What better subterfuge than to accuse your enemy of what you yourself have engaged in for years? As far back as 1976, Coptic Pope Shenouda III noted that “there is a practice to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror to Muslim husbands.” Our own archives are full of seven years’ worth of stories of kidnappings of Coptic girls and women. Here’s one. And another. And another. And still another, where Muslims tried to claim the conversion of a priest’s wife.
But the accusations of Christian abductions of Muslims — intentional projections that they are of Egyptian Muslims’ behavior — are part of a new campaign of libel to incite and justify violence against this non-Muslim population whose presence predates the Islamic conquest of Egypt, and which so rudely insists on continuing to exist. And we know which side Al-Jazeera is on.
“Egyptian Muslims accuse Christians of complicity with Israel,” from Spero News, October 26:
Fears for the safety of Egyptian Christians are growing after a series of false allegations, violent threats and mass demonstrations against Christians in Egypt, according to the Barnabas Fund – an advocacy and charitable organization based in the United Kingdom.
According to a news release, Muslim anger was ignited in September 2010 last month when entirely unfounded accusations were made on Al-Jazeera TV that Egyptian Christians were aligned with Israel and stockpiling weapons in preparation for waging war against Muslims. Tensions were also fuelled by baseless rumours circulated by Islamist leaders that Christians were kidnapping and torturing women who had converted to Islam.
Why bring Israel into it, beyond the standard conspiracy paranoia? The Qur’an says Jews and Christians are “friends and protectors” to each other, and Muslims should not befriend them (5:51).
In a separate controversy, a senior church leader [Coptic Pope Shenouda III] was compelled to apologise publicly “if our Muslim brothers’ feelings were hurt” after another church leader questioned at an internal meeting a verse in the Qur’an that accuses Christians of being “infidels”. Egyptian Christians’ rights were subsequently threatened by the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, a government body, which confirmed Egypt to be an Islamic state where “the citizenship rights of non-Muslims were conditional to their abiding by the Islamic identity of the State”.
At least ten mass demonstrations involving thousands of Muslims have since taken place against Christians, with the previously unknown group “Front of Islamic Egypt” promising them a “bloodbath”.
Barnabas notes that Egyptian authorities have been accused of complicity for political reasons in the escalating sectarian crisis ahead of next month’s national election for the lower house of Parliament and the 2011 Presidential election. Christian human rights activists said that the Egyptian authorities may be trying to use Islamic radicalism as a means to channel against the Christians the escalating social discontent in the country.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said “I am greatly concerned about events in Egypt over the last few weeks. We must pray that the hostility towards the Church does not descend into outright violence against Christians – as we have seen before.”
Barnabas Fund supports a range of projects that help Christians in Egypt. The country has the largest Christian population of any Muslim nation in the Arab world, estimated at six to ten million. They regularly face discrimination, human rights violations and sectarian hostility.