Coptic Christians Rally for Human Rights

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs the Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).


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Thousands of Egyptian Americans representing oppressed and persecuted Coptic Christians streamed down Washington, DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue Wednesday, October 19, 2011. Their demonstration had begun in front of the White House. It ended with a rally at the U.S. Capitol.

Copts, who traveled by the busloads from such places as Chicago, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, came to Washington to protest the brutal treatment of Egypt’s Christians and demand that the Obama administration pressure Cairo to protect the rights of non-Muslims. They also wished to call attention to congressional legislation that supports Copts and other vulnerable people groups. The demonstration was a response to an Egyptian army-led massacre of Christians on Sunday, October 9, in Cairo.

On October 9, Egyptian Christians had staged a peaceful demonstration and a march through downtown Cairo to protest the burning of a church and several Christian-owned homes and businesses in Upper Egypt on September 30. The Christian protestors were attacked by an Islamist mob near an underpass cutting through downtown Cairo. They were pelted with rocks, bricks, Molotov cocktails, and otherwise molested. Then when the Christians reached their destination, Maspero Square, Egyptian military forces were already aligned against them to quell the demonstration.

Seeming to have forgotten Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi’s recent testimony that the army would “never . . . open fire at citizens,” the army did indeed open fire on the protestors, killing twenty-one. Later, when the army was leaving the bloodbath it had created, one soldier bragged that he had shot a Copt in the chest and killed him. The Muslim crowd cheered, shouting, “This is the real Egyptian army!”

Six other Christians at the demonstration were crushed under armored personnel carriers when those vehicles deliberately plowed into crowds of protestors. A Compass Direct News Service report called the attack “the worst act of violence against Egyptian Christians in modern history.” In addition to the twenty-six people that were killed, hundreds of others were wounded by the army’s attack. The army attack left Egypt’s Christians shocked and devastated.

At Wednesday’s demonstration in Washington, the American Copts pointed out that U.S. tax payer dollars fund the tanks that killed the Egyptian Christians. Many people, including members of Congress, ask why the U.S. continues to give hundreds of millions of dollars annually in financial aid to a country with such an abysmal human rights record. Over $70 billion has been given in aid since the Camp David accords, notes columnist Mike McManus. Some of the Coptic protestors in Washington held signs declaring, “Your Tax Dollars Kill Christians in Egypt.”

Other demonstrators carried a variety of other messages. Some of the protestors held large photographs depicting the horrific events at Maspero Square. Others carried Bible verses speaking of the persecution of the Church, or messages to the world such as “1400 years of Islamic oppression: We still stand defiant!”

Many of the people carried large wooden crosses or American flags. And a few carried black wooden coffins that they placed on the sidewalk in front of the White House. Together they raised their voices in such chants for justice as, “Why, why, must we die?” “Obama, Obama, where are you?” “Coptic blood is not cheap!” and “USA, wake up!”

As the protestors had declared, Copts and other Egyptian Christians, along with Egypt’s tiny Baha’i community and tinier Jewish community, have, to varying degrees, been victims of discrimination and persecution for 14 centuries. The Copts are descendants of ancient Egyptians converted to Christianity by Saint Mark, who founded the Church of Alexandria in 43 AD. But since the Arab conquest of Egypt in 640 AD, Egyptian Christians have lived as dhimmi, second-class citizens, under Islam.

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  • Geneww

    Best everyone understand.
    1. Muslims hate JudeoChristians
    2. UN is 80% Muslim
    3. Obama is not a Christian by any Biblical standard
    4. Obama's team are anti Christian, anti Jeus, anti (creator and Biblical) God

  • kafir4life

    There once was a poster named abdullard mikey (the grand muffin of texas) who altho' a head banging, moon god worshipper and McDonalds cashier par excellence had the perfect solution to the Copts problems in Egypt years ago. Leave.

    • Jako

      What country Would give Copts residence? till now copts who Making refugee claim still deported back to Egypt.

    • Chiggles

      It's their country. They are the true heirs of Ancient Egypt. The Arabs should leave.

  • http://satanstrinity.com C"H"Martel

    My book, "Satan's Trinity: Hitler, Stalin & Muhammad," will be available within the month and one may pre-order at http://www.satanstrinity.wordpress.com/ For the first time in history "HSM" appear together on a book cover. The idea behind the book is to make headway against the ludicrous idea that Muhammad should be conjoined with any religious leader/founder. Once this comparison, driven by actual names, has been made then it must be attacked. Once the attack has been launched then the attackers will be forced to defend their attack. Since the attack is indefensible then the "religion" Muhammad (if he existed) founded will begin to be viewed as the scam it is. This book has been written under the principle of KISS. And nothing is simpler to understand than Hitler and Stalin…..and now, Muhammad. Thank you for your time…….C"H"Martel

  • StephenD

    ““the worst act of violence against Egyptian Christians in modern history.” In addition to the twenty-six people that were killed, hundreds of others were wounded by the [Egyptian] army’s attack.”
    Because we expect something other than this from an Islamic based majority? We were caught off guard by this? After all, the “Religion of Peace” must have been provoked. Maybe the protesters to the burning of churches stuck out their tongue at the tanks that rolled over them.
    Not to worry though. President Obama, in a very stern voice has told them all:
    “Now is a time for restraint on all sides.” (As he hands our Tax dollars over to the same Army that runs it’s people over in the streets.)
    So, the message is clear. The Copts will have to “restrain” themselves or they’ll get what they deserve.

  • tanstaafl

    This is life for infidels under sharia law. Or should I say death?

  • AntiSharia

    The Copts don't have a chance. They either have to flee or be wiped out. I once heard an interesting solution, Israel could reclaim the Sinai peninsula and settle it with the Coptic Christians, they could act as a buffer zone against Egypt and the copts would have their own safe haven. I highly doubt it would happen, chances are most of them will simply end up coming to the states.

    • alan g

      If Egypt tears up their peace treaty with Israel, then Israel will be in their rights to take back the Sinai. I dare the UN to take action.

  • joy52

    In answer to the question about what country would take them…whoever gets them are lucky. They are honest, hardworking, church-going people who value education and whose children are well behaved. You don't hear about them because they are law-abiding and don't whine. They immigrate to western countries, assimilate, and start right away working to make a future. They got together in DC to demonstrate because they know their friends and relatives in Egypt are in motal danger.

  • Ghostwriter

    The Coptic Christians are asking "Obama…Obama,where are you?" The answer is he's on the campaign trail,trying to get re-elected.