Posted by: theheartlander | February 27, 2011

For Egypt’s Coptic Christians — already persecuted during Mubarak’s rule — situation may be getting even worse

Allen West and other people who know anything at all about on-the-ground reality in the Arab Muslim world have been warning us that, once Mubarak was gone, radical Islamists would almost certainly try to take advantage of the situation in Egypt. Despite the valid democratic and human-rights aspirations of many of the Egyptian protesters — and despite how wonderful it is to see people in places like Libya rising up and rejecting dictators who’ve been in place for decades — it’s a fact that the Muslim Brotherhood, like any other group bent on world domination, looks for opportunities. And political upheaval of any sort always presents opportunities.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is a long way from officially running things, but the hero’s welcome given to Qaradawi a week ago couldn’t help but disconcert all of us who are old enough to remember quite vividly a similarly triumphal return made by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran 32 years ago. Sure enough, radical Islamism — which involves, by definition, the persecution of Christians and Jews — is already rearing its ugly head in Egypt. From AINA, via CrossMuslims:

Egyptian armed forces this week demolished fences surrounding ancient Coptic monasteries, leaving them vulnerable to attacks by armed Arabs, robbers and escaped prisoners, who have seized the opportunity of… diminished protection by the authorities in Egypt to carry out assaults and thefts. “Three monasteries have been attacked by outlaws and have asked for protection from the armed forces, but were told to defend themselves.” said activist Mark Ebeid. “When the terrified monks built fences to protect themselves, armed forces appeared only then with bulldozers to demolish the fences. [!] It is worth noting that these monasteries are among the most ancient in Egypt [dating to several centuries before Muhammad was even born — ed.] with valuable Coptic icons and manuscripts among others, which are of tremendous value to collectors.”

On Sunday February 20, armed forces stormed the 4th century monastery of St. Boula in the Red Sea area, assaulted three monks and then demolished a small fence supporting a gate leading to the fenceless monastery. “The idea of the erection of the gate was prompted after being attacked at midnight on February 13 by five prisoners who [had] broken out from their prisons,” said Father Botros Anba Boula, “and were armed with a pistol and batons….

Father Botros said after this incident they thought the best solution to secure the monastery was to erect a gate with a small fence of 40 meters long at the entrance of a long wiry road leading to the monastery, which would be guarded day and night by the monks, and advised the army of their plan. According to Father Boulos, the army came with armored vehicles to demolish the gate, but it was agreed the monastery itself would undertake the demolition of the gate in stages as army protection is reinstated. “We told the Colonel it would look ugly to the outside world if Egyptian army is demolishing a gate erected for the protection of the unarmed monks under the present absence of security forces. We gave them full hospitality but we had a feeling that they wanted to demolish the gate in a ‘devious’ way.”

On Saturday morning, seeing that only three old monks were guarding the gate, the army returned. “When the army found that very few monks were present, the soldiers, who were hiding in military vans, came out,” said Father Botros, “bound the three monks, threw them to the ground and confiscated their mobile phones so as not to photograph the incident.”

The monks were set free after the gate and the 40 meter fence were demolished.” Only four soldiers were left to guard the huge monastery.

“The army was here not to protect the monastery as they claimed, but to carry out their agenda of demolishing the gate,” said Father Botros to activist Ramy Kamel of ‘Theban Legion’ Coptic advocacy. “By removing the gate and the supporting small fence, the army is giving a message of encouragement to any thief or thug to break into the monastery.”

The St. Bishoy monastery is also under attack. More from AINA, via Weasel Zippers:

For the second time in as many days, Egyptian armed force stormed the 5th century old St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi el-Natroun, 110 kilometers from Cairo. Live ammunition was fired, wounding two monks and six Coptic monastery workers. Several sources confirmed the army’s use of RPG ammunition. Four people have been arrested including three monks and a Coptic lawyer who was at the monastery investigating yesterday’s army attack. [Why are the victims being arrested?! – ed.] Monk Aksios Ava Bishoy told activist Nader Shoukry of Freecopts the armed forces stormed the main entrance gate to the monastery in the morning using five tanks, armored vehicles and a bulldozer to demolish the fence built by the monastery last month to protect themselves and the monastery from the lawlessness which prevailed in Egypt during the January 25 Uprising.

“When we tried to address them, the army fired live bullets, wounding Father Feltaows in the leg and Father Barnabas in the abdomen,” said Monk Ava Bishoy. “Six Coptic workers in the monastery were also injured, some with serious injuries to the chest.”

The injured were rushed to the nearby Sadat Hospital, the ones in serious condition were transferred to the Anglo-Egyptian Hospital in Cairo.

Father Hemanot Ava Bishoy said the army fired live ammunition and RPGs continuously for 30 minutes, which hit part of the ancient fence inside the monastery. “The army was shocked to see the monks standing there praying ‘Lord have mercy’ without running away. This is what really upset them,” he said. “As the soldiers were demolishing the gate and the fence they were chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘Victory, Victory’.”

A particularly cruel twist is that the army wouldn’t even let the monastery’s car out for the monks to take the injured to the hospital.

AINA reporter Mary Abdelmassih goes on to describe attacks on yet a third monastery:

The army also attacked the Monastery of St. Makarios of Alexandria in Wady el-Rayan, Fayoum, 100 km from Cairo. It stormed the monastery and fired live ammunition on the monks. Father Mina said that one monk was shot and more than ten have injuries caused by being beaten with batons. The army demolished the newly erected fence and one room from the actual monastery and confiscated building materials. The monastery had also built a fence to protect itself after January 25 and after being attacked by armed Arabs and robbers leading to the injury of six monks, including one monk in critical condition who is still hospitalized.

Frankly, I don’t know what it means that the Egyptian army — not the Muslim Brotherhood, but the army — is conducting these vicious attacks against unarmed Christian monks.

Whatever the explanation, it obviously does not bode well for Christians in Egypt.

In Cairo, Christians did their best to show solidarity with the monks:

Nearly 7000 Copts staged a peaceful rally in front of the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, where Pope Shenouda III was giving his weekly lecture… after which they marched towards Tahrir Square to protest the armed forces attacks on Coptic monasteries.

Don’t expect much coverage of these events  from the drive-by media, which have already decided that the narrative in Egypt is… a new era of tolerance and human rights! Freedom and diversity! Kumbaya and “Coexist”! Peace, love and flowers!

They’re not going to let any historical facts about Islam — nor any hard facts on the ground today — get in the way of that narrative.


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