On the first day of 2011 shortly after midnight, as Coptic Christian worshipers left a New Year’s Eve service in a church in Alexandria in northern Egypt, a bomb exploded outside the church killing at least 21 Christians and injuring 97.
This illustrates a new wave of sectarian violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt.
A slogan written on a car at the site stated, “More is yet to come” – a message to warn the Copts of what the future holds for them in Muslim-majority Egypt.
Coptic Christians in Egypt make up about 12 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people.
As an Egyptian studying in America, I hear the same question over and over in different forms: Are Christians persecuted in Egypt?
My answer used to be: “No, we are definitely not persecuted. We are blessed.”
I meant that Coptic Christians, especially those who live in Cairo where I grew up, live relatively peacefully with Muslims. However, sometimes Christians are not given some benefits, such as high posts in jobs, because of their religious convictions.
Generally speaking, I used to deny the existence of any planned or organized persecution against Christians in Egypt, even though I would hear from time to time about insults, robberies and destruction done against Copts, particularly in Upper Egypt.
Now I can say that, without a doubt, I was wrong.
Almost a year ago, on Jan. 7, 2010 – the day that marks the Eastern Orthodox Christmas – Muslim fundamentalists decided to kill the joy of Christians in Upper Egypt by killing innocent Coptic Christians celebrating on Christmas Eve.
Three gunmen fired automatic weapons at them after they exited the church.
The Egyptian government officially declared six dead, but according to people in the city where the shooting happened, the number exceeded 10.
At first, Egyptian security sources denied any deaths. However, under pressure and in an attempt to prove that the attack was not specifically against Christians, they finally claimed seven were dead, including one Muslim. Now, a year after that incident, the court case of the three Muslim gunmen has not yet reached an official statement.
The idea of a peaceful Muslim-Christian environment in Egypt is a hoax, and it should stop. Fundamentalists are trying to take over the entire country, and the government is intentionally ignoring the facts.
Egypt’s president accused foreign elements of masterminding the bomb blast in Alexandria. In an attempt to dilute the terrifying facts, some governmental reports were quick to claim that most of the injured “within the church territory” were Muslims.
Muslim fundamentalists plan on destroying Christians to establish a purely Muslim nation. Muslim fundamentalists want to destroy the race they call “infidels.”
Two months ago, when a Christian scholar dared to question the reliability of some verses in the Quran, a hellfire outrage sparked against the entire Christian community.
What makes the imam of the mosque in my neighborhood in Cairo encourage “dedicated” Muslims to call upon Allah in every prayer time to destroy Christians and Jews, America and Israel, claiming that these are sons of pigs and donkeys? As a Christian, I hear this in my own neighborhood with my own ears.
How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of hidden and announced harsh treatments of Coptic Christians in Egypt. I cannot be silent. I will not pretend everything is OK. I will not help the unfair Egyptian media promote false statements about the “sweet” Muslim-Christian situation in Egypt.
I call on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to take all possible actions to ensure the security of Christians in Egypt.
It’s a plea: Save Egypt’s Christians from Muslim fundamentalists.
Ayman Ibrahim is a Christian from Egypt and a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary.