All of these accusations are as inapplicable to the Coptic Church as they are applicable to Islamists. Let us first examine the context of these charges:
“Abducting and torturing female Muslim converts from Christianity.” Context: The wife of a Coptic priest, Camelia Shehata, was reportedly kidnapped by Islamists, but then returned to her family. In response, Islamist leaders began saying that she had willingly run away and converted to Islam, and, in fact, has been “re-kidnapped” by the Coptic Church, which has trapped her in a monastery where she is being “tortured” and “re-indoctrinated” to Christianity.
In fact, the opposite scenario — kidnapping Christian women and forcing them to convert to Islam — is a well documented and a notorious phenomenon in Egypt. So now the Coptic Church is being accused of behaving identically — not just kidnapping, but torturing, brainwashing, and forcing women to convert. Moreover, the fact that Camelia has appeared on video fervently affirming her Christian faith and denying that she ever converted to Islam has been ignored, no doubt because Islam’s ingrained notion of taqiyya, or dissimulation, is also being projected onto the Copts. Finally, Muslims’ own sharia law mandates that Muslim women who try to leave the faith must be incarcerated and tormented until they return to Islam, such as in the recent case of Nagla Imam.
“Stockpiling weapons in monasteries and churches to carry out war against Muslims.” Context: On September 15, leading Islamic figure Dr. Muhammad Salim al-Awwa appeared on Al Jazeera, and, in a wild tirade, accused the Copts of “stocking arms and ammunition in their churches and monasteries”— imported from Israel, no less, as “Israel is in the heart of the Coptic Cause” — and “preparing to wage war against Muslims.” He warned that if nothing is done, the “country will burn,” inciting Muslims to “counteract the strength of the [Coptic] Church.” Awwa further charged that Egypt’s security forces cannot enter the monasteries to investigate for weapons (an amazing assertion, considering that Coptic monasteries are not only at the mercy of the state, but easy prey to Islamist attacks, with monks tortured and crucifixes spat on).
Needless to say, such charges are unjustified: in a nation and society where Islam is supreme; where sharia law (which mandates subjugation for non-Muslims via Koran 9:29) is part of the Constitution; where Copts have been conditioned over centuries to be happy just being left alone — is it reasonable to believe that these selfsame, downtrodden Christians, who make up 12%-15% of the population, are planning a violent takeover of Egypt? It is easy to see, however, why such charges resonate with Muslims; after all, Islamists are constantly arming and stockpiling weapons — a Koranic charge — including in mosques, as they prepare to violently seize power across the nations, with Egypt being an especially coveted target. Ironically, Awwa himself ceded that “Muslims are arrested every day [in Egypt] for extremism and the possession of arms.”
“Planning to divide Egypt to create a Coptic State.” Context: In a closed conference, Coptic Bishop Bishoy had the temerity to acknowledge history: “Muslims are guests in this country, Christians are the original residents. Prior to the Arab invasion of Egypt, which took place in the seventh century, the majority of Egypt’s population was Christian.” As usual, this otherwise historically accurate observation has enraged Muslims, been denounced by Al Azhar, and cited as “proof” that the Copts seek to divide Egypt and establish their own state.
It is actually Muslim minorities who habitually try to secede from non-Muslim countries, whether by creating their own nations (Pakistan), or creating enclaves in the West. The notion of separating from the infidel is commanded in the Koran (e.g., 3:28, 4:89, 4:144, 5:54, 6:40, 9:23, and 58:22), codified in the doctrine of wala wa bara, and imprinted on the Muslim psyche. Unsurprisingly, then, Muslims have come to project this divisive impulse onto the Copts as well.
- Egypt: Violence against Christian Copts on Christmas
- US: Copts’ petition to Obama
- Egypt: Muslim persecution on Christian Copts
- Islamist cleric accuses Coptic Church of “being a State within State”, stockipiling weapons.
- “Some Qu’ran verses were added after Mohammed’s death”, Coptic Bishop says.
- Al-Azhar’s statement to the Nation reduces Copts to Dhimmi status.