The Christian community in Egypt has been outspoken in its criticism of deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi. They had been quiet about politics during the reign of strongman Hosni Mubarak, who by most accounts did a fairly decent job of protecting them, but began speaking up when the “Arab Spring” rolled through Egypt… only to learn they weren’t entirely welcome in the ranks of the revolutionaries. The Associated Press reports that Christians are “paying the price for their activism”:
With a mob of Muslim extremists on their tail, the Christian businessman and his nephew climbed up on the roof and ran for their lives, jumping from building to building in their southern Egyptian village. Finally they ran out of rooftops.
Forced back onto the street, they were overwhelmed by several dozen men. The attackers hacked them with axes and beat them with clubs and tree limbs, killing Emile Naseem, 41. The nephew survived with wounds to his shoulders and head and recounted the chase to The Associated Press.
The mob’s rampage through the village of Nagaa Hassan, burning dozens of Christian houses and stabbing to death three other Christians as well, came two days after the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi from power. It was no coincidence the attackers focused on Naseem and his family: He was the village’s most prominent campaigner calling for Morsi’s removal.
Relations between Christians and Muslims were said to be cordial in Nagaa Hassan before the fall of Morsi, followed by the discovery of a dead Muslim villager on July 5, which was blamed on the Christian community by “a mob of several hundred, led by men wearing the hallmark long beards of ultraconservative Salafis.”
A Coptic Christian priest named Mena Aboud Sharoben was also murdered in a drive-by shooting in the Sinai, while a rampaging mob of Morsi supporters destroyed homes and shops in the village of Dalaga, which has a sizable Christian population. According to the AP report, the Dalaga mob was changing, “There is no god but Allah and the Christians are God’s enemies.”
Thursday brought word that an elderly Christian named Magdy Habashi had been kidnapped by suspected Islamist militants from the town of Sheikh Zweid and decapitated. His headless body was dumped in a cemetery.
It is thought that some of this persecution has been inspired by the prominence of the Coptic pope, Tawadros II, as a critic of the Morsi regime, while a priest quoted by the AP suggested “increased anti-Christian rhetoric by hard-liners and the polarization during Morsi’s rule” were also to blame. Egypt’s Christians seem inspired to continue speaking up:
“My parents always mention immigration as a solution. I don’t,” said Marina Zakaria, a 21-year-old in Cairo, who began participating in street politics after Mubarak’s ouster
“Christians are mostly isolated in their churches because they are afraid from people who are not like them. With that attitude, we deepened the discrimination we face and ended up without a place in political life,” she said.
Christian activist Nirvana Mamdouh, 22, said that for far too long Christians remained silent in the face of injustices and it was time for them to speak up for their rights.
“We cannot have our freedom without blood. It is the price, what can we do?”
Would it be too much to ask for an official condemnation of this violence against Christians by the American government?