by Raymond Ibrahim // Gatestone Institute
“I tell the Christians one word: We will set you on fire!” — Egyptian Muslim lady
“In scattered locations across Egypt, mobs of hard-line Muslims,” according to Morning Star News, “enraged over the deposing of the country’s Islamist president [Muhammad Morsi] this week attacked Christian homes, business[es] and church buildings and were suspected in the shooting death of a priest.”
None of this should come as a surprise. As Gatestone Institute reported at the beginning of Egypt’s June 30 revolution, anonymous “letters addressed to the Copts threatened them not to join the protests, otherwise their ‘businesses, cars, homes, schools, and churches’ might ‘catch fire…. This message is being delivered with tact. But when the moment of truth comes, there will be no tact’.” Several popular and influential Brotherhood leaders and supporters made the same threats, including Sheikh Essam Abdulamek , Dr. Safwat Hegazy , Dr. Wagdi Ghoneim, and Sheikh Abdullah Badr.
True to their word, now that Morsi and the Brotherhood have been ousted, Egypt’s Christians are being heavily targeted by Brotherhood supporters. On July 3rd, in a village in al-Minya in Upper Egypt, the services building of St. George Church was looted and torched. Similarly, the evangelical Saleh Church in Delga was attacked and set on fire, while the villagers, the majority of whom are Copts, had their homes and businesses looted and torched. Two Christians were injured from the fires. According to the pastor of Delga Catholic Church, who was able to escape the fire only by fleeing through a space in the roof, “supporters of former President Morsi are engaged in continuous and unprecedented harassment of Copts. He said that a number of those people broke into the homes of Christians at gunpoint, terrorizing women, children and seizing gold jewelry and furniture. He contacted security forces, pleading for help. Witnesses said security arrived next morning.”
Another Islamic mob tried to “attack the main Coptic cathedral in Qena, but the military fought them off. The group moved on to attack Christian-owned homes and businesses in the area, sources said. Also on Wednesday (July 3), a mob attacked the Church of the Holy Virgin in the coastal town of Marsa Matrouh with stones, but the military also repelled them.” “It is a miracle no one was killed in the attacks” a woman told the Morning Star News.
Unfortunately, this miracle did not extend to other Copts attacked by Brotherhood supporters. On July 6, Coptic Christian priest Mina Cheroubim was shot dead as he left his church in al-Arish, north Sinai — near the same area where al-Qaeda-linked Brotherhood affiliates attacked and expelled Christian Copts months ago. Four more Christians were slaughtered by Muslims in the province of Luxor. The attack is being framed as “collective punishment“: some Muslims accused Christians in the village of killing a Muslim, although Christians deny it, saying the Muslim was killed by another Muslim, but the mob decided to scapegoat the Copts. Dozens of Christian homes and businesses were looted and torched. Hundreds of Coptic villagers fled.
“This is just the beginning,” said one Coptic Christian woman from Upper Egypt who was interviewed. “They will not be happy until they steal everything we own and kill us all. How can anyone be full of so much hate? If I took my eyes off God, I would shrink and die.”
Another Egyptian woman, incensed at the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood, and like many Brotherhood supporters, scapegoating Egypt’s Christian minority, declared, “I am a religious [Muslim] Egyptian lady. I tell the Christians one word: You live by our side! We will set you on fire! We will set you on fire!”
Raymond Ibrahim is author of the new book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, 2013). A Middle East and Islam expert, he is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, associate fellow at the Middle East Forum.