Egypt: New Islamic Group Threatens Christians with Conversion or Death
Now that the Islamists have taken over Egypt, after the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, an Islamic group has arisen to threaten a number of Coptic Christian priests with death if they don’t convert to Islam. The priests are located in the town of Safaga, near the Red Sea. The Islamic group, Jihad al-Kufr, is now routinely threatening non-Muslims; the group’s name means Jihad against non-believers or non-Muslims.
Adel Guindy, president of Coptic Solidarity and a member of Egypt’s Coptic community, said:
It’s not the first time. This is happening every day. This one incident caught the attention of the news agencies, but there are worse things happening to the Christians every day in Egypt. It has definitely worsened under the revolution. Once the worst part of the society surfaced -- the Islamists -- the Copts are paying a heavy price. The West doesn’t really feel our pain. It’s a war of attrition.
Copts are roughly 10 percent of Egypt’s population, which numbers 85 million people.
The new constitution that gave Islamic president Mohamed Morsi tremendous new power also includes sharia law, and denies any religious minorities legal protection. Jason DeMars, founder of Present Truth Ministries, a Christian advocacy group focused on religious persecution, said:
There was a relative amount of freedom (for Christians) before Egypt’s revolution, and many were hoping for more freedoms, and now things are unfortunately much worse and much more difficult. It’s what they’ve always wanted to do, but Mubarak held some of that back because of the support he got from the United States and other Western countries. People were paying attention, but now the extremists are seeing this as an opportunity to crack down on the community there.
There have been numerous other incidents, such as last weekend’s Christian Church in Fayoum being set on fire, as Islamists tore down the cross on the church and fired rocks at Christians, injuring four people; various reports of rape of Christian women; three separate incidents where Christian women had their hair cut off by Islamic women on the subway; and the case of two Coptic Christian boys who are being tried for “insulting the Koran..”
Egypt's Coptic Christian leader, Pope Tawadros II, condemned the new constitution for discrimination, saying, "We are a part of the soil of this nation and an extension of the pharaohs and their age before Christ. Yes, we are a minority in the numerical sense, but we are not a minority when it comes to value, history, interaction and love for our nation."