August 26, 2013
Egypt: Without a prayer
No one needs a score card to keep track of what happened in Egypt. Mubarak was ousted. An election was held. The Muslim Brotherhood won and Mohammad Morsi became president. Morsi remained in power exactly one year. The popular uprising that ousted Morsi put in an interim government.
Which brings us to — now.
Mubarak has been let out of prison. Morsi supporters are protesting in the streets. The Egyptian police and army have been acting brutally. But the protesters are hardly peaceful. The pro-Morsi protesters have automatic weapons and are shooting at the police. They pulled over two minivans, filled with twenty-five police. They laid the police face down and executed them all.
The violence and butchery is tremendous, it knows no bounds. The Muslim Brotherhood refuses to yield. For eighty long years they hid in the shadows. Their movement was illegal. Mubarak was ousted and they ran for leadership. And they won.
The Muslim Brotherhood is not willing to give up that power and that victory. They will not return, quietly, to the sidelines. They are going to fight. The best way to regain power, if you are the Muslim Brotherhood, is to identify the enemy and the outsider. And then you crush them. If you are Muslim Brotherhood, that is the way to re-unite Egyptians.
The primary enemy is the West, the most visible faction of that enemy is the United States. Outsiders are the Christians of Egypt. Christians are paying a very heavy price in Egypt. They are suffering the brunt of Islamist anger. Morsi supporters have targeted Christians in a way that can only be described as pre-modern bone chilling.
One must ask: Why? How?
Theoretically, the answer lies is the knowledge that in the eyes of Muslim extremists, i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters, Christians have always been outsiders even though, historically, Christianity arrived in Egypt well before the rise of Islam. Christians now compose 10% of the 90 million people of Egypt The Christians are not like the Muslims, they are different. And history has taught us how powerful differences can be when the objective is to unify the masses.
Politically, the answer lies in the perception that the Christians of Egypt played a disproportionate role in the ousting of Morsi. This might be true. And bolstering that theory is the fact that over the past year some important bridges have been built between Christians and mainstream Muslims in Egypt.
But the most important reason is, simply put, logistics. The Christians in Egypt, the majority of them members of the Coptic Church, are an easy target. Their churches and schools are immediately identifiable. By blatantly attacking those symbols Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood need not attack the other Muslims of Egypt in order to publicly display their strength. Targeting Christians is a win-win for the Islamists. They whip up anger at those who threw Morsi out of office and do not attack or directly threaten the people who actually ousted him. There is visible, physical, evidence that they acted.
The churches of Egypt are being destroyed, they are being ransacked. Over seventy churches have been looted or torched, twenty-three others attacked. Looters have come back a second time to steal even more from the churches. Looters loaded trucks with furniture. Nuns have been sexually abused and marched and paraded as criminals.
Everyone knows that the Muslim Brotherhood is sacking and demolishing churches. And much of the world sits quietly by. But the Egyptian army, the army that is demonized in the Western press, recently declared that it will rebuild every church. The following statement was read on Egyptian TV and radio: 'The Egyptian defense minister ordered the engineering department of the armed forces to swiftly repair all the affected churches, in recognition of the historical and national role played by our Coptic brothers.'
And in response the Bishop of the Coptic Church tweeted a thank you. Bishop Mousa thanked General al-Sisi for his decision and efforts to repair the churches of Egypt. He wrote: 'We thank Gen. Sisi for commissioning the brave Egyptian armed forces to rebuild the places of worship damaged during the recent events.'
The West interferes when it should not and where it should not. But when religious liberties are being taken away, when religious freedom is being trashed, that's when the West decides to remain silent and chooses not to intervene. This is a violent desecration of religious beliefs at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. There should be an outcry against these wanton acts of targeted terror.
I hear very little, I hear almost nothing.
Micah D. Halpern is a columnist and a social and political commentator. His latest book is "Thugs: How History's Most Notorious Despots Transformed the World through Terror, Tyranny, and Mass Murder" (Thomas Nelson).