The Egyptian military regime escalated its war on radical Islamists Monday and came to the rescue of Christians whose village has been terrorized.
As The Jewish Press wrote here last week under the headline “A New ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt Aimed at Wiping out Radical Islam,” the military is distinguishing itself by trying to protect the country from those trying to overthrow the government, a campaign that Western countries would not dare carry out for fear of offending their growing Muslim majorities.
Egyptian security forces on Monday stormed Delga, an Islamist-controlled village in central Egypt that had been the scene of some of the worst anti-Christian violence in Egypt. Soldiers and police fired tear gas and searched for suspects in the raid at dawn and arrested 56 terrorists by Monday afternoon, AFP reported.
The village, located 190 miles south of Cairo, came under the control of Islamists loyal to ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi following the clearing of pro-Morsi camps in Cairo in mid-August. After taking control, the Islamists unleashed a campaign of terror against the village’s sizable Christian minority, who make up about one-sixth of the village’s 120,000 people.
The Christian Post reported that Coptic Christians in Delga have been forced to pay a “submission” tax to the Islamists unless they converted to Islam. Dozens of Christian families fled the village, and those who remained and did not pay the tax were attacked.
“As soon as the crackdown in Cairo started, all the loudspeakers at the main mosques in Delga issued calls for jihad,” said Samir Lamei Sakr, a prominent Christian lawyer who fled from the town later that day, according to The London Guardian.
Since the Egyptian military cleared Muslim Brotherhood supporters from the streets, the Islamists torched more than 70 Coptic churches and attacked their homes, businesses and an orphanage
Two book stores of the Bible Society, which has operated in Egypt for 129 years has been operating for 129 years, were destroyed by arson, according to AFP.
“All of Egypt was Coptic for almost a thousand years until the Muslims invaded and started imposing heavy taxes on the Christians,” Washington Coptic church leader Dr. Halim Meawad told the French news agency. “Those who couldn’t pay were forced to convert to Islam under pain of death. Today’s Muslims in Egypt are descendants of Copts who couldn’t pay their taxes hundreds of years ago.”
He said that supporters of ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi blamed the Copts for Morsi’s downfall. “The Copts were attacked because as Christians they were a convenient scapegoat for the Brotherhood,” explained Dr. Meawad.
The Muslim Brotherhood regime, which lasted almost exactly one year after being elected, was welcomed by the Obama administration. Dr. Meawad criticized President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for backing the Muslim Brotherhood at the beginning of the demonstrations this summer, while criticizing the military for violence against demonstrators.
“Neither the Copts nor the military are responsible for Morsi’s ouster,” Dr. Meawad explained. “The Egyptian people simply did not want him. Morsi was elected with only 14 million votes last year, but 33 million Egyptians in the streets on June 30 told him they didn’t want him.”
Christians in other Arab countries, where they are allowed tolerated at all, are not so lucky. Syrian Christians are caught in the middle of the civil war, distrusted by both Assad and the rebels.
In the Palestinian Authority, Hamas has carried out an Islamic campaign to wipe out the “infidel” Christians since the terrorist organization wrested control of Gaza from Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction seven years ago.
Much far better off. Thousands of Christians have fled Bethlehem since the Intifada began in the late 1980s and escalated into the Oslo War in 2000.
JNS contributed to this article.Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu