The overthrow of the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, by the military after popular protests demanding his ouster, is being described as a setback for Islamic radicalism. Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a party that has done much to popularize political Islam throughout the world. So should we be glad about the coup as a defeat of our Islamist enemies or oppose it as a setback for Democracy? [Read more…]
Maria-TV is a new Egyptian television station, all of whose employees are women. Though it’s getting attention in the West because all of its broadcasters wear the niqab, the total covering except for a slit for the eyes, the purpose of the station is to battle Christianity. (The crusade for all Egyptian women to wear niqab, which the pre-revolutionary secular regime discouraged, itself targets women who are Coptic Christians, whose, of course, reject the veil, making them easily identified.) This story includes a new word that, unfortunately, may get more and more currency: “Anti-Christianism.”
Maria TV’s owner, Ahmed Abdallah, is a prominent Salafist preacher, well known in Egypt for his anti-Christian rhetoric. Abdallah and his son Islam, the channel’s chief executive, were arrested last month for burning a Bible during a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11.
And while the women who work for Maria TV said they want to promote their belief that all Egyptian women should be covered, the channel also serves as a vehicle for what the chief executive said was an effort to dim the influence of Christianity in the Muslim-majority region. . . .
The all-female Maria TV launched July 19, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, broadcasting for four hours each day using al-Ummah’s satellite frequency. The channel takes its name from Maria al-Qibtiyya, an enslaved Coptic Christian from Egypt who became one of the wives of the prophet Muhammad. The name represents “transferring from slavery to freedom, from Christianity to Islam,” the chief executive said. . . .
The women at the channel say they find it ironic that the niqab is often seen as a symbol of oppression. “My freedom is Islam, my freedom to talk from my niqab, work in my niqab, go to university in my niqab,” the manager said. “So I am trying to bring across the idea that every human has a right to live and choose the lifestyle they find appropriate.”
During the interview, Islam Ahmed Abdallah stood up to answer a cellphone that had been ringing inside a plastic bag. After switching it off, he explained that it belonged to a former Coptic Christian his team had recently converted to Islam. New converts are not allowed to use technological devices during their first three months as Muslims, to prevent relatives or other loved ones from trying to make them reconsider, he said.
Makram-Ebeid, the Coptic woman who served in parliament, said some of her fellow Christians are terrified by what they see as a “wave of anti-Christianism.”
Mobs in Egypt are reportedly crucifying opponents of the new president. From Michael Carl:
The Arab Spring takeover of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood has run amok, with reports from several different media agencies that the radical Muslims have begun crucifying opponents of newly installed President Mohammed Morsi.
Middle East media confirm that during a recent rampage, Muslim Brotherhood operatives “crucified those opposing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.” . . .
Center for Security Policy Senior Fellow Clare Lopez cited chapter and verse from the Quran to explain that crucifixions are not simply normal for Islam, they’re demanded.
“Crucifixion is a hadd punishment, stipulated in the Quran, Sura 5:33, and therefore an obligatory part of Shariah,” Lopez said. “It’s been a traditional punishment within Islam since the beginning, even though it’s not exclusively Islamic. The Romans used it too.
“So, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood haven’t the option to not include crucifixion within their legal code. It’s obligatory to comply with Shariah.
Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2011 is, once again, not a person but the personification of a category: The Protester. By which is meant the protesters in Egypt, the Middle East, Europe, Russia, and America. That is to say, Occupy Wall Street. Strangely, the Tea Party protesters do not count.
A fitting choice, or not?
Who would YOU nominate for person of the year?
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.
The uprising against authoritarian rule in the Arab world leaves Christians in a precarious position. Ask the Copts in Egypt:
The Arab Spring initially appeared to open a welcoming door to the dwindling number of Christian Arabs who, after years of feeling marginalized, eagerly joined the call for democracy and rule of law. But now many Christians here say they fear that the fall of the police state has allowed long-simmering tensions to explode, potentially threatening the character of Egypt, and the region.
“Will Christians have equal rights and full citizenship or not?” asked Sarkis Naoum, a Christian commentator in Beirut, Lebanon. A surge of sectarian violence in Cairo — 24 dead, more than 200 wounded and three churches in flames since President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall — has turned Christian-Muslim tensions into one of the gravest threats to the revolution’s stability. But it is also a pivotal test of Egypt’s tolerance, pluralism and the rule of law. The revolution has empowered the majority but also opened new questions about the protection of minority rights like freedom of religion or expression as Islamist groups step forward to lay out their agendas and test their political might.
Around the region, Christians are also closely watching events in Syria, where as in Egypt Christians and other minorities received the protection of a secular dictator, Bashar al-Assad, now facing his own popular uprising.
“The Copts are the crucial test case,” said Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch here, adding that facing off against “societal pressures” may in some ways be ever harder than criticizing a dictator. “It is the next big battle.”
But so far, there is little encouragement in the debate over how to address the sectarian strife. Instead of searching for common ground, all sides are pointing fingers of blame while almost no one is addressing the underlying reasons for the strife, including a legal framework that treats Muslims and Christians differently.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the 80 million Egyptians, say the revolution has plunged them into uncharted territory. Suppressed or marginalized for six decades here, Islamists entering politics have rushed to defend an article of the Egyptian Constitution that declares Egypt a Muslim country that derives its laws from Islam. Christians and liberals say privately they abhor the provision, which was first added as a populist gesture by President Anwar el-Sadat. But the article is so popular among Muslims — and the meaning so vague — that even many liberals and Christians entering politics are reluctant to speak out against it, asking at most for slight modifications.
HT: Kirk Anderson