The so-called democratic revolution in Egypt has Christians in the cross-hairs of the Islamic-leaning military that now controls the country more and more, according to members of the nation’s Coptic Christian community.
Ayman Naoum, an Egyptian Coptic spokesman, describes the dangerous situation as very volatile.
“The situation is unstable now because of the lack of security,” Naoum said.
International Christian Concern’s Aidan Clay agrees, and said the army is stepping up its anti-Christian activity with encouragement from the Egyptian radicals.
“Some Egyptians, both Christian and Muslim, believe that the Egyptian military is not only encouraging, but even initiating attacks against civilians in order to further divide the country down sectarian lines, mainly Muslim versus Christian,” Clay said.
The comments come in the wake of thrown stones and bottles that injured 25 Christians this week during a march by Coptic Christians in Cairo to protest the October attack by soldiers that left another 25 Christians dead.
Agence France-Presse reported that thousands of Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population, in October were protesting an attack on a Christian church when soldiers first fired at them, then ran over them with military vehicles.
Clay said the shootings of Copts by members of the military actually started almost with the departure last winter of Hosni Mubarak from the president’s office. And it’s continued.
“October 9 was not the first time the military has killed unarmed civilians in post-revolution Egypt. On March 8, nine Coptic Christian protestors were killed in the poor Mokattam suburb of Cairo,” Clay said.
“When speaking with all nine of the victims’ families, every relative, including some who were eyewitnesses, told me that it was the military that was responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. Though that incident received little international attention, the world has finally taken notice of the military’s brutality,” Clay said.
Clay said that before the army started shooting at Copts, the military enjoyed international favor.
“Prior to October 9, the military had generally enjoyed international support from day one when it brought relative peace and stability to Egypt’s violent revolution and proclaimed its support for the people and their ambitions for free elections,” Clay said.
That’s changed, he said.
“Now that image has faded both in the minds of Egyptians and the outside world. The military has lost trust and has been incapable of peacefully transitioning the country from dictatorship to democratic rule,” Clay said.
“It has become evident that the military wants to maintain power and will unlikely relinquish all of its control even after a new government is elected and a new constitution is drafted. The slogan chanted during Egypt’s revolution that ‘the people and army are one hand,’ is now viewed by revolutionaries with disgust,” Clay said.
Naoum said that dealings between the army and the political parties are jeopardizing any progress.
“The final constitutional document issued by the Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Aly El Selmy, even if he had good intentions, is backward. The desire of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to impose its control by force is the will of the people in control of the reins of government,” Naoum said.
Naoum says the people who had control over the drafting of the new charter for the government were not in line with the will of the popular revolt.
“The introduction of elements of the former National Party, the Al Hezb El Watany, in drafting the country’s new constitution is not acceptable to all political currents and is against the will of the people who made the revolution to eliminate corruption,” Naoum said.
Clay adds that the image has been tarnished because the goals of the revolution have not been achieved.
“Up until now, few of their aspirations have been realized, and the military council is responsible. In the minds of many Egyptians, the revolution simply traded one dictatorship for another, and there has yet to be change,” Clay said.
Assessing the political realities, Clay believes that the lack of progress towards reform is bad news for Egypt’s Christians.
“Christians are in a tougher position than other Egyptians. While the military has targeted them to stir civil unrest, the only alternative is to support free elections that will likely lead to an Islamist-based majority in parliament which will institute even harsher laws against religious minorities,” Clay said.
Another factor in the equation is the army’s motive for their violent crackdown and how the violence is being perceived by the Egyptian people.
Clay says the October violence raises legitimate questions about the Egyptian’s ability for self-rule.
“Attacks, like what we saw on October 9, cause instability in the country and raise the question, ‘Are Egyptians ready to elect a government independent of military rule?’ In the attack’s aftermath, the military tried to present itself as Egypt’s protector against an unruly mob,” Clay said.
Clay adds that state-run television tried to put the military’s spin on the violence.
“State-run television called on ‘honest Egyptians’ to defend the military against ‘armed Copts.’ So, not only did the military try to appear to be Egypt’s protecter, but even depicted itself as a victim of radical mob violence,” Clay said.
“There is no denying what happened. Video footage captured on October 9 clearly shows military vehicles running over unarmed civilians. Moreover, the October 9 protest was not only a gathering of Christians, but many Muslims also participated,” Clay said.
“When television broadcasts urged Egyptians to defend the military against armed Christians, both Muslims and Christians alike thought, ‘Wait a second, that can’t be true. I have friends participating in the protest.’ It became clear that the military was not the victim, but in fact the aggressor,” Clay said.
“The only people who went out to defend the military were Islamists, like Salafis, who do not necessarily support the military, but rather seized the opportunity to attack Christians who they don’t recognize as equal citizens. Many Muslims, however, opposed the violence committed by the military,” Clay also said.
Clay believes that many Egyptians now see the military’s moves as an effort to remain in power.
“However, it’s safe to say that most Egyptians now see the military’s actions to be merely a ploy to stay in power. The table has turned following the October 9 attacks,” Clay said.
The question of when Egypt will have free elections is still unanswered. According to Clay’s analysis, elections won’t help the Christians.
“For Christians, it appears to be a no-win situation. Fear and uncertainty is growing and reportedly thousands of Christians have fled Egypt in hopes of emigrating to a country where they can enjoy religious freedom and can protect their families from the violence that has targeted them,” Clay said.
Naoum adds that the Muslim Brotherhood is moving to co-opt any democratic reforms and will lead to more pressure on Egypt’s Christian minority.
“It has been shown that the alliance between the Supreme Council and the Muslim Brotherhood in the first weeks after Mubarak stepped down from power is still at work. They are reluctant to hand over power to the civil authority,” Naoum said.
“I guess that’s what happened in Maspero was planned to corrupt the previous plans to hit the security and stability of Egypt from the inside and to sow fear and foment sedition among all the sects of the nation,” Naoum said.
“Their plans to promote even more hate have succeeded,” Naoum said.
“Maybe there are elements in the hands of the Supreme Council at that, but what was in front of my eyes was that during those events, those elements planned for the persecution to happen and to keep the country in a precarious and unsafe condition,” Naoum said.
However, Naoum believes that there is a higher power at work that will thwart the Muslim Brotherhood’s plans for a power grab.
“This is what we know about what’s happening, but what is in the darkness God is able to refute and dispel their plans,” Naoum said.
WND previously reported that the Muslim Brotherhood, which initially sought to allay fears Egypt would adopt radical Islam after the fall of Mubarak, has reversed course and now is “working to maximize its achievements in the upcoming elections.”
That was from a report in the Middle East Media Research Institute.
WND columnist Diana West recently wrote that in Egypt, the destruction of Coptic Christians now has become “Islamically correct.”
She cited the deaths of the 25 Christians.
“The unarmed Copts were protesting the destruction of yet another church in Egypt, St. George’s, which on Sept. 30 was set upon by thousands of Muslim men following Friday prayers. Why? The trigger was repair work on the building – work that the local council and governor had approved,” she said. “Does that explanation make any sense? Not to anyone ignorant of Islamic law. Unfortunately, that criterion includes virtually all media reporting the story.”
WND reported only weeks ago that a rising leader in the radical Islamic movement in Egypt said Christian churches may need to be blown up and Christians exterminated to allow the advance of Islamic law.
The comments came from Sheik ‘Adel Shehato, a senior leader with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad terrorist group. The sheik was jailed in 1991 because of his positions but was released earlier this year in the revolution that removed Mubarak from power.
His interview was with the Egyptian daily Roz Al-Yousef.
The sheik, a senior jihadist leader, responded to a question about using violence against Christians, who make up a substantial minority in Egypt.
“Are you against blowing up churches?” a newspaper interviewer asked Shehato.
“Yes and no,” he replied. “The Christian is free to worship his God in his church, but if the Christians make problems for the Muslims, I will exterminate them. I am guided by the Shariah, and it stipulates that they must pay the jizya tax while in a state of humiliation.”
“These positions of yours frighten us, as Egyptians,” the interviewer said.
“I will not act [in ways] that contradict my faith just in order to please the people. … We say to the Christians, convert to Islam or pay the jizya, otherwise we will fight you. The Shariah is not based on logic but on divine law. That is why we oppose universal, manmade constitutions.”