Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why the military coup is a disaster for the Egyptian Christian community

The Lebanese newspaper Daily Star published the following article:
Wave of attacks on Egypt Copts, state failing to act: NGO
CAIRO: Egypt's Christians have been targeted in a wave of attacks since the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Mursi, and the state is failing to protect them, an NGO said Monday.

Sectarian violence since the latest political upheaval in Egypt began has killed four Coptic Christians in Luxor governorate, with churches elsewhere torched and looted, said the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

A Coptic man was also found decapitated on Thursday, five days after being kidnapped in the restive Sinai, where gunmen killed a Coptic priest the week earlier.

"What is disturbing is the failure of the security apparatus to act -- which at times looks like collusion -- to protect citizens and their property who are being targeted on the basis of their religion," the EIPR's Ishak Ibrahim said in a statement.

"Copts are paying the price of the inflammatory rhetoric against them coming from some Islamist leaders and supporters of the former president, who accuse Coptic spiritual leaders of conspiring to foment army intervention to remove Dr Mursi," he added.

In the worst violence cited by the rights group, in the two day's after Mursi's ouster, revenge attacks over the killing of a Muslim man in Al-Dabaiya, a town west of Luxor, left four Copts dead and several homes torched and looted, the NGO said.

It accused the police of taking no action to protect them or escort them from their homes, which were surrounded, despite the fact they repeatedly calls the security services for help.

The EIPR said it was troubled by the "disregard" of state institutions for these incidents and called on the interim authorities to take swift action to protect Egyptians and "end inflammatory campaigns targeting citizens on the basis of religion".

Sectarian tensions in Egypt have risen since an Islamist came to power for the first time in 2012, following the country's first free elections.

Egypt's Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II accused Mursi of "negligence" over his response to clashes outside Cairo's Coptic cathedral in which two people died and many were wounded.

The funeral service was for four Christians killed in a gun battle with Muslims in a town north of Cairo in which one Muslim also died.
This article makes an assumption which is illogical, to say the least: it implies that it would be in the military's interest to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood and/or the Salafis from killing Christians.  That is fundamentally wrong for the following reasons:

First, every case of a Muslim murdering a Christian can now be used by the state propaganda as a "proof" that the coup was needed to remove these "bloodthirsty Islamists" from power.  This is also why the Algerian military had a vested interest in having the FIS and the GIA commit as many atrocities as possible.

Second, by directing the wrath of the Islamists against the Christians (which is not too hard considering that Christian clergymen were also present at the military's official declaration that they were overthrowing the democratically elected government) the military is distracting the Islamists from their real enemy: the military, of course.

Third, while Mursi was in power it was possible to blame him for any anti-Christian attacks and demand that he deal with the guilty Islamists.  Now that Mursi has been overthrown, he can hardly be blamed for what is followers or allies might do.  In other words, at least when he was in power he had a "responsibility of command" for what was happening in Egypt, but now that he has been overthrown, he cannot be held accountable (unless he personally and directly participates in anti-Christian attacks).

Now, please get me right, as a Christian myself I am under no illusion about the vicious and bloodthirsty nature of some of the Islamists in Egypt.  My point is that as long as Mursi was in power he had a double legitimacy:

a) he was democratically elected
b) he was also the chosen candidate of the Islamists

Therefore as long as Mursi was in power he could be held accountable and he had better legitimacy to try to stop such atrocities than anybody else. Even more importantly, while Mursi was in power he had a clear interest in preventing anti-Christian violence: to prove that the MB could rule Egypt effectively and secure the peace.

In contrast, the military, of course, fails on both accounts since it no legitimacy and, arguably, no "provable" responsibility.  As for the Islamists, they can blame it all on "uncontrollable" "extremist" groups, which might even be true in some cases.

I am frankly disgusted by those who applauded the military coup and who now shed crocodile tears over the plight of the Christians in Egypt.  Did they really believe that a coup would make Christians safer?!  Is is possible that those who supported the coup could really be unaware of a basic fact of human history: lawlessness always puts minorities at risk!

The reality is, of course, that nobody cares about Egyptian Christians, least of all the US and Israel.  If they did, they would not have overthrown Saddam Hussein and they would not have attempted to overthrow Bashar al-Assad.  

What is happening to the Egyptian Christians was clearly foreseeable and is therefore directly to be blamed on those who supported the military coup.  Only a fundamentally dishonest or ignorant person could deny that.

The Saker