Christians in Egypt in the crosshairs

Aug. 14, 2013The facade of the Prince Tadros Coptic church, which was torched by assailants in the central Egyptian city … Continued


Aug. 14, 2013The facade of the Prince Tadros Coptic church, which was torched by assailants in the central Egyptian city of Minya.AFP/Getty Images

What should Americans think about Egypt? We have been doling out aid to the Egyptian military since 1979. The cold peace between Sadat and Mubarak and the Israelis was a purchased peace. It cost us Americans dearly. But, as we have seen in this so-called Arab Spring, that purchased peace was always in danger of unraveling.

Hosni Mubarak stayed in power by paying lip service to his supposed friendship with America, and by stoking the flames of anti-Semitism at home. During his 30-year iron-fisted rule, there was hardly a train station in Egypt that did not hawk the Tsarist-era fabrication, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And Egyptian television producers gave the Arab-speaking world a TV series based on that defamatory work. In time, the fires set by that dramatization helped consume the Mubarak regime.

The rise of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood can be traced to the dictatorship of Mubarak and its fanning the flames of anti-Semitism. Mohamed Morsi was only the front man for the Muslim Brotherhood. The MB has many others who can take the place of this ousted figurehead. The sight of anti-Morsi demonstrators depicting the elected president of Egypt with a Star of David around his face cannot be comforting.

Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online has put his finger on what may be the majority sentiment among Americans about the Arab Spring. He writes of “The ‘To Hell with Them’ Doctrine.” Goldberg notes that Americans are weary of a region that has “Mideast Turmoil” seemingly painted on our television screens. Goldberg senses that Americans really don’t care which bad actors rise to the top over there.

Can anyone take satisfaction in the government of Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad? Two million Christians lived in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion. Now, estimates say there are only 600,000 left and many of them are desperate to leave. In Afghanistan, the last Christian church has closed down. Twelve years and one trillion dollars have gone to back up Hamid Karzai’s Kabul government. Can anyone say that Afghans are more free, more secure as a result?

In today’s post-Morsi Egypt, at least 60 churches have been torched.
Nuns are being marched down streets by Islamist mobs in scenes reminiscent of the French Revolution. Or worse, the Russian Revolution.

The Coptic Pope, Tawadros II, appeared on national television with Gen. al-Sisi when he announced the military had taken power from Mohamed Morsi. As a result, no doubt, Muslim Brotherhood supporters have gone on a rampage against not only the military and the police, but also against Christian targets. Homes and churches, convents and orphanages are all in danger of red paint and a torch in the night.

London’s Daily Mail reports a local bishop, Ibram, told his parishioners not to resist the mobs. “The looters were so diligent that they came back to one of the five churches they had already ransacked to see if they could get more.”

The Christian Copts are not recent arrivals to Egypt. This historic community has been in Egypt since St. Mark. They were there when Islam conquered the Nile River kingdoms. Today, they constitute around 10 percent of the population of this nation of 90 million. But for how much longer?

Our American position should be to defend the first freedom first. We should loudly stand for religious freedom. Our founders understood that without religious freedom, civil liberty is impossible. When U.S. senators say “democracy is in the eye of the beholder,” as Richard Blumenthal recently told FOX, we should respond that that mistaken view leads only to chaos. It leads to the scenes we see on our TV and computer screens daily.

Democracy needs a firm foundation in religious freedom. Jefferson and Madison understood this. Today’s state department does not. We need to press our own government to stand for religious freedom because it is the foundation of all other freedoms. This means that Christians and Muslims should be free in Egypt. And, if there are any Jews left there, they too should be free.

Anything less than this guarantees only a Mubarak lid on an ever-boiling cauldron. And such lids are expensive and can never substitute for real freedom. Democracy without guarantees of God-given religious freedom cannot survive. It is no better than a lynch mob. As we can clearly see.

Ken Blackwell was U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission. He is a Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the Family Research Council.

  • WmarkW

    Democracy means rule by the people.
    And under Islam, that appears to mean the same thing it did in the Southeastern United State until 50 years ago — making lesser citizens out of minorities.

    Whether any side in these Arab Spring uprisings is ours, is not certain.

  • ThomasBaum

    WmarkW

    You wrote, “Democracy means rule by the people.
    And under Islam, that appears to mean the same thing it did in the Southeastern United State until 50 years ago — making lesser citizens out of minorities.”

    It wasn’t just in the “Southeastern United States”.

    You also wrote, “Whether any side in these Arab Spring uprisings is ours, is not certain.”

    I guess that does remain to be seen but shouldn’t the side that they are on be the people of their own country, not necessarily our country, not the majority of their country, not the minority of their country but for ALL of the people of their country.

  • leibowde84

    Yes, Thomas. But the rule of religious ideals in the Governmental sphere makes this absolutely impossible.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    What Madison also understood (being the most clairvoyant and intelligent of our founders), was that the horror of autocratic tyranny is matched only by the horror of populist tyranny. Americans who want to understand the burgeoning civil war in Egypt need to shed the idea that popularly elected government is an intrinsically good thing. The other thing we desperately need to understand is that no amount of coaxing, finger wagging, or even military intervention by the United States is going to propel any state in the Muslim world towards some approximation of a civil society (take a lesson from the very, very recent past). That type of seismic change can only come from within. The Egyptians have made it abundantly clear that they want us to keep our hands out of their affairs, and we should be more than happy to oblige them.

    Withdraw all aid given to the Egyptian military junta, redirect it towards humanitarian aid for the Coptic, moderate, modernist, and secular refugees that will inevitably come out on the wrong end of all this, and do everything possible to prevent extremist mercenaries from smuggling their way into the chaos.

    Any remotely moral and peaceful person’s heart must break for the moral and peaceful people living through the nightmare scenarios in Egypt and Syria, but the moment the subject of sending young Americans to be shot at, to be crippled, and to die for the sake of people who largely hate them is even broached, even hinted at by any rich, elderly monster in our government, then the response should be a volcanic and resounding ‘No.’

  • ThomasBaum

    leibowde84

    You wrote, “Yes, Thomas. But the rule of religious ideals in the Governmental sphere makes this absolutely impossible.”

    Any “religious ideal” that is forced on another is not an “ideal” at all, being that an ideal should be something that one should strive for from the person’s perspective not something that is imposed by another.

    If one wishes a religious ideal to rule one’s life by one’s personal choice that is one thing but if another uses a religious ideal to rule another than it is just plain coercion.

    A “rule of religious ideals in the Governmental sphere” is something that, even tho it is, just shouldn’t be because it is a falsehood since a true “rule of any religious ideal” has to come from within not imposed.

    Government, no matter what kind and whether or not it is good, bad or indifferent, is something that is basically forced on another whereas a “belief” ultimately comes from within.

    Just as there is a difference between believing and knowing, there is a difference between religion (rules, regulations, doctrine, dogma, what have you) and faith.

  • ThomasBaum

    leibowde84

    A democracy, by its very definition, wouldn’t work either since without built in curbs (bill of rights, among other things, come to mind) a democracy is merely the rule of the majority which can easily degenerate into mob rule.

    You brought up the word “ideal” and there are many ideals that are written about in some of the USA’s founding papers which the USA has never really lived up too but that doesn’t mean one should not try.

  • leibowde84

    What about parents who force the “religious ideals” of their own religion on their children. In that circumstance, those ideals are definitely not “coming from within.” Would you agree that forcing your children into the same system of beliefs that you are a part of is wrong? In other words, shouldn’t children wait until adulthood before being baptized, bar-mitzvah’d, etc.?

  • ThomasBaum

    leibowde84

    You asked, “Would you agree that forcing your children into the same system of beliefs that you are a part of is wrong?”

    No, I do not agree with you here and for that matter if one does not believe in any “system of belief” wouldn’t teaching a child that be the equivalent of teaching a child a “system of belief”?

    I, personally, am thankful for what I was taught concerning God as a child from my parents in both word and deed and even tho what I believe now may be somewhat different, I am the one who can now reject or retain what I wish to reject or retain.

    Whether a person believes that there is more than meets the eye, so to speak, or not is part of who that person is and like it or not, I believe that this will come thru to the child just in the everyday living of life.

    You then asked, “In other words, shouldn’t children wait until adulthood before being baptized, bar-mitzvah’d, etc.?”

    If you want it for your children then go for it but neither you nor anyone else should be able to tell others what to do concerning this.

    Do you think that someone that has no “system of belief” should be not allowed to pass this on to their child?

  • leibowde84

    Once again, you are putting words in my mouth. I agree that teaching your children to not have a system of beliefs is, in reality, teaching your children your system of beliefs. I would not advise that at all. And I am not opposed at all to teaching your children ABOUT your own system of beliefs. The important part is to let them know that, no matter how strongly you feel about your beliefs, they are still just beliefs, and, thus, the beliefs of others which contradict your beliefs must be respected as being just as likely. You should allow your children to learn about other faiths and see which one they fit into.

  • leibowde84

    In other words, I would encourage any parent to share their faith with their children. Teach them how important it is to you and how much you think it has helped you throughout your life. Just don’t be the parent who uses their faith or “the Word” to instill fear in their children. Never put the idea that “if you don’t adhere to my system of beliefs, your soul will be lost for eternity.” You should stress the good aspects of religion, not the negative aspects of non-religion. That’s all I’m saying. And, always give your children a choice to adhere to other belief systems … as it is the only way to provide them with the opportunity to attain true meaningful faith.

  • ad101867

    Leibowde84 said: “I would encourage any parent to share their faith with their children” but “[n]ever put the idea that ‘if you don’t adhere to my system of beliefs, your soul will be lost for eternity.’ ”

    You’re contradicting yourself here. What if the parents’ faith includes the teaching that those who reject that faith *will* be lost for eternity? If we’re supposed to avoid putting that idea in our children’s heads–then how are we to pass on to them the totality of our faith?

    But of course your assertion is biased in favor of your own worldview: you simply don’t believe in eternal lostness. In any case, I wish to share with you that I am a sinner unable to save myself, to make myself acceptable to the One who will judge me in eternity. But He took on human form in the person of Jesus Christ, to die for my sins so that I, by being in relationship with him, would then be acceptable to God. Now I live for Him rather than for myself.

    I sincerely hope you come to experience this as well.

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