In an analysis for the Hudson Institute, Ibrahim, also associate
director of the Middle East Forum, said Egypt, amid its crackdown on the
pro-democracy opposition, has reverted to what he termed
medieval persecution of the Copts. He cited accusations by prominent
Egyptian scholars that Copts were aligned with Israel and stockpiling
weapons and ammunition in monasteries.
"Israel is in the heart of the Coptic cause, preparing to wage war
against Muslims," Mohammed Al Awa, a prominent cleric and former head of the
International Union for Muslim Scholars, told A-Jazeera satellite television
on Sept. 15.
Al Awa warned that Muslims must halt the rise of the Coptic Church in
Egypt. The Muslim cleric charged that Egyptian security forces have been
banned from searching for weapons in churches and monasteries.
At the same time, Muslim leaders have been accusing the Coptic Church of
abducting Christians who had converted to Islam and forcing them to return
to their native faith. The accusations have sparked at least 10 mass
demonstrations in Egypt since September 2010, with organizers vowing to
"The Copts find themselves again in a period of severe persecution,"
Ibrahim said. "And there appears to be no one to stop it — not even those
most accountable: America's friend and ally, Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak and his government."
Ibrahim's assertions have echoed those of Copts and their
co-religionists in the United States. Coptic activists in Washington have
been lobbying Congress to protest the Muslim backlash in Egypt and pressure
Mubarak to protect the Christian community. Egypt receives $1.3 billion in
annual U.S. military aid.
Instead, Egyptian state-financed clerics have joined the anti-Coptic
campaign. On Sept. 26, the state-controlled Al Azhar seminary, the seat of
Sunni Islam, threatened Egypt's Coptics with removal of their citizenship.
A leading Egyptian human rights activist, Magdi Khalil, has asserted
that Egyptian security officers were participating in anti-Copt
demonstrations. Khalil said the Copts were paying the price of the demise of
the 82-year-old Mubarak and the ensuing political vacuum.
"As history teaches, whenever a majority group casts all its woes onto a
minority group, great tragedy often follows," Ibrahim said.