I am looking at a reproduction of an old engraving of Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is in Bat Ye'or's book "The Dhimmi," which collects primary documents from history to chronicle the impact of Islamic law on non-Muslims through the centuries.
What is notable about the image, which is based on an 1856 photograph, is that the church, said to be at the site of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and burial, has no cross and no belfry. Stripped of its Christian symbols, the church stood in compliance with the Islamic law and traditions of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, which ruled Jerusalem at the time.
I went back to the book to find this image for a reason. It had to do with last weekend's massacre of two dozen Coptic Christians in Cairo by Egyptian military and street mobs, which also left hundreds wounded. The unarmed Copts were protesting the destruction of yet another church in Egypt, St. George's, which on Sept. 30 was set upon by thousands of Muslim men following Friday prayers. Why? The trigger was repair work on the building – work that the local council and governor had approved.
Does that explanation make any sense? Not to anyone ignorant of Islamic law. Unfortunately, that criterion includes virtually all media reporting the story.
Raymond Ibrahim, an Islam specialist, Arabic speaker and author of "The Al Qaeda Reader" (Broadway, 2007), catalogs the key sequence of events that turned a church renovation project into terror and flames. With repair work in progress, he writes online at Hudson New York, "It was not long before local Muslims began complaining, making various demands, including that the church be devoid of crosses and bells – even though the permit approved them – citing that 'the cross irritates Muslims and their children.'"
Those details drove me to re-examine the de-Christianized 19th-century image of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher – no cross, no bells. It becomes a revealing illustration of Islamic history repeating itself in this "Shariah Autumn," the deadly but natural harvest of the grotesquely branded "Arab Spring."