Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article first appeared on Coptic Solidarity.
Once again, only the proverbial tip of the iceberg of persecution Christians experience throughout the Muslim world reaches the West: on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, U.S. media outlets reported that a Coptic church “caught fire,” leading to 41 Christian deaths, many of them children. The official explanation remains that “faulty electric wiring” was responsible.
Left completely unreported in the Western press, however, is that, all throughout the month of August—particularly within the dates of an important religious season, when churches were especially packed—a total of eleven Coptic churches in Egypt “caught fire.” Two (Imbaba and Minya) were major, some were minor, and some were caught early enough to prevent serious damage, thanks to heightened vigilance among the Christians themselves. A list of the eleven follows:
- Aug. 8: The Church of Saint Paul in Ard al-Golf, Cairo.
- Aug. 14: The Church of Abu Seifein in Imbaba, Cairo (where the aforementioned 41 Christians were burned to death).
- Aug. 15: The Church of the Holy Virgin and Saint Moses in Kirdassa, Giza.
- Aug. 16: The Church of Saint Bishoy in New Minya.
- Aug. 16: The Church of Saint Moses in the City of Six of October, Giza.
- Aug. 17: The Church of Saint Moses the Black in Alexandria.
- Aug. 19: The Church of the Holy Virgin and Abanoub in al-Baragil, Giza.
- Aug. 20: The Church of Saint George in Badran, Cairo.
- Aug. 20: The Church of the Angel Rafael in Ghayt al-‘Inab, Alexandria.
- Aug 21: The Monastery of the Virgin in Drunka, Assiut.
- Aug 16 & 21: The Church of Saint Mary the Egyptian in al-‘Imarawa, Alexandria.
In every one of these fires, Egyptian authorities denied arson as a possible cause, citing instead “natural” or accidental causes such as faulty wiring, electric overloads, etc.
Meanwhile, in the real world, the idea that arson was responsible for at least some of the fires is immensely plausible if not probable—not least because fanatic Muslims have literally set hundreds of Coptic Christian churches aflame in Egypt over the decades (as discussed here). In fact, while the spectacle of churches “catching fire” has become rather commonplace—a historic Catholic church was just “reduced to ashes” in Canada, aka the “church-burning centre of the Western world”—perhaps no nation can claim the “honor” of seeing so many of its churches burn as Egypt.
There are, moreover, other curious “coincidences” surrounding these recent church fires in Egypt. Not only did they all occur during an important holiday on the Coptic Orthodox calendar—the Virgin Mary fast (Aug.7-21), when churches are especially packed—but that timeframe also coincided with the “anniversary” of when Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers torched 62 Coptic churches in Egypt in 2013, suggesting that the same elements may have been “commemorating” those events by burning more churches and, in at least the case of the Church of Abu Seifein, killing more Christians.
Finally, it’s worth noting that, although there are well over half a million mosques and prayer halls in Egypt—compared to only some three thousand churches—not one Muslim worship center “caught fire” during this same timeframe.
Trying to overturn the narrative that “faulty electric wiring” is behind all of these recent church fires is not helped by the fact that what the Christian victims themselves say is being suppressed and underreported in the Egyptian media. The fires that erupted in the Church of Saint Mary the Egyptian are a good case in point.
On Aug. 16, witnesses saw someone on the balcony of a residential building adjacent to the church twice hurl some combustible substance onto the top floor of the church. Christians called the authorities but instead of blaming the apartment in question—and thus risking worse by way of “reprisals”—the church diplomatically asked the authorities to investigate with due diligence, especially the nearby building. The only thing that came out of it was another fiery missile hurled onto the church on Aug 21.
The facts—including those so easily deduced—speak for themselves.
Meanwhile, whereas Egypt is reporting all eleven of these church fires as unplanned “accidents,” only one—where 41 Christians died (of “faulty wiring”)—received any mention at all in Western media, perhaps lest readers connect the many not-so-coincidental dots and reach their own conclusions.