The Arab spring unleashes Islamists on Egyptian Christians.
Screaming “With our blood and soul, we will defend you, Islam,” jihadists stormed the Virgin Mary Church in northwest Cairo last weekend. They torched the Coptic Christian house of worship, burned the nearby homes of two Copt families to the ground, attacked a residential complex, killed a dozen people, and wounded more than 200: just another day in this spontaneous democratic uprising by Muslim hearts yearning for freedom.
In the delusional vocabulary of the “Arab Spring,” this particular episode is known as a sectarian “clash.” That was the Washington Post’s take. Its headline reads “12 dead in Egypt as Christians and Muslims clash” — in the same way, one supposes, that a mugger’s fist can be said to “clash” with his victim’s face. The story goes on, in nauseating “cycle of violence” style, to describe “clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians” that “left” 12 dead, dozens more wounded, “and a church charred” — as if it were not crystal clear who were the clashers and who were the clashees, as if the church were somehow combusted into a flaming heap without some readily identifiable actors having done the charring.
The thugs in question were Egyptian Muslims. Were they representative of all Egyptian Muslims? No, but it would be more accurate to portray them as such than to suggest, as the Pollyanna narrative holds, that Egypt (and Tunisia, and Yemen, and Syria, and Lebanon, and Algeria, and …) is teeming with legions of Gamal al-Madisons.
This is the Egypt where the toppling of the pro-American, pro-peace Mubarak regime was celebrated by the rape of CBS correspondent Lara Logan amid the familiar chants of “Allahu Akbar!” The same Egypt where, just a few weeks ago, Islamist factions wiped out the proponents of democracy by a whopping 78–22 margin in a referendum on the formation of a new government. The result ensures a Muslim Brotherhood hammerlock on the new parliament, and perhaps even the presidency — a Brotherhood leader having announced this week that he will run against the popular but weak Amr Mousa.
The provocation that stirred Muslims this time, as if there had to be one, involved a rumor that Copts are preventing a Christian woman from converting to Islam — and who wouldn’t grab the blowtorch over that? The rumor is probably not true, but what difference does that make? A Christian woman about whom a similar claim was made a couple of years ago ultimately denied that she had ever attempted to become a Muslim. That didn’t stop enraged Muslims — rage being the default condition — from killing 51 people in a similar arson attack on a Syriac Catholic church in post-Saddam, “Made in the U.S.A.” Baghdad.
Meanwhile, back in Egypt, the Copts have been dealing with a rash of “clashes” ever since the early breakout of spring. The Wall Street Journal provides the rundown: a church in Alexandria bombed on New Year’s Eve, killing 23; a Cairo church attacked by angry mobs in March; and last month, rioters in Qena demanding the ouster of the regime-appointed governor because he is a Christian and, under sharia standards, thus unfit to govern in a Muslim land.