Egyptian authorities arrested five Coptic Christian children after a Muslim mob accused them of blasphemy. The mob was upset they appeared in a video that allegedly “mocked” Islam, but really only made fun of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), which is determined to wipe Christianity, Judaism, and non-compliant Muslims off the Earth.
The police had arrested the Coptic teacher and held him for four days, but the mob nonetheless demanded more punishment, descending upon the homes of the children and “threw rocks at the homes of the youth in a bid to force their parents” to surrender the kids.
“The case of the five arrested in Minya and charged with blasphemy represents yet another case of how Egypt continues to bend to the weight of extremist ideology,” explained Todd Daniels, the Middle East regional manager for International Christian Concern. “A video – not even shared publicly – that mocked ISIS, a group that openly beheaded twenty Egyptian citizens, has already put these five in prison and may lead to lengthy prison sentences. Despite progress in terms of rhetoric from [Egyptian] President [Abdel Fattah el-Sisi], Egypt has pervasive persecution that continues to occur not only on the societal level but also in the judiciary.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is the first leader to attend Christmas Eve Mass and visit St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo.
“It’s important for the world to see this scene, which reflects true Egyptian unity, and to confirm that we’re all Egyptians, first and foremost,” he claimed at the time. “We truly love each other without discrimination, because this is the Egyptian truth.”
However, blasphemy laws in Egypt still exist. Article 98 states the punishment:
Confinement for a period of not less than six months and not exceeding five years, or a fine of not less than five hundred pounds and not exceeding one thousands pounds shall be the penalty inflicted on whoever make use of religion in propagating, either by words, in writing, or in any other means, extreme ideas for the purpose of inciting strife, ridiculing or insulting a heavenly religion or a sect following it, or damaging national unity.
Egyptian officials jailed two Coptic boys, aged 9 and 10, for allegedly ruining a Koran in October 2012. A video from April 2013 showed police officers standing and watching an attack on Coptics, who were at their church to mourn other Coptics killed by radical Muslims. Assailants attacked the El-Amir Tadros Coptic Church on August 14, 2013, which left it completely destroyed. In April 2014, a mob of radical Islamists dragged a young Coptic women out of car and proceeded to beat and stab her to death. There are so many more stories about the horrific treatment Coptics endured under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is targeting the Coptics as well, which means a united front between Christians and Muslims is important. In February, the terrorist group marched 21 Coptics to the beaches of Libya and beheaded them. The brutal act only brought the two sides closer in Egypt.
A group of Muslims did join a project to build a new Coptic Christian church just north of Cairo. Coptic Orthodox Bishop Benyamin started a fund to build a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. He asked his parishioners to reach people near and far to donate towards the church. Islamic leaders in the area heard about the fund and asked Muslims to also donate money.
“Christians have responded by sorrowfully calling out to God, and Muslims have shown love and care towards them,” said Ramen Atallah of Bible Society Egypt.