Coptic Christians in Egypt

Our Coptic Brothers and sisters in Egypt need our urgent prayers need our prayers:

It was against the unmistakable backdrop of St Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday that the Holy Father spoke of his deep sadness at the violence which engulfed the Egyptian capital Cairo last Sunday.

26 people mostly Coptic Christians where killed when a peaceful protest by Christians demonstrating over an earlier attack on a church in southern Egypt turned violent.

The Pope said he was united in sorrow with the families of the victims and with the Egyptian people, who he said, were being torn apart by attempts to undermine the peaceful co-existence between communities in the country.

This distressing Reuters photo accompanies a piece by Jeff Jacoby that I really hope you’ll read:

In one room of the hospital morgue Carr counted the bodies of 12 people, some of whom had been killed when soldiers in armored personnel vehicles charged the crowd, firing at random and crushing the protesters they ran over. One of the victims was “a man whose face was contorted into an impossible expression. A priest . . . showed me the remains of the man’s skull and parts of his brain. He too had been crushed.’’

What happened in Egypt on Sunday was a massacre. Government security forces assaulted Coptic Christians as they marched peacefully to the headquarters of the state TV network. They were protesting the recent burning of St. George’s, a Coptic church in the Upper Egypt village of El-Marinab. Yet broadcasters loyal to the ruling military junta exhorted “honorable Egyptians’’ to help the army put down the protests. “Soon afterward, bands of young men armed with sticks, rocks, swords, and firebombs began to roam central Cairo, attacking Christians,’’ the Associated Press reported . “Troops and riot police did not intervene.’’ Graphic video of the violence was quickly uploaded to the Internet. So were even more graphic images of the murdered protesters.

It wasn’t so long ago we were reading about Muslims protecting Christians with their bodies. Apparently the brutal reality of the “Arab Spring” is that hope is fleeing (along with tens of thousands of Christians) and broad-minded leadership is vanishing, too.

Jacoby again:

… for Egypt’s Coptic Christians, their plight has gone from bad to worse. Post-Mubarak Egypt has seen “an explosion of violence against the Coptic Christian community,’’ the international news channel France 24 was reporting as far back as May. “Anger has flared up into deadly riots, and houses, shops, and churches have been set ablaze.’’

With Islamist hardliners growing increasingly influential, hate crimes against Christians routinely go unpunished. Copts, who represent a tenth of Egypt’s population, are subjected to appalling humiliations. The mob that destroyed St. George’s had first demanded that the church be stripped of its crosses and bells; after the Christians yielded to that demand, local Muslims insisted that the church dome be removed as well. For several weeks, Copts in El-Marinab were literally besieged, forbidden to leave their homes or buy food unless they agreed to mutilate their nearly century-old house of worship. On Sept. 30, Muslim thugs set fire to the church and demolished its dome, pillars, and walls. For good measure, they also burned a Coptic-owned shop and four homes.

In fact, Egypt is falling into a dictatorship:

. . .the new military rulers have not yet fully consolidated their power. So a more liberal outcome is still possible. But its likelihood is gradually diminishing. Moreover, many of the military government’s opponents are far from being liberal democrats themselves. Some of them are radical Islamists who, if they prevail, would establish a significantly more oppressive government than the generals — especially with respect to women and religious minorities.


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About Elizabeth Scalia