylum in the United States — although it is uncertain how many are Copts because immigration statistics do not include religious affiliation, many of the asylum seekers are believed to be Christian.

The number of Egyptians receiving asylum in the U.S. has jumped more than five-fold in recent years. In 2010, the year before the revolution, just 531 Egyptians received asylum in the U.S.; in 2012, that number jumped to 2,882, according to the Department of Homeland Security”s statistical data for 2012.

Georgia, the former Soviet republic, has also become a popular destination for Egyptians because it’s relatively easy to obtain residence. A Georgian consular officer said that about 150 Egyptians apply for asylum every week.

And the Netherlands has made it easier for Copts to claim asylum by no longer demanding proof that asylum seekers have sought official protection from persecution. The Dutch ambassador said in a TV interview that his government was prompted to make the process easier because of reports of persecution of Copts and a lack of adequate government protection.

Eight people were killed in sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims in April, including attacks on Cairo’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, prompting rare criticism of President Mohammed Morsi by the Coptic Pope Tawadros II for not protecting the church.

Heba Morayef, Regional Human Rights Watch director, worries that extremists are now free to encourage discrimination on TV. “It’s very scary because of the sudden uptick in violence, compounded by the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood has in no way tried to reign it back and has at times participated.”

Controversy ensued earlier this year after the Muslim Brotherhood’s leading cleric advised Muslims to refrain from wishing Christians a Happy Easter, saying the holiday is un-Islamic.

Brotherhood leaders have also continued to be promoted in the government, despite clearly anti-Coptic rhetoric.

“You share this country with us,” Brotherhood stalwart Safwat Hegazi threatened Copts after anti-Morsi demonstrations turned violent last December. “But there are red lines, and one red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Morsi. Whoever splashes water on that, we will spill his blood.”

Despite his provocative language, Hegazi was recently appointed to Egypt’s National Council on Human Rights.

The government has also halted any spread of Christianity. Only the president has the right to grant permits to build churches in Egypt, yet Morsi has given permission for just one new church to be built during in his first year in office. By comparison, in 2010, former President Hosni Mubarak allowed 16 new churches to be built.

Ishaq Ibrahim researches religious freedom for the well-respected Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights organization. He warned of a growing trend where Christians are brought to trial for insulting Islam because there is a lack of clarity around the laws. As a result, he pointed out, “There were 36 cases during 2011 and 2012: 35 for insulting Islam and one for insulting Christianity.”

The latest U.S. Report on Religious Freedom admonished the government for failing to provide security to Copts.

“While”¦religious minorities mostly worshiped without harassment, the government generally failed to prevent, investigate or prosecute crimes against members of religious minority groups, especially Coptic Christians.”

Marianne Aziz has drawn the same conclusion. She looks forward to the day when she can join her sister in the California. Aziz turned down a good job with a pharmaceutical company because it would have required travel to remote areas and she feared kidnapping, a growing phenomenon according to Coptic activists.

“If I had to work in a far-away place, I might not come home again. I can’t live in a country that is not safe,” Aziz said.

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  1. says

    Christianity is founded on Jesus and loving one’s neighbor.
    Islam is about insisting poeple of other religions deserved to be killed.

    Islam is incapatable with all of humanity.

  2. says

    “… Egypt’s Islamist-led government is not doing enough to protect them from religious hate crimes and inflammatory rhetoric – so many are leaving.”

    President Morsi, please start the jizya according to the mafia godfather (47:4, 8:17, 9:14-15) Allah, 9:29 “… until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. “

    Then Christians feel “safe” again in the Islamic supremarcy Egypt!

  3. says

    Shame on Western Christians for their comfortable mixture of ignorance, silence and complacency in the face of the global abuse, persecution and oppression of non-Western Christians (at best, when it’s not outright starry-eyed Politically Correct Multiculturalism moving them to consider most Muslims to be “decent moms and pops like the rest of us” and therefore to deem, with an idiotic reflex spasm, any substantive criticism of Muslims to be “bigoted” and “racist”).

  4. says

    Coptic Christians were never truly safe since the arrival of the ROP in Egypt. In this regard, non-believers are never truly safe in lands following the arrival of and subsequent large scale settlement of ROP adherents.

  5. says

    The so called friendlier kinder Muslim Brotherhood that we were told about is now in power.
    Our own president tried to convince us to not be Islamophobic about the Muslim Brotherhood but now that they are acting true to form the news media has once again decided to give our president a “free pass.”

    President Obama told us not to be so Islamophobic when supremacist Muslims were furious that anyone might not feel they were “entitled” to build a GROUND ZERO MOSQUE.

    Morsi forbids any churches from being built and the news media buries the story under subheadings.

    YAHOO, MSN and TV MEDIA (It is time to wake up)

    Hold them all accountable!

  6. says

    Let every “moderate” Muslim in every nation come out on every street and protest persecution of Christians in Egygt.

    Let every “Islam is peace” Imam step away from your photo-op with President Barrack Obama and speak out against this violence and injustice.

    OK then if you insist on being silent the
    go back into that

    Mr. President you and your aids really need to step far,far away from all this STINK.

  7. says

    I observe that three very different countries, each with a Christian presence and tradition – Georgia, the Netherlands, the USA – appear to be taking in Copts.

    More of this should be happening.

    I don’t know how many Copts Australia is rescuing.

    However, the Australian Coptic Movement are becoming confident and vocal – with a bit of advice and encouragement from non-Copt Aussie Christians such as Mark Durie.

    For the benefit of Aussie jihadwatchers, here’s a description of who accepted invitations to attend the Copt rally in Sydney in mid-May this year, from this ACM

    “We are pleased to advise that many church leaders, politicians and human rights organisations will be represented at this event.

    “Amnesty Australia will have a presence as well as The Assyrian Universal Alliance.

    “The following politicians have accepted ACM’s invitation to attend the event **despite the short notice:** {nota bene – dda}

    “Hon. Mr Phillip Ruddock MP (Representing the Hon. Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition); Mr Chris Bowen MP, Mr Craig Kelly MP. Mr Laurie Ferguson MP, The Hon. Rev Fred Nile MLC, The Hon. Luke Foley MLC, The Hon. Greg Donnelley MLC, The Hon. David Clark MLC Dr Andrew Macdonald MP.”

    Aussie jihadwatchers: write to each of these nine politicians – some of them Federal and some of them State (NSW) politicians – and commend them for taking notice of what is happening to Copts.

    At least a few of these politicians have piped up in Parliament on behalf of Copts.

    Here’s one.

    Here’s another.'s-ambassador-to-be-called-in-over-coptic-persecution/

    And another

    Write to these blokes, my fellow Aussie jihadwatchers. Let them know that *non-Copt* Australian Christians – and Australians who are not necessarily Christian believers, but who care about basic human rights – know and care about the Copts.

    Aussies here present – including myself! – need to check the Australian Coptic Movement website regularly, so as to know what they are trying to do, and be able to help (by joining in their lobbying campaigns and by attending rallies and prayer services, etc).

    A good background briefer to share with politicians, journalists and clergy is Bat Yeor’s article, “A Christian Minority: The Copts in Egypt”, which was included in Mr Spencer’s anthology, ‘The Myth of Islamic Tolerance’.

    Read and re-read; it summarises the entire situation.

    And Mark Durie, writing in October 2011.

  8. says

    “No longer safe”???.
    Has it really taken them this.long to wake up to this fact???
    How many of them being murdered has it taken to get this blinding realisation??
    Get out of this hellhole people. No matter what your attachments to your homeland, the horrible fact is you’ve been taken over, it’s not safe anymore.
    The overlords are mandated to kill you.
    If you’re lucky you’ll be given the option of converting to stinking Islam. Your next maybe option is to become a dhimmi, subjugated, humiliated and forever subservient to Islamists and having to pay a tax for the privilege for living under the overlords. Failing that,they’re mandated to kill you.
    That’s the not negotiable deal with Islamist majorities.
    Shocking wrong and disgusting as it is, that’s Islam in action.