Tag Archives: Çoptic Christians

Christian-Muslim Violence Erupts In Egypt

Among the unreported topics in the American media is the growth in anti-Christian behavior in the Middle East including supposed allies such as Iraq and Egypt. The past decade has witnessed a dramatic decline in safety for Christians as Muslim fundamentalists use the Iraq war as a weapon in recruiting those who oppose any form of non-Muslim behavior. Sectarian conflicts between Coptic Christians and Egyptian Muslims has been on the rise in recent years. A few days ago, violence erupted in the village of Al-Tayeba when a Christian merchant refused to sell sticks that bus drivers wanted to use in fighting. In the ensuing riot several Christians were wounded and many shops were destroyed. In 2006, there were three days of sectarian violence after a Muslim stabbed a Coptic Christian to death.

The Egyptian government has not confronted issues of multiculturalism and diversity of religion in their nation even though Coptic Christians represent ten percent of the population. There is need for educational programs and for organizing coalitions of Christian and Muslim clerics in order to create a new environment in which respect for religious diversity is paramount.

Egyptian Christians And Muslims Clash

Lost in discussions concerning Israel and Muslim conflict is the less reported ongoing violence against Christians who live in the Middle East. Half of the pre-2003 Iraqi Christian population has fled the country due to violence by Muslims against them and their churches. Sectarian clashes are also present in Egypt where Coptic Christians continue to encounter violence from the dominant Muslim society. On Saturday, fighting between Coptics and Muslims resulted in the death of a Muslim and injury to several Christians including five monks. A priest claims, after the incident, monks were kidnapped and tortured by the police including being whipped. Last Wednesday in Cairo, four Coptic Christians were gunned down and killed and the fact nothing was stolen from their jewellery shop suggests the deaths were a hate crime.

This latest incident near the Abu Fana monastery is simply only one of many such attacks against monasteries and churches in Egypt. Ironically, Coptic Christianity predates the arrival of the Muslim religion in Egypt.

Religious Freedom Victories In Egypt!

Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court issued two decisions which strengthen the right to freedom of religion in their nation. In one ruling, the Court upheld the right of Coptic Chrisitians who had converted to the Muslim religion to change their mind and have their Christian identify listed on identify cards which are extremely important in Egypt for virtually any official document. Mamdouh Nakhla, a human rights activist said: “This opens the door of hope to hundreds of Copts.” In another decision, the Court ruled that members of the Bahai faith had the right to leave blank the indication of one’s religious faith which is required on official documents. At present, the only religions officially recognized in Egtypt are Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The only current way Bashais can got to school is to lie and say they are Christian or Muslim.

At first, these decisions appear to benefit Bahais and Christians, but there is a darker side to the problem. A Christian who switches back to his religion will have evidence of the change on an identify card. This will undoubtedly result in job discrimination.

Christians and Muslims Fight In Egypt

One of the most unreported stories from the Middle East is the Christian presence in that region of the world. About 10% of Egypt’s 70 million inhabitants are Coptic Christians whose presence in Egypt predates the arrival of the Muslim religion. Although, historically, they have lived in peace with Muslim neighbors, there is increasing evidence of a rise in tensions. This week in the town of Isna in southern Egypt, Muslim rioters attacked Coptic Christians claiming that some Coptic men had pulled down the veil of a Muslim woman. Rioters attacked Coptic owned stores and smashed windows in a church. Last week Muslims went on a rampage over stories that some Coptic Christian men had raped a Muslim girl in a pharmacy. The store was sacked and dozens of people were hurt in the demonstrations.

The American media has generally ignored the Christian story in the Middle East. About 70% of the 1,000,000 Christians in Iraq have fled the country out of fear of being attacked by Shiite or Sunni militants. Many leaders of the Palestine movement were Christians but it is rare today to find any among top ranks of the Palestinian Authority. Ironically, an American initiated invasion of Iraq by a man who claims to be a devout Christian is partially responsible for the rise in anger toward Christians and their departure from Iraq.