“Any attack on Egypt’s Christians is an attack on me personally,” said President Mohamed Morsi during his 100th day as president speech last September, a statement which he again reiterated when he spoke to Pope Tawadros II, the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, last night after 8 hours of attacks on St Mark’s Cathedral, during which he stayed silent, as he usually does. Given how wildly unpopular our president is, people on Facebook were joking whether or not this statement should be considered inciting violence against Egypt’s Christians. We are Egyptians. We make jokes when we are horrified, but what happened yesterday is no laughing matter.
Yesterday the Coptic cathedral was attacked after a funeral for four Christians who were killed two days earlier in sectarian clashes in the town of Al-Khosous that also left one Muslim killed. The funeral was attended by hundreds of Christians and sympathetic Muslims, who started chanting for the removal of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood buddies from power, which apparently was unacceptable to “some people”. Those “people” started attacking the emerging mourners the moment they stepped out of the cathedral, and shortly after, they were joined by riot police with armed vehicles, who stood next to the attackers and shot teargas canisters into the cathedral. So, not only was the cathedral not getting protected by the Egyptian police as it was being attacked by thugs, the police were actively providing cover to the attackers, and tear-gassing the trapped inside mourners. The country was watching, half in horror and the other half probably in glee, as the police of the Islamist state of Egypt actively joined a mob in their attack on the cathedral.
To put things into perspective, St Mark’s Cathedral is the heart and brain of the Egyptian Coptic Church. It is where the pope lives and works, and the home of one of the oldest churches in recorded history, and the only church worldwide that has equal standing with the Roman Catholic Church in terms of history and influence over Christianity. The cathedral runs the affairs of Egypt’s Coptic minority, as well as churches in over 150 countries, and it was being attacked by the police of our Muslim Brotherhood president. It should be noted that worldwide, in countries where there is active civil war and genocide churches are places of refuge for victims, because of their holy standing as places of worship. We don’t care about that in Egypt. Over here, we attack cathedrals after funerals with mourners inside, and the state helps.
The Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Ministry of Interior naturally released a statement, blaming the Christian mourners for the clashes, and claiming to be doing its best to stop the clashes. Known Islamist activist Abdelrahman Ezz, who incited the attack on the Itihadiya protesters back in December and was never investigated, was openly calling and encouraging the attack on the cathedral, citing it as proof that the church has “militias” and “weapons”. Joining the crazy wagon was the Salafi TV channel Al-Hafez, which aimed to capitalise on the situation by having a text message-poll on “whether or not a civil war between Muslims and Christians will erupt in Egypt”, with each text message costing the sender 3 EGP. The following day, the foreign relations secretary of the ruling Freedom and Justice Party, Mohamed Soudan, sent an email blaming all that took place around the cathedral on the Coptic mourners, who claimed that the Christians finally showed the weapons they were hiding inside the churches, and that, and I quote here, “ they seem to be up to something”. And yet when I posted yesterday on Twitter my belief that the Morsi administration doesn’t care about the Egyptian Christian population at all, Brotherhood apologists abroad accused me of having a Kanye West “Bush moment”. Fine, let’s go over the evidence, shall we?
Since Morsi took office, the following attacks took place on the Coptic churches: 5 November, Muslims tried to seize the lands belonging to the Central Shobra AlKhaima church; 15 February, the Seresna Church in Fayoum was attacked; 26 February, the administrative building of the Abu Maqar church in Shobra AlKhaima was attacked; 1 March, the Kom Ombo church in Aswan was attacked while on the same day the administrative building of the Beni Suef Central church was ransacked. Those are only the attacks on the churches and their properties, the same Church that Morsi never visited, never met with its leader and whose pope’s coronation he didn’t attend.
This is the same President Morsi that openly espoused anti-Semitic and hateful views on video and then claims to be taken out of context. This is the same president whose people during the constitutional crisis openly stated that he enjoys the support of 90% of all Egyptians and that the protesters were pushed by the church. This is the same president who during his reign , Beshoy Kamel was sentenced to six years for insulting “Islam and the president’s family” on Facebook, Alber Saber was arrested for “blasphemy” on Facebook , and 10-year-old Nabil Nagy Rizk and 9-year-old Mina Nady Farag from Beni Suef were arrested in October 2012 on charges of tearing up the Quran. The children were illegally arrested, and Morsi didn’t move a finger to release them. They were, after all, Christians.
Needless to say that in none of those incidents of church attacks, no one was seriously charged. Needless to say that the Brotherhood apologists in the west will claim that he doesn’t fully control the Interior Ministry or its actions, despite the ministry’s defense of the Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Council office (which is neither a state institution nor a holy place) and vicious attacks against anti-Brotherhood protesters. The ministry can apparently be ordered to protect the two-year-old Guidance Council office but cannot protect the almost 2,000-year-old church represented by the cathedral. The Brotherhood apologists will blame all of this on the remnants of the old regime in the Ministry of the Interior, and cite that Morsi is not yet in complete control of it. If this is him without complete control of the Interior Ministry, I openly dread the day he does control it.
In other news, during those clashes, European Union officials were in Egypt discussing with the president and opposition figures the parliamentary elections and how they intend to monitor them, with the Egyptian newspaper citing Catherine Ashton promising to help Egypt get that IMF loan, so that the EU, alongside the US can continue to prop the Muslim Brotherhood regime as it continues its reign of terror. I have a suggestion, EU: How about we resort to your magical ballot box to solve Morsi’s Christian problem once and for all? We can start a referendum asking whether or not to burn all of Egypt’s churches and kick all the Christians out. I am positive it will pass with a stunning rate, and then the state can persecute the Egyptian Christians and attack their churches legitimately. After all, the ballot box has spoken. Dear EU, you can monitor that if you like.