Roughly ten percent of Egyptians self-identity as Christians. Sadly, however, many are now probably fearing for their lives as Muslim extremists prowl the streets with axes and the country looks increasingly unstable, according to the Associated Press:
With a mob of Muslim extremists on their tail, [a] Christian businessman and his nephew climbed up on the roof and ran for their lives, jumping from building to building in their southern Egyptian village. Finally they ran out of rooftops.
Forced back onto the street, they were overwhelmed by several dozen men. The attackers hacked them with axes and beat them with clubs and tree limbs, killing Emile Naseem, 41. The nephew survived with wounds to his shoulders and head and recounted the chase to The Associated Press.
The mob's rampage through the village of Nagaa Hassan, burning dozens of Christian houses and stabbing to death three other Christians as well, came two days after the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi from power. It was no coincidence the attackers focused on Naseem and his family: He was the village's most prominent campaigner calling for Morsi's removal.
These gruesome and senseless acts of violence are not uncommon. But why exactly are Christians in Egypt, specifically, being targeted? Well, because they had the audacity to participate in the political process, it seems:
Some Christians are paying the price for their activism against Morsi and his Islamist allies in a backlash over his ouster last week.
But they took it to a new level during Morsi's year in office and the empowerment of his Islamist allies. The new Coptic Christian pope, Tawadros II, enthroned in November, openly criticized the president. He told Christians they were free to actively participate in politics and that the church will not discourage them. …
It was a risky gamble for a minority that has long felt vulnerable, with its most concentrated communities often living in the same rural areas where the most vehement and vocal Islamists hold sway.
During Morsi's year in office, some of his hard-line allies increasingly spoke of Christians as enemies of Islam and warned them to remember they are a minority. When the wave of protests against Morsi began on June 30, Brotherhood media depicted it as dominated by Christians - and to hard-liners, it smacked of Christians rising up against a Muslim ruler.
Meanwhile, a decapitated Coptic priest’s cadaver turned up in Northern Sinai today (via The Right Scoop):
Amidst continuing unrest in Egypt, the country's Coptic Christian minority is facing an alarming campaign of violence at the hands of Islamist extremists.
In the most recent case, the decapitated body of 60 year old Magdy Habashi was found early Thursday in a cemetery in the town of Sheikh Zweid, in northern Sinai, after being abducted last Saturday by suspected Islamist radicals. He was the second Christian to be killed in northern Sinai in less than a week, following the assassination of Coptic Christian priest Mena Aboud Sharoben in the coastal city of Arish by suspected Islamist gunmen last Saturday.
I don’t believe democracy in Egypt is even remotely possible when Christians are continually chased down and butchered for professing their faith and voicing their political opinions in the public square. Strangely, President Obama has remained conspicuously mum on this issue for a very long time. One wonders if he’ll ever break his silence in any meaningful way -- especially now that he’s apparently given a green light to sending foreign aid and jets to Egypt’s interim government.