Kristallnacht in Cairo--Prelude to a Christian Exodus?

Par David T. Jones le 28 août 2013

Washington, DC - Kristallnacht or “crystal night” or “night of broken glass” identifies the German attack on Jewish synagogues, properties, and homes on 9-10 November 1938.  Virtually every synagogue in Nazi Germany and recently annexed Austria was comprehensively destroyed; looted and/or burned with tens of thousands of Jews beaten, abused, and imprisoned.  Mercifully, the direct death toll was relatively small (officially 91), however, several thousand are believed to have committed suicide and/or died in the concentration camps, although most were released within a few months.  Those who remained went back to the camps and their deaths later.

Thus for someone with a sense of history, the images of destruction of Christian churches, schools, and properties in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt on 18 August has a horrific resonance. Are barbarians coming for the Christians this time?

Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, wrote recently:

         “Violent aggression by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, including those sympathetic to al-Qaeda, continues to be directed at one of the world’s oldest Christian communities…The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has been inciting the anti-Christian pogroms on its web and Facebook pages. …lists a bill of particulars against the Christian Coptic minority, blaming it, and only it, for the military’s crackdown against           the Brotherhood, alleging that the Church has declared a ‘war against Islam and Muslims.’”

Copts.jpgShea noted that least 58 churches, several convents, monasteries and schools, the YMCA, dozens of homes and businesses of Christians were reported to have been looted or burned.  The Coptic Pope is in hiding.  Particularly pitiful was the cancellation of Sunday prayers for the first time in 1,600 years at the Orthodox Monastery of the Virgin Mary and Priest Ibram in Degla, south of Minya.  A scholar on Egypt noted that the recent attacks appeared to be the worst violence against Egypt’s Coptic Church since the 14th century.  

And Christians were present in Egypt for centuries prior to Islam’s arrival.

If the riots prompted by the Brotherhood destroyed only those Christian facilities identified, it was more that they lacked the organizational skills of 1938 Nazis rather than any lack of desire to create a Christian-rein (Christian free) Egypt.  Protecting Christians is decidedly secondary for the Egyptian military focused on gaining full sociopolitical control. 

Regardless of a dilatory military, one can be sure a Muslim Brotherhood/Islamic-dominated Egypt would stimulate massive Christian exodus, far exceeding terrorist expulsion of Christians from other Middle East states.  Unhappily, one can hypothesize that Egypt’s military rulers, also Muslims, would sacrifice the Coptic Christians in a heartbeat to Muslim Brotherhood mobs if it would secure their control.  And who would be willing to mount a “crusade” to save them?  At 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million population, a Coptic Christian Diaspora would constitute a massive refugee problem dwarfing other regional refugee disasters.

Kristallnacht in 1938 Germany was clearly a precursor of things to come, but nobody then believed it was the harbinger of a six million dead Holocaust.  In the intervening 70 years, we have at least appreciated with lip service mottos the lessons of history (“never again”), reinforced by genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda as well as ethnic cleansings in the Middle East, former Yugoslavia, India-Pakistan, etc.

This time we should not be fooled into blithely thinking that “It will all blow over (not blow up).”  If in the years immediately preceeding World War II, we deliberately dismissed Jews seeking asylum (“None are too many”) in 2013 we have no excuse.  There are two obvious choices:

-  Arm the Copts.  In an area awash with weaponry, providing light arms to Coptic congregations should at least give pause to the least fanatical Islamic Brothers;

-  Begin planning for orderly departure of Egyptian Christians.  While the United States (and Canada) could take the lead by expanding immigration numbers (200,000 extra for the USA), other European Christian states should do likewise.

Pessimistic planning?  Indeed.  While a pessimistic can be pleasantly surprised, an optimist is continually disappointed.


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