Copts As Persecuted: Seen as Perpetrators

Speech given by Ashraf Ramelah on 10/26/10 in Washington, D.C. as part of a panel on “The Plight of Minorities in Arab and Muslim Countries: What Should the U.S. Do?

Good afternoon and thank you for coming to this important event organized by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

The dilemma of the Christian Copts of Egypt is greater than you can imagine and, for the most part, the entire world has ignored it. I can better define this by saying that the Islamic supremacists have been able to mask it successfully so the world is unable to realize its full dimension.

Copts are the inheritors of the land of Egypt, and in the year 651AD, their land was invaded by Arab-Muslims. In reality, such an invasion was not new to the Egyptian. Egypt was always vulnerable to invading armies and always under occupation due to its geographic location between Asia and Africa.

In order to conquer Egypt, Arab-Muslims needed first to confront the Romans, the occupiers of Egypt at the time and the persecutors of the believers in the new Christian faith. The Egyptian people did not take part in this war between the invader and occupier and had no idea what the outcome would mean for their future under the new Arab occupation.

The narrative that Copts living in Egypt today are free to worship and treated equally under the law is enhanced by the Arab-Muslim interpretation of their own whitewashed role in the invasion of Egypt.

Such is illustrated by the following quote from an Arab historian, Al-Makrezi , writing about the Arab invasion of Egypt, "of those suffering under Roman occupation, we voluntarily went to free them (the Egyptian) from Roman aggression and persecution."

Why then did we see no end to the oppression and persecution of Copts after the Arab-Muslim victory over the Romans? The Arabs were not liberators but oppressors who began to erase the Coptic identity, force Copts to choose between death and conversion to Islam and force Copts to abandon their own language for Arabic. Coptic churches and monasteries were destroyed. The demoralized and humiliated Copts remained oppressed and persecuted.

However, many Arab-Muslim history books read that the Egyptian Copts were grateful to Arabs for liberating them from Roman occupation and pleased with the outcome. Arabs claim that Copts requested Arab-Muslim help by requesting them to come into the land of Egypt to free them from Roman occupation. Could this have been true? The answer is no, when you consider the threatening message sent years earlier by Mohammad, the prophet of Islam, to the rulers of the countries Arabs were planning to invade. The following is the prophet’s words in Arabic and translated:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم : من محمد بن عبد الله ورسوله إلى هرقل عظيم الروم ، سلام على من أتبعالهدى ، أما بعد فإني أدعوك بدعاية الإسلام أسلم تسلم ، أسلم يؤتك الله أجرك مرتين ، فإن توليت فإنما عليك أثم الأريسيين {2} ويا أهل الكتاب تعالوا إلى كلمة سواء بيننا وبينكم ألا نعبد إلا الله ولا نشرك به شيئا ولا يتخذ بعضنا أربابا من دون الله ، فإن تولوا فقولوا اشهدوا بأنا مسلمون

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, from Muhammad ibn Abd Allah and His Messenger to Heraclius The Great of Byzantium, peace to those who follow true guidance, herewith, I invite you with the Islamic invitation – become a Muslim to save your life [convert to keep from being killed]. Allah of Islam will reward you twice. If you follow him your sin will be taken away. Oh people of the Book, come to a word to both of us that you and us that will worship no god but Allah that has no partner with him and we do not take other gods besides Allah, and say that we confirm that Nazarenes and Muslims.

Time does not allow me to describe the immense destruction of Egypt by the Arab occupiers 1400 years ago, but this is the legacy of dhimmitude and the precedent for today’s problem in Egypt where Copts continue to be tormented and oppressed. In Egypt today, the Omrani and Hamyoni decrees regulate (unofficially) the lives of Copts just as it did hundreds of years ago. Everyday in Egypt justice is denied the Copts such as in cases where Copts are murdered and their property destroyed by thugs who carry out these crimes knowing they will never be punished.

The Egyptian regime and law enforcement create major obstacles to building churches –sometimes taking thirty to thirty-five years to process a permit and begin construction. Copts are denied government jobs upon revealing their Christian names on an application. This pertains also to their omission from low and high ranking positions in the military, law enforcement, state university and international scholarship grants. Thus, Copts are confined to the private sector which has recently suffered tremendous economic damage at the hand of the Egyptian regime during the pig slaughter across the country.

Historically speaking, political and economic oppression of the Copts today are a direct result of the moment of Islamic invasion and occupation of Egypt, the consequences of which were bloodshed and brutality toward a broken Coptic people.

In Egypt’s current environment the psychological damage Copts suffer as well comes from being regarded as traitors and treated as untrustworthy to hold positions in government either as elected representatives or as appointees. This includes the Islamic claim that Copts are spies for Israel, which in fact is readily disproved, most notably by the near total absence of Coptic names on the Arab-Muslim list of Islamic enemies of state worldwide.

The reason why my review of Coptic history is both important and urgent is not because I think my audience does not know it, but rather, it is to emphasize and illustrate a pattern of Islamic behavior which I believe serves as the blueprint being used today worldwide by Arab-Muslims immigrating to Western democratic nations, the basis of a modern-day Gazwa (invasion).

Therefore, in conclusion, I strongly suggest to U.S. that when we overlook or dismiss the Coptic reality inside Egypt today as a "thing of the past" or as a situation where "Christians are equally as guilty," we are refusing to grasp the actions and accomplishments of an Islamic supremacist regime exercising full control. In doing so, the U.S. commits a grave injustice to the whole world. If the U.S. were to look deeply into the conditions inside Egypt, cutting through the deceptions of the regime, we would find values incompatible with the West and perhaps re-evaluate the direction of our foreign aid.

In our approach to Egypt and in our own domestic affairs, the U.S. further ignores the fact that the Muslim religion is not just a religion but a political ideological movement determined to ravage and capture the world’s landscape as stated in their doctrine and played out in my country of Egypt.

Our organization, Voice of the Copts, gathers headlines from around the world every day indicating Islamic entrenchment in many countries around the world. The presence of Muslim Shariah law inflicting disruptions and challenges to civil society, fueled by the deceptive practices of Islamic-funded enterprises, wreak havoc in societies across the globe and seem to have no end.

When Muslims swear allegiance to a government of a new host country and they remain loyal to the principles of Islam toward the Islamic Omma (nation) as part of Islamic doctrine there is often dire consequences for the host country. In the U.S. alone, the Fort Hood massacre, the Times Square car bomber and the Ground Zero mosque perpetrators are all examples of Islamic loyalty.

However, it is the simple everyday things that very significantly demonstrate Islamic loyalty, as in certain areas of the U.S. where Muslim taxi drivers are forbidding American citizens to board their taxis while carrying alcohol, infringing upon their rights to privacy. A similar incident occurred to an Italian friend of mine visiting Cairo with his wife who while riding a taxi was instructed by the driver to sit apart and not touch each other.

Where does the U.S. legal system stand in such matters? What has come to be normal in Cairo must not become acceptable in NYC or Boston or any other American city. Therefore we highly recommend that local courts rule appropriately on such cases and uphold the American constitution regardless of who abuses it in the name of any religion.

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