Sunday, August 18, 2013

The burning of the Coptic churches

I had hoped to avoid comment on the painful civil war besetting Egypt right now. One does not want to side with a military coup that has ousted an elected government. Moreover, I have no desire to say anything that might be construed as sympathetic to the type of low Islamophobic bigotry one associates with the likes of Pam Geller.

But we must face facts. Since the downfall of Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has behaved abominably, especially toward the persecuted Coptic Christians.

The image to your right shows the fate of an ancient and quite beautiful church in Minya. The Islamists have pillaged and destroyed historic churches throughout Egypt...
According to the website, there was one church burnt in Alexandria, one in Arish, eight in Assiut, two in Beni Suef, one in Cairo, six in Fayoum, one in Gharbiya, two in Giza, around 12 in Minya, one in Qena, five in Sohag, and five in Suez. One of Egypt’s oldest churches, the Virgin Mary in Minya was engulfed in flames. The church goes back to the fourth century. Among more churches burnt were St Mina, Baptist church status of Bani Mazar, Saint Mark, Jesuit Fathers, the Greek church and Franciscan fathers, Saint Maximus, Saint Mark, Virgin and Anba Abram, Saint George, Virgin Lady, and Prince Taodharos Elchatbi.

This is in addition to at least 11 Christian institutions in Cairo, Fayoum, Assiut and Minya.
Many Copts were also injured. It was reported that at least 15 worshipers were seriously injured while praying in churches.

Nuns and priests fled to neighbouring rooftops after their churches were torched. Smoke and flames rose while the screams of nuns filled the air. Citizens banded together in front of churches all over Egypt’s governorates to protect them against attacks by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sources are unclear as to whether The Church of Saint Mark in Assiut has survived the onslaught. That church was the site of the phenomena described in this 2008 post. As noted on that earlier occasion, I am not inclined toward any kind of supernatural explanation -- but if (as one reader suggested) what people saw and videotaped was an example of St. Elmo's Fire, then the world has never seen a more striking example.

During the past few days, Egypt has experienced a descent into barbarism. One can only compare these events to the Taliban's vile decision to eradicate the monumental Buddhas of Bamiyan.

Years ago, I met a couple who live not far from the Giza plateau. The wife told me that local Mulsim children were encouraged by Islamic teachers to throw stones at the Sphinx. If the Muslim Brotherhood has its way, Egypt's most famous sculpture could end up like the Buddhas of Afghanistan.
I often hear it suggested that Islam needs a reformation.

I often walk past the local parish church and see the alcoves whence statues were smashed during the Reformation,
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