Unlikely. Whereas in Lebanon, Christians and Muslims are more or less equal in number (ideal conditions for civil war) in Egypt, the Copts are estimated to be approximately 10% of the otherwise Muslim population (ideal conditions for genocide). “Egypt Faces Rising Risk of Lebanon-Like Muslim-Christian Strife,” by Daniel Williams for Bloomberg, July 16:
Increasing violence between Egypt’s Muslims and Coptic Christians is raising alarms that the sectarian hostility besetting Lebanon and Iraq may take root in the Middle East’s most populous country.
Egypt’s reputation for a live-and-let-live ethos is under assault following recent murders of Copts in Cairo, street fighting in cities including Alexandria and a pitched battle between Muslims and Coptic monks at an ancient desert monastery.
“The divisions are deepening,” Hala Mustafa, editor of the political journal Democracy Review, said in a telephone interview. “There’s a growing Islamization of Egypt, and the Copts respond by turning inward in a defensive stance.”
Muslims and Copts — who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 78 million citizens and are the country’s most-populous minority — increasingly identify themselves primarily by religion, Mustafa said.
Copts view with distress a trend toward adoption of Muslim mores exemplified by the growing prevalence of veiled women in the streets; the increasing national clout of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic opposition organization; and the government’s recent decision to declare Islamic law as a source of civil legislation, Mustafa said. Muslims complain that Christians are claiming discrimination to win political advantages, she added.
Recent? The Egyptian constitution was amended in 1980 (you know, when Islamic fundamentalism was becoming the latest rage) to include sharia law as “the principal source of legislation.”
The Coptic Orthodox Church was founded in Alexandria during the first century by Mark, one of the apostles of Jesus. After an Arab army conquered Egypt in the seventh century, Islam gradually became the country’s dominant religion.
Glad to see someone describe Islam’s takeover of Egypt accurately. Compare to the Washington Post’s nonsense about how, after St. Mark brought Christianity to Egypt, Muslims also “brought” Islam.
Tensions, reported in the government-controlled and independent press, have been building for several years. In 2004, Christians in Cairo claimed that the wife of a Coptic priest was forced to convert to Islam; after a riot in which 50 people were injured, the government ordered her returned to her Coptic family. In 2005, Muslims in Alexandria demonstrated against a church DVD version of a play in which a Coptic youth converts to Islam and then changes his mind.
In 2006, a Muslim man stabbed Coptic worshippers in two Alexandria churches, killing one person and injuring five. Some attacks appear specifically aimed to terrorize: Targets of April 2006 bombings by suspected Islamic extremists in the Red Sea resort of Dahab included a pair of shops owned by Copts.
Muslims have tried to stop Copts from building or expanding churches in several towns, including Behma, 40 miles south of Cairo, where Muslim mobs set fire to Christian homes and shops last year.
On May 28 of this year, gunmen fired machine guns at a Coptic-owned jewelry store in Cairo, killing four Christians. The assailants haven’t been captured. Three days later, dozens of Muslims [approximately 70] attacked the 1,700-year-old Abu Fana monastery 300 miles south of Cairo.
“This happened because we are Christian,” said Father Antonius, 35, one of 18 monks who reside at the complex. “The Muslims want this monastery erased from the earth.” Three monks were held captive and forced to pledge allegiance to Islam before being released, he said.
Or, more graphically, they were beaten to a pulp while tied and suspended from a tree, ordered to spit on the cross and convert to Islam.
Samir Lulu, a Muslim resident from Hur, an adjacent village, said the monks are “fanatics” who pressure the government into granting them land denied to villagers. “They are trying to spread the belief that Egypt is actually a Coptic nation and Muslims just visitors,” Lulu said.
Read your history books, Lulu: Egypt is a Coptic nation””though Muslims are not “visitors”; they”re more like invaders, occupiers.