The Corner

Egypt’s Coptic Christians

Kurt Werthmuller’s post about the worsening situation in Egypt for religious minorities, Coptic Christians in particular, is extremely alarming. Unfortunately, it is not surprising if you’ve been watching with an eye fixed on what Egypt actually is rather than what we wish it were. Two points to make — or reiterate.

First, what is happening in Egypt is not, and has never been, an “Arab Spring”; it is an the Islamist Ascendancy. That has boded ill for non-Muslims from the start.

Second, it has always been naive to hope that the Egyptian military — which has now gone from passive observer to active participant in the persecution of religious minorities — would thwart the Islamists. As I’ve argued for months, the Egyptian military is a reflection of Egyptian society. Its upper ranks have been working with American counterparts for 30 years, but (a) as you move down rank and file, what you find are soldiers drawn from Egypt’s predominantly Islamist population (which is why, for example, so many prominent jihadists are Egyptian military vets); and (b) even in the top tiers, Egypt’s military worked with the Pentagon because that was what deposed President Hosni Mubarak wanted it to do; once collaborating with the U.S. and the West against Islamists was no longer a regime priority, we were certain to see a change in the military’s behavior. 

This is not to say that there are no real democrats or secularist/pluralists in Egypt. But, again, we should be realistic: they are probably outnumbered by about 4:1 — which is why they got wiped out 78-22 percent in the referendum held a few months back about the course of the upcoming elections.

We are seeing dark days, and I fear there are darker ones ahead.

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