Daniel Doherty

The persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt has become so bad and so violent in recent weeks that churches in the northern part of the country have cancelled Sunday masses and prayer services for the first time in nearly two millennia. The Times of Israel reported this story a few days ago:

Amid escalating violence against Egypt’s Copts, churches in Minya, located in upper Egypt, cancelled Sunday Mass for the first time in 1,600 years. Other churches in Minya also didn’t hold prayer services.

“We did not hold prayers in the monastery on Sunday for the first time in 1,600 years,” Priest Selwanes Lotfy of the Virgin Mary and Priest Ibram Monastery in Degla, just south of Minya, told the al-Masry al-Youm daily.

He said supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi destroyed the monastery, which includes three churches, one of which is an archaeological site. “One of the extremists wrote on the monastery’s wall, ‘donate [this] to the martyrs’ mosque,’” Lotfy added.

Copts, the largest indigenous Christian minority in the Middle East and North Africa, make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s total population of some 90 million people. One of the world’s oldest Christian communities, they have generally kept a low-profile, but have become more politically active since Mubarak was ousted and sought to ensure fair treatment in the aftermath. They regularly face violence and discrimination within Egyptian society.

The Times further points out that over 58 Coptic churches in Egypt have been desecrated since last Sunday and hundreds more have been killed. The reason is because many radical Islamists contend that Coptic Christians are principally responsible for the ousting of their Dear Leader, former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamad Morsi, and therefore must be punished accordingly. Recall earlier this month that an innocent, ten-year-old Christian girl was murdered in cold blood. Why? Because she had the audacity to walk home from Bible Study class…

Meanwhile, the military pledged last week to rebuild every Coptic church Islamists have burned, looted, and destroyed:

The Egyptian defense minister has ordered the repair and reconstruction of all churches that suffered damage in the country’s violent demonstrations since the Egyptian military removed President Mohamed Morsi from power last month.

Defense minister Col. Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi intends to fix the damage to Coptic churches at Rabaa Adaweya and Nahda squares, according to a report by the Mid-East Christian News.

Dozens of churches were attacked and burned in riots after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities to demand the end of what they call military rule, following the removal of Morsi on July 3. Many of Morsi's supporters have voiced criticism at Egypt's Christian minority for largely supporting the military's decision to oust him from office.

“The Egyptian defense minister ordered the engineering department of the armed forces to swiftly repair all the affected churches, in recognition of the historical and national role played by our Coptic brothers,” read a statement that aired on Egyptian television.

Perhaps the Egyptian military’s resources could be better spent on -- oh, I don’t know -- protecting its people. After all, if they don’t, I see no compelling reason why we should continue sending them foreign aid.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography