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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Since the Tahrir Square demonstrations and President Mubarak’s ouster in February 2011, threats to Egyptian Christians have come from both the usual Islamic-mob-inspired-by-local-Imam-after-Friday-prayers scenario and increasingly from the military and security forces. For instance, in February of 2011, two Coptic monasteries were attacked by the army because they had built walls to protect themselves from looters and criminals set loose from prisons by anti-Mubarak rebels.

Then in March, a mob of Islamists burned down the Church of the Two Martyrs in Sool, a village south of Cairo, after the local Imam issued a call for them to “kill all the Christians.” The pastor, who was almost killed in the fire, said that the clamor of the church being destroyed “sounded like hatred.” And villagers describing the scene to Compass Direct News Service said that the mob broke into the church chanting, “Allalu Akbar,” looting it, demolishing the walls with sledgehammers, and setting a fire.

“Looters removed anything valuable, including several containers holding the remains of venerated Copts – most of whom were killed in other waves of persecution – then stomped and kicked the containers like soccer balls,” witnesses told Compass Direct. More churches and Christian properties were attacked and burned and Christians killed and injured throughout 2011, leading up to the attack at the Maspero Building.

Egypt’s Christians had hopes that the Arab Spring would be for them, as well as for Muslims. Sadly, Egypt’s transformation has increased the influence and power of Islamic extremists in the country. This is unfortunate for all, but as is evident, it is lethal for the Christians. In the words of one Coptic Christian from New Jersey to The Washington Post, “We Christians have faced Islamic oppression for 1400 years, but now it is getting much more ugly.” And they wonder what new problems Egypt’s coming elections will bring. Some even suggest that the only solution is for all the Copts to leave their homeland, but American Copts hope that the United States will help their co-religionists and other vulnerable minorities in Egypt.

So far the response of the Obama administration to the attack on the Copts has been underwhelming. An October 10 White House statement by the Press Secretary featured the typical moral equivalency also found in statements about Israel, Sudan, and elsewhere, expressing the President’s deep concern about “the tragic loss of life among demonstrators and security forces.”

The President’s statement did stress that the rights of minorities and their religious freedom must be respected. But the takeaway from the remarks was the breathtaking admonition, “Now is a time for restraint on all sides.” White House Dossier reporter, Keith Koffler, says that Obama is “not only equating the deaths of peaceful protestors and their killers, but he is suggesting that Egypt’s increasingly persecuted Christian minority should show as much ‘restraint’ as their tormentors and refrain from vigorously objecting to the growing abuse.”

There is a stronger response to the Copts’ dilemma at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. One recent action in Congress that may help Coptic Christians and other religious minorities is a bill introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (H.R. 440), the co-chair, along with U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus in the House of Representatives.

The legislation, calling for the establishment of a special envoy to promote religious freedom of religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia, passed overwhelmingly in the House. Now the Senate version (S. 1245), introduced by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), is languishing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But the American Copts hope that hearings on the atrocities taking place, along with other publicity and the full enactment of the bill, will give voice and support to those who have not felt the warmth of spring in their experience of Egypt’s transformation.

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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.