The plight of Coptic Christians in neighboring Egypt is plagued by a wave of government exclusion and indifference to violence. This is nothing new. Copts suffered under former president Hosni Mubarak. Nevertheless, the current head of the Egyptian Coptic Church, Bishop Bakhomious, bitterly complained about the politics of exclusion in the new government. Coptic Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population.
Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is not only under fire for the political disenfranchisement of Coptic Christians. His new government has stood by and watched a wave of Christian cleansing. In early August, the roughly one hundred-family Christian community in Dahshour was forced to flee after Muslim neighbors launched attacks against the Christians’ homes and property. Morsi downplayed the violence as "an individual incident and its origin is not about Muslims and Christians, and it happens every day. It was blown out of proportion.”
Of course, all of this anti-Christian sentiment and violence belies a weakness of leadership. Indeed, as leading German-Iranian intellectual Nasrin Amirsedghi argues, “the systematic and state-sponsored persecution of Christians in Iran . . . is a sign of an increasingly weakened regime leadership. Wherever there is a fear of losing legitimacy, the regime employs violence and repression.”
While this may be true, it does not protect the region’s Christians from persecution. With regional instability mounting, this embattled minority increasingly appears to be in a fight for its very survival.
Benjamin Weinthal is a Jerusalem Post reporter and writes about Christians in the Middle East. He is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.