This NPR report is largely worthless, featuring Saudi-funded academic John Esposito and others in an effort to exonerate Islam from any responsibility for the Muslim persecution of Christians in Egypt, instead of discussing the real root causes of this persecution, and ways that it can be ended once and for all. But it does contain some illuminating testimony from Egyptian Christians.
“In Egypt, Coptic Christians Become Target for Attack in Times of National Stress,” from NPR, September 20:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, in the final story from her recent overseas reporting trip, Margaret Warner looks at Egypt’s Christians, who have been victims of dozens of attacks since July.
MARGARET WARNER: The attackers came at night to the Church of the Virgin Mary, for more than 60 years a Coptic Christian sanctuary in the village of Kafr Hakim.
Fifi Awad worshiped there.
FIFI AWAD, Egypt (through interpreter): They attacked the church. They took everything they could take, the generator, the refrigerator, even bags they thought had donation money. Then they burned the first and second floors and said, “Allahu akbar.”
MARGARET WARNER: Guard Emile Moussa was on the job, but he felt powerless.
EMILE MOUSSA, guard (through interpreter): A march came towards the church yelling, “Islamic, Islamic” and cursing the pope and Christians. I started to call the police and the military, but no one answered.
MARGARET WARNER: The timing was no coincidence. Earlier that day, August 14, hundreds of Egyptians were killed by security forces as they cleared two sit-ins protesting the military’s ouster of Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Retaliation came swiftly against Christian churches and police stations around Egypt. When the smoke cleared, more than 40 churches had been damaged or destroyed. Most were in fiercely Islamist areas of southern or upper Egypt and a few in Cairo’s outskirts, too. Amid the chaos that night, some Muslims like Nagah Azab came to the aid of their Christian neighbors.
NAGAH AZAB, Egypt (through interpreter): Christians are more than brothers to me. We live together and it is good for us both. I want you to know that we are the ones who protect Christians, as we did when the young men came and attacked the church on orders of the Muslim Brotherhood.
MARGARET WARNER: Yet, even now, Awad says she lives in fear.
FIFI AWAD (through interpreter): We are so afraid for our families and children. We are afraid as Christians to wear the cross.
MARGARET WARNER: Coptic Christians have worn that cross in Egypt for centuries. Tradition has it the faith was brought here by the Apostle Mark. Egypt was majority Christian until the 10th century, when Islam spread….
How did it spread? Because it was so compelling? No, it spread because dhimmitude was so oppressive that most Christians ultimately converted so as to get out from under its strictures.
MAN (through interpreter): The Muslim Brotherhood, they are not Muslims. They are terrorists and their actions are not Islamic. Even if all the churches are burned, we will pray in the mosques. We all worship the same God.
MARGARET WARNER: And when she took us to the Church of the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael, the pastor, Father Raphael Ramzy, struck the same theme.
Have there been any threats against this church?
FATHER RAPHAEL RAMZY, Church of the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael (through interpreter): No, because our Muslim brethren protect us here; we are like a big family. Far away from the Muslim Brotherhood, we are a family….
But Mona Zulficar, a prominent corporate lawyer, a Muslim who also fights for women’s and minority rights, thinks the animosity goes deeper than that, among the ranks of Islamic fundamentalists.
MONA ZULFICAR, Egyptian Constitutional Committee: There is a part of the extremist view looks at the non-Muslims as infidels, and this is not true Islam. I mean, I must underline this. This is a malicious, abusive interpretation that has no foundation in the holy Koran….
Actually, Qur’an 5:17 and 5:72 declare that those Christians who believe that “Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary” are “unbelievers.” The Arabic word used here is kafara, (ÙƒÙŽÙÙŽØ±ÙŽ), which is a form of kufr, unbelief. Mona Zulficar, like many Islamic spokesmen in the West, asserts that it is an “extremist view” to see “non-Muslims as infidels,” but that’s exactly what these two Qur’an verses say that Christians are. This gives the Brotherhood position strength that no one in this NPR report acknowledges. And since they don’t even admit it exists, they have no plan to deal with it and limit its influence.