“We did not hold prayers in the monastery on Sunday for the first time in 1,600 years,” Priest Selwanes Lotfy of the Virgin Mary and Priest Ibram Monastery in Degla, just south of Minya, told the al-Masry al-Youm daily. He said supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi destroyed the monastery, which includes three churches, one of which is an archaeological site. “One of the extremists wrote on the monastery’s wall, ‘donate [this] to the martyrs’ mosque,’” Lotfy added.
According to the Bishop the campaign against Christians staged by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood stems from the fact that “they think that Christians are the cause of Morsi’s fall”. “It is true –he adds – that Christians participated in demonstrations against Morsi, but they were 30 million Egyptians, most of whom were Muslims, who took to the streets against the deposed President. By attacking Christians they want to throw Egypt into chaos”.
Mgr. Zakaria updates the figures on the destruction suffered by the various Christian denominations in recent days. “More than 80 different churches and several Christian schools have been burned. I want to point out that in Egypt the Catholic Church manages, from Alexandria to Aswan, more than 200 schools where Christians and Muslims pupils sit next to each other”.
“At least 60 Churches have been destroyed in Egypt! Thank you, mister Obama! Your allies are destroying churches and killing Copts. Stop supporting terrorism immediately!” A banner with these words has appeared in Coptic social networks on the Internet. “Hey! And what about Syria?” is written in the comments.
Police told Sister Manal that the nuns had been targeted by hardline Islamists, convinced that they had given Muslim children an inappropriate education. ‘We are nuns. We rely on God and the angels to protect us,’ she said. ‘At the end, they paraded us like prisoners of war and hurled abuse at us as they led us from one alley to another without telling us where they were taking us.’
Mr. Obama came out against a pastoral background to urge the Egyptian military and government to take it easy on his favored Islamists and to hint at even more sanctions if they do not. As Mr. Obama retreated back to the beach, his aides warned of a cutoff of the $1.5 billion a year that American has been providing, though such aid is now being overwhelmed with a package of $12 billion that began flowing from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates only last month.
In Arab culture, such language and mannerism, including the wagging of fingers, will be seen as insulting, which at least partly explains the rush by the oil-rich countries to help the revolutionary government in Cairo. Yet America’s problem is larger than finger pointing. The Obama administration is allying itself against those fighting for a secular Arab world, a fight that is now arising across the Arab world. It may be that two decades ago the radical religious ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood won some adherents. But Arabs have long since rejected that siren. America seems to have trouble catching up.
This public silence of the Islamic spiritual guides does not come as a surprise. It accompanies almost every act of political violence that sees Muslims in action, in one or another region of the globe.
It is a silence that is not explained by calculations of timeliness alone, or by the fear of retaliation. Nor by the fact alone that today in Egypt the greatest clash is between opposing Muslim factions, both of them determined to assert with force the precepts of Islam: because it is not only the Muslim Brotherhood of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi that has a conception of the political struggle as jihad, as holy war, but this is also held by its adversary, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, the general placed at the head of the armed forces by Morsi himself because he was believed to be the most faithful Islamist of all.