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Egypt as mirror of “Arab spring”

Egypt as mirror of “Arab spring”

Being a Copt in Egypt, a Druze in Syria and just a Christian in Tunisia, Algeria and Libya is quite dangerous.

Christians have never been welcomed in Egypt, and in other Near Eastern countries either. Commonly, this is not the case with Armenian communities, except for Egypt, perhaps. Still, with Islamists coming to power, the Armenian communities may face serious problems.

PanARMENIAN.Net - However, being a Copt in Egypt, a Druze in Syria and just a Christian in Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya is even more dangerous. Hosni Mubarak who ruled the country with an iron fist banned, on penalty of death, any kind of inter-confessional discord that might result in bloodshed. Meanwhile, the situation in Egypt is different now.

The Copts accounting for an estimated 10% of the Egyptian population face the threat of physical annihilation. The Coptic Church is one of the most ancient Christian churches. Most Copts are Christians and members of the non-Chalcedonian Coptic Orthodox Church; others (around 100000 people) adhere to the Coptic Catholic Church. According to ancient tradition, Christianity was introduced to the Egyptians by Saint Mark in Alexandria,

Many Coptic intellectuals hold to "Pharaonism," which states that Coptic culture is largely derived from pre-Christian, Pharaonic culture. It gives the Copts a claim to a deep heritage in Egyptian history and culture.

Also, the Copts are Monophysites, that is, they believe Jesus Christ had only a single "nature" which was either divine or a synthesis of divine and human.

This is what history says. At the same time, statistics on Arab countries is very often flawed, and the number of Coptic population may be significantly cut to please the Arab population.

Recent clashes between the Muslims and Copts in Egypt occurred last week.

At least 16 people have been wounded after Muslims attacked a church and Christian homes in a village near Cairo, BBC reports.

The unrest in Dahshur, about 40km south of Cairo, started after a Muslim man died of wounds sustained in an earlier clash on Friday.

Violence frequently flares between Egypt's Muslim majority and its Coptic Christian minority. It is the first instance since Mohammed Mursi took over as president in June.

Police in Dahshur early on Wednesday fired teargas to stop a Muslim mob from setting fire to a church, but the rioters instead torched several Christian properties and three police cars, officials said. Ten policemen were among the 16 injured, BBC says.

The office of the local Coptic archbishop of Giza said the entire Christian population of Dahshur had now fled.

The rioters "looted and torched shops, including a jewellery shop... and terrorised the local community, forcing them to leave their homes", he stated.

Tension first erupted on Friday after a Christian laundry worker was accused by a Muslim client of singeing his shirt while ironing it. Villagers from both sides threw fire-bombs at each other, fatally wounding a Muslim.

Copts fear that more radical forms of Islam, resurgent since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak, could imperil their safety in Egypt.

Things are far worse in Syria; the rebels (named the opposition by the West) never conceal that they won’t spare the Christians and Alavites in case they come to power. Unfortunately, the Armenian community is the most jeopardized one, as the largest and most cohesive one among other minorities in Syria. The prospects of outflow of Christians and Armenians from the Near Eastern countries become more vivid recently. The Western stance in this regard is quite surprising; conniving at the Islamists, the West hopes to take better control of the regional situation here. Strictly saying, the West became pro-Islamic, while actually it should have protected the Christians, in view of the community of civilization and culture. However, the U.S. and Europe opt for ignoring the violation of Christians’ rights, nearly declaring the Islamists and even Al Qaeda the democracy advocates. Such policy will hardly yield anything positive, and the West may well face another 9/11.

Karine Ter-Sahakian
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