Covering the massacres of Coptic Christians

Raymond Ibrahim details what is happening to Christians in Egypt and how the atrocities are covered–jargon for “reporting” but containing the metaphor of “hiding’– in our media:

Sunday [October 9], the Egyptian military opened fire on thousands of Christians protesting in Maspero, Cairo. In the words of one Christian eyewitness, armored vehicles “came at great speed and drove into the crowds, going backwards and forwards, mowing people under their wheels. The most horrible scene was when one of the vehicles ran over a Copt’s [Christian's] head, causing his brain to explode and blood was all over the place. We got a clear message today that we are not first class citizens.”

Various numbers of casualties have been given; AINA asserts that at least 35 Christians were massacred, many beyond recognition, and over 300 wounded; hundreds are still missing. Graphic pictures of some of the slain can be seen here. [Go to the site for the link.]

Of course, you would not know any of this following the Western mainstream media (MSM). Conditioned to always appear “fair and balanced” — especially when the incidents being reported are neither — the MSM is giving the impression that the conflict consisted of equal violence and equal intolerance from both the military and “militant” Christians — or, to use the MSM’s favorite, and increasingly meaningless, euphemism, “sectarian strife,” conjuring up images of equally armed, equally militant factions fighting for supremacy.

Meanwhile, the MSM avoids the most obvious aspect of the conflict: religion, as Muslims — yet again — mow down infidel minorities for all to see.

While the military dictatorship cleanses Egypt of its Christian minority, the Egyptian media only depict images and “information” that comport with that agenda — all, of course, while naïve, gullible, or lazy Western reporters lap it up. State news, for example, asserted that armed Christians were on the offensive, killing three soldiers, injuring twenty, and burning state property — wanton lies, according to many eyewitnesses — yet perfectly in line with the MSM’s obsession never to portray Muslims as aggressors.

Accordingly, these distortions were unhesitatingly regurgitated by the MSM. The BBC’s headline was “Egypt troops dead after Coptic church protest in Cairo” [since changed] — as if that was the relevant news; the report’s opening sentence highlighted Christian protesters “clashing with security forces, with army vehicles burning outside the state television building,” again, portraying the protesters as the aggressors.

Even Fox News had its readers sympathizing with Egypt’s military, even as it was busy massacring Christian citizens: the report told of an Egyptian soldier “collapsing in tears” as Christians “attacked” his fellow soldier. Of course, watching nearly 20 members of the police beating, dragging, and kicking a Christian for protesting the burning of his church — all while shouting slogans like “You infidel son of a bitch” — might counterbalance Fox News’s weeping soldier.

After asking “Why have we seen an upsurge in sectarian violence this year?” a new CNN article titled “Egypt’s Tensions Explained” does anything but that. After stating that “the reasons are not clear” — code for “the reasons are not politically correct” — it blames “those opposed to democratic changes” and “efforts by extreme Islamist groups to resist attempts by the Copts to establish more churches” — again, careful to portray the Copts as somehow equally responsible as the Islamists who murder them.

And, as usual, while mentioning the numbers of dead and injured, the MSM devoutly refuses to indicate who the dead are: after all, the overwhelming majority are Christians, and that fact would throw a wrench in their “balanced” portrayal of equal culpability.

via VDH’s Private Papers:: The Egyptian Military’s Crimes Against Humanity.

HT:  CRB

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    Here’s an Associated Press story posted less than an hour ago on the ABC television site.

  • Tom Hering

    Here’s an Associated Press story posted less than an hour ago on the ABC television site.

  • fws

    Some would still give up their very life for their Christian faith.

  • fws

    Some would still give up their very life for their Christian faith.

  • Dennis Peskey

    Before Mohammad, Christianity was found from Byzantium to Ethopia, Caesarea to Iran. The spread of the Gospel was done through the preaching of the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Then came the sword of Islam; long before the crusades, the roots of Christianity were tore out and replaced with the false doctrines of Islam – by force. This area is now predominately (if not entirely) muslim. No home will be found in Ephesus for St. John; no magi ponder the promises of the Lord in the east; no theologians come forth from Hippo or Carthage; pastors in Iran labor under the very real threat of death for speaking God’s Word.

    The Copts trace their Christian heritage to before Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt. They knew the promises of the Lord in the Torah and were there waiting to provide sanctuary from Herod’s evil intent. Now who will give them sanctuary from today’s evil of Islam?
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Before Mohammad, Christianity was found from Byzantium to Ethopia, Caesarea to Iran. The spread of the Gospel was done through the preaching of the Word and the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Then came the sword of Islam; long before the crusades, the roots of Christianity were tore out and replaced with the false doctrines of Islam – by force. This area is now predominately (if not entirely) muslim. No home will be found in Ephesus for St. John; no magi ponder the promises of the Lord in the east; no theologians come forth from Hippo or Carthage; pastors in Iran labor under the very real threat of death for speaking God’s Word.

    The Copts trace their Christian heritage to before Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt. They knew the promises of the Lord in the Torah and were there waiting to provide sanctuary from Herod’s evil intent. Now who will give them sanctuary from today’s evil of Islam?
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Helen K.

    following..

  • Helen K.

    following..

  • steve

    The media may largely be ignoring this but Copts in the US are very well aware and trying to get the word out. They held a fairly large demonstration in front of the Coptic Orthodox Church here in Orange County over the weekend. For their numbers, it seemed like a pretty large gathering. For all of the gushing the media is doing over the “democratic” movements in the Arab world, we need to remember these people and that the words of the head of the Libyan Transitional National Council could become symbolic of the whole Arab Spring: “We as a Muslim nation take Sharia as the basic source of law.”

  • steve

    The media may largely be ignoring this but Copts in the US are very well aware and trying to get the word out. They held a fairly large demonstration in front of the Coptic Orthodox Church here in Orange County over the weekend. For their numbers, it seemed like a pretty large gathering. For all of the gushing the media is doing over the “democratic” movements in the Arab world, we need to remember these people and that the words of the head of the Libyan Transitional National Council could become symbolic of the whole Arab Spring: “We as a Muslim nation take Sharia as the basic source of law.”

  • mendicus

    Tom — Thanks for posting that article. Three cheers for Maggie Michael, telling it like it is.

    I’ve seen some footage of the massacre. It’s almost too sad to bear.

  • mendicus

    Tom — Thanks for posting that article. Three cheers for Maggie Michael, telling it like it is.

    I’ve seen some footage of the massacre. It’s almost too sad to bear.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I get the impression that Raymond Ibrahim is mainly interested in bashing the “MSM” here. Along with painting a simplistic Muslims-bad, Christians-good picture.

    The latter isn’t too hard to do for an American audience that has been conditioned for a long time to think of Muslims as scary and un-American. I’d also bet Americans are likely to read any mention of Christians abroad and assume that they’re fairly like the Evangelical Christians we see at home. But that has not been borne out in stories I’ve read.

    Consider the protests in January that followed the bombing of an Alexandria church. By all accounts, the Copts were engaged in violent clashes with Egyptian police, throwing rocks and such — not exactly a synod convention. To say nothing of the apparent theology behind the Copt’s chanting of “With our soul and our blood we redeem the cross”.

    So I have a hard time believing Ibrahim’s take that the Coptic Christians were necessarily innocent of violence in the event he depicts (“giving the impression that the conflict consisted of equal violence and equal intolerance from both the military and ‘militant’ Christians”, he complains). Of course, all any of us has to go off of is second-hand reports, but those reports do not paint the Copts as a crowd of timid churchgoers.

    An October 10 New York Times article noted that “Christian demonstrators in Cairo, one carrying a cross, set an army vehicle on fire”[1]. Of course, that same article noted that “some Muslims ran into the streets to help defend the Christians against the police”, with some chanting “Muslims and Christians are one hand”. Point being, it doesn’t all seem as black-and-white as Ibrahim would have us hear it.

    [1]nytimes.com/2011/10/10/world/middleeast/deadly-protests-over-church-attack-in-cairo.html

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I get the impression that Raymond Ibrahim is mainly interested in bashing the “MSM” here. Along with painting a simplistic Muslims-bad, Christians-good picture.

    The latter isn’t too hard to do for an American audience that has been conditioned for a long time to think of Muslims as scary and un-American. I’d also bet Americans are likely to read any mention of Christians abroad and assume that they’re fairly like the Evangelical Christians we see at home. But that has not been borne out in stories I’ve read.

    Consider the protests in January that followed the bombing of an Alexandria church. By all accounts, the Copts were engaged in violent clashes with Egyptian police, throwing rocks and such — not exactly a synod convention. To say nothing of the apparent theology behind the Copt’s chanting of “With our soul and our blood we redeem the cross”.

    So I have a hard time believing Ibrahim’s take that the Coptic Christians were necessarily innocent of violence in the event he depicts (“giving the impression that the conflict consisted of equal violence and equal intolerance from both the military and ‘militant’ Christians”, he complains). Of course, all any of us has to go off of is second-hand reports, but those reports do not paint the Copts as a crowd of timid churchgoers.

    An October 10 New York Times article noted that “Christian demonstrators in Cairo, one carrying a cross, set an army vehicle on fire”[1]. Of course, that same article noted that “some Muslims ran into the streets to help defend the Christians against the police”, with some chanting “Muslims and Christians are one hand”. Point being, it doesn’t all seem as black-and-white as Ibrahim would have us hear it.

    [1]nytimes.com/2011/10/10/world/middleeast/deadly-protests-over-church-attack-in-cairo.html

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Let’s look some more at Ibrahim’s claims about the MSM. I was able to debunk most of them just in the first three stories I looked at on NYTimes.com. A quick search of the Washington Post site also shows that Ibrahim is full of it.

    Of course, you would not know any of this following the Western mainstream media (MSM).

    Seriously? I easily found many, many “MSM” articles on the facts that preceded this sentence of his. This just seems like a baseless accusation.

    Meanwhile, the MSM avoids the most obvious aspect of the conflict: religion, as Muslims — yet again — mow down infidel minorities for all to see.

    “The protest took place against a backdrop of escalating tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians …”[1]

    “Although the Copts had embraced the revolution’s promise of a tolerant and pluralistic democracy, many have been uneasy as the removal of Mr. Mubarak’s iron fist has unleashed suppressed rivalries, as in the recent dispute over the construction of a church near the southern city of Aswan that inspired the march in Cairo on Sunday.”[2]

    “The military was ready to protect Egyptian Muslims who carried a Saudi flag or even pulled the Israeli flag off its embassy, she said, ‘but the one who holds his cross high gets humiliated.’”[2]

    “They accused state television of baiting ‘honorable Egyptians’ to come to the defense of soldiers who announcers claimed were under attack by a mob of Coptic Christians. … The political groups also called for overhauling the laws restricting the construction of houses of worship. Egyptian laws impose more onerous requirements on the building of churches than on mosques…”[3]

    …Perfectly in line with the MSM’s obsession never to portray Muslims as aggressors.

    “The military and riot police, on the other hand, appeared at some points to be working in tandem with Muslims who were lashing out at the Coptic Christians.”[1]

    And, as usual, while mentioning the numbers of dead and injured, the MSM devoutly refuses to indicate who the dead are: after all, the overwhelming majority are Christians, and that fact would throw a wrench in their “balanced” portrayal of equal culpability.

    “State news media reported that at least three security officers had died in attacks by Christian protesters, though those accounts could not be confirmed. The protesters did not appear to be armed and they insisted they were peaceful until they were attacked. In retaliation, military vehicles began driving into protesters, killing at least six, including one with a crushed skull, several witnesses said.”[1]

    “An angry crowd of thousands gathered at the largest cathedral here on Monday to mourn the death of two dozen Coptic Christian demonstrators killed the night before…”[2]

    “…as hundreds of people gathered in Cairo to mourn the two dozen Coptic Christians who were killed on Sunday night in clashes with the military…”[3]

    [1]nytimes.com/2011/10/10/world/middleeast/deadly-protests-over-church-attack-in-cairo.html
    [2]nytimes.com/2011/10/11/world/middleeast/coptics-criticize-egypt-government-over-killings.html
    [3]nytimes.com/2011/10/14/world/middleeast/egypt-attempts-to-calm-uproar-over-coptic-deaths.html

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Let’s look some more at Ibrahim’s claims about the MSM. I was able to debunk most of them just in the first three stories I looked at on NYTimes.com. A quick search of the Washington Post site also shows that Ibrahim is full of it.

    Of course, you would not know any of this following the Western mainstream media (MSM).

    Seriously? I easily found many, many “MSM” articles on the facts that preceded this sentence of his. This just seems like a baseless accusation.

    Meanwhile, the MSM avoids the most obvious aspect of the conflict: religion, as Muslims — yet again — mow down infidel minorities for all to see.

    “The protest took place against a backdrop of escalating tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians …”[1]

    “Although the Copts had embraced the revolution’s promise of a tolerant and pluralistic democracy, many have been uneasy as the removal of Mr. Mubarak’s iron fist has unleashed suppressed rivalries, as in the recent dispute over the construction of a church near the southern city of Aswan that inspired the march in Cairo on Sunday.”[2]

    “The military was ready to protect Egyptian Muslims who carried a Saudi flag or even pulled the Israeli flag off its embassy, she said, ‘but the one who holds his cross high gets humiliated.’”[2]

    “They accused state television of baiting ‘honorable Egyptians’ to come to the defense of soldiers who announcers claimed were under attack by a mob of Coptic Christians. … The political groups also called for overhauling the laws restricting the construction of houses of worship. Egyptian laws impose more onerous requirements on the building of churches than on mosques…”[3]

    …Perfectly in line with the MSM’s obsession never to portray Muslims as aggressors.

    “The military and riot police, on the other hand, appeared at some points to be working in tandem with Muslims who were lashing out at the Coptic Christians.”[1]

    And, as usual, while mentioning the numbers of dead and injured, the MSM devoutly refuses to indicate who the dead are: after all, the overwhelming majority are Christians, and that fact would throw a wrench in their “balanced” portrayal of equal culpability.

    “State news media reported that at least three security officers had died in attacks by Christian protesters, though those accounts could not be confirmed. The protesters did not appear to be armed and they insisted they were peaceful until they were attacked. In retaliation, military vehicles began driving into protesters, killing at least six, including one with a crushed skull, several witnesses said.”[1]

    “An angry crowd of thousands gathered at the largest cathedral here on Monday to mourn the death of two dozen Coptic Christian demonstrators killed the night before…”[2]

    “…as hundreds of people gathered in Cairo to mourn the two dozen Coptic Christians who were killed on Sunday night in clashes with the military…”[3]

    [1]nytimes.com/2011/10/10/world/middleeast/deadly-protests-over-church-attack-in-cairo.html
    [2]nytimes.com/2011/10/11/world/middleeast/coptics-criticize-egypt-government-over-killings.html
    [3]nytimes.com/2011/10/14/world/middleeast/egypt-attempts-to-calm-uproar-over-coptic-deaths.html

  • Tom Hering

    mendicus @ 6, I see that the text of the Associated Press story has changed a lot since this morning. Here’s how it originally read:

    CAIRO October 25, 2011 (AP)
    A leading international rights group has warned of a cover-up by the Egyptian military in the investigation of the killing of more than two dozen mostly Coptic Christian demonstrators in the deadliest single incident since the February overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.
    The New-York based Human Rights Watch called Tuesday for the independent investigation of the October 9 deaths of 27 people, mostly Christian, in front of Cairo’s state TV building in the Maspero district along the Nile. Military vehicles were filmed running down protesters.
    The group also urged authorities to transfer investigation of the case from military to civilian prosecutors.
    “The only hope for justice for the victims is an independent, civilian-led investigation that the army fully cooperates with and cannot control and that leads to the prosecution of those responsible,” the HRW said in a statement.
    Egypt’s military council composed of top army generals took power on Feb. 11 when Hosni Mubarak stepped down, ending the country’s 18-day mass uprising. The generals have pledged to eventually yield power to an elected civilian government.
    However, activists charge that the military during its time in power has cracked down on discontent in a manner reminiscent of Mubarak. The generals have urged an end to street protests and seem particularly sensitive to any criticism of the army.
    The generals have portrayed the October 9 protest and the ensuing bloodshed as the work of provocateurs, thereby shielding the soldiers present from any blame.
    The HRW statement reflects fears by activists that an army-controlled investigation may simply back up the official story, and may even seek to make scapegoats of some of the protesters.
    Some 28 people were arrested in the aftermath of the killings. Most of the names are of Christians. There have been no reports so far of arrests of soldiers involved in the incident.
    “The generals seem to be insisting that they and only they investigate the Maspero violence, which is to ensure that no serious investigation occurs,” said HRW spokesman Joe Stork. “The military has already tried to control the media narrative, and it should not be allowed to cover up what happened on October 9.”
    The group also urged an investigation into whether the military manipulated the media and the state television coverage on Oct. 9 which “may have amounted to incitement to violence.”
    As protesters marched towards the TV building, state television called on viewers to rush to the army’s rescue, casting the Christians as a mob seeking to undermine unity between the people and the military.
    Egypt’s military rulers have signalled since the killings that they might move to address some long-standing Christian grievances.
    On Monday, the state media reported, the head of the ruling military council Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi met with Pope Shenouda III and promised to resolve issues related to the construction of churches. Attacks on a newly-repaired church in southern Egypt sparked the Christian protests which turned deadly on Oct. 9.
    A pre-20th century law forbids Christians, who are estimated to number 10 percent of the population, from building or repairing churches without receiving special permission from Egypt’s rulers.
    This law lies at the root of much tension between the military and Christians, with Egyptian presidents from the 1960s on carefully rationing church-building licenses to gain leverage with the Coptic church.
    The Egyptian cabinet said it will issue a new law to regulate construction of churches, a move that would risk antagonizing some conservative Muslims.
    But even as they make this overture to the church, Tantawi and his fellow officers have avoided shouldering any blame for the bloodshed of Oct. 9.

  • Tom Hering

    mendicus @ 6, I see that the text of the Associated Press story has changed a lot since this morning. Here’s how it originally read:

    CAIRO October 25, 2011 (AP)
    A leading international rights group has warned of a cover-up by the Egyptian military in the investigation of the killing of more than two dozen mostly Coptic Christian demonstrators in the deadliest single incident since the February overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.
    The New-York based Human Rights Watch called Tuesday for the independent investigation of the October 9 deaths of 27 people, mostly Christian, in front of Cairo’s state TV building in the Maspero district along the Nile. Military vehicles were filmed running down protesters.
    The group also urged authorities to transfer investigation of the case from military to civilian prosecutors.
    “The only hope for justice for the victims is an independent, civilian-led investigation that the army fully cooperates with and cannot control and that leads to the prosecution of those responsible,” the HRW said in a statement.
    Egypt’s military council composed of top army generals took power on Feb. 11 when Hosni Mubarak stepped down, ending the country’s 18-day mass uprising. The generals have pledged to eventually yield power to an elected civilian government.
    However, activists charge that the military during its time in power has cracked down on discontent in a manner reminiscent of Mubarak. The generals have urged an end to street protests and seem particularly sensitive to any criticism of the army.
    The generals have portrayed the October 9 protest and the ensuing bloodshed as the work of provocateurs, thereby shielding the soldiers present from any blame.
    The HRW statement reflects fears by activists that an army-controlled investigation may simply back up the official story, and may even seek to make scapegoats of some of the protesters.
    Some 28 people were arrested in the aftermath of the killings. Most of the names are of Christians. There have been no reports so far of arrests of soldiers involved in the incident.
    “The generals seem to be insisting that they and only they investigate the Maspero violence, which is to ensure that no serious investigation occurs,” said HRW spokesman Joe Stork. “The military has already tried to control the media narrative, and it should not be allowed to cover up what happened on October 9.”
    The group also urged an investigation into whether the military manipulated the media and the state television coverage on Oct. 9 which “may have amounted to incitement to violence.”
    As protesters marched towards the TV building, state television called on viewers to rush to the army’s rescue, casting the Christians as a mob seeking to undermine unity between the people and the military.
    Egypt’s military rulers have signalled since the killings that they might move to address some long-standing Christian grievances.
    On Monday, the state media reported, the head of the ruling military council Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi met with Pope Shenouda III and promised to resolve issues related to the construction of churches. Attacks on a newly-repaired church in southern Egypt sparked the Christian protests which turned deadly on Oct. 9.
    A pre-20th century law forbids Christians, who are estimated to number 10 percent of the population, from building or repairing churches without receiving special permission from Egypt’s rulers.
    This law lies at the root of much tension between the military and Christians, with Egyptian presidents from the 1960s on carefully rationing church-building licenses to gain leverage with the Coptic church.
    The Egyptian cabinet said it will issue a new law to regulate construction of churches, a move that would risk antagonizing some conservative Muslims.
    But even as they make this overture to the church, Tantawi and his fellow officers have avoided shouldering any blame for the bloodshed of Oct. 9.

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