Alarming Campaign of Incitement Against the Copts in Egypt
The Copts are the indigenous Christian Egyptians. They amount to 12-15% of Egypt's population, or about ten million people.
Above and beyond the never-ending and routine scenario of violence, discrimination, alienation, and persecution the Copts have endured, there has been an alarming upsurge of significant anti-Coptic activities over the recent weeks:
- Leading Islamic figures unleashed (Sept. 15, and later) virulent televised attacks on the Copts, accusing them of "stocking arms and ammunitions [imported from Israel] in their churches and monasteries" and of "preparing to wage war against Muslims." Copts were further accused of "inciting sectarian strife and seeking to have their own separate state in Egypt." These preposterous accusations could have been easily refuted by the usually intrusive Egyptian authorities, but they have chosen to remain silent, proving, yet again, that they may be trying to use Islamic radicalism as a means to channel against the Copts the escalating social discontent in the country.
- Mobs of Islamists, totaling some ten thousand, erupted into wild demonstrations after Friday's prayers in Alexandria. Targeting the Coptic Church, the Pope, and the Copts in general, it was one in a series of outbursts (the latest on Oct. 8) to take place also in Cairo and other cities. Several hate slogans, normally punishable under the laws, were shouted, with no action taken by the authorities. Islamist demands included the delivery of a priest's wife, who they insist had converted to Islam. Despite vehement affirmations that this rumor was baseless—including via a certified video recording by the woman in question—the mobs' leaders declared they would carry on with more demonstrations, and "other daring means," until the woman enters Islam's abode.
- In a country where Christian and Jewish Holy Books are systematically ridiculed as "falsified," a passing remark on a Koranic verse regarding the Crucifixion, made by a Coptic clergyman at an internal meeting on dogma, was denounced as "blasphemous." A public apology had to be made in order to calm down Muslim passions. The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, a formal State body headed by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, strongly condemned the remark in question (Sept. 26). It further took the opportunity to point out that "Egypt was, according to its constitution, an Islamic State" and that "the citizenship rights of non-Muslims were conditional on their abiding by the Islamic Identity of the State," thereby reversing modern progress and downgrading the Copts to their formerly historical status of mere Dhimmis—suppressed and humbled non-Muslims living under the will of Islam. Such thinly veiled menace further risks making the Copts a religiously-sanctioned target of more persecution and violence.
As Egypt enters into a volatile period of political changes, it is feared that such blatant incitements could eventually degenerate into wholesale violence against the Copts and their spiritual leaders.
Coptic Solidarity made the point to hold the Egyptian authorities and political leadership fully responsible, and demand that effective measures be taken immediately to abate this dangerous tide.
To further elaborate on the above, a press conference will be held on Monday Oct. 18 starting noon (12:00) at the National Press Building (529 14th St NW # 570, Washington, D.C.).
Among the participants:
- Prof. Walid Phares, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Dr. Caroline Doss Esq., Coptic Solidarity.
- Dr. Raymond Ibrahim, associate director of MEF.
- Mr. Magdi Khalil, Coptic Solidarity.