An obscure news item from Egypt caught my eye a few weeks back – yet another flowering bud from the fragrant “Arab Spring.”
It seems that one more historic landmark recently met its doom at the hands of violent Islamic mobs, or in progressive-speak: “youths.” Egypt spans over 5,000 years of culture and several religions, but why did the mobs choose the Villa Casdagli in particular, I wondered?
There must be a surplus of historical items to trash, yet the Villa Casdagli’s existence somehow proved intolerable to indignant mobs. With so many fire bombs and so little time, what’s a group of “youths” to do?
Not many minutes into research I found what I suspected: The gorgeous Victorian edifice was guilty of harboring and enabling what to the hordes constituted high crimes and treasonous activities. During World War II it served as the U.S. Embassy with an earlier British presence and thereby was tainted with Westernism, colonialism, imperialism (insert appropriate slogan here).
Villa Casdagli was a listed historic monument with a distinguished past. Although a little shabby, it’s mosaics, great painted halls, twisting stairs, marble ornaments and elaborate wrought iron were fine example of European architecture and art – Christian and European.
Visual evidence of Christian faith of its inhabitants was elegantly portrayed on ceilings and walls (until Feb. 1, 2013), leading to the second crime: tolerating Christian beliefs in a clearly marked Islamic, “no-tolerance” zone.
Villa Casdagli’s extraordinary Byzantine-style hall and celestial ceiling depicted Saint George in frescoes so breath-takingingly beautiful even secularists and intelligent Muslims wished to save it. Sadly the current Egyptian president and Obama-favorite, Mohamed Morsi, is not of that flock.
But there’s even more evidence that the spawn of Arab Spring knew exactly what they were doing. The most recent business held in the storied palace was a girl’s school operating from 1952 to 2010, and we know how highly Islam values female children.
Further provocation arrived with a plan to create an “Institute of Museology” there, which would train curators to use modern technology and offer advanced degrees. A public library was also in the wings. This terrible scheme came in the benighted Bush era of 2008 with offerings of funding and training through the U.S., according to Dr. Joris Kila, Chairman of the International Cultural Resources Working Group.
Fearing the worst, the Islamists felt that encouraging archeology, history, literacy and art might inadvertently lead to the conclusion that Christianity existed centuries before Mohammed was even born – 537 years to be exact. The best defense in this case was blowing up buildings and killing people, a diversionary tactic that seems to be working for them, judging by media torpidity.
Incidentally, the villa smoldered four days while looters managed to scour the building of anything catching their fancy. Swarms of Morsi thugs/security forces either “demonstrating” or beating demonstrators in adjacent Tahir Square refused to cooperate with firefighters who couldn’t get near the place. Firemen were refused protection because police didn’t want to “break the calm that prevailed in the area” according to Dr. Kila’s report.
This occurred in spite of Villa Casdagli being officially labeled as an “Islamic monument” in 2006 by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities in an attempt to appease religious renovators.
Thirty years ago this could only believable as part of a Monty Python script. Now it’s written up as straight “news” by the Guardian or New York Times, no questions asked – if they mentioned it at all, which they didn’t.
Most recent episodes of church torching, Christian “cleansing” and other forms of cultural deconstruction by Egyptian terrorists never happened, according to major news outlets. News on the Villa Casdagli redecorating committee comes from an art-crime site, sundry bloggers, Christian websites and a few tweeters. One exception, London’s Sunday Times, did a very short piece five days later attributing the damage to “anti-government protestors” for some reason.
The White House, meanwhile, has done nothing to mitigate the violence they helped entrench. In response to a massive 2011 show in D.C. by Coptic Christians demanding protection from militant Muslims, Obama pulled out his harmonica and old lyrics: “Minority rights … including Copts, must be respected,” he claimed, but refused to hold the new Islamic government responsible; translated by the Muslim Brotherhood as, “please die quietly Christians, and don’t make such a fuss.”
Across Egypt attacks on Coptic churches increased since Morsi’s election with no significant objections from the U.S. government. Islamic terrorists find their sensibilities more and more disturbed by the offensive sights of a crucifix, tiles, buildings, stained glass – any works of art and beauty that acknowledge another religion. Such is the delicacy of these religious bigots that they don’t have to actually view the accursed items – even the knowledge of their existence is almost unbearable.
For the Church of the Two Martyrs St. George and St. Mina in Helwan, burning, demolition and assault wasn’t enough. Muslim assailants used religious relics as soccer balls to work off all that extra hate and adrenaline.
One of the very first acts of the Muslim Brotherhood after the “revolution” was to inform churches they are forbidden to ever be rebuilt, “as well as no crosses over churches or bells to be rung.”
Many of Egypt’s historic palaces and monuments are currently meeting the same fate as its Christian churches – and for the same reasons, although convoluted and not always direct.
While Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of State for Antiquities, claims there are not enough police to protect Egypt’s heritage, archeologists can breathe a sigh of relief because there is a ray of hope in the form of yet new fatwas and edicts. The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh d’Al-Azhar, announced he is “going to publish a book on short notice that collects all fatwas on the protection of heritage.”
The International Declaration of Cairo was recently published dedicated to end “destruction of cultural patrimony” protecting Islamic as well as Pre-Islamic heritage.
Can we only hope Christians could at least be considered part of Egypt’s “heritage” while they maneuver to save the old churches and art? This will give them considerably more standing in the eyes of the Islamic government than they currently hold as mere mortal beings. It’s several years and many dead Christians late, but it could be a start.