Persecution of Christian Copts in Egypt on Rise as Muslim Brotherhood Consolidates Power

By Michael Terheyde

Christians in the Middle East need our help as well as our prayers

President Mursi said he was going to be the president of all Egyptians, including the Copts. As we watch events unfold in Egypt, we have to ask ourselves, was that just a big lie, a ruse to gain power and Islamize Egypt? Does President Mursi mean to govern the Copts as a free and equal people or as the dhimmi class? Some Copts fear a return to the days of the dhimmi class and the jizya tax, as Islamist groups seem emboldened since the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power.

A Coptic Christian woman prays

A Coptic Christian woman prays

KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - There is growing fear among the Coptic Christian community as open violence escalates against them in Egypt. According to reports, this violence is in response to a letter calling on Muslims to kill Copts. Again, the world watches to see if Egypt's new president, Mohammed Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, intends to follow up on his promise to be the president of all Egyptians.


On August 14, 2012, a publication called El Fegr posted a copy of a letter inciting violence against Christians. The title of the letter is "An Urgent and Important Notice." The letter refers to Christians as enemies of Allah's religion and slaves of the cross. It calls for Allah to curse them and for all Muslims to physically attack or kill Christians throughout Egypt until they either convert to Islam or submit to their status as dhimmi in accordance with verse 9:29 of the Koran.

Verse 9:29 of the Koran reads, "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, [even if they are] of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

Based on Islamic law, non-Muslims fall into one of two categories. The first category is made up of pagans. The second category is made up of "people of the book," meaning people whose religion is based on sacred texts. This includes Jews and Christians. Muslims refer to people who fall into this category as dhimmis.

The dhimmis were allowed to live in Muslim society and to practice their religion, but in return, they were required to pay a special poll tax known as the jizya. Payment of this poll tax was understood to be a mark of their submission to the Muslim authority. But it was more than that; it was a mark of total subjugation and humiliation, for the dhimmi class was more like a slave class in Muslim society.

The Copts, who, today, constitute about 10 percent of the Egyptian population and the largest religious minority in the Middle-East region, have suffered this humiliation many times since Egypt was conquered by invading Muslim armies in the seventh century. From the onset, the Copts were forced to convert to Islam or pay the jizya or die. Many Copts were martyred as a result. Those that paid the tax were forced into the dhimmi class.

Some Copts fear a return to the days of the dhimmi class and the jizya tax, as Islamist groups seem emboldened since the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power and their man, Mohammed Mursi, became president. The Islamists responsible for authoring the letter mentioned above are an example. Such things are usually done in secrecy and utilize cryptic language. However, in this instance, they acted as if they had nothing to fear from the authorities.

They made no effort to hide their intentions or conceal their identities. In the letter, they called for violence against their fellow citizens; they promised to reward Muslims who kill any Christian Copt in Egypt; they invited Muslims to a rally meant to incite violence and gave the exact location, date and time; and they distributed the letter, with this incriminating information in it, in public for all to see.

Furthermore, it seems that the letter and the rally have had the desired effect. In an article titled "The serial killing of Copts has begun in Asyut," Menna Magdi reports that violence against the Copts ensued just hours after Islamist groups distributed copies of the letter.

The article tells us about the random killing of a Christian shoe-store owner. The name of the store owner is Refaat Eskander. He did not have any known quarrel with anyone. According to the story, unidentified men stormed into the shoe store early in the morning. He was alone in the store at the time. And they simply murdered him. A witness saw one of the murderers fleeing the scene and claimed that he was dressed like a Salafi.

In another report, F. Talaat of Al Akhbar News, writes that in Al Gallaweya Village, Sohag, Upper Egypt, "Christians are being beaten, their stores destroyed, and their properties plundered. The attackers are declaring that 'any Christian who dares to leave his house will be killed'; and the Copts are complaining that the police only arrive after the damage has been completely done."

Nageh Hozar is one of the victims of this violence. He said that one of the villagers, Mo'tassem Sedky Rashwan, a known felon, came into his brother Fady's supermarket to buy cigarettes. But instead of paying for the cigarettes, he told Fady to pay him a tribute, so they argued and Sedky left without paying. Sedky later came back to the store with a gang of his relatives. Nageh and his brothers, Fady and Thomas, were there at the time, and the gang beat them with clubs.

Then the gang of attackers looted four Coptic-owned ...

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