Egypt’s Copts In The Crossfire

by Brendan James


McArdle suggests Western nations give Egypt’s Christians asylum as the country descends further into paranoid violence:

The U.S., along with other nations, should offer greater sanctuary to the Copts, who are clearly at risk as this drama plays out. This animus toward the large Coptic minority is not new — a friend whose grandfather was a prominent Coptic cleric once told me that his grandfather was used to spending time in jail because Hosni Mubarak would lock up some notable Copts every time he sensed the Muslim majority was getting restless. But this seems to be one of the worst spates of church-burning in Egypt since the Middle Ages. There’s a real risk that the widespread attacks on the Copts’ buildings will progress to widespread attacks on their people.

The Economist echoes her concern:

The virulence of the latest campaign stems from a perception among many Islamists, but particularly followers of the puritan Salafist school, that Christians helped orchestrate the July 3rd coup that toppled Muhammad Morsi. During the Brotherhood’s ill-fated sit-in, non-stop sermons frequently alleged Christian complicity in a global anti-Muslim plot. Salafist television stations have repeated claims of arms being stashed in churches.

Waguih al-Shimi, a former member of parliament for Nazla from the Salafist al-Nour party, says that while he disapproves of targeting Christians he understands what motivates their persecutors. Many Muslims, he says, were angered when the Coptic pope, Tawadros II, appeared next to Egypt’s defence minister as he announced the army coup. Salafist websites, according to Mr Shimi, have featured photographs showing soldiers raising the cross in triumph after shooting Islamist protesters. “Considering what has happened to Muslims,” says Mr Shimi, “we can thank God it was only Christian property, not people, that got hurt.”

More recent Dish on the plight of Egypt’s Copt minority here.

(Photo: A picture taken on August 18, 2013 shows a burnt icon in the Amir Tadros coptic Church in Minya, some 250 kms south of Cairo, which was set ablaze on August 14, 2013. By Virginie Nguyen Hoang/AFP/Getty Images)