Center For Inquiry Condemns Attacks on Coptic Christians and Muslims

You may have heard about how Coptic Christian churches have been under attack in Egypt — just read the lede in this Wall Street Journal article:

Osama Makram Amin woke to the sound of gunfire, looked out his window and saw what he says were young men throwing gasoline bombs at the nearby Coptic Christian church.

Awful stuff. Seriously awful.

A Coptic Christian church

The Center For Inquiry has issued a statement condemning the religion-based violence:

In response to the July 3 coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi from power, Islamists, including some who support Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, have carried out attacks on Christian houses of worship, as well as homes and shops owned by Christians. The violence has swollen to the point that Sunday Mass had to be canceled in the city of Minya for the first time in 1,600 years.

The Egyptian military, which now controls the country, has also reportedly arrested or killed large numbers of Muslims affiliated with the Morsi regime and the Muslim Brotherhood.

As an organization dedicated to secular humanist values, we unequivocally condemn the persecution and violence being directed at Christians in Egypt. Similarly, to the extent the military is targeting some Muslim Egyptians because of their religious beliefs, we condemn its actions,” said Ronald Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “No person should be targeted for violence because of his or her religious affiliation. As atheists and humanists, though we may disagree strongly with the beliefs of other groups, we wholeheartedly reject oppression and violence carried out against those who hold those beliefs. Freedom of conscience is a fundamental human right.”

I realize those are just words, but no other atheist/Humanist group that I know of has issued a similar statement.

Why not?

We fight for out right to believe what we want, especially in countries where voicing a dissenting opinion is heresy. We ought to defend people of other faiths when they’re fighting the same battle. This is a no-brainer. Good for Ron Lindsay and CFI for saying something they could just as easily have ignored.

By the way, these aren’t completely empty statements. They’re backed by action:

CFI is currently working with officials at both the U.S. State Department and United Nations to help ensure that the rights to freedom of religion, belief, and expression are enjoyed by all persons in Egypt, and elsewhere.

I’ll be glad to update this post with similar statements from other non-theistic groups, but if you don’t see those updates, it’s because those releases aren’t coming in. Yes, time and resources are always stretched thin, I know, but this is an important issue and we ought to be among the leading voices condemning a real assault on religious freedom.

***Update***: The Centre for Inquiry Canada has also condemned the attacks on Coptic Christians:

CFI Canada calls on Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom to work with CFI Canada to oppose violations of freedom of religion, denounce violence against human-rights defenders and condemn attacks on the religious and non-religious in Egypt and around the world.

The full statement is here.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Lee Miller

    I think someone must have gotten their facts wrong, since Islam is the religion of peace and there couldn’t possibly be religious factors in this particular violence.

  • the moother

    This is why I always laugh when people complain about the way israelis treat palestinians… In any muslim country nothing and nobody is safe. Any other religion and the muslim sects themselves are aaaaaaalllways subject to violent persecution nonsense.

    The palestinians have it better in israel than many muslims have it in their own countries.

    • Gus

      This, by the way, is pretty much the definition of anti-Muslim bigotry:

      In any muslim country nothing and nobody is safe.

      How are we defining “muslim country”? Any country with a majority Muslim population? Does that include say, Indonesia? How are things in Qatar? How bad was Egypt prior to the revolution? Tunisia? Morocco? Or are we just talking about Muslim theocracies? Because I’d say the truth is that nothing and nobody is safe in a theocracy, whether it’s Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or other.

      Meanwhile, the issue with regards to Palestinians is not how they might live in a hypothetical Muslim theocracy, but rather whether any nation has a right to treat religious and ethnic minorities differently than the majority, and whether people have the right to self determination. That problems occur in some Muslim countries in no way makes it OK for Israel to operate as a theocratic apartheid state.

      But hey, way to make this all about how much you hate Muslims and Israel rules, instead of about the real issue of the post: secular groups standing up for freedom of conscience for everyone and against religious violence, whoever the victim.

      • the moother

        Apartheid? I was born in South Africa…, I know apartheid when I see it… and it’s nowhere to be found in israel….

        Also, Calling israel an apartheid state is an injustice to all the people I saw suffer under it.

        Palestinians in israel have a right to vote and receive EXACTLY the same benefits (like education and medical care) as everyone else in israel. They have representatives in parliament. Women representatives too.

        That’s a million times better than any christian could get in saudi arabia.

    • 3lemenope

      The palestinians have it better in israel than many muslims have it in their own countries.

      You know, it’s funny not only because it’s true, but also because it has absolutely nothing to do with the point. A slightly higher standard of living means that it’s more OK to violate a person’s civil rights? That must mean it’s OK to waterboard Americans, and let’s not even get started talking about what you can do to the Swedes! How does the trade-off work, is it one creature comfort per right or dignity?

      I have access to twinkies, so I’m strip search approved. Fantastic.

      • Guest

        I’ll just copy/pasta my last comment because you’re also an idiot.

        Apartheid? I was born in South Africa…, I know apartheid when I see it… and it’s nowhere to be found in israel….

        Also, Calling israel an apartheid is an injustice to all the people I saw suffer under it.

        Palestinians in israel have a right to vote and receive EXACTLY the same benefits (like education and medical care) as everyone else in israel. They have representatives in parliament. Women representatives too.

        That’s a million times better than any christian could get in saudi arabia.

  • ragarth

    I think the reason there tends to be a lack of messages of solidarity from the Atheists is because there’s an underlying assumption that if we get the right to exist then they’ll get the right to exist.

  • http://www.examiner.com/atheism-in-los-angeles/hugh-kramer Hugh Kramer

    “Similarly, to the extent the military is targeting some Muslim Egyptians because of their religious beliefs, we condemn its actions,”
    I’m not sure that’s a factually accurate statement. I believe the military is targeting the Muslim Brotherhood because of its political actions, not its religious beliefs. While the Egyptian military may have problems with the Brotherhood’s methods, they largely share its beliefs. I think CFI shouldn’t abandon factual accuracy just to appear even-handed. It dilutes the integrity of our own beliefs.

  • M.S.

    Great post Hemant and I agree completely. Every group needs to be protected in what they believe, who they love, etc…. Even though a group may be a majority somewhere, they could always be a minority somewhere else. And we have to ensure e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. for their basic human rights.

    “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
    because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
    because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for me—
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
    ― Martin Niemöller

  • SeekerLancer

    I really hope Egypt manages to sort itself out. It could come out of this debacle as another repressive theocracy or it could emerge as an example for the rest of the middle east to follow. Either way history is in the making.

  • 3lemenope

    Everything else aside, I do like the three-dimensional cross atop the church in the OP pic. “We worship HyperJesus!”

  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    “We fight for out right to believe what we want, especially in countries where voicing a dissenting opinion is heresy. We ought to defend people of other faiths when they’re fighting the same battle. This is a no-brainer.”

    This! Even if those we defend won’t reciprocate, it’s still the right thing to do.

  • ShoeUnited

    I agree that people need protection. Even if they don’t agree with me.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X