This past week, the Egyptian court sentenced an activist to six months in prison on charges that he insulted President Mohamed Morsi and circulated false news on television. He called President Morsi a killer and criminal.
In our book, the activist was indeed correct in his description of Morsi, who has stood silently by while Coptic Christian Orthodox churches are burned to the ground in Egypt and members of the church are murdered for practicing their faith.
Every American of every faith should be outraged by this persectution. And yet, the trouble in Egypt is largely overlooked and widely dismissed by both the media and elected leaders.
Ridgewood residents, in particular, should feel outrage because there is a very active Coptic Christian church that has been in the area for quite a while. St. Mary’s and St. Antonio’s Coptic Orthodox Church, located on Woodward Avenue, has seen its membership double to about 1,000 families since the revolution of 2011 that led to the ousture of President Hosni Mubarak.
The congregation grew so large that St. Mary’s and St. Antonio’s purchased a second house of worship-formerly the United Presbyterian Church of Ridgewood on 60th Place.
Ridgewood has traditionally been the jumping-off point for many immigrants. A large Gottschee population arrived by the thousands after World War I and II following the elimination of their homeland. They were hard-working, reliable people who were an asset to the community. They formed societies that helped each other assimilate into America. By all accounts the Coptic community is cut from the same cloth.
As the Muslim fanatics in Egypt increase the violence against Coptic Christians, it figures that more and more Coptic Christians will flee their homeland. The new constitution of Egypt, drafted by the Muslim Brotherhood, states that Islamic sharia law rules the country. Sharia does not guarantee the freedom of speech or the freedom of religion-and it treats women as second-class citizens.
Last week, over 20,000 Muslims attacked a Coptic Church in Egypt. Hundreds of courageous Copts formed a human wall around the perimeter to protect their church, using their bodies as human shields.
Sadly following in the footsteps of other peoples of faith who experienced persecution in centuries past, the Copts in Egypt are forced to leave their homeland due to threats and intimidation from the radicals and the lack of protection from their national leaders.
Not only should there be an outcry from every pulpit in every Christian church in America over the genocide of Coptic Christians being perpetrated in Egypt, but there also should be outrage expressed by our elected leaders.
Instead, we’re giving Egypt a ton of money. Earlier this year, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the U.S. would provide Egypt with $250 million in aid. This money, combined with the $1 billion previously pledged by President Obama, is geared at building a free democracy there. Obviously, there is no free democracy in Egypt, and not a word is uttered as Copts are persecuted.
Our ignorance of this situation-and our continued financial support of a regime that permits this violence against an entire faith-is beyond shameful.
As a nation founded by people who sought refuge from religious persecution, we must demand that Egypt stop the violence and recognize all faiths. Until they take such action, the Egyptian government doesn’t deserve another penny of our aid.