Don’t talk about the plight of Egyptian Christians too loudly. To do so might imperil the wonderful dialogue we’re having with Islamic supremacists stateside.
“For Egypt’s Christians, 1,374 Tough Years and Counting,” by Brian O”Neel for the National Catholic Register, April 9:
…With the Feb. 11, 2011, overthrow of the government President Hosni Mubarak had led for 29 years, many Christians hoped better days had come.
However, as Robert Spencer, director of JihadWatch.org, told the Register, “The Mubarak government was hardly friendly to the Christians, but it was nothing like it is now. The Muslim Brotherhood[-led] government even seems to be instigating some of the violence.”
Ashraf Ramelah, director of Voice of the Copts, concurs. Mubarak, he contends, was “anti-Christian, but he wasn’t open about that.”
The Muslim Brotherhood isn’t so circumspect. Thus, despite the promises the fundamentalist Islamic movement made upon assuming power that it would have Christians in prominent positions and would set aside seats for minorities and women, none of that has happened.
Instead, the persecution has become more and more pronounced.
On Jan. 1, 2011, before Mubarak’s downfall, Islamists assaulted an Orthodox Coptic church in Alexandria, leaving 21 dead.
Later that month, in southern Egypt, where both Christians and the most radical Muslims are concentrated, extremists smashed into two Christian homes, wounding four and murdering 11.
Then, in October 2011, state security forces repressed Christian demonstrations after Muslims attacked a Christian church in Upper Egypt while police stood by and watched.
Since the switch in governments in 2011, the provincial capital of Minya alone has seen a spate of more than 150 kidnappings directed solely at Christians. Several of those kidnapped are girls who were forced into marriage and thereafter considered Muslim. No matter what they believe in their hearts, they can never again be Christians, at least officially.
Sometimes people are kidnapped at their church’s door. The kidnappers commonly demand money, but they also want to scare Christians away from church.
Others Forms of Oppression
Persecution isn’t limited to such violence, but is embedded in the pavement of each Christian’s daily walk.
For instance, if a church wants to affect repairs or build, it must go through a costly, complicated federal permit process. Even if successful in this, local administrators can veto the federal permission.
Back in February, the government set the first date for elections for April 27 and the second for May 5. The former date is the Saturday before the Copts celebrate Palm Sunday this year. The latter is the date they will observe Easter.
“Our political leaders chose the dates because they never take the calendar of Christian festivities into consideration,” a Coptic Catholic bishop told the Vatican-affiliated Fides news service, “because no one around them is in a position to advise when a date is inopportune.”
The common thread through all these forms of discrimination, however, is that the majority wants to maintain Muslim dominance as a part of what it means to identify as an Egyptian.
Much of this is fueled by private Islamic religious TV stations that feed their viewers a 24/7 diet of anti-Christian and anti-Jewish vitriol. Considering that 70% of Egyptians say they get much of their news from such stations, the prejudice is not hard to understand.
It leads men such as Abdullah Badr “” a popular, respected Egyptian Muslim scholar “” to say he despises Christians so much that he refuses to eat food prepared by them and would not drink from a cup a Christian had merely touched.
Given all of this, Egyptian Christians can’t comprehend the friendly U.S. policy toward their nation. One Catholic-Copt bishop says, “The U.S. does not fully understand what is happening in Egypt.”
Indeed, the United States provides billions in foreign aid each year to Egypt, but how those funds are used isn’t always clear. Furthermore, the U.S. “” the same nation that liberated those living behind the Iron Curtain “” has shrugged its shoulders at the plight of those suffering in ways no less pathetic than the Israelites under Pharaoh, according to Egyptian Christian critics.
What might be done to help? Spencer says Americans need to make Egypt’s continued reception of “financial aid contingent upon the way they are treating their minorities.”
For his part, Ramelah hopes Catholic churches will “open their doors to those who can explain this situation to their congregations. People need to know the truth.”…