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The Corner

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Arab Spring, Coptic Winter



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Andy, good luck rousing the western media to the plight of Egypt’s Christians. The boobs proclaimed Tahrir Square an “Arab Spring” and then moved on. I chanced to be on Fox News with Megyn Kelly half-an-hour after Mubarak threw in the towel, and, while Anderson Cooper was cooing orgasmically over on CNN, offered the cheerless thought that this was the dawn of the post-western Middle East, and the beginning of something potentially very dark. I’ll stand by that. As I wrote in February:

The Kingdom of Egypt in the period between 1922 and 1952 was flawed and ramshackle and corrupt, but it got closer to a functioning, pluralist society than anything in the 60 years since. For example, in 1923, Egypt’s first full year as a sovereign state, the country’s Minister of Finance was a man called Joseph Cattaui, a Member of Parliament and a Jew.

Try to imagine that now: a Jew serving as an Arab Muslim nation’s Finance Minister – or even getting elected as an obscure backbench MP. Sounds like something from a Give-peace-a-chance multifaith fantasy. But it actually happened – and then it stopped happening, and then it became inconceivable for it to happen ever again under any plausible scenario.

Shortly thereafter, Mr Cattaui’s great-grandson wrote to me from France, where he now lives. Because it’s not just that in Egypt a Jew can’t be Finance Minister but that a Jew can’t be. Because Egypt spent the second half of the 20th century getting worse, and is spending the new century getting worser. We now accept a Jew-free Egypt as a normal feature of life. No doubt we shall soon do the same with a Copt-free Egypt. But we could at least stop insulting those on the receiving end of the “Arab Spring” by pretending that it’s any kind of flowering of freedom.



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