Islamists hold a culture of hate against Copts. Where does this lead to?
The coming days will mark the passage of some 40 days since the death of a young girl at the hands of Islamists; her only crime was that she was coming out of church. The fortieth day after a death, the arbaein, is a date that is usually marked by Egyptians in a tradition that goes back to ancient Egyptian and was then linked to the mummification process.
It is no secret that Copts in Egypt have been paying a hefty price for their opposition to political Islam and their support of a civic, democratic State. Islamists have retaliated by waging a vicious, seemingly endless war of hatred against them; the outcome being countless attacks against Copts, their churches, homes, property, and businesses.
The hate targets Copts indiscriminately. But it is most painful when the victims are children who could have done nothing in the world to warrant such hate. The war of hate then appears to have reached new zeniths in cruelty and heartlessness.
Shot to death in front of church
A 10-year-old girl bubbling with vivacity was shot to her death by two masked men on motorbike as she emerged out of her church in Ain Shams in the east of Cairo. Her killers fled as the young girl dropped on the sidewalk, bleeding. The shooting of Jessie Boulos left a deep wound in the hearts of Copts, in fact in the hearts of all Egyptians. Jessie was an only child; the grief of her bereaved mother and father was something most of us have lost lots of sleep over. And her only crime was that she was Christian, as strongly testified to by her shooting as she left church.
Yet this was not the first time in recent years that Christians were targeted as they left church. Perhaps the most atrocious was the bombing at the Two Saints church in Alexandria on New Year Eve 2011. Some 24 Copts were blown to smithereens as they left church after midnight service, and hundreds were injured. Egyptians will always remember that night when they couldn’t even know how many were killed because there were no bodies to count, only body parts.
Less than a year earlier, on 6 January 2010—Christmas Eve for Copts—six Copts were shot dead just as they left church after Midnight Mass in the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. A Muslim friend who had gone to meet them as they left was also killed.
When we use the word ‘hate’, we do not mean it as a metaphor or exaggeration, but rather as a historically confirmed fact. Since its foundation in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood propagated a culture of hate, fanaticism and grudge; a matter observed and warned against by Egyptian enlightenment figures, among them the modern philosopher and writer Salama Moussa (1887 – 1958).
This hate was harshly manifested early in 1952, again before Coptic Christmas. In the wake of a dispute over a plot of land in Suez used as a cemetery for Copts, the MB led an attack against the Copts; the Copts were burned alive, carried overhead and paraded in Suez streets. They were then cast into the courtyard of the local church. The horrendous atrocity was new to Egypt, yet the MB claimed Christians were infidels and, as such, it was the command of Allah to kill them.
The hate crimes against Copts never stopped, to this day, the only difference being that these crimes are no longer the monopoly of the MB; Jihadis and Gamaa Islamiya and other Islamist groups that branched off from the MB have consistently propagated hate and incited against Christians.
The hate is not only manifested in the seizure of Christian lives. It rears its ugly head in such mundane activities as the fatwa (Islamic legal edict) not to greet Christians, eat or drink with them, take them as friends or visit them. Going into their churches, as in case of a wedding or funeral, has been likened to going into brothels or gambling casinos, places of big sin. Yet the history of Islamist terrorism records not a single attack of the sinful brothel or casino, whereas it brims full of attacks against churches and Christians.
More to come?
MB fatwas justify the hate and violence. Abdallah al-Khateeb, the MB mufti—a mufti is one authorised to issue fatwas—issued a fatwa which was published in the MB mouthpiece al-Daawa (The Call) magazine in 1981, that rejected the building or restoration of any church in Egypt since they are “houses of apostasy”.
After the ousting of the Islamist president Mursi, Copts sense an outrageous hate campaign against them, on account of their [predictable] opposition to Mursi and support of his ouster. Especially in rural areas where poor education makes individuals more susceptible to unquestioningly responding to hate campaigns in the name of Allah, Copts have been unfailingly attacked by the day. In Luxor, Assiut, Minya, and Beni Sweif in the south; in Rafah and Arish to the northeast; and Matrouh to the northwest; Islamists have since 30 June killed some ten Copts and injured dozens as they attacked the Copts and burned churches, plundered and burned Coptic homes, businesses, and vehicles; and ruined their livelihoods.
The outer walls of many churches all over Egypt are today sprayed with graffiti which carries grating threats of death to the Copts and their Pope Tawadros II. A video recently circulated on social networking shows a woman in niqab, the Islamic full face veil, screaming: “Christians, you live among us, and we’re going to set you on fire”. Is this a harbinger of more terrorist operations to come?
30 August 2013