The always-sharp Raymond Ibrahim surveys the recent travails of the Copts in Egypt. “Egypt Cuts a Deal: Christians Fed to Muslim ‘Lions,'” by Raymond Ibrahim for Hudson New York (via RaymondIbrahim.com), October 18:
For centuries, the Copts — Egypt’s Christian, indigenous inhabitants — have been subject to persecution, discrimination, humiliation, and over all subjugation in their homeland (etymologically, “Copt” simply means “Egyptian”). In the medieval era, such treatment was a standard aspect of sharia’s dhimmi codes, first ratified under Caliph Omar in the 7th century and based on Koran 9:29. Conversely, during the colonial era and into the mid 20th century, as Egypt experimented with westernization and nationalism, religious discrimination was markedly subdued. Today, however, as Egypt all but spearheads the Islamist movement — giving the world Sayyid Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Aymen Zawahiri in the process — that is, as Egypt reverts to its medieval character, the Copts find themselves again in a period of severe persecution.
And there appears to be no one to stop it — not even those most accountable: America’s friend and ally, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his government. Indeed, recent events indicate that the Mubarak regime is intentionally inciting Egypt’s Muslims against the Copts.
Consider: on September 15, prominent Egyptian Muhammad Salim al-Awwa, ex-secretary general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, appeared on accused the Copts of “stocking arms and ammunitions in their churches and monasteries”– imported from Israel, no less, since “Israel is in the heart of the Coptic Cause” — and “preparing to wage war against Muslims.”
He warned that if nothing is done, the “country will burn,” urging Muslims to “counteract the strength of the [Coptic] Church.” Al-Awwa further charged that Egypt’s security forces cannot enter the monasteries to investigate for weapons — an amazing assertion, considering that Coptic monasteries are not only at the mercy of the state, but easy prey to Islamist/Bedouin attacks.
Needless to say, these remarks have inflamed Muslim passions (not to mention paranoia) against Egypt’s Christians, who make approximately 12% of the population. To make matters worse, right on the heels of al-Awwa’s “monastery-conspiracy-theory,” Islamist leaders began to circulate baseless rumors that the Church and Pope Shenouda III “kidnap” Coptic women who willingly convert to Islam, and trap them in desert monasteries, “torturing” and “re-indoctrinating” them back to Christianity — even when the women in question publicly insist they never converted to Islam….