Equally disturbing, noted the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, “violence targeting Coptic Orthodox Christians remained high.” But the Mubarak government rarely punished the attackers. Indeed, International Christian Concern noted that it was common for the government to arrest “Coptic victims alongside the perpetrators of the violence.”
Even when the Copts did not end up behind bars, they did not receive justice. State explained that the Mubarak government sponsored “informal reconciliation sessions” which “generally prevented the criminal prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against Copts, precluded their recourse to the judicial system for restitution, and contributed to a climate of impunity that encouraged further assaults.”
No surprise, failing to exact a penalty for murder and mayhem has led to more murder and mayhem — or what the Hudson Institute‘s Nina Shea called “pogroms and acts of terror.” The failure to punish the perpetrators, complained the Commission, “continued to foster a climate of impunity, making further violence likely.” Even more emphatic was Dina Guiguis of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who told a recent congressional hearing that “the Egyptian regime is fully responsible for creating the fertile ground on which pernicious and egregious sectarian violence has become routine.”
Unfortunately, those who hoped the Egyptian revolution would better protect Christians and other religious minorities have been disappointed. To the contrary, violent attacks on Copts have been increasing.
As of last month 24 Christians had been killed, more than 200 had been injured, and three churches had been destroyed. Muslim mobs have beset Coptic churches, businesses, and homes. Well-armed thugs also attacked Christians who were protesting against the forgoing attacks.
No surprise, then, that few perpetrators have been arrested, let alone imprisoned. Noted Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute: “as under Mubarak, the authorities’ refusal to punish attacks on Christians has led to more attacks.” The army even assaulted two Coptic monasteries, supposedly to enforce discriminatory zoning laws (which prohibited walls erected for protection from attacks).