Posted tagged ‘Christians in Egypt’

Egypt’s Battle Against Islamic Extremism

June 3, 2017

Egypt’s Battle Against Islamic Extremism, Gatestone InstituteShireen Qudosi, June 3, 2017

Sisi faces more than just militant and political extremists within Egypt’s borders; he is also walking a theological tightrope. Egypt is home to the regressive theocratic influence of the most revered Islamic institution in the Sunni world, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which openly views freedom as a “ticking time-bomb.”

Being held hostage intellectually by the grip of Al-Azhar University ensures that there is a constant supply when it comes to producing the next generation of militant and political Islamists.

President Sisi’s response to the brutal slaughter of peaceful Christian worshippers is being called rare but should not be surprising, considering the aggressive measures that need to be taken to hold extremism at bay, and to eradicate the threat that local groups pose to the Egyptian people. Coming out of the Riyadh Summit, where President Trump and a host of Muslim nations, including Egypt, agreed to drive out extremism, Sisi’s reaction was necessary.

 

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When it comes to regional interests in the Middle East, the priority is the most dominant and violent force.

Egypt stands out as a primary target, given the cocktail of challenges that position it as a center of radical Islam. Egypt faces political, violent, and theological militancy within its borders.

For a nation to do what it must to survive, it needs the steadfast support of world powers. Step one is annihilating all sources of violent Islam.

 

For a Western audience, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is a complex figure, who was shunned by the Obama administration. There appear truly pressing, immediate priorities in Egypt, such as developing the economy and combating the avalanche of extremist attempts to overthrow him. Among Middle East and North African territories, Egypt stands out as a primary target, given the cocktail of challenges that position it as a center of radical Islam.

President Sisi faces violent extremist hotbeds in the Sinai Peninsula, and the still-destabilizing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood (a political arm of violent radicals). Most notably, Sisi brought a reality check to the Arab Spring when he led the military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, ushering a spiritual and cultural Islamic reformation with widespread popular support from Egyptians on a grass-roots level.

Sisi faces more than just militant and political extremists within Egypt’s borders; he is also walking a theological tightrope. Egypt is home to the regressive theocratic influence of the most revered Islamic institution in the Sunni world, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which openly views freedom as a “ticking time-bomb.”

Being held hostage intellectually by the grip of Al-Azhar University ensures that there is a constant supply when it comes to producing the next generation of militant and political Islamists.

Egypt also faces extremist infiltration from neighboring Libya, a nation caught in a power vacuum after the murder of its leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi. This vacuum has been readily filled by Islamic militants, including ISIS.

Upon returning home in April from his first visit to the U.S. since 2013, Sisi faced a series of domestic terror attacks that once again put Egypt in a global spotlight. On Palm Sunday, in April, two suicide bombings in Coptic Christian churches killed more than 45 people and injured another 120. For Egypt, one of the last regional strongholds that still has a vibrant non-Muslim minority population, violent eruptions on major Christian holidays have become routine.

In England, just days after the May 22 Manchester suicide bombing, attention was once again on Egypt where 29 Coptic Christians were gunned down on a bus traveling to a monastery near the city of Minya. The attack was launched by masked terrorists who arrived in three pick-up trucks and opened fire on the passengers, many of whom were children. Egyptian intelligence believes the Minya attack was led by ISIS jihadists based in Libya. In February, the aspiring terrorist caliphate also launched a campaign against Egypt’s Christian population. The Egyptian military responded swiftly with air strikes against terrorist camps, along with a televised warning against sponsored terrorism.

President Sisi’s response to the brutal slaughter of peaceful Christian worshippers is being called rare but should not be surprising, considering the aggressive measures that need to be taken to hold extremism at bay, and to eradicate the threat that local groups pose to the Egyptian people. Coming out of the Riyadh Summit, where President Trump and a host of Muslim nations, including Egypt, agreed to drive out extremism, Sisi’s reaction was necessary.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (front row, far-right) attended the May 21 Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, along with U.S. President Donald Trump (front-center). The problems of Islamic extremism and terrorism were much-discussed at the summit. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

In a war that is equally ideological and kinetic, Muslim nations and others trying to survive the plague of Islamic terrorism will need to be as ruthless as their extremist counterparts. That is something that the warring political factions in the U.S. quickly need to understand. When it comes to regional interests in the Middle East, the priority is combating the most dominant and violent force. If that force wins, human rights are completely off the table. Beyond Egypt, President Trump has received considerable backlash in the U.S. for siding with what are seen as repressive regimes, whether it was hosting Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the White House or engaging with dictators and monarchs during the Riyadh Summit.

In order to bring security to the region, alliances need to look at the real instigators and agents of chaos. There is a metastasizing threat that requires a new coalition of the willing. For a nation to do what it must to survive, it needs the steadfast support of world powers. Step one is annihilating all sources of violent Islam.

Shireen Qudosi is the Director of Muslim Matters, with America Matters.

Christians in Egypt: Mysterious Deaths, Soldier ‘Suicides’

February 21, 2017

Christians in Egypt: Mysterious Deaths, Soldier ‘Suicides’, Clarion Project, Jennifer Breedon and Shelby Kaus, February 21, 2017

christiansinegyptA woman cries as Christians pray in the street outside the orthodox church of the Virgin Mary during the official funerals for victims of a December church bombing that killed 25, mainly women and children.(Photo: © Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Clarion sources have noted that the military officially lists all mysterious deaths of Christians in the military as “suicides.”  This shows the vast Islamist infiltration throughout Egypt despite President Sisi’s promise to do more for the Christians.

President Sisi fights many fronts and has a more difficult uphill battle than nearly any world leader in modern history. 

No leader has ever spoken up for Christians the way President Sisi has. Sisi has actually done a great deal for Christians, and the Christian community recognizes that and appreciates it.

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Christians have lost another fellow believer in Egypt.  Ishak Ibrahim Fayez Younan, 37, had his throat slit in his Cairo home and was discovered by his brother, marking the fifth murder in only two weeks. Younan is one of many Christians who have had throats slit and been murdered for their faith.

Despite being in his home, nothing was taken indicating there was no motivation to rob Younan. We can assume his death, which follows a similar pattern of other recent murders in Egypt, was the result of his identification as a Christian in Egypt.

Younan had been working at a local factory that distributes soft drinks to grocery stores to support his wife and two children, ages 10 and 12, who now have no father.

Many citizens of Egypt are calling on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to do more for Christians in Egypt, but the underlying and deep-seated Islamist ideology and resentment against Christians seems to go beyond his capabilities as head of state.

Coptic Christians make up 10% Egypt’s population and suffer grave persecution, ranging from denial of jobs, burning of their churches and targets for assassination as in the case of Younan.    In December 2016, a large number of churches were bombed and, according to CNN, more than two dozen people were killed with several more injured.

Likewise, many Christian soldiers in the Egyptian Army are facing the same fate because of their faith.  Several Coptic soldiers have been the victims of mysterious deaths. In June of 2015, Bahaa Gamal Mikhail Silvanus, 23, was found dead in his office at the post where he was stationed.  Silvanus suffered two gunshot wounds and critical blunt force trauma to his head.

Yet, military officials ruled that the cause of death was suicide. Only a few short months later, Baha Saeed Karam, 22, was found dead from four fatal gunshot wounds at his headquarters.  Sources from both Silvanus and Karam’s friends and family say that they had been hassled several times by fellow soldiers to convert to Islam.  Karam had received death threats from Islamic soldiers shortly prior to his death.

Clarion sources have noted that the military officially lists all mysterious deaths of Christians in the military as “suicides.”  This shows the vast Islamist infiltration throughout Egypt despite President Sisi’s promise to do more for the Christians.

President Sisi fights many fronts and has a more difficult uphill battle than nearly any world leader in modern history.  Here are some of the hurdles he faces in a country where Christian persecution has historically been among the worst:

1. Since the Muslim Brotherhood was criminalized, the Salafists in Egypt aligned themselves with Sisi to keep safe.  Yet, their ideological beliefs that allow for violence against Christians remain rampant.

2. Any sudden movement by Sisi to denounce all Islamist oppressive ideology could result in riots and a loss of his popular support, especially considering the presence in Egypt of Al Azhar University, the seat of the world’s leading Islamic thinkers and teachers.Such broad denouncing could also prove more deadly for Egypt’s Christians who may be viewed as the ones to blame for Sisi’s crackdown on Islamists.  No leader has ever spoken up for Christians the way President Sisi has.Sisi has actually done a great deal for Christians, and the Christian community recognizes that and appreciates it.

He has denounced all attacks on Christian churches and has continued to rebuild the destroyed churches in upper Egypt that Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers destroyed in 2013.

3. Brotherhood sympathizers will always hate Sisi, denounce his rule and try to prohibit him from receiving international support. We must never forget that Cairo is the birthplace of Islamist ideology and their genius suppression tactics. These tactics are in full force against the pro-Christian and pro-Israel President Sisi.