An evil wind in the Arab Spring – Usual Christian Massacre

 By Wesley Pruden

The Washington Times

Friday, October 14, 2011

We’ve “enjoyed” the Arab Spring, celebrated by one and nearly all. But if you’re a Christian under the wheels of an Egyptian army truck, it looks a lot like winter.

Compassion fatigue runs endemic in the West. The rest of the world succumbs to the temptation to tune out the news from the Islamic world, because news of “the religion of peace” (as George W. Bush famously called it in the wake of Sept. 11) is nearly always bad.

The horrific details of what happened in Cairo on a Sunday night in early autumn has only slowly dribbled out in the days since, and mostly through the work of freelancers, an occasional columnist, and bloggers working on the scene at considerable risk to life and limb. The big news organizations have been occupied elsewhere – covering the continuing Michael Jackson inquest, the latest celebrity sighting in Hollywood, who’s up and who’s down among the Republican presidential impersonators.

The Egyptian government, the one we’ve been told is the one we’ve been waiting for, succeeded for a time in suppressing the news, portraying the Christian protests against Muslim church-burnings as a brutal attack on brave and innocent soldiers. The government said only that three soldiers were killed in trying to keep order, and nothing about dozens of dead Christians.

Almost no one in the West seems bothered. “It is unclear what either Western governments or Western churches think they are achieving by turning a blind eye to the persecution of Christians in the Muslim world,” observes Caroline B. Glick, a deputy editor of the Jerusalem Post, writing in the Jewish World Review.

She cites Coptic sources in Cairo for the details of how Christian protesters were beset by Islamic thugs backed by the Egyptian army, how up to 40 Christians “were run over by military vehicles, beaten, shot and dragged through the streets of Cairo.”

The massacre was observed firsthand on the streets by Sarah Carr, a resourceful freelance correspondent: “And then it happened: An [armored personnel carrier] mounted the island in the middle of the road, like a maddened animal on a rampage. I saw a group of people disappear, sucked underneath it. It drove over them. I wasn’t able to see what happened to them because it then started coming in my direction. … The Coptic Hospital tried its best to deal with the sudden influx of casualties. Its floors were sticky with blood and there was barely room to move among the wounded, the worried and the inconsolable.”

Massacres of Christians go athwart the story line of the great Islamic peoples’ revolution, the so-called “Arab Spring,” which it turns out is nothing like the “Prague Spring” on which it was modeled in the imaginations of weepy sentimentalists in the West. Robert Gates, who was then the chief at the Pentagon, assured everyone that the Egyptian army had “conducted itself in exemplary fashion” and “made a contribution to the evolution of democracy.” The uprising in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the British Broadcasting Corp. assured everyone, was proof that “Egypt’s religious tensions have been set aside,” with Muslims and Christians (and maybe even the odd and foolish Jew) joining forces in anti-government solidarity. But months later, the Egyptian military has lost whatever good will it had, except in the West where fantasy reigns unchallenged.

Sad to say, the West is complicit in the Islamic persecution of Christians throughout the Muslim world. When Bechara Rai, the patriarch of Maronite Catholic Christians in Lebanon, went to Paris to warn President Nicolas Sarkozy that the overthrow of the Assad regime by opposition forces dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood could lead to a harsh Islamist regime, eager to massacre Christians, he was all but invited to leave town. The French Foreign Ministry said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the patriarch.

From Paris, the patriarch was meant to travel to Washington to see President Obama, but his visit was abruptly canceled when the White House learned of the patriarch’s politically incorrect warning. Mr. Obama, who never sees a Muslim potentate without bowing low enough to bang his head on the floor, was eager to avoid the patriarch lest meeting him offend harsh Muslim regimes.

Saddest of all is that self-satisfied pastors, priests, prelates, bishops and assorted other divines in the West have been uninterested in speaking up for their fellow Christians marooned in the Islamic world. Fear, indifference and cowardice reign.

• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.


Where are the “Establishment” Protestant churches?

Where are the “Establshment” American Protestant Churches when their brethren are being slaughtered all over the Arab world?

Many times they prefer, by any stretch of their imaginations, to somehow blame the Israelis for whatever, wherever, Christian tragedy occurs. Don’t confuse anyone with the facts.

Egypt’s Other Extremists

While the Muslim Brotherhood gets all the ink, the Salafists go on a rampage.

Redacted from an article by Paul Marshall
The Weekly Standard, MAY 16, 2011

Judging the likely trajectory of post-Mubarak Egypt requires assessing the depth of public support for Islamism, and usually, this has meant assessing the strength and intentions of the Muslim Brotherhood. While the Brotherhood remains central, however, the country is also facing a frequently violent upsurge of Salafist versions of Islam.

The groups can overlap, but the Brotherhood tends to stress an Islamic state and political organization, and its members have no prescribed mode of dress, apart from modesty. In this sense they are a modern movement. The Salafists are often distinguishable by full beards for men and full face covering for women, and they stress emulating the piety and practice of the first three generations of Muslims (Salaf means “predecessor” or “forefather”). 

Strongly influenced by Wahhabi teachings, the Salafists have tended to follow local sheikhs rather than have a countrywide organization, and under Mubarak they were usually quiescent or else inclined to a violent extremism that led to rapid and severe repression by the regime’s efficient security apparatus. But many Salafists are now trying to take advantage of the widespread chaos in Egypt in order to impose their repressive version of Islam on their neighbors and ultimately on the country.

One Salafist target is Egypt’s Christians, the Copts, the largest non-Muslim minority in the Middle East On March 20, in Qena, Salafists, including an off-duty policeman, accused a Copt named Ayman Mitri of renting an apartment to a prostitute, cut off one of his ears, mutilated his other ear, and slashed his neck. The attackers then informed the police that they had carried out the punishment required by Islamic law. As was usual under Mubarak, the police refrained from pressing charges and called for a “reconciliation” meeting between the religious communities.

Also as under Mubarak, the authorities’ refusal to punish attacks on Christians has led to more attacks. On March 23, Salafists surrounded St. George’s church in Beni Ahmad and successfully demanded that a church expansion approved by the government be stopped. On March 27, they blockaded St. Mary’s church in Giza, saying it did not have a permit. After yet another “reconciliation” meeting between Copts and Muslims, services at the church were forbidden until it acquired a new permit. 

On March 28, Salafists attacked a liquor store in Kasr El-Bassil owned by a Copt, destroyed other stores, and demanded that coffee shops be closed. One villager was killed and eight others injured. On April 5, hundreds occupied St. John the Beloved church in Kamadeer, stopping repairs after heavy rain, and told Copts that they were not allowed to pray there any more. After yet another “reconciliation,” Copts were told to build a church 200 meters away, one without a dome, cross, bell, or any other external feature marking it as a church.

Beginning on April 15, over 10,000 demonstrators, mostly Salafists, protested in the southern province of Qena against the appointment of a new governor, Emad Mikhail, who is a Christian (the previous governor, Magdy Ayoub, was also Christian). Protesters blocked main roads, stopped buses to separate men and women passengers, and disrupted the main rail route in Upper Egypt for eight days. There were threats to bar Mikhail from the province and even to kill him. 

Perhaps thinking that these more extreme Islamist currents make it appear relatively moderate, the Brotherhood condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden. Already before that, it had become more outspoken about its own desire for an Islamic state. 

These newer statements about Islam and law by senior leaders of the Brotherhood have alarmed democracy activists and many others. In response, the Coptic Orthodox Church suspended its dialogue with the Brotherhood and dropped its plans to invite the group’s leaders to attend Easter celebrations.

Severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government of Egypt have increased dramatically since the release of last year’s report, with violence, including murder, escalating against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities. Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Paul Marshall is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and co-author, with Nina Shea, of the forthcoming Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide.