The Wall Street Journal (under subscription, so no link) today contains a commentary by Jonathan Eric Lewis, “The Coptic Path.” (Thanks to Jerry Gordon.)
In it, Lewis cuts through the politically correct misinformation that usually chokes of any discussion of the fact that the Coptic Christians Egypt are, “to put it with supreme understatement, less free than we are to practice the religion of [their] own choosing.” Lewis states forthrightly that “for Egypt to democratize, it must end its discrimination against its Coptic population, arrest and prosecute the Islamic extremists who have repeatedly targeted the Christian community, and include the Coptic community in all aspects of civic and political life.”
This would also constitute a useful question for the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other American Muslim advocacy groups: do you support equality of rights for the Copts in Egypt, and an end to restrictions on the freedom of Egyptians to convert from Islam to Christianity? If not, why not? And if not, do you someday hope to institute a system like Egypt’s in the United States?
Lewis also stands out from most commentators in his accurate awareness of the realities of Islamic history — including dhimmitude: “Having had to live under dhimmi, or inferior non-Muslim, status for much of their history, Copts nevertheless produced a rich corpus of theological literature for Near Eastern Christianity, particularly during the 13th-century Coptic Renaissance. It was not until 19th-century Ottoman reforms, however, that Coptic Christians were freed from their subservient status under Islamic rule and were released from paying the jizya, a discriminatory tax mandated for non-Muslims.”
But they have still not been released from the discriminatory attitudes and practices that dhimmitude has ingrained into Egyptian culture.