Egypt's Arab Spring has become a nightmare for the nation's 2,000-year-old Coptic Christian community, now the terror target of choice for Islamist radicals.
Christians' "personal security has gotten much worse" since the
February ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, says Nina Shea of the Hudson
Institute, who monitors the situation of religious minorities in the
Christian homes, businesses and churches have come under increasing attack from militant Islamists,
with many of the assaults coming shortly after angry sermons given at
Friday prayers. The sermons inciting the violence often come from
Salafist imams subsidized by the Egyptian government.
Since February, violent Islamists have exploited an atmosphere of "lawlessness" to assert that they are in control, said Coptic American activist Michael Meunier.
Meunier, who is currently visiting Egypt, told the Investigative
Project on Terrorism that the government's refusal to challenge
anti-Christian violence has "provided a way out to criminals and
encouraged violent attacks."
Prominent examples of violence directed against Egyptian Christians include:
As the Coliseum in Rome deteriorates with
every passing day, the thoughts of Christian martyrdom and persecution
that happened there also seem ages away.
But as surprising as it may sound, it still
happens. Instead of Christians being eaten by lions, they are being
bombed during protests. Instead of being burned at the stake, their
churches are being set on fire.
Coptic Christians in Egypt,
the largest contingent of Christians in the country, are under severe
attack — so much so that the U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom announced just recently that Egypt made the list of “Countries
of Particular Concern.”
That's not really a list anyone wants to be
on: countries put on this list are some of the worst violators of
religious freedom. But it’s not enough. Calling a country out will not
necessarily force them to change their behavior. A bully doesn’t work
Leonard Leo, chairman of the Commission,
told reporters that the final straw was the massacre on the day Coptic
Christians celebrated their Christmas Eve services. Since January of
this year, 400 Christians have been murdered, hundreds more injured, and
multiple churches have been burned, including a massacre on New Year’s
Day, where a bomb at a church in Alexandria killed 20 Christians.
AMID the upheavals in Egypt since January, reports have begun to emerge of a surge in disappearances of Coptic girls.
One priest in Cairo estimates that at least 21 young girls, many as young as 14, have disappeared from his parish alone.
most cases, when a Christian girl who disappears is found by her
family, she has been converted to Islam and married. The Coptic
authorities, have even set up a series of refuges in monasteries to
handle the growing numbers of girls who wish to return to their
families, many of whom are not accepted by their family of origin.
But a worse problem for these women is that their conversion to Islam is irreversible.
is stated on Egyptian ID documents and even though secular law provides
for reversions, under the growth of sharia they are very difficult,
except for those affording legal advocacy.