Articles, Opinions & Views: EGYPT — Coptic Christians Are Still Marginalized

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Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

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“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

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“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
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Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God

Which must always come to pass

He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned the other cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't

Because those of us who carry guns

Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around

Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here,

Lord, It needn't be so grand,

I never expected or had too much,

But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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EGYPT — Coptic Christians Are Still Marginalized
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Again if we look at past history it doesn`t look good. After all, when Camp David was signed between America, Israel, and Egypt, all three nations were happy; however, the same Anwar Sadat persecuted the Christian community via anti-Christian laws. Therefore, just like the Christian community in Iraq which doesn`t count and which isn`t protected, it is clear that Western nations have different interests. This fact alone should worry the Coptic Christian community because America supported the introduction of Sharia Islamic Law in Sudan in 1983, and they of course did the same in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, in more recent times many parts of Africa are in transition because in the early 19th century Islam dominated over Christianity in this part of Africa, apart from Ethiopia and Eritrea (new nation state) where the Christian and Muslin population was well established. However, by the middle of the twentieth century times had changed because Christianity grew rapidly in parts of Chad, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Therefore, the religious map of this part of Africa and the surrounding region was radically altered. Also, by the end of the twentieth century Christianity was around 13% to 17% in Sudan and the mainly Christian elite of the south fought back against radical Islam.

Therefore, the embattled Coptic Christians of Egypt are no longer isolated within the dynamics of the surrounding geography of Africa and churches are now being planted in parts of northern Sudan. Given this, it is hoped that greater Christian unity will lead to more pressure on Islamic states which discriminate against Christians in this part of Africa. So now it may be time for the Coptics to reach out and strengthen their cause in Egypt and Eastern Africa?

Unlike Africa, the future of the Christian community in the Middle East looks rather bleak because they face dhimmitude, terrorism, persecution, inequality via the legal system, a demographic time bomb, marginalization, and so much more. Also, history tells us that they do not count in the eyes of major Western powers and of course most Western governments are pro-Saudi Arabia, despite this nation not allowing one single Christian church. Given this, the Christians of the Middle East must unite and they must gain strength from their longevity in order to stop this onslaught.

Turning back to Egypt, then it is clear that organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood desire to create an Islamic state and the central government often panders to the Muslim majority. Therefore, Coptic Christians suffer dhimmitude via radical Islam and suffer discrimination at the hands of the Egyptian government. Given this, Christians are in a no-win situation and while many want "true democracy" others do not because they fear that radical Islam may come to power in the long run. Given this, the Christians of Egypt are in a major dilemma. Do they fight back against the central government which discriminates against them? Or do they remain quiet because of the fear of radical Islam? In truth, whatever they do could backfire and this is the problem.

Before concluding, it is important to state that many Christians and Muslims have great relations in Egypt. Also, in the past some local Muslims have also tried to protect Christians from radical Islamists. So persecution in Egypt is much more moderate rather than the direct persecution which happens in nations like Saudi Arabia. Also, some Muslim writers have been outspoken and they have supported the Christian community during times of persecution. Yet despite this, negative aspects of Egypt must not be ignored and many Christians have suffered within Egypt because of discrimination via the state system or they have suffered at the hands of radical Islamists.

Therefore, recent flashpoints will continue and Coptics will suffer more religious persecution, educational inequality, inequality in law, discrimination in the workplace, discrimination in national government, and they will be limited by land laws which will hinder them from building new churches or monasteries. So, overall, their situation looks negative but the changing religious map could be a future lifeline? For now, however, the Christian community must remain firm and strong, and to unite against their enemies within Egyptian society. Yet if any community can survive against all the odds, then this certainly applies to the Coptic Christians of Egypt who have remained strong in faith despite many negatives being stacked against them.

Lee Jay Walker Dip BA MA from The Seoul Times
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 1:04 PM  
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