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Angela Shanahan, of 'The Australian', writes quite intelligently about the plight of the Copts in Egypt
On 5 February 2011, 'The Australian' published the following interesting piece, by one Angela Shanahan, on the predicament of the Copts in Egypt today. One must remember that 'The Australian' goes out nationwide; it can usually be got in every newsagent in every town in Australia, even the smallest, and is taken in by every local library. Thus, this story stands a good chance of being read by a high percentage of the Australian population. I have bolded certain portions for emphasis.
'Fate of Copts Ignored By The Secular West'.
'Egypt's long-suffering Coptic Christians are justified in their fear of an Islamic revolution.
'A disturbing feature of the crisis in Egypt this week has been the paucity of any discussion of the implications of the decline of the Mubarak regime and the possible rise of fanatical Islamists for the Christians of Egypt.
'This applies particularly to the sizeable Coptic Christian population, estimated at 10 to 15 percent of the Egyptian population.
'The few vague references to the fate of the Christians were generally expressed, almost as an afterthought, regarding the repression of women.
'This puzzling gap is indicative of the thought processes of many Western analysts geared to political explanations and impressions that have little to do with the deeper social and historical complexities of the Middle East, which in turn have everything to do with religion and culture.
'They really don't understand the importance of religion.
Strictly speaking, that should be, 'the importance of Islam'...- CM.
'Unless religion has an overt political face, it is usually a mystery to most secular Western journalists.
'Yet Christians have been out on the street with their fellow Egyptians this week, desperate that an Islamic outcome should be avoided.
'Ignoring the fate of Coptic Christians is not new, and their persecution has intensified over the past 20 years. It is also a product of a general ignorance in the West about the broader history of the Middle East, where there have been Christians for 2000 years.
'The Copts are regarded as the descendants of the Pharaonic Egyptians, and their liturgical language is the closest thing we have to their original language. Egypt was a template for Christianity. Its origins there are apostolic. It was introduced by the evangelist Mark as early as the year 42. Monasticism was founded in Egypt and one can't help being overwhelmed by the antiquity of the country's monasteries and many of the churches.
'In fact, Islam did not begin to dominate Egypt until the end of the 12th century.
'The Copts are integrated into virtually every strata [this should be 'stratum' - CM] of life in Egypt, from the lowest, such as the famous rag pickers of Cairo, to the highest, incuding the multi-billionaire telco tycoon Naguib Sawiris and former UN secretary general Boutros Boutros Ghali.
'But all this is lost on your average Westerner who equates the rise of Islam with women having to get out of their miniskirts and under the veil.
'If only that was the main problem the Copts will face in the event of an Islamic revolution in Egypt.
'The general lack of interest in the fate of the Copts is doubly curious because a terrible massacre in Alexandria on New Year's Day, [of] the Coptic Christians, seems to have heralded the beginning of the present upheavals.
'But judging by some media reports one would think this was sudden and unexpected.
'Not according to the Coptic Bishop Anba Suriel of Melbourne, who told me he believes the nascent revolution began with the New Year massacre of 23 Copts. It is easier to attack a church than a police station.
'The Copts are used to these atrocities being perpetrated on their people. This was the culmination of a series of similar modern atrocities against the Christians by fanatical Muslims (you're getting close, Ms Shanahan; now just drop the 'fanatical', and simply write 'Muslims', and you'll have the full, ugly reality - CM) that go back to former President Anwar Sadat and which have not improved under Mubarak's regime.
'The number of massacres has been shocking; there were at least 40 incidents in the 10 years before the Alexandria bombing.
'There are also numerous reports of daily discrimination [against Copts - CM] in jobs and education, property ownership and most particularly in freedom of belief and worship.
'New churches are routinely destroyed or desecrated and it is made difficult for an Egyptian Muslim to convert to Christianity.
If Ms Shanahan does just a little more research, she will discover that both of these phenomena are examples of the enforcement of the following classical sharia principles: 1. that non-Muslims within an Islamic state, 'dhimmis', are not allowed to build new places of worship and 2. that Muslims are not permitted to leave Islam for another faith, or no faith, on pain of severe punishments up to and including death. - CM.
'The government will not recognise the change of religion on their ID cads and makes it hard for such people to leave the country. There are stories of spouses who have converted being persecuted and even kidnapped.
'As Australian journalist Peter Day, who has travelled extensively in Egypt and is familiar with the Coptic culture and situation, puts it, the tactics of the regime in relation to the fundamentalists is merely to "outflank the [opposition] Muslim Brotherhood by indulging the anti-Christian bigotry of the Muslim masses", in fact complying with Muslim demands to stifle Christianity in Egypt.
So. There it is. 'The anti-Christian bigotry of the Muslim masses'. Not of a 'tiny minority of extremists'. Not of (some) 'fanatical Muslims'. But, rather, plain and simple, the awful truth: 'the Muslim masses'. And 'Muslim demands to stifle Christianity in Egypt'. 'Muslim demands'. No qualifiers, just 'Muslim'. It should be noted that Mr Peter Day, whom Ms Shanahan here cites as an authority, has more than a clue as to the nature of Islam; for example, on 26 January 2009 the Australian journal 'Quadrant', published a very astute article by Mr Day, entitled "Australian Apologetics for Islam". - CM.
'Yet so feared is the prospect of an islamic regime that the Copts are supporting President Hosni Mubarak.
'As for the international reaction to the New Year's massacre, it was condemned by many heads of state and foreign ministers, although in the past few have bothered with the fate of the Copts, including our own Kevin Rudd, who was singled out by the Australian Coptic Movement representing our own 80,000 Australian Coptic Christians of Egyptian origin.
'Referring to Rudd's December visit to Cairo, the movement observed that although he was in Egypt for three days, and met Mubarak, he "failed to convey...concern over the ongoing persecution of Egypt's indigenous population."
'According to Day, ignoring the Copts on this occasion was partly driven by timorousness from Rudd in the face of Australia's own large and possibly strategically significant Muslim population.
'In an interview with the Cairo daily Al-Ahram he [Rudd - CM] estimated that population at "a million", about 4.4 percent of the population - a startling figure compared with the 2006 census figure of about 340 000 or 1.7 percent.
That is an extremely worrying number for any non-Muslim Australian who is well informed about Islam - CM.
'However, the islamisation in many urban areas of Australia, such as Sydney's southwest, is slowly proceeding.
'Lebanese Muslims in particular have a fertility rate four times the average.
'The refugee status of Coptics and many other Middle Eastern Christians ranks low.
(It is an irony that, since the demise of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, probably the only country that assures the safety and rights of its Christians is Syria, another dictatorship).
Do a little research on the Alawites, Ms Shanahan, and you will understand that anomalous situation a little better. And if one examines the situation closely, one will find that that 'safety' and those 'rights', of Christians in Syria are, if compared to Western standards of such things, strictly limited and, with the merest shift in the balance of power, might vanish overnight. - CM.
'Under those circumstances, perhaps we Australians should redress the imbalance of the immigration and refugee intake, which in the near future should be in favour of Copts and other Christians of Middle-Eastern origin.
Hear! Hear! - CM.
'In the West we have to take our blinkers off.
'Hani Shukrallah, the editor of Al-Ahra, who is a Copt by family origin, said in a recent English-language editorial headed "J'Accuse!" (taking the title of Emile Zola's powerful 1898 open letter to the then French president):
"I accuse the liberal intellectuals, both Muslim and Christian who, whether complicit, afraid, or simply unwilling to do or say anything that may displease 'the masses' (sic: that is - the vast Mohammedan mob, or, to put it bluntly, the majority of Egyptian Muslims - CM) have stood aside, finding it sufficient to join in one futile chorus of denunciation even as the massacres [of Copts, by Muslims - CM] spread wider, and grow more horrifying."
'As the Coptic Pope Shenouda III remarked of the Islamic fundamentalists to the secular Egyptian press: "Be careful. They will have us for lunch and you for dinner".
Let's remember that earlier in her article Ms Shanahan cited Shukrallah's reference to 'the masses', and Peter Day's reference to 'the anti-Christian bigotry of the Muslim masses', and 'Muslim' (not just 'Islamic fundamentalist', but 'Muslim', plain and simple) demands to stifle Christianity in Egypt. Logically, then, one is forced to conclude that most Muslims in Egypt are ...'Islamic fundamentalists' and therefore potentially or actually the bigoted persecutors...and even mass murderers...of the Copts, as also of any lax or 'secular' Muslims.
Memo to Ms Shanahan. You have made a good start, with this article. Keep on paying attention to Mr Day's work and to the intelligent and articulate leaders of the Australian Coptic Movement. In addition: please read Dr Mark Durie's "The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom", and Egyptian-born Jewish historian Bat Yeor's extended essay, "A Christian Minority: The Copts in Egypt", which you will find in Mr Robert Spencer's anthology, "The Myth of Islamic Tolerance". That will greatly increase your knowledge of the history and sufferings of the Copts throughout the entire period of the Muslim imperium.
After that, I suggest devoting about a month to the difficult but necessary labour of absorbing Bat Yeor's three monumental tomes, "The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians Under Islam", "The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam", and "Islam and Dhimmitude". You will then fully comprehend why it would be both moral and prudential for Australia to rejig our immigration and refugee intake criteria so as to take in many more of the persecuted Christians - such as Copts and Assyrians - from the Islamified Middle East, while at the same time drastically curtailing, as soon as possible, and in perpetuity, the entry into our country of Muslims of any description. -CM.