By Maurice Ostroff
In a refreshing departure from the almost uniform blaming of the filmmaker for the violent reaction to the infamous "Innocence of Islam" film, the Wall street journal widened the discussion in an article by Brett Stephens asking "Why is it OK to mock one religion but not another?"
Stephens wrote; "No matter. The film, the administration says, is "hateful and offensive" (Susan Rice), "reprehensible and disgusting" (Jay Carney) and, in a twist, "disgusting and reprehensible" (Hillary Clinton). Mr. Carney, the White House spokesman, also lays sole blame on the film for inciting the riots that have swept the Muslim world and claimed the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staff in Libya.So let''s get this straight: In the consensus view of modern American liberalism, it is hilarious to mock Mormons and Mormonism but outrageous to mock Muslims and Islam. Why? Maybe it''s because nobody has ever been harmed, much less killed, making fun of Mormons". If a meaningful examination is to be made of this horrible occurrence it is important to broaden our focus and examine all other aspects in addition to the motivation of only those offended by the filmmaker. Even as we go out of our way trying to understand what motivates the violent protesters we cannot fail to at least also ask what motivated the Christian Copt who allegedly made the film.While agreeing with Secretary Clinton that the film is disgusting and reprehensible, intellectual honesty requires that we don''t blindly accept her statement, as quoted by the Washington Post, that its content and messages are absolutely rejected without knowing what they are about. Surely, in view of the serious consequences, the content and message cannot be ignored outright if we are trying to gain a realistic understanding of the tragic events. In many TV debates prominent commentators have expressed understanding and even sympathy for those who feel that the insults to Allah are deserving of their violent pillaging and sometimes murderous reactions. But if a serious in-depth effort is to be made to understand the tragic events of the past few weeks surely, the underlying reasons that motivated the filmmaker must also be examined. It has been widely reported that the film was motivated by a deeply felt frustration about the blatant neglect by the free world of the plight of the Christian Copts comprising about 10% of Egypt''s population whose churches are burned and who are routinely persecuted, attacked and murdered.In an article in Coptic solidarity on Sept 6 titled "The Collective Punishment of Egypt''s Christian Copts" Raymond Ibrahim, the American author and columnist, told about a Christian launderer who accidently burned the shirt of a Muslim customer in Egypt leading to a brawl in which 2,000-3,000 Muslims attacked the Christians of the village leading to an exodus of approximately 120 Coptic families. Hundreds of Muslims torched and looted Coptic businesses and homes, while security forces at the scene did nothing at all.
In written testimony to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission''s titled "Under Threat: The Worsening Plight of Egypt''s Coptic Christians" Ibrahim wrote;
"The idea of subjugating non-Muslims, aptly coined ''Dhimmitude," comes from Quran 9:29: "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid that which Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, nor follow the religion of Truth [Islam], from the People of the Book [Christians and Jews], until they pay the Jizya [tribute] with willing submission, and feel themselves utterly subdued.''..
Today, popular Muslim preachers on Egyptian TV openly condemn Christians, publicly calling for the return of Dhimmi status; Copts and their churches are almost always attacked on Friday, immediately after the weekly mosque sermons and to cries of "Allahu Akbar!" demonstrating the Islamic pedigree of the attack.
None of this is surprising when one considers that even Egypt''s Grand Mufti himself, often touted in the West as a "moderate," recently classified all Christians as "infidels," or kuffar, a term that immediately positions Copts as enemies to be suppressed".
In a January 15, 2012 article "Maspero Massacre: Egypt''s Christians Cry for Justice" CBN News described how Coptics had gathered in Cairo on, Oct. 9 to protest the destruction of a church near Aswan.10,000 Christians marching to Maspero Square were attacked by army tanks. 27 Christians were killed, fourteen of them, crushed by military armored vehicles.Can we expect change from the new regime?The Lantos report adds that change in attitudes may not come anytime soon. Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at the Hudson Institute, told CBN News that when a soldier proclaimed to Muslim onlookers, that he shot someone in the chest the Muslim onlookers all clapped and applauded and one of them said, "By God, you are a man!".Coptic activist priest Father Philopateer said that Egyptians haven''t seen any constructive response from the Muslim Brotherhood or the Islamists about the burning, or destruction of churches.The NY Times of May 30, 2011 reported;
"The Arab Spring initially appeared to open a welcoming door to the dwindling number of Christian Arabs who, after years of feeling marginalized, eagerly joined the call for democracy and rule of law. But now many Christians here say they fear that the fall of the police state has allowed long-simmering tensions to explode, potentially threatening the character of Egypt, and the region".
"A surge of sectarian violence in Cairo 24 dead, more than 200 wounded and three churches in flames since President Hosni Mubaraks downfall has turned Christian-Muslim tensions into one of the gravest threats to the revolutions stability".
Let us hope and pray that there will be a turn towards tolerance and understanding despite the ominous signs