On Wednesday, the first day of the Christian Coptic New Year, Egypt’s Coptic
Pope Twadros II said he believes the country will recover from its current
Optimistic, he compared Egypt to a woman in labor, stating,
“All of this will turn into happiness when a child is born and a new life
begins,” according to Ahram Online.
Since the onset of the Arab uprisings
in 2010, which have resulted in revolutions, power vacuums and increased
religious and sectarian tensions, Christians have been on the
Christians in Egypt have been tormented by Islamists and have
thrown their support behind military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who seems
to be the ultimate power broker in the country.
He has led a massive
crackdown on Islamists in the Sinai and on the Muslim Brotherhood, arresting its
leaders and breaking up their protests.
Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman
Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and associate fellow at the Middle
East Forum, recently authored Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on
Christians. He keeps track of violence perpetrated by Muslims against
Christians, with a particular focus on the Arab world.
“In the big
picture, it is certainly not inconceivable that Christians could go the way of
the Jews,” Ibrahim told The Jerusalem Post, referring to the long-term presence
of Jews in Middle Eastern countries and their subsequent expulsion and
Ibrahim tries to put the recent violence into perspective,
pointing out that in the seventh century, when Islam burst onto the scene, many
of the lands it conquered had a Christian majority – from Syria in the east to
Spain in the west.
“That countries like Syria and Egypt are now Muslim
majority is a testimony to the fact that Christians have been going the way of
the Jews, though, because of their [Christians’] very large numbers that they
started with, it’s obviously taking longer,” he said.
In a recent
article, he wrote about the kidnapping of Wahid Jacob, a young Christian deacon
who had served at St. John the Baptist Church in Asyut, Egypt.
abducted on August 21, and his kidnappers demanded a ransom in the range of
$171,000. His family was unable to pay such an exorbitant sum; he was
subsequently executed, and his body was found in a field with signs of
This phenomenon is increasingly common, Ibrahim said, adding
that some victims were killed even after a ransom had been paid.
the fate of six-yearold Cyril Joseph, who was kidnapped in May, murdered and
thrown into the toilet even though his family had paid approximately $4,300 for
In Syria, Christians fear the Islamist-led opposition and,
to protect their best interests, have tended to support Syrian President Bashar
The battle for the Syrian Christian town of Maaloula continued on
Wednesday, according to a BBC report, despite claims by the government that it
had retaken it.
The majority of the town’s 3,300 residents have fled to
safer parts of the country, such as Damascus, according to the report. Nusra
Front fighters, linked to al-Qaida, have desecrated churches and statues they
The million or so Christians in Iraq have suffered
enormously since the Western invasion in 2003, and it is estimated that
approximately half of that population has left.
At the beginning of the
20th century, Ibrahim said, “Christians accounted for some 20 percent of the
population in the Middle East; today, 2 percent.”
If this trend is not
reversed, “Christians may well disappear entirely from the Middle East,” he
The Post asked if the current wave against radical Islam, with
Sisi’s takeover in Egypt and protests in Tunisia against the Islamist-led
government, was helping Christians.
Ibrahim responded that in the long
run, this development is positive, but in the short term, “Christians are
suffering more now than at any other time in the modern era,” with much of it
due to Brotherhood reprisals in Egypt.
“What is important is that Muslims
themselves – moderates, secularists, liberals – are rejecting the Islamist
agenda and its Brotherhood purveyors,” he said, adding, “if they continue and do
not give in and ultimately root out the Islamist cancer, things will eventually
be much better for the Copts, or so one hopes.”
Asked if there are any
powerful countries moving to protect Christians in the region, he observed that
the country most active in dealing with this issue is Russia and that President
Vladimir Putin has been speaking directly about the problem.
Orthodox Church has been involved in raising funds to aid the region’s
Christians. In a speech at a meeting with Orthodox churches in Moscow, Putin
said: “As a result of the tragedy happening in Syria today, we face a terrible
tragedy of losing the Christian presence in that country. If it does take place,
the neighboring countries will not stand aside. We cannot allow having the
Christian presence devastated in the Middle East. It will be a civilizational
Our sources are from there, our faith is from there [and]
the old Patriarchates are there,” he said, as quoted by the Pravmir
On the other hand, he said, governments in the West tend to
“gloss over this phenomenon, if not enable it, through their inexplicable
support for the Muslim Brotherhood in places like Egypt and in Syria by
supporting the Islamist-dominated opposition.”