"Are Christian Copts ‘Dhimmis’ or ‘Infidels’?" That’s the Question in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

By Coptic Solidarity, PRNE
Tuesday, October 4, 2011

WASHINGTON, October 5, 2011 -

Coptic Solidarity warned today against the escalation of ugly hate speech and barbaric violence targeting the Copts of Egypt. The indifference of the ruling Junta and the current government is inexcusable, arguably complicit, and therefore forcibly condemnable.

The Copts are the indigenous Christians of Egypt. They amount to 12-15% of the population, or about ten million.

A surge of preposterous “debates” and proclamations is taking over Egypt regarding the position of its Christian Copts in an “Islamic” Egypt. For some they are Dhimmis (non-Muslims living under the will of Islam, in submission and humiliation) who must either convert, pay the jizya (tribute) and willingly accept second-class status, or face death-or emigrate. Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ali Goma‘a-portrayed in Western media as “tolerant”-further said that Copts are Kuffar (or “infidels,” a much demonized position in Islam),while “tolerantly” asserting that, as (intolerable) Dhimmis, Copts may have some rights.

If such proclamations from leading figures in Egypt appear anachronistic or surrealistic, they are fast becoming center stage issues in Post-Revolutionary Egypt, where the most obscurantist, fanatical and regressive Islamists have come to dominate the scene, with the tacit support of the ruling Junta. These include groups such as the Salafists-offshoots of the literalist Wahhabi ideology of Saudi Arabia-and jihadists, competing to establish a Taliban-like state in Egypt, once the military hands authority over to “civilians.”

Such “debates” targeting the Copts for simply being Christian, are not theoretical, theological, or merely rhetorical, but incendiary hate speech of the ugliest kind-the sort that usually leads to judiciary procedures in civilized nations. Indeed, they are reminiscent of the Nazi-type propaganda that demonized the “other.”

They inflame the mobs against the Copts to the point that torching their churches, homes, and businesses is fast becoming a barbaric pastime hobby; kidnapping their daughters and forcing them to convert to Islam is even seen as a meritorious service by some. Over seventy serious attacks on Copts have taken place since February-the overwhelming majority of which are prompted by the hate speech of imams at growing numbers of mosques.

Local officials no longer even bother to hide their complacency, if not complicity. After a recent attack, where a church was burned by a Muslim mob of thousands, all under the watchful eyes of the police in Mari-Nab, a village near Edfu (north of Aswan), the Aswan Governor condoned on TV the heinous deed, blaming the Copts for exceeding by three meters (beyond the security permit) their church being rebuilt.

Such verbal and material violence is above and beyond the never-ending discrimination, alienation, and persecution the Copts endure.

Coptic Solidarity warns that the situation could eventually degenerate into wholesale violence-or worse, ethnic cleansing-against the Copts, and further made the point to:

  1. Hold the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces fully responsible, and fully accountable, and demand that effective measures be taken immediately to abate this dangerous tide;
  2. Demand that the international community predicate all aid to Egypt on its adhering-constitutionally, and in practice-to international human rights conventions;
  3. Demand that the UN Human Rights Council appoint a special rapporteur to examine the situation of the Coptic minority in Egypt and report back to the Council.

Coptic Solidarity  (www.copticsolidarity.org )
P.O. Box 1450 Centreville, VA 20122, USA

Solidarite Copte
21 bis rue du Simplon 75018 Paris, France

For more information:  

USA: Halim Meawad (1-240-644-5153), Caroline Doss (201-418-9090), Magdi Khalil (1-202-725-3091)
Canada: Maher Rizkalla (1-905-399-4147)
Europe: Adel Guindy (+33-1-4701-2600), Helmy Guirguis (+44-7775-800-929), Sobhy Gress (+33-6-3129-4779)
Australia: Ayad Grace (+61-2-9899-5740)


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