Pakistan Christian Post By Lee Jay Walker, Tokyo Correspondent, THE SEOUL TIMES
Over half a dozen Coptic Christians were killed and another half dozen were hurt in a Thursday morning drive-by shooting following a Christmas midnight Mass in Nag Hamadi in Upper Egypt.
Another year may have just started but in Egypt the endless persecution of Christians goes on and the endless martyrs who follow the faith of Christianity “shine out” in a world of hatred. However, why does this suffering continue in Egypt and in other parts of the world?
This article is in response to the recent murders of Christians in Egypt and I aim to link the current situation with the bloody history of Egypt and its endless persecution of Christians.
According to popular myth Egypt is a moderate nation and this mainly Muslim nation is meant to be a moderate bastion within the mainly intolerant “Islamic world.” However, while Muslims in this nation highlight the fact that you have thousands of churches, they fail to say why and they gloss over the endless persecution and discrimination within Egypt.
After all, Egypt was mainly Christian before countless Islamic invasions and in time Arabization would limit the role of the Coptic language and colonialization took root over many centuries. The indigenous Christians of Egypt already had a rich Coptic culture and history and the Coptic Christian church was blessed with a strong-minded priesthood.
However, constant Islamic invasions, linguistic colonialization via Arabic, massacres of Christians, and systematic persecution of Christianity via Islamic Sharia law and dhimmitude; meant that Islam would rule supreme.
Of course, not all Muslim rulers were anti-Christian but Coptic Christians always had to rely on the given ruler for protection. Yet, irrespective if the ruler was moderate or anti-Christian, one theme remained the same and this applies to institutionalized discrimination and persecution which is part and parcel of Islam and Islamic Sharia law.
Therefore, from the early conquests and up until today, it is clear that converts from Islam to Christianity face persecution. Yes, Islamic enlightenment in Egypt means that in the past the convert to Christianity would be killed, however, now it is mere prison or persecution or a mixture of both.
Turning back to the reason of this article, I will now focus on recent events in Egypt in 2010. For on January 6 in Nagaa Hamady, which is near Luxor, Muslims killed six Christians and one security guard. They were gunned down on Christmas Eve (Christmas day is January 7 for Coptic Christians and other Orthodox Christians) and clearly the timing was important.
Yet for many Christians in Egypt this is all about the embedded persecution of Christianity in this nation. Therefore the recent massacre is further evidence that Islamic intolerance and systematic persecution is part and parcel of the traditions of Egypt since the first Islamic invasion began.
In recent times you have had many attacks against Christians and this applies to murders, riots against Christians, attacks against Coptic Christian churches, abduction and forced rapes of Christian females, and other insidious forms of discrimination and persecution.
In truth, ever since the first Islamic conquest of Egypt you have had systematic persecution because religious pluralism and freedom of thought does not exist in Islam. Therefore, from the very foundation of Islam in Egypt it was clear that Christians had to pay tax (jizya) in order to be protected and non-payment could mean death, enslavement, or forced conversion.
It is worth mentioning that Mohammed himself stated that Muslims must (Koran 9:29) "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."
Therefore, it is clear that Mohammed understood the power of tax and other draconian laws in order to subdue other faiths. After all, how can other faiths thrive when apostasy from Islam means death?
Prof. Kenneth Cragg sums up the dhimmi system by stating that the "Dhimmi, 'tolerated minority,' status under Islam has long made for a pattern of quiescence in ancient, local Christianity around the mosque. Traditional tolerance allowed only a freedom to remain, to teach the faith only within the family, so that adherence became a circumstance of birth, and continuity that of a closed community. There was no freedom to express faith, still less to recruit to it, outside that circle of one's origin."
Coptic Christians after the Islamic conquests were therefore faced with a bleak future. After all, if Coptic Christians were forbidden to propagate their faith freely in public then at best they could only survive. Yet this survival meant severe restrictions and systematic persecution, with the consequences of this being an ever diminishing minority and open to public ridicule because of their inferior status in law, education, and other important areas.
Therefore, in 2010 you have many minorities in mainly Muslim societies who are fighting for survival or who face open persecution because of state sanctioned laws which are based on Islamic Sharia law and maintaining massive inequality.
Minority groups who suffer open persecution in the modern world applies to the Baha’is in Iran; the Shabaks, Christians, Mandaens, and Yazidis who face persecution on a daily basis in Iraq; converts to Christianity in Somalia who are being butchered by radical Sunni Islamists; Buddhists in Southern Thailand have also suffered greatly in recent times including Buddhist clerics being beheaded; Hindus also suffer enormously in both Bangladesh and Pakistan; Ahmadiyya Muslims also face severe persecution in Pakistan and in 2009 several Christians were burnt alive in this nation; while Christians also face daily threats in Northern Nigeria and last year three Christian pastors were beheaded and other terrible attacks took place; the list is endless and of course Coptic Christians in Egypt suffer from both state sanctioned discrimination and being threatened by radical Sunni Islamists.
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.
Sadly, major political leaders in many Western nations are in appeasement mode and they are not confronting this global menace. However, radical Islam is also growing in the streets of London and Paris, and in other major cities throughout parts of Europe and in other parts of the mainly non-Muslim world.
Therefore, the ongoing silence towards events in Egypt, Iraq, Northern Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Southern Thailand, Somalia, and other mainly Muslim nations; is impacting on other nations because this hatred is spreading wide and far and silence or appeasement isn’t working.