Home
In this issue
April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Egyptian Christians respond with harsh words to attack -- rocks, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire -- against main cathedral

By Kristen Chick


Coptic Christians run on the roof of the main cathedral in Cairo as police fire tear gas during clashes with Muslims standing outside the cathedral





JewishWorldReview.com |

mAIRO— (TCSM) An attack on the main cathedral of the Coptic Orthodox Church has provoked the church's strongest criticism of Egypt's leaders in decades, an indication of deepening worry over the deteriorating situation for Christians in Egypt.

Beleaguered as they have been by a rise in attacks in the last five years, many of which went unpunished, many Egyptian Christians were fearful when Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president last year. Sunday, when a crowd attacked the cathedral complex that holds the seat of the Coptic Orthodox pope, it was a realization of their fears.

And many worry that the ground is growing more fertile for attacks on Christians because of a rise in incendiary religious rhetoric. Clerics and others on religious television channels are responsible for spreading much of the bigotry and discriminatory rhetoric, but members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), as well as the Brotherhood's official Arabic website, have also engaged in discourse stigmatizing religious minorities, particularly Christians.


SUBSCRIBE TO JEWISH NEWSLETTER THAT CARES ABOUT CHRISTIAN ISSUES … FOR FREE!

Every weekday NewsAndOpinion.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.


The violence, in which attackers and defenders of the cathedral exchanged rocks, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire over the compound walls, followed the playbook of most attacks on Christians — police did little to protect Christians, standing by while those outside the cathedral hurled rocks and shot at those inside.

Accounts differ about just how the violence began. It followed a funeral for four Christians killed, along with one Muslim, in religious violence the day before in a village just north of Cairo. (Another man died of his wounds from that violence a few days later.) Those outside the cathedral say the fighting began when mourners exiting the cathedral began to damage nearby cars. The mourners inside the compound say they were met by a shower of rocks when they emerged from the compound carrying the coffins.

But most agree the small police force present did nothing to stop the violence. Videos of the clashes show them standing by or shooting tear gas into the compound as those outside threw rocks or fired guns toward those inside.

When asked to consider why the violence had begun in the first place, Mounir Atef, a young Christian man who had come to attend the funerals and ended up in the middle of the violence, did not pause.

"The Brotherhood and some of the television channels are broadcasting sectarian talk," he said. "These channels are always saying we're infidels."

He says that anti-Christian rhetoric has worsened since Islamist parties — ultraconservative salafis as well as the Brotherhood — came to power. "After Morsi, some people feel they can attack us without consequences," he says.

LEGITIMIZING INCITEMENT
Religious tensions and attacks on Christians in Egypt were also common under former President Hosni Mubarak. During his nearly three-decade rule, the police rarely held accountable the perpetrators of religiously motivated attacks, instead often insisting on "reconciliation" meetings that fostered a culture of impunity and left victims without justice. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights says such attacks began to rise sharply in 2008 and continued, largely with impunity, under the military leadership that took over after the Egyptian uprising.

But analysts say the Islamist parties' rise to power has been accompanied by rising incendiary rhetoric against Egyptian Christians.

"No one can disregard the impact of Islamists since they took power on the mounting sectarian sentiment against Christians" — both religious and political, says Khalil Al Anani, an expert on Islamist movements at Durham University in Britain.

"Some Islamists look at Copts or Christians not only as a different religion, but they also accuse them that they are not truly Egyptians or patriots." The incendiary discourse, he says, "can lead to legitimization and cover for sectarian incidents."

Radicalization and sectarianism has increased among some Christians as well, Mr. Al Anani says. "We also cannot disregard the mounting radical discourse among some Christians and coptic youth. But it is a reaction to the sectarian discourse coming from Islamists."

PUBLIC OFFICIALS JOIN IN
What heightens the danger, says Michael Wahid Hanna, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation in New York, is that such rhetoric is not just coming from clerics on television but also from FJP officials and in articles on the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood.

During December protests against Morsi at the presidential palace, which ended with clashes that killed 11 people, senior FJP leader Mohamed El Beltagy said in a television interview that the majority of the anti-Morsi protesters were Christian. The Muslim Brotherhood's official Arabic website published stories suggesting that the founder of an anarchist group called the Black Bloc, vilified by the Brotherhood, was a Christian who also led a Christian militia. During the referendum on a new constitution, the website published multiple stories alleging violations by Christian voters.

FJP officials sometimes associate with nonmembers who stir up tensions with their comments. Safwat Hegazy, a preacher who is not a member of the Brotherhood, spoke at campaign rallies on Morsi's behalf and last year warned Christians that if they "splash water" on the legitimacy of the president, "we will spill his blood." The FJP-dominated Shoura council, the upper house of parliament, appointed Mr. Hegazy to the National Council for Human Rights last year.

This week, FJP official Mohamed Soudan told local newspaper The Daily News Egypt that Copts started the violence at the cathedral. "The Copts then took their arsenal and started the violence, and it seems they were prepared for a civil war and not a common funeral," he told the newspaper.

Such rhetoric by public officials "feeds an air of permissiveness whereby Christians are stigmatized," says Mr. Hanna. "Even if it's not incitement, it is a huge contributing factor to have political leaders engaging in what is oftentimes code for anti-Christian sentiment."

In a sharply polarized society where the rule of law is weak and bigotry and sectarianism are a long-standing problem, such remarks by public officials are dangerous, say Hanna and Anani.

FJP spokesman Mourad Aly said in a written response to questions that Mr. Soudan's comments do not represent the views of the party, which had not accused either side of triggering the clashes. In response to a question about remarks by Beltagy and other officials, he said the party's official position is clear.

"We consider Christians partners in the homeland, and citizens with equal rights, as enshrined in the constitution. We reject any attempt to sow seeds of hatred or sectarian disputes between Muslims and Christians in Egypt," he wrote, adding that Brotherhood members formed human shields to protect churches last Christmas and the party nominated Christians as candidates in elections.

"We believe that Coptic rights were violated in the Mubarak era due to mismanagement and marginalization by the state," he wrote. "This is not what we advocate in the new Egypt."

COPTIC CHURCH TAKES A STAND
After the violence at the cathedral, Morsi called the Coptic patriarch, Pope Tawadros II, and promised to protect the cathedral. But the pope subsequently blasted the president in a television interview, confronting him in a way church leaders have not done since the previous pope was sent to a monastery in the Sinai by former President Anwar Sadat.

The president promised to protect the cathedral, but in reality he did not, the pope said. The church had never been subject to such an attack before, "even during the darkest ages," he said, adding that the attack had "crossed all red lines."

"This is a society that is collapsing. Society is collapsing every day," he warned.

His secretary said Pope Tawadros had five demands for the president, including applying the law equally, ensuring citizenship for all Egyptians, and changing the religious discourse.

The unprecedented criticism from the pope and the church "is indicative of how serious they now perceive the threat. That you have increased sectarian rhetoric that exists not in the sort of unofficial space occupied by militant preachers underground, or even above ground, but is being espoused by political leaders," Hanna says.

Morsi promised an investigation into both incidents. But Human Rights Watch notes that at least five incidents of religious violence have taken place since Morsi came to office and prosecutors have only opened an investigation in one case. It has not led to any prosecutions.

"We can fairly say that the Brotherhood and Islamists did nothing to resolve and ease such sectarian tensions among Muslims and Christians," says Anani. "They made it worse by their discourse and their irresponsible response to these kind of events.

Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Comment by clicking here.











© 2013, The Christian Science Monitor