Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Trump’s Opportunity: Saving Coptic Christians

Egypt’s minorities, long persecuted, are counting on the U.S. president to defend religious freedom.
Islamic State’s local affiliate in Sinai claimed credit for the bombing of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Cairo earlier this month. The group could not have chosen a more symbolic target. Erected in 1911, St. Peter’s was an architectural marvel built and decorated by Italian architects and mosaic artists.
It stood for a cosmopolitan Egypt that welcomed thousands of foreigners as its rulers sought to make it the Paris of the East. It captured the dreams and pains of the Boutros-Ghali family, which rose to power and financed the church’s construction after being emancipated from the shackles of dhimmitude. It represents what is now a bygone era.
Twenty-five worshipers, mostly women, died in the St. Peter’s blast. It is part of an ominous trend. Twenty Copts were killed by their neighbors during the 2000 New Year massacre in El Kosheh village. The Dec. 31, 2010, bombing of a church in Alexandria left 23 dead. The 2013 burning of more than 50 churches by Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators was the worst violence on Coptic churches since the 14th century. And the February 2015 beheading of 20 Coptic workers by Islamic State on the shores of Libya was the most horrifying incident for Copts in memory.
Persecution has never been alien to the Copts. Roman and Byzantine emperors, along with Arab and Turkish caliphs and rulers, have each claimed their share of Coptic blood. A church that stood as one of the pillars of Christianity in late antiquity was reduced to a small minority struggling for survival. Even during Egypt’s proto-liberal age (1923-1952), the Copts weren’t spared incitement and attacks.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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