In light of the targeting of Christians by the Islamic State–particularly in Libya and Syria–Christian Coptics in the United States assembled before the White House this week to demand the Obama administration address the plight of their brethren in the Middle East.
A group of Coptic Christians who emigrated from Egypt to the United States decided to get the president’s attention by dressing in the orange prison jumpsuits ISIS likes to adorn its hostages with and staging a protest on Tuesday. A group of about 50 protesters marched from the White House to Capitol Hill, chanting “Obama, Obama, did you see? Christian blood in the sea.”
According to a report at the Washington Post, organizer Hanna Asaad was moved to action by the abduction and beheading of his best friend and cousin Samuel Alham, who was one of the twenty Copts lined up on a beach and beheaded by the Islamic State in Libya.
“I kept calling my cousin and telling him he had to leave Libya, but there was no safe way out,” Asaad told the Post. “The militants came looking for Christians and then took them away. They murdered my cousin, my nephew and my classmates. Someday soon they will start murdering people in this country.” He noted that targeting Copts for murder is easy, as they tend to have small crosses tattooed on their wrists.
“ISIS wants to drive all Christians from the Middle East. Obama has to act before the whole region turns to fire,” another demonstrator warned. The demonstrators also included Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Muslim Brotherhood in their roll call of villains. I would advise them not to hold their breath waiting for the Obama Administration to call out the Muslim Brotherhood, which was last seen grinning and popping selfies at the State Department.
The Washington Post amusingly portrays President Obama as a passive bystander to the “increasingly chaotic situation in the Middle East since the Arab Spring of 2011, including the rise of the Islamic State, the deepening Sunni-Shiite conflict in Iraq, the collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, the intransigence of Syria’s dictatorship and the deadly attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.” President Obama derided the Islamic State Obama as the “junior varsity league” of terrorism when they rolled into Iraq, supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, reinfornced the intransigent Syrian dictatorship with his foolish “red line” bluster and subsequent humiliation by Syria’s patrons in Russia, and had his administration claim the deadly attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya was a spontaneous protest over an offensive YouTube video.
Despite their small number, the Egyptian Christians living in Washington might be able to get some attention because, as the Washington Post observes, they tend to be “affluent, well-organized U.S. citizens.” The orange-jumpsuit protesters quoted in the article are all white-collar professionals. The lingering question would be exactly what they hope the American government will do for their friends and relatives in the Middle East. Some observers feel the damage done to certain Christian communities by ISIS is irreversible. The Islamic State is their most aggressive enemy, but not the only one; stories about the Christian exodus from Iraq stretch back deep into the previous decade. The Copts might have a better chance of retaining their position in Egypt than most other Christian communities in the region, especially if the Muslim Brotherhood is out of power for good.