Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood's Salafi pact puts Egyptian Christians in great danger

The Muslim Brotherhood has announced an electoral coalition with a host of Salafi groups in Egypt, under the banner of seeking an Islamic state. “It was the recent attacks on the Islamic groups that brought us together,” the Brotherhood’s lawyer Sobhi Saleh explained to an Egyptian newspaper on Tuesday.

Saleh’s newfound siege mentality is at odds with the confidence he displayed on Newsnight a few months back. A woman or a Christian, the Islamist attorney told Tim Whewell, could never be president of a post-Mubarak Egypt because Muslims constitute “95 per cent of the population” (not true) and this is the “same policy as in Greece, Spain and in England” (what’s the Arabic for “Iron Lady”?).

Among the Brotherhood’s new parliamentary partners is Jama’a al-Islamiyya, a Salafi group that played a role in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and recently advocated the formation of a Saudi-style “modesty police” for Egypt.

...Since the pro-democratic happenings in Tahrir Square in January, Egypt’s Christian minority has been consistently persecuted by uncorked crazies. Churches have been set alight and some areas of the country have grown so parlous that Christians are holed up in their homes, afraid to attend Mass even on Palm Sunday. The assurances of Abd Al-Azim, a leader of Gama’a in Alexandria, will have failed to persuade them to do otherwise: “If the Christians want safety they should submit to the rule of God and be confident that the Islamic sharia will protect them.”

Just this week, 190 people were detained overnight in Cairo after 12 people were killed and over 180 hurt in the working-class neighbourhood of Imbaba, where two Coptic churches and people’s homes were firebombed. The reason? A Salafi-hatched rumour that a Christian woman had converted to Islam in order to marry a Muslim man and was being held against her will in the Saint Mena Church (one of the two burnt). This came after another Christian, Camilia Shehata, had gone on television to deny a similar allegation about her proscribed conversion to Islam.

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