In the wake of bloody Muslim attacks on Egyptian Christians the New York Times informs us:
“By lifting the heavy hand of the Mubarak police state, the revolution unleashed long-suppressed sectarian animosities that have burst out with increasing ferocity….”
No kidding! Did you think a single Egyptian Christian didn’t know this in February? Why didn’t the media report or the U.S. government understand that this was absolutely inevitable and predictabe. But the only mentions of Christians were to claim that they were really enthusiastic about the revolution.
The remaining Christians in most of the Arabic-speaking world may be on the edge of flight or extinction. All of the Christians have left the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip which is, in effect, an Islamist republic. They are leaving the West Bank. Half have departed from an increasingly Islamist-oriented Iraq where they are under terrorist attack. Within a few years they might all be gone.
In Lebanon while the Christians are holding their own there is a steady emigration. As for Syria, the community has generally supported the Asad regime fearing a revolutionary Islamist replacement. One dissident recalled that as he was being beaten in a Syrian prison a few years ago the police yelled at him, “Why are you doing this? You’re a Christian!”
Egypt has more Christians than Israel’s entire population. There have been numerous attacks, with the latest in Cairo leaving 12 dead, 220 wounded, and two churches burned. The Western media generally attributes this to inter-religious battles. Yet Egypt’s Christians, so totally outnumbered and not having any access to the power of the state, have generally kept a low profile.
It is hard to believe that gangs of Christians go out and attack Muslims, especially when the fighting revolves around mobs attacking churches. “How can they say we started it when we are defending our church?” asked one Christian. That makes sense.
The Christians cannot depend on any support from Western churches or governments. Will there be a massive flight of tens or even hundreds of thousands of Christians from Egypt in the next few years?
The U.S. government has just announced that it will forgive about $1 billion of Egyptian debt at a time when the American economy isn’t doing so well. You can just bet that there are no political strings attacked: no pressure over Egyptian backing of Hamas, growing anti-Israel policy, cutting off natural gas supplies, the increasingly difficult situation of Christians, opposing Iran’s ambitions and nuclear weapons’ drive, or anything else.
What will happen if and when an Islamist-dominated regime is in power in Egypt–which could happen as early as September? Will U.S. aid and support continue?
Up until now, the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood has been badly underestimated in the West. But increasingly it is also apparent that the strength of anti-Islamist forces has been overestimated.
I have noted that even Amr Moussa, likely to be Egypt’s next president and a radical nationalist, has predicted an Islamist majority in parliament. That should be a huge story yet has been largely ignored.
He is not creating his own party, meaning that a President Moussa will be dependent on the Muslim Brotherhood in parliament. Rather than the radical nationalists battling the Islamists these two forces might well work together.
And who will they be working against? Just guess.
* Barry Rubin’s latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org. You can read and subscribe to his blog at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿