Monday, April 23, 2012

Shariah, Dhimmitude & the Copts

Raymond Ibrahim's Testimony before the Tom Lantos Commission
Raymond Ibrahim testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the House of Representatives. Reps. Frank Wolf and James McDermott presented "Under Threat: The Worsening Plight of Egypt's Coptic Christians."
Other witnesses included Kathy Fitzpatrick (Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State); Nina Shea (Director, Center for Religious Freedom, Hudson Institute); Dina Guirguis (Member, Egyptian American Rule of Law Association); Adel Guindy (President, Coptic Solidarity International); and Cynthia Farahat (Egyptian political activist).
Since the year 641, when Muslims invaded Egypt, the Copts-Egypt's Christian, indigenous inhabitants-have been subject to persecution, discrimination, and over all subjugation on their homeland (etymologically, the word "Copt" simply means "Egyptian").[1] The result is an Egyptian culture and mentality that sees Copts as second-class citizens, or, in Islamic legal terminology, Dhimmis-"infidels" who are tolerated as long as they embrace their inferior status.
Whole books and treatises have been written on the treatment of Dhimmis (for instance, Ibn Qayyim's authoritative 8th centuryAhkam Ahl al-Dhimma, or "Rulings for Dhimmis"). The idea of subjugating non-Muslims, aptly coined "Dhimmitude," comes from Quran 9:29: "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid that which Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, nor follow the religion of Truth [Islam], from the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], until they pay the Jizya [tribute] with willing submission, and feel themselves utterly subdued."
The so-called Pact of Omar,[2] a foundational text for the treatment of Dhimmis, offers an idea of how this Quranic decree manifested itself in reality. In order to maintain their Christian faith, among other things, conquered Christians had to agree to the following:
We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, churches, convents, or monks' cells, nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims ... We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor convert anyone to it. We shall not prevent any of our kin from entering Islam if they wish it. We shall show respect toward the Muslims, and we shall rise from our seats when they wish to sit. We shall not seek to resemble the Muslims... We shall not display our crosses or our books in the roads or markets of the Muslims. We shall use only clappers in our churches very softly. We shall not raise our voices when following our dead... We shall not bury our dead near the Muslims. We shall not build houses overtopping the houses of the Muslims.
During the colonial era and into the mid 20th Century, as Egypt experimented with westernization and nationalism, Christian persecution was markedly subdued. Today, however, as Egypt all but spearheads Islam's resurgence-giving the world key figures and groups such as Sayyid Qutb, Hassan Bana, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al-Qaeda's Aymen Zawahiri in the process-that is, as Egypt reclaims its Islamic identity, the Copts find themselves again under persecution.
Today, popular Muslim preachers on Egyptian TV openly condemn Christians, publicly calling for the return of Dhimmi status; Copts and their churches are almost always attacked on Friday, immediately after the weekly mosque sermons and to cries of "Allahu Akbar!" demonstrating the Islamic pedigree of the attack.
None of this is surprising when one considers that even Egypt's Grand Mufti himself, often touted in the West as a "moderate," recently classified all Christians[3] as "infidels," orkuffar,[4] a term that immediately positions Copts as enemies to be suppressed.
Aside from the fact that practically every week an account of Muslims attacking Copts emerges-whether the destroying of churches, the killing of Copts for wearing crosses, the abducting, raping, and force-converting of Coptic girls-perhaps nothing exemplifies their plight as the following governmental, that is, institutionalized, stipulations:
According to the Second Article of the Egyptian Constitution,[5] Sharia law-which is based on the anti-Christian words of the Quran and prophet Muhammad as contained in the Hadith-is "the principal source of legislation"; and since Dhimmitude is part and parcel of Sharia law, expectations for Copts to behave as subdued, second-class citizens, or Dhimmis, becomes implicit. For instance, and in accordance with the aforementioned stipulations of the Pact of Omar, it is next to impossible for churches to be built.
The Egyptian government likewise makes it next to impossible for Muslims to convert to Christianity (apostasy is a crime under Sharia). Among the more popular cases are Mohammad Hegazy[6]: he tried formally to change his religion from Muslim to Christian on his I.D. card-in Egypt, people are identified by their religion, again, as stipulated in the Pact of Omar -only to be denied[7] by the Egyptian court. Conversely, it takes mere days for Christian converts to Islam to change their religious I.D.
Most recently, several aspects of the Maspero massacre revealed the Egyptian government's inherent hostility to its Christian citizenry:
Soldiers screamed "Allahu Akbar!"[8] and cursed "Infidels" as they approached and attacked Coptic protesters; a video of an Egyptian soldier boasting that he shot a Christian in the chest is greeted by the crowd around him with "Allahu Akbar!"[9]; and after the incident, Dr. Hind Hanafi, president of the University of Cairo, recommended separating wounded Christians from wounded Muslims admitted into the hospital, thereby institutionalizing religious discrimination, even in hospitals.[10]
Aside from these formalized aspects, Egyptian officials are notorious for turning a blind eye to Muslim mob attacks on Christians and their churches. In fact, it is this governmental complacency-or complicity-regarding attacks on Christians that that caused Copts to demonstrate at Maspero in the first place, before the government, including through the use of snipers, death squads, and tanks that intentionally ran over protesters, initiated the bloodbath that followed.
Anyone familiar with Muslim doctrine and history, especially as it applies to Egypt and the Copts, will find none of the above surprising; rather, the treatment of Copts in the Medieval era and their treatment today demonstrate great continuity-from the destruction of churches to the subjugation of Christians.
However, because there was a lull in this animosity, from the colonial era when Islam was on the wane, to just a few decades ago, most Westerners, deeming events closer to their time and space more representative of reality, ignore the continuum of history and doctrine dealing with persecution, and thus fail to comprehend what is otherwise so obvious and open for the world to see. This is exacerbated by the fact that the articulators of knowledge-the media, academia, and apologists of all stripes-in the name of multiculturalism and political correctness, have made uncomfortable truths all but unknowable.
In short, the evidence of Muslim persecution of Christians in general, persecution of Egyptian Copts in particular, is overwhelming-doctrinally, historically, and current events. What is lacking is a Western paradigm that can accept-and act upon-this evidence.
The following two reports discuss the Maspero Massacre and the events leading up to it, namely, the destruction of yet another Coptic Church, and provide proper context to the plight of Egypt's Copts.
Report 1: Egypt-Destroying Churches, One at a Time
What clearer sign that Egypt is turning rabidly Islamist than the fact that hardly a few weeks go by without a church being destroyed, or without protesting Christians being attacked and slaughtered by the military?
The latest chaos in Egypt-where the military opened fire on unarmed Christians and repeatedly ran armored vehicles over them, killing dozens[11]-originates in Edfu, a onetime tourist destination renowned for its pharaonic antiquities, but now known as the latest region to see enraged Muslims destroy a church.
This church attack is itself eye-opening as to the situation in Egypt. To sum, St. George Coptic Church, built nearly a century ago, was so dilapidated that the local council and governor of Aswan approved renovating it, and signed off on the design.
It was not long before local Muslims began complaining, making various demands, including that the church be devoid of crosses and bells-even though the permit approved them-citing that "the Cross irritates Muslims and their children."[12]
Coptic leaders had no choice but to acquiesce, "pointing to the fact that the church was rebuilt legally, and any concessions on the part of the church was done for the love for the country, which is passing through a difficult phase."
Acquiescence breeds more demands: Muslim leaders next insisted that the very dome of the church be removed-so that the building might not even resemble a church-and that it be referred to as a "hospitality home." Arguing that removal of the dome would likely collapse the church, the bishop refused.
The foreboding cries of "Allahu Akbar!" began:[13] Muslims threatened to raze the church and build a mosque in its place; Copts were "forbidden to leave their homes or buy food until they remove the dome of St. George's Church"; many starved for weeks.
Then, after Friday prayers on September 30, some three thousand Muslims rampaged the church, torched it, and demolished the dome; flames from the wreckage burned nearby Coptic homes, which were further ransacked by rioting Muslims.
This account of anti-church sentiment in Egypt offers several conclusions:
First, the obvious: animosity for churches, demands that they be left to crumble, demands to remove crosses and stifle bells, are an integral part of Islamic history and dogma.[14] That church attacks in Egypt always occur on Friday, Islam's holy day, and are always accompanied by religious cries of "Allahu Akbar!" should be evidence enough of the Islamist context of these attacks.
Because there was a lull in this animosity from the colonial era to just a few decades ago, most Westerners, deeming events closer to their time and space more representative of reality, incorrectly assume that church toleration is the rule, not the exception in Islamic history, which has more frequently been draconian to churches, and is back: "the Muslim Brotherhood announced immediately after the revolution that it is impossible to build any new church in Egypt, and churches which are demolished should never be rebuilt, as well as no crosses over churches or bells to be rung."[15]
This is also why Muslim authorities are complacent, if not complicit. According to witnesses, security forces, which were present during the Edfu attack, "stood there watching." Worse, Edfu's Intelligence Unit chief was seen directing the mob destroying the church.[16]
As for the governor of Aswan, he appeared on State TV and "denied any church being torched," calling it a "guest home" (a common tactic to excuse the destruction of churches[17]). He even justified the incident by arguing that the church contractor made the building three meters higher than he permitted: "Copts made a mistake and had to be punished, and Muslims did nothing but set things right, end of story."[18]
Equally telling is that perpetrators of church attacks are seldom if ever punished. Even if sometimes the most rabid church-destroyers get "detained," it is usually for show, as they are released in days, hailed back home as heroes (this, too, goes back to Muslim dogma).
This year alone has seen the New Year church attack, which left 23 dead;[19] the destruction of the ancient church of Sool,[20] where Muslims "played soccer" with its sacred relics; the Imbaba attacks,[21] where several churches were set aflame; and now Edfu, wherein, as usual "none of the attackers were arrested."[22]
Indeed, three days after Edfu, Muslims attacked yet another church.[23]
Aware that they are untouchable, at least when it comes to making infidel Christians miserable, anti-Christian Muslims have a simple strategy: destroy churches, even if one at a time, safe in the knowledge that, not only will they not be prosecuted, but Egypt's military and security apparatus will punish the infidel victims should they dare to protest.
Report 2: Egypt's Massacre of Christians: What the Media Does Not Want You To Know
Western media coverage of the recent massacre of Coptic Christians in Cairo, Egypt-in which the military killed dozens of Christians and injured some 300-was, as discussed earlier, deplorable.[24] It merely repeated the false propaganda of the complicit state-run media, without checking facts. Since then, further proofs of the lies and brutality surrounding the massacre have emerged; they are compiled in the following report which consists of facts and videos from Arabic sources-many of which have not appeared in the Western media.
This report documents: 1) the activities of the Supreme Military Council of Egypt and de facto ruler; 2) the lies and duplicitous tactics of both the Military Council and its media mouthpiece, Egyptian TV; and 3) the anti-Christian sentiment pervading all aspects of this incident.
The Egyptian Military
Along with a new report by Magdi Khalil asserting that the day before the planned march, a "death squad" of snipers hid atop buildings and shot at protesters, armored vehicles intentionally chased after and ran over protesters, killing and mutilating many.[25] Videos captured by witnesses included:
o A high-speed armored vehicle willfully plowing over unsuspecting Christian demonstrators.[26]
o Another armored vehicle chasing protesters, and a soldier opening fire into the fleeing crowds.[27]
o High-speed armored cars running amok in the middle of the crowds, including chasing protesters on the curb, as well as soldiers beating protesters.[28]
o More eyewitness testimony attesting to the brutality of the massacre, and they are many, and the victims include Muslims. Videos: 1[29] 2[30] 3[31] 4[32] 5[33]
The Tactics of the Military Council (or "War is Deceit")[34]
After the incident and notwithstanding crushing evidence, Egypt's Military Council held a news conference wherein senior official, Mahmoud Hegazy,[35] spun lie after lie: he stated that the military would "nevernever" run over civilians; that the very idea was "impossibleimpossible!" and "Shame on those who accuse the Egyptian military of such things!... Never has our military run over a single person, not even when combating the Enemy [Israel]."[36]
Hegazy portrayed the Christian protesters as the aggressors, attacking and killing "honorable" soldiers. To prove his point, he showed an image of a protester on top of a stalled armored vehicle, throwing a rock at the soldier inside, and a video of a military vehicle-that he claimed was hijacked by a protester-driving wildly into the crowd.
Hegazy's deceit lies in the fact that the "hijacked" vehicle running amok, and the one stalled and attacked by a protester, were one and the same vehicle: Al Dalil revealed that both vehicles had the same identification number.[37] In other words, when the vehicle in which a soldier was chasing and running over protesters finally stalled, the protesters then attacked it. Egypt's leaders willfully manipulated the footage to exonerate themselves and portray the Copts as violent aggressors.
Several eyewitnesses, including Muslims, further stated that, to hide the "evidence," they saw soldiers hurling the mutilated bodies of those run over into the nearby Nile River.[38]
As Copts have long suspected, the "thugs" (al-baltagiyya) who always appear in protests attacking Christians seem to be men whom the military uses to create an excuse to open fire and exercise brutality. Muslim eyewitnesses say they saw the thugs coming with State Security:[39] Al Dalil showed a video clip of a soldier exposed dressed as a civilian, interspersed among Coptic protesters, and other videos showing the thugs cooperating with the military.
A video[40] might offer the greatest proof: Days before the massacre, when Copts were protesting the destruction of their latest church,[41] around 20 Egyptian soldiers and security personnel captured a protester and mercilessly beat him (while calling him an "infidel," to put the beating in context).[42] Mixed among the military (camouflage uniforms) and security (black uniforms) is what appears to be a plainclothes civilian, who proceeds to stab the Christian protestor in the head with a knife several times; the victim later received 20 stitches. The plainclothesman is most likely a member of the military or security, dressed as a civilian for stealth purposes, otherwise he would not have been able to move among them so casually.
The Role of the Egyptian State Media (or "War is Deceit")[43]
"Egyptian TV"-demonstrating, unsurprisingly, that state-run media always serve dictatorial regimes-merely propagated the lies of the Military Council.
Even as armored vehicles were mowing down Christian protesters, Egyptian TV broadcast footage of reporters saying, "Help, the Copts are killing our heroic, patriotic soldiers and burning Qurans!" One segment on Egyptian TV had an outraged reporter condemning Christians-"as if they were the Israeli enemy"-for killing "our noble protectors [soldiers], who never once fired a single shot."[44] As a result, many Muslims took to the streets brutally attacking Christians and their property.
Egyptian TV also lied by saying three soldiers died at the hands of Copts: officials at the TV station later confessed to making it up.[45] That, however, did not stop a barrage of op-eds in Egypt blaming the Christians for their own massacre.[46]
Due to Egyptian TV's misinformation, several Egyptian reporters unequivocally condemned it. Anchorwoman Dina said: "I am ashamed that I work at this despicable TV channel... Egyptian TV was effectively calling for civil war between Muslims and Christians... Egyptian TV has proven that it is a slave to those who rule." Another news anchor, Mahmoud Yousif, announced that he "washes his hands of what Egyptian TV is broadcasting."[47]
Anti-Christian Hate
Although it should be clear that anti-Christian sentiment fueled this latest Muslim slaughter of Christian minorities, a few specifics follow:
  • Soldiers screamed "Allahu Akbar!" and cursed "Infidels!" as they approached and attacked the protesters[48]-which of course is not so unexpected when one considers that, even in olden times and in movies, the Egyptian military was called theJihadiyya (the organization that wages holy war).
  • A video of a soldier boasting that he shot a Christian in the chest is greeted by the crowd around him with "Allahu Akbar!"[49]
  • After the incident, Dr. Hind Hanafi, president of the University of Cairo, recommended separating wounded Christians from wounded Muslims admitted into the hospital, thereby institutionalizing religious discrimination, even in hospitals.[50]
A massacre at this level never occurred during the thirty-year reign of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, and yet Mubarak is being charged with "crimes against Egyptians." What about the Military Council? It has committed greater crimes-even though it has been in charge for less than a year. Saddam Hussein was condemned by the international community for using chemicals on his own people; where are the international community, the media, and the so-called human rights groups when it comes to a government running over its own civilians with armored vehicles and having "death squads" of snipers shooting at them?
Finally, if this report testifies to crimes against humanity, consider what it says about diplomacy: If Egyptian leadership lies and deceives to suppress its internal "infidel" citizens-whose "crime" was to object to the continual destruction of their churches[51]-how credible can it be to external "infidels," such as the U.S.?
The following list of articles and reports by the author further discuss the plight of Egypt's Copts:
Raymond Ibrahim is a Middle East and Islam specialist, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. A widely published author, best known for The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007), he guest lectures at universities, including the National Defense Intelligence College, briefs governmental agencies, such as U.S. Strategic Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and has testified before Congress regarding the conceptual failures that dominate American discourse concerning Islam.

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