Attacking the ‘Enemies of Islam’
In Egypt, the Brotherhood is savaging Christians because . . . it works.

Fire damage at a Coptic church in Mallawi.


Andrew C. McCarthy

The first is that we should not idealize what life was like for Christians in Egypt before the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Mubarak was, on balance, an American ally, but he made his own accommodations with Islamic supremacists — abiding their prominence in academe, their promotion of anti-Semitism in the media, and their more than occasional harassment of the Copts. The stubborn fact is that attacks on Egypt’s Christians long predate the Brotherhood’s now-aborted rise to political power. In fact, as Ray Ibrahim has recounted and I describe in Spring Fever, Egyptian troops participated in the massacre of Christian demonstrators in Maspero in 2011 — many months before Morsi’s mid-2012 election.


The second is to be mindful of how the Brotherhood won all the elections after Mubarak’s fall — from the first, a referendum on constitutional amendments, through the elections for parliament and the presidency, up to and including the last, a referendum on the sharia constitution. In each instance, in venues from thousands of mosques to Sheikh Qaradawi’s popular Al Jazeera television show, Islamic leaders portrayed every contest as a struggle between Islam and the perceived “enemies of Islam” — Christians and secularist Muslims who are supposedly the cat’s paw of the hated Americans and Zionists. Egyptians — millions of them poor, illiterate, resentful, and more than content to see elections in those terms — voted for Islamic supremacists every time, usually by landslide margins.

Why do you think the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies are torching Christian churches throughout the country? To be sure, doing so is consistent with their supremacist ideology. But the main reason is tactical. In the Egyptian mind, attacking Christians converts the controversy over Morsi’s removal from a matter of the Brotherhood’s governmental incompetence and malevolence to another pitched battle between Islam and the “enemies of Islam.”

Obviously, millions of Egyptians do not see things this way. But if those Egyptians were a majority, Islamic supremacists would never have won control of the government in the first place. In Egypt, the Brotherhood is savaging Christians because . . . it works. General Sisi is not doing enough to protect besieged Christian communities because, even if he is privately inclined to do so, he knows that many of his rank-and-file soldiers are not.

Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.