The cross is an affront to Islam. The Qur’an claims that Jesus was not crucified, although in somewhat equivocal language for what is supposed to be the perfect word of an omniscient god:
“And their saying, ‘Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.’ And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but another was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.” (4:157)
And a hadith depicts Muhammad saying: “The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts).” (Bukhari 46.37.2476)
This means he will destroy Christianity (break the cross), force the Christians to obey the Islamic food laws (kill the pigs) and end the second-class dhimmi status (abolish the jizya) that Islamic law specifies for Christians, such that they will either have to convert to Islam or be killed.
In any case, many Coptic Christians have cross tattoos, and many are in danger if Muslims see them.
Why does the al-Sisi regime allow this, even as it has pledged to protect Egypt’s Christians? Either al-Sisi cannot stop this ongoing Muslim persecution of Christians, or he will not. If he cannot, then he is a weak and ineffective ruler. If he will not, it may be that he is practicing steam control, as did Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak before him. That is, despite his affirmations of support for the Christian community, he could be quietly allowing this escalating Muslim persecution as a way to placate the pro-Muslim Brotherhood elements within Egypt, and to keep them from turning in force against his regime.
Meanwhile, Christian leaders in the West largely remain silent about this ongoing persecution, so as not to harm the “dialogue” they’re enjoying with Muslim leaders that has thus far not prevented one Christian from being persecuted or one church from being attacked.
“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
“Egypt: Sinai militants pledge to ‘kill more Copts’ after murdering man over cross tattoo,” World Watch Monitor, January 15, 2018:
Militants belonging to the ‘State of Sinai’ group in Egypt have promised to “kill more Copts” after murdering a 27-year-old Coptic man because of the tattoo of a cross on his wrist.
Bassem Herz Attalhah, also known as Haythem Shehata, was on his way home from work in El-Arish, capital of North Sinai governorate, on Saturday evening (13 January), with his brother Osama and neighbour and friend Mohamed, when they were stopped by three armed men, aged between 23 and 25.
“We thought they were policemen because they weren’t masked… They were wearing black jackets,” Osama, 38, told World Watch Monitor. “They approached us and asked Bassem to show them the wrist of his right hand, and when they saw the tattoo of the cross, they asked him: ‘Are you Christian?’ Bassem answered ‘Yes, I am Christian’, and repeated that again in a loud voice.”
The men then asked Mohamed his name and made him show his wrist. When they saw he had no tattoo, he was allowed to leave.
Then they turned to Osama.
Osama is a common name, also among Muslims, and the men didn’t know he was Bassem’s brother.
“Bassem told them that I had children,” Osama recalls. “They asked me to show them the wrist of my right hand and, when they didn’t see any cross, they thought that I was Muslim.” The men didn’t see the cross that Osama has tattooed on the top of his hand because it was hidden under his sleeve.
“They fired two shots on the ground close to my legs and asked me to leave,” he recalled. “And then they shot Bassem in the head. I could not believe what happened to my brother. He fell on the ground in front of me and I was unable to do anything.”
On his way to find help, Osama says his legs gave way from the shock. Their mother, upon hearing the news, fainted and had to be taken to hospital.
“We lost a person dear to our hearts. My brother Bassem was a very good and kind man. He had a strong relationship with God. He was always reading in the Bible, praying and going to the church. He was loved by all people,” Osama said.
String of killings
When Bassem’s close friend Milad Wasfi heard he had been killed, he couldn’t believe it and called his friend’s phone. His call was answered, but not by his friend.
“The terrorists answered me and said they belong to State of Sinai and promised to kill more Copts before they put down the phone,” he told World Watch Monitor.
Scores of Coptic Christian families left for Ismailia and Suez, about 200km away, after a string of killings in El-Arish last year – including one incident where a woman witnessed her husband and son killed by a gunman who then ticked them off an IS hit-list. In March 2017 it was estimated that 70 per cent of the 160 Coptic Christian families living in the city had left.
Bassem, Osama and their parents had been among those who fled the city. Struggling to find work in Ismailia, however, the two brothers left for Cairo, and when things did not work out for them there either, they decided to return to El-Arish in September….