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Because of all these wild projections, the 86-year-old ailing Coptic Pope Shenouda III was portrayed last year as “a U.S. agent, an abductor and torturer of female Muslim converts from Christianity, who was stockpiling weapons in monasteries and churches with a view to waging war against the Muslims and dividing Egypt to create a Coptic State.”
Nor have these charges subsided; mere days ago “forty six Islamist lawyers filed a complaint with the Attorney against Pope Shenouda III, demanding the Pope open churches and monasteries for inspection to verify of the existence of weapons, and illegal places for the detention of citizens.”
All of these accusations are as inapplicable to the Coptic Church as they are perfectly applicable to Islamists. As we have seen, it is the Islamists who habitually kidnap Christian women and force them to convert to Islam. Equally ludicrous is the charge that the Copts are stockpiling weapons in monasteries and churches.
In a country where Islam reigns supreme, where Sharia (which mandates the subjugation of non-Muslims, a la the Koranic verse 9:29) is part of the Constitution, where Copts have been conditioned over centuries to be content with just being left alone—is it reasonable to believe that these selfsame, down-trodden Christians, who make up 10-15% of the population, are planning a violent takeover of Egypt?
It is easy to see, however, why such charges resonate with Muslims. After all, Islamists are constantly stockpiling weapons, including in mosques, as they prepare to violently seize power across the nations, Egypt being an especially coveted target. Indeed, at one point the aforementioned al-Awwa himself slipped by saying that “Muslims are arrested every day [in Egypt] for extremism and the possession of arms.”
Then there is the charge that Copts are trying to divide Egypt to create their own state, which is primarily based on a candid remark made by Coptic Bishop Bishoy months ago: “Muslims are guests in this country, Christians are the original residents. Prior to the Arab invasion of Egypt, which took place in the seventh century, the majority of Egypt’s population was Christian.” As usual, this otherwise historically accurate observation has enraged Muslims and been cited as “proof” that the Copts seek to divide Egypt and establish their own state.
In fact, it is Muslim minorities who habitually try to secede from non-Muslim countries. Whether by creating their own nations (e.g., Pakistan), or creating enclaves in the West, the notion of separating from the infidel is commanded in the Koran (e.g., 3:28, 4:89, 4:144, 5:54, 6:40, 9:23, and 58:22), codified in the doctrine of al-wala’ wa’l bara’, and imprinted on the Muslim psyche. Unsurprisingly, then, Muslims have come to project this divisive impulse onto the Copts as well.
There is perhaps no clearer example of Muslim projection than in the field of theology, whereby Muslim doctrines are projected onto Christianity. For example, in the midst of the accusation that the Copts are stockpiling weapons to wage war on Muslims, the Al Azhar Scholars Front, which consists of Al Azhar alumni, declared: “Christianity…is constantly defining its overt and covert policy of eliminating all its rivals or degrading [the followers of other religions] and depriving them of every reason to live so that they will be forced to convert to Christianity.”
In fact, this is precisely what Islam does: through jihad, “eliminate all its rivals,” or, through the institution of dhimmitude, “degrade [the followers of other religions] and deprive them of every reason to live so that they will be forced to convert to” Islam. This is both historically and doctrinally demonstrable.
Similarly, when Bishop Bishoy declared that Egypt’s Christians are reaching the point of martyrdom due to the increase in persecution, this, too, was thoroughly “Islamicized” as a declaration of “war-to-the-death,” including by al-Awwa, who, during his Al Jazeera rant, asserted that “Father Bishoy declared that they would reach the point of martyrdom, which can only mean war. He said, ‘If you talk about our churches, we will reach the point of martyrdom.’ This means war.”
Of course, the notion that a martyr is someone who wages and dies in jihad, or “holy war,” is intrinsic to Islam (e.g., Koran 9:111). Even the authoritative Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary translates shahid (“martyr”) as “one killed in battle with infidels.” On the other hand, Christian martyrdom has always meant being persecuted and killed for refusing to recant Christianity—and this is precisely the definition that has for centuries applied to Egypt’s Copts, the definition that Bishop Bishoy clearly meant (see this article for more on the important differences between Christian and Muslim notion’s of martyrdom).
- Islamists regularly abduct, abuse, brainwash, and compel Coptic girls to convert—and now Copts are accused of doing the exact same thing;
- Islamists regularly smuggle and stockpile weapons, including in their holy places—and now Copts are accused of doing the exact same thing;
- Islamists are constantly either trying to break away or conquer infidel nations—and now Copts are accused of doing the exact same thing;
- Islamists seek to eliminate or subjugate the infidel according to the doctrine of jihad and dhimmitude—and now Christians are portrayed as seeking the exact same thing;
- Islamic martyrdom means waging and dying in jihad—and now Christian martyrdom is defined as the exact same thing.
From here, one can understand the recent lament of Coptic activist Mounir Bishai: “Suddenly we [Copts] have shifted from complaints to self-defense, from demanding [our] rights to [trying to] convince the public that we are not depriving others of their rights… now we are being accused of amassing weapons… How have we suddenly turned from persecuted into persecutors, from the weak [party] into the strong and tyrannical [one], from the attacked [party] into the infamous attackers, and from the poor [party] into the rich exploiters? How did these lies become widespread, without us gaining any ground or improving our situation one whit?”
How, indeed. Quite simply, as all humans are wont to do, some Muslims see themselves—project themselves—in others, no matter how ludicrous or inapplicable the projection is. Indeed, this is not unlike the way Western liberals are constantly projecting their secular/liberal worldview onto Muslims, despite all evidence otherwise.
Postscript: Let it be noted that Islamist projection is not confined to the Middle East, but is present in the United States as well. For example, in their recent—and failed—attempt to compel Everett Community College to disinvite me, CAIR and other Islamists insisted that yours truly was “spreading hate”—thereby projecting the hate that permeates their own scriptures and worldview, onto me and others for merely quoting that hate.
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