- - Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Political strife pushes passions past reason, and collateral damage to innocents is the rule. In Egypt, where civil war is brewing, the Muslim Brotherhood is conducting a pogrom against Coptic Christians. Under the cover of turmoil, the Brotherhood is targeting Copts’ communities, killing Christians, looting and burning their homes and torching their churches. Taken with similar attacks on Christians in Syria, this systematic attempt to eradicate Christians along with Jews is nothing less than ethnic cleansing.

More than 40 Coptic cathedrals and churches have been burned in this attempt to drive out followers of the cross. Since the beginning of the so-called “Arab Spring” in 2011, the death toll has climbed into the hundreds of believers. The Coptic church, which claims the Apostle Mark as its founder, numbers more than 10 percent of the 84 million Egyptians, and is older than Islam. Egypt has been a haven for Christians since Joseph and the holy family fled Herod, as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew: “When [Joseph] arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod the Great, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through his prophet, saying, Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

The ruling Egyptian military says it will rebuild the torched churches, such as the fourth-century Virgin Mary Monastery in Upper Egypt, but the priceless historic landmarks looted by the Islamist mobs are irreplaceable. So is trust when neighbor turns against neighbor.

Christianity, beginning with Mark the evangelist, and Islam have been competitors for centuries, but only Islam has carried violent expansionist designs into the 21st century. Egypt is ground zero in the Islamic struggle to establish a regional social order that bows to the Prophet Muhammad. The election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in 2012 and his rapid Shariah-centric “reforms” signaled the faithful that the goal was within sight. But 22 million Egyptians signed a petition repudiating Mr. Morsi’s leadership, and the generals moved on July 3 to replace him. In response, the Muslim Brotherhood’s millions have taken to the streets, demanding their leader’s reinstatement and daring the military to evict them.

The violence the extremists crave exploded last week when military forces swept through Brotherhood encampments. The carnage claimed the lives of more than 900 people and injured 4,000 others. The mayhem in the street was just the excuse the Brotherhood wanted to inflame the mob to expunge the “infidels.”

Similar strife is underway in Syria, where the nation’s 1.5 million Christians have been targeted by Islamic radicals amid the civil war that grew from attempts to oust President Bashar Assad. Thousands of Syriac Christians, members of one of the world’s oldest denominations, have fled for their lives in northeastern Syria, under assault by rebels that include al Qaeda. In Iraq, only a third of the country’s 1.3 million Christians remain following the war that ousted Saddam Hussein.

The civilized world vows “never again” every time ethnic cleansing stains the earth. When Christians and Muslims clashed in 1992 in the Balkans, the United States led a United Nations coalition to bomb Christian Serb and Croat forces, forcing them to stop the “cleansing” of Muslims from their communities. Now the Christians are under siege, and the keepers of conscience, as they imagine themselves, have fallen silent. President Obama’s timid scolding of Muslims bent on barbarity against Christians, offered between rounds of golf on Martha’s Vineyard, impresses nobody on the streets of Cairo. They think he doesn’t really mean it.

The Washington Times