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News Analysis

Egypt's Government, Media Join to Demonize Christian Copts

Tue, November 13, 2012

by: 
Raymond Ibrahim

From top to bottom, from the Muslim Brotherhood president to the Muslim Brotherhood-monitored media, the lies concerning Egypt's Christian minority—whether lies from the President, claiming the Copts are cared for, or whether lies from the media, demonizing them—continue nonstop.

After two Christian boys were arrested earlier this month, for example, for allegedly blaspheming a Quran and were subsequently released, the Egyptian media, following the claims of the Muslim Brotherhood, credited President Morsi with their release.

Ikhwan Web, the Muslim Brotherhood's official English website, and the website of its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, both ran a report entitled, "Morsi Orders Release of Christian Boys Held for Desecrating Holy Quran in Egypt," the opening sentence of which reads: "Two Egyptian Coptic boys are freed from juvenile detention, at President Morsi's instructions …" This magnanimous narrative was widely disseminated in the media, including in the West.

According to the lawyer of the two Christian boys, Guirgus Bebaway, however, "the claim that Morsi interfered to have the two children released is simply false …. President Morsi had nothing to do with the release of Nabil Nady Rizk, 10 years old, and Mina Nagui Farag, 9 years old," the two boys who "were taken to a different place until the situation calms down in their village," where wild riots and protests had ensued.

Similarly, Morsi's visit to the Sinai Peninsula — where, among other signs of jihadi infiltration, Christians were recently attacked and displaced — was trumpeted by the Western media as proof of his commitment to protect the Copts.

In a report, for instance, titled, "Egypt's president visits Sinai to 'reassure' Copts," AFP wrote, "Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi visited the Sinai peninsula on Friday to meet with and reassure Coptic families who fled from the town of Rafah after receiving death threats, his Facebook page said." (emphasis added)

According to the Coptic bishop of Sinai, however, although he and many other representatives of the Coptic community were eager to meet with Morsi, they were never allowed an opportunity. Rather, they were kept in the lobby with Sinai's Bedouins and others, where they all got to hear the president declare from afar some generic platitudes concerning the equality of all Egyptians, after which Bishop Qazmaan remarked, "We cannot determine the sincerity of his words."

Finally, because Egypt's Copts were recently denied justice after last year's Maspero Massacre — when the Egyptian military slaughtered Christians who were protesting the constant attacks on their churches, including running over them with armored vehicles, only to be exonerated in court — the Copts congregated again around Maspero both to protest and mark the anniversary of the incident.

Just as the Egyptian media had demonized the protesting Christians during the original Maspero Massacre — falsely claiming that Copts were attacking and killing Egypt's soldiers, while Egyptian soldiers in armored vehicles were mowing down protesting Christians — they were followed by the Western media, who seem never to check anything, who again turned the victims into the persecutors in their version of the event.

A TV anchorman for El Qahira station, for example, while covering the anniversary march, asked, "Why rehash all this?" and, in the non-sequitur of the year, claimed that whenever Copts demonstrate and call for their rights, "only one nation, one people" profits: Israel. He thereby again portrayed Egypt's Christian minority, who seek only equality, as "traitors," more interested in empowering foreign powers than in helping to build Egypt. He even broadcast non-violent scenes from last year's massacre — not the ones of soldiers shooting at and running over Christians — and asked, "What's the big deal"?

The sister of one of the slain Copts from the massacre, Mina Daniel, confirmed this, saying that the media "continues to be corrupt"; that, although she was invited to be interviewed by one station, the people there proceeded to edit and delete her words, and that, in short, "Nothing has changed … the same thing that happened last year during the massacre, when the media claimed Copts were attacking the military, is happening today … this is a catastrophe, and we continue to suffer from the same story."

The Copts continue to be portrayed as disloyal troublemakers, who are nonetheless cared for by the government—when the truth is the exact opposite.

Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East and Islam specialist, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. A widely published author, he is best known for his book,  The Al Qaeda Reader .  Mr. Ibrahim's dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Egyptian parents —has provided him with unique advantages to understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets.

This article appeared originally on GatestoneIstitute.org

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