I tried to tell you. Among the many noteworthy aspects of this article is the fact that the Copts know full well that Sharia means denial of rights to women and non-Muslims. Only in the West, where no one knows anything about Sharia, can deceptive Islamic apologists get away with claiming that Sharia is nothing in particular, but rather a sprawling multiplicity that cannot be pinned down to any specifics.
“Islamist parties’ electoral success in Egypt has Copts worried,” by Jeffrey Fleishman for the Los Angeles Times, December 11:
Reporting from Cairo””Fears and worries murmur like prayers beneath the hammered crosses of the Church of the Virgin Mary.
“The whole country will collapse,” says Shenouda Nasri.
“I’m trying to get my family out,” says Samir Ramsis.
“This is the Islamists’ time,” says George Saied.
A caretaker sweeps the stones, a woman slips into a pew. But these days Egypt’s minority Coptic Christians are finding little serenity. Islamist political candidates, including puritanical Salafis, are dominating parliamentary elections. Sectarianism is intensifying and the patriotic veneer that unified Egyptians in overthrowing longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak is threatened by ultraconservative Muslim clerics whose divisive voices had been suppressed by the state for decades.
“Our goal is to achieve an Islamic caliphate with Islamic sharia rules,” Mohamed Zoghbi, a hard-line Salafi preacher, said this year on TV. “If Egypt becomes a caliphate, then the Middle East and Arab countries will follow our path. All Muslim youth should strive and die to build this caliphate even over their own bodies.”…
“The Islamists have been unleashed,” says Nasri, a pharmacist hoping to follow the lead of tens of thousands of Copts who have left Egypt this year. “You’re talking about no rights for women. No rights for Coptic Christians. They’ll make us more of a minority. It’ll be like living centuries ago.”
Coptic Christians make up 10% of Egypt’s population of 82 million. They have coexisted in relative peace with Muslims for centuries, but even before the overthrow of Mubarak, they endured increasing deadly attacks on churches, including a bombing in Alexandria and incidents of arson in Cairo and other cities.
Copts have felt further isolated as radical screeds have echoed from mosques since Mubarak’s rule was brought down by a popular rebellion in February that included secularists, Islamists and communists.
Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members were jailed under the former president. But as the “Arab Spring” burgeoned early this year, the once-outlawed Brotherhood, which for decades built a network of social and religious programs, quickly became the nation’s most potent political force. It has attempted to calm secular Egyptians and the West by emphasizing democracy and civil rights as it moves to gradually expand Islam throughout the government while addressing the country’s economic turmoil, poverty and neglected institutions.
But the Salafis, who had been apolitical for decades, are demanding an immediate debate on religion and saying the new constitution must be interchangeable with the Koran. Relying on satellite TV and money from the Persian Gulf, the resurgent fundamentalists epitomize Egypt’s startling political upheaval. They show little concern for compromise or diplomatic sound bites. One of their groups, Gamaa al Islamiya, renounced violence long ago but its candidates are a link to the coarse sectarian voices that led to the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and terrorist attacks.
Wagdi Ghoneim, a popular ultraconservative Muslim preacher, fled Egypt’s police state years ago. He has lived in the United States and the gulf, transmitting audio and televised speeches that resonate in Cairo’s slums and outlying villages. He couldn’t be more clear on where he stands.
“There’s nothing called democracy. Democracy is built on the basis of infidelity,” he says. “The Crusader Christians are a minority and we can never equate a minority’s rights with the majority’s…. How can they ask for the same rights as ours?”…
“I was born in Cairo,” he says. “But as a Christian I no longer feel like a whole citizen. I just want to go someplace where I can be respected.”
He straightens his blue and yellow tie, brushes the sleeves of his pressed shirt. He fears that Salafis will forbid the building of churches and impose more Islamic education in schools.
“Everyone is afraid, not just Copts,” he says. “People working in tourism, banking, antiquities. No one knows what the Islamists will do. The Muslim Brotherhood is trying to calm things. They’re talking about tolerance. But we still have to be afraid. They have little political experience.”