Coptic Christians fear the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
Lee Jay Walker
The Modern Tokyo Times
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is clearly hoping to install an Islamic state on the rubbles of the Hosni Mubarak regime. The mass media in the West may focus on genuine factors behind current events in Egypt and some Egyptians may speak about democracy and liberty. However, it is abundantly clear that Islamists in the Muslim Brotherhood desire an Islamic state and given their past history and ongoing political intrigues, then it is reasonable to expect an Islamic grab for power.
This raises serious questions for many in Egypt but the purpose of this article is to focus on the minority Christian community which is between eight to twelve million according to different statistics. After all, the reality of the demise of Saddam Hussein in Iraq led to the complete marginalization and persecution of the Christian community and Christian numbers in Iraq have dropped dramatically because of constant persecution.
Therefore, despite the anti-Christian nature of the Mubarak regime the Christian community is faced with “the authoritarian leader they know” against “the devil leadership” which may take power in Egypt?
It is clear that the Coptic Christian community faces many genuine concerns because they suffer institutional discrimination in Egypt under Mubarak. However, given the reality that democracy is not a flourishing concept within the majority of Muslim dominated nations then the worst must be feared. This applies to an Islamic state under the Muslim Brotherhood whereby Islamic Sharia law is governed more tightly over Egyptian society rather than the pick and mix version under Mubarak.
Eli Avidar who is a former Israeli diplomat warns about the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood. He does this by highlighting the reality of Hamas in Gaza. After all, the elections ushered in Hamas and clearly this organization is not interested in power sharing or a pluralistic society based on different value systems and protected by the democratic ballot box.
Eli Avidar comments that “President (George W.) Bush and (Secretary of State) Condi Rice pressured the State of Israel to allow democratic elections in the Palestinian Authority and what happened was that Hamas took over and these were the first and last democratic elections.”
Therefore, history may repeat itself if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over the leverages of power. Eli Avidar is clearly worried about this because he comments that “If they go and take the leadership because of democratic elections, I believe that democracy will not continue in Egypt because the fact is, the second that they take power, they will not leave it…”
It must be stated that the Iranian Revolution of 1979 ushered in an Islamic theocracy after the collapse of the Shah of Iran. Democrats, Secularists, Marxists, Islamic socialists, socialists, and other forces, all believed that they would vie for power and that they could sideline Khomeinists and the conservative Shia clergy.
However, the Iranian Revolution became an Islamic Revolution after all opposition entities were silenced and it is clear that the Muslim Brotherhood is a potent organization within the body politic of Egyptian society. Also, given the history of the Muslim Brotherhood then it would appear to be naive to expect them to sit on the sidelines because they have been waiting a long time to install an Islamic state.
Egypt, unlike Iran, does have a powerful religious minority because Coptic Christians number between eight and twelve million. However, it is clear that Christian minorities and others have been crushed in Iraq since the American led invasion and if major persecution of Christians took place, just like in Iraq, then the world would just sit back and watch from a distance. Therefore, the situation is very delicate for the Coptic Christian community and for all Christians in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood clearly support an Islamic state and Mohammed himself stated “Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.” (Koran 9:29)
In my article called Muslims slaughter Christians in Egypt which was published in 2010, I comment that “The current situation in Egypt does not look good for Coptic Christians because the “flawed” political system under President Hosni Mubarak means state sanctioned discrimination. However, you also have the fear that radical Islamists could fill the political vacuum and this would add greatly to the woes of the embattled Christian community in Egypt.”
The sad reality is that Egypt under Mubarak is an Islamic dominated society whereby you have many laws which discriminate against the Christian community. This applies to severe restrictions on building new Christian churches; mass prejudice in family law which always supports the Muslim spouse over the Christian spouse in divorce cases; educational discrimination which marginalizes the indigenous Christian faith; persecution of apostates from Islam to Christianity; and in many other areas of life and this applies to government and so forth.
However, an Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood would be even more dangerous because the Islamization of Egypt which was done more discreetly under Anwar Sadat and Mubarak would be much more open under the Muslim Brotherhood. Therefore, the Christian community in Egypt is faced with the reality of discrimination and persecution under the current Mubarak regime or even greater Islamization of Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood. It is abundantly clear, that the situation is very tense for all Egyptians but notably for Christians because they suffer death and persecution under the current prevailing conditions but these prevailing conditions may get even worse if events turn out negatively and Islamists seize power.
Of course, nobody knows for sure how events will unfold and some people are optimistic that democracy and secularism may emerge victorious and that Egypt will flourish under a new leadership.
If this does happen then it will be a great day for all Egyptians irrespective if they are Christian, Muslim or follow no faith. An Egypt which utilizes the richness of Coptic Christian culture alongside the best of Egyptian society would clearly unleash enormous potential. Therefore, Muslim moderates, Christians, liberals, socialists, and others, could all witness a new powerful nation whereby opportunities are provided to all nationals.
Yet the reality of Iraq and the ongoing persecution which is threatening this ancient Christian community is clear for all to see. Other religious minorities in Iraq are also suffering and the Mandaeans, Shabaks, and Yazidis, also reside in constant fear. Therefore, all religious minorities are dwindling in Iraq because of the Islamic threat and clearly the reality of Islamic Sharia law means dhimmitude and marginalization.
It is clear that the political crisis in Egypt could go many ways and this applies to a new dynamic Egypt which becomes openly democratic and pluralistic. However, just like the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and current events in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein; it is clear that the darkness of Islam engulfed both nations.
This reality must be striking fear in the hearts of many Christians in Egypt because it is abundantly clear that the Muslim Brotherhood is a powerful force within Egyptian society. Therefore, the current uncertainty in Egypt is a very dangerous period for the Christian community because you clearly have a political vacuum. It is hoped that this political vacuum will be filled positively but given past history then the “Islamic shadow” may engulf the “candle of light” once more?
Lee Jay Walker