Egypt's Christians: Caught in the Middle
"They asked who was paying me and threatened to leave me for the rest of the Brotherhood's men to kill me if I didn't confess that I received money from Hamdin and Baradei [opposition candidates]." — Mina Philip, Egyptian Copt
While the conflict in Egypt has largely been portrayed as a conflict between secular Egyptians -- or "moderate Muslims" who oppose full-blown Sharia -- and Islamists, led by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis, who want a Taliban-style Sharia to govern the nation, largely missed have been the people in the middle, the Christian Copts, who find themselves in an especially awkward position.
Moderate Muslims are still capable of offering the requisite lip service to Islam -- saying "prayers and peace upon Muhammad" and all the other Muslim blessings -- even as they reject the full application of Sharia. This makes it more difficult for their radical brethren to portray them as infidel enemies. Moderate Muslims can resist Sharia, but in subtle ways, arguing over Islamic exegesis, calling for ijtihad [modern interpretations, questioning], and so forth.
But when Egypt's Christian Copts resist Sharia -- as dhimmis [religious minorities who are second-class, "tolerated," members of society] -- pro-Sharia Muslims retaliate with a vengeance, portraying them as infidels who reject the law of Allah.
This has been truer than ever in recent days, as President Morsi and his Islamist and jihadi allies push for a Sharia-based constitution, and Egypt's secularists resist this. The Copts, trapped in the middle, are aware their suffering is only about to begin.
A video from Egypt that recently surfaced shows Salafi Muslims holding a man, his hands tied behind his back, in an alley. They grab him by the collar, interrogate and threaten him, humiliate him by poking and slapping him in the face and calling him "boy"-- as they try to determine if he is a Christian. "No, I'm a Muslim!" he insists. One of his captors can be heard saying, "Can you imagine if he turns out to be a Christian?" -- implying that would be the end of him.
The video ends with him sobbing and saying, "Have mercy," followed by, "There is no god but Allah," the first half of the Islamic shehada, or profession of faith, which, unlike the second half -- "and Muhammad is his prophet" -- Christians in Egypt are only too happy to declare.
The poking, throttling and slapping is a reminder of the Islamic textbook way of treating dhimmis. Such degradation appears regularly in the commentaries of Islam's doctrines, so that in the Medieval Islamic Civilization Encyclopedia one can read that Muslim "jurists came to view certain repressive and humiliating aspects of dhimma as de rigueur. Dhimmis were required to pay the jizya [obligatory tithe, or extra tax] publicly, in broad daylight, with hands turned palm upward, and to receive a smart smack on the forehead or the nape of the neck from the collection officer." Islam's jurists mandated a number of humiliating rituals at the time of jizya payment, including slapping, choking, and pulling the beard of the paying dhimmi.
Such hostility for Christian minorities is not surprising considering that Safwat Hegazy, a longtime Muslim Brotherhood figure and popular preacher, just went on record formally threatening every Coptic Christian who votes against the Sharia-laden constitution. In a video speaking before a throng of Muslims, he said:
A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church -- by Allah, and again, by Allah -- if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter [screams of "Allah Akbar!" ["Allah is greater!"] followed by chants of "With our soul, with our blood, we give to you, O Islam"]... We say and I say to the Church: yes, you share this country with us; but there are red lines -- and our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Muhammad Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him" [followed by more wild shouts of "Allah Akbar!"]
Then of course there was the case of Mina Philip, one of the protesters who was stripped of his clothes and beat into a bloody pulp by the Egyptian president's Islamic supporters. OnTube, the Egyptian Internet channel complementing ONTV, recently showed the gruesome images of Philip's torture, including, in the host's words, how "Mina Philip was dragged through the streets by a Muslim Brotherhood mob who took off his clothes and beat him, accusing him of being a thug, while in fact he is an engineer who works for an international telecommunications company."
In the video, Mina continuously pleads with his tormentors, "please, I didn't harm anyone." The mob can be heard cursing and threatening him, and demanding his name -- probably to determine whether he is Muslim or Christian -- which he insists he "forgot." ("Mina Philip" is a distinctly Coptic name.)
Philip provided more information in another interview. He was coming back from work when he stopped to see what was going on with the protests:
As I watched, a group of Muslim Brotherhood men dragged me with others... they surrounded me and started beating me while others took my clothes off so I was topless; they took my wallet and keys and dragged me. They beat me with rocks and rods; I kept on saying that I didn't touch anyone and they would reply with curses, calling me a "secular dog."
He then told the same story recorded by many others -- including Muslims who were also attacked by the Muslim Brotherhood: "They later questioned me, asking who was paying me and threatened to leave me for the rest of the Brotherhood's men to kill me if I didn't confess that I received money from Hamdin and Baradei [opposition candidates]."
Egyptian's moderates and radicals battle it out; Christian minorities are trapped.
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
Reader comments on this item
|Bless the Copts. [12 words]||Get||Dec 25, 2012 08:03|
|Like those Serbs [68 words]||Kaz||Dec 21, 2012 01:23|
|Bless the Copts. May they be welcomed in the West. [22 words]||Benjamin Wodezynski||Dec 21, 2012 00:24|
Comment on this item
by Denis MacEoin
"No religion condones the killing of innocents." — U.S. President Barack Obama, September 10, 2014.
"Islam is a religion of peace." — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, September 13, 2014.
"There is a place for violence in Islam. There is a place for jihad in Islam." — U.K. Imam Anjem Choudary, CBN News, April 5, 2010.
Regrettably it is impossible to re-interpret the Qur'an in a "moderate" manner. The most famous modern interpretation by Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, leads the reader again and again into political territory, where jihad is at the root of action.
If they deviated from the true faith -- as we are seeing in the Islamic State today -- "backsliders," like pagans, were to be fought until they either accepted Islam or were killed.
In India alone, between 60 and 80 million Hindus may have been put to death by Muslim armies between the years 1000-1525.
by Yaakov Lappin
Hamas's long-term ambitions are indistinguishable from those of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Hamas will now focus on its next goal -- trying to strengthen its presence in the West Bank and eventually toppling the Palestinian Authority from power there, just as it did in Gaza. If Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, Hamas would certainly find such a goal easier to accomplish.
Nothing keeps the flames of jihad alight, and Hamas's popularity secure, like frequent wars.
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Timon Dias
"Arab leaders are a reflection of their people. Arab leaders don't come from Mars or the sun, they emerged from among the people and share the same beliefs... I challenge any Arab citizen who may become a ruler to do anything beyond what current Arab leaders are doing." — Anwar Malek, Algerian author.
If anyone was trying to commit "genocide" during the Gaza War, it was clearly Hamas.
What the protestors in the Netherlands also revealed is that a killed Palestinian is only worth demonstrating for when the blame can be pinned on Israel.
The normalization and common approval of slogans that actually call for the destruction of the entire Jewish State, Israel, contribute to an atmosphere of hatred, violence and anti-Semitism that now seems as acceptable as it is overt.
by Anne Bayefsky
Why couldn't the UN... sponsor a conference on combating global antisemitism?
In theory the UN Charter demands equality of... nations large and small. In reality the UN mass-produces inequality for Jews and the Jewish nation.
The UN has launched a "legal" pogrom against the Jewish state. A "legal" pogrom is a license to kill.
Modern antisemitism targets Israel's exercise of the right of self-defense because self-defense is the essence of sovereignty.