Facebook Post Sparks Violence in Egypt: Copts Suffer

Below is the latest report by Ashraf Ramelah about the plight of the Copts in Egypt.

Facebook post sparks violence in Egypt: Copts suffer

by Dr. Ashraf Ramelah

In Arab-Muslim countries limited-free speech is the norm, due to political and religious constraints. Tunisia and Morocco are not as severe as others. Middle Eastern governments often speak highly of liberty and democracy, especially when addressing the West. However, in reality, these regimes are totalitarian and dictatorial.

Islamic religious doctrine governs the state to a lesser or greater degree. The Quran and the Sharia forbid freedoms that are taken for granted in the West. Islam is a hyper-sensitive ideology with severe ramifications built into its doctrine. The world knows this, and our way to respond to it should be made a priority for debate in our society. Instead, we’re rolling it into our diversity dialogue and accepting it.

Social media have opened opportunities for expression, communication and debate around the world. Generally, a post will meet the approval of readers who agree with it and disapproval from others who don’t. Positive and negative reactions are always expected with any commentary. The more debate generated and held, the freer the society. Lately, in the West, this freedom has been inhibited by digital media outlets that engage in partisan censorship — a disturbing reality.

In Egypt recently, fierce disagreement leapt from computer screens and landed in the physical realm of Menbal. Egyptian law enforcement stood down and let a riot foment. According to reporters interviewing the scene in Menbal, it all began by a posted comment online — a lapse in someone’s limited-free speech. The Facebook post was taken as an insult to the Islamic prophet. As a result, a whole village was attacked and a man put in jail.

By using the man’s initials, the Egyptian media have hidden the name of the owner of the Facebook page where the comment was posted, although the locals know the owner is a 35-year-old man who cannot read or write. This means that no one from the IT community can investigate the page and get to the bottom of the remark (if one existed) by finding the author of the post. A digital witch hunt is thereby avoided, but vigilantism is not — an attack upon an illiterate man, his family and his village.

The alleged “insulter” of Islam is a Christian Copt. The local Muslim community is enraged. On July 9, Muslims retaliated in Menbal, knowing full well they have license to do so because religious blasphemy laws work in their favor with the police. Technically, there are no religious blasphemy laws formalized into state law, but this type of dispute functions according to Islamic religious law. It only takes a rumor to convict a Christian Copt in the courts when two Muslims are present to give “testimony” — no need to verify the facts.

Menbal is a small village in the Al-Minya province south of Cairo. The village is one of a few towns in Egypt that still remains with a Coptic Christian majority. According to the press, Mr. A.A. is the son of a local church baker and lives in Menbal, where he helps his father prepare the bread used for the weekly Holy Communion. Mr. A.A. is now under arrest and in police custody.

The plot for revenge was carried out against homeowners first with threats, then curses, and then rock-throwing as the streets accumulated with more and more revenge-seekers. The number of vigilantes was increasing by the hour. On the morning of July 10, after many houses were damaged, local police finally realized that the situation was getting out of hand and requested reinforcements, which turned the village into a military stronghold.

Meanwhile, local residents who were under siege and watching more violence brew turned to the local clergy for answers. Local Copts expressed disappointment in the posted content but astonishment as well with the thought that the illiterate son of the village baker might have the capacity to do it. Would the elders of the village church please use their wisdom to calm the escalating storm breaking upon them?

Then the swelling crowd of rioters demanded the immediate removal of the local priest. The local police assured the Menbal residents there was no need for alarm. However, knowing better, Copts began to secure themselves inside their homes, waiting for the worst.

Then suddenly a Facebook post appeared. This time it was from Father Makaryus apologizing to local Muslims. This act of peacemaking or submission did not subdue the trouble. Muslims ignored the post. The temperature was rising as their plot gathered steam.

The entire incident is an enigma. A man unable to read or write owns a Facebook page, which indicates someone else may be involved and is perhaps using his identity. As of this writing, there is no proof or evidence of the offensive remark. The authorities, represented by the press, are not disclosing information, including the name of the accused. Meanwhile, the accused man is known and has come under attack along with others and their property.

The incident is alleged to be predicated upon someone’s violation of limited-free speech. Furthermore, limited expression in Egypt and elsewhere is a violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Once again, the aims or negligence of the state remain hidden behind the press and the street vigilantes, with the local police falling into place. As recent history has proven, justice in the courts is unlikely to follow this crime.

Dr. Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization, and a board member of Stop Islamization of Nations (SION). For his previous articles, see the Ashraf Ramelah Archives.

8 thoughts on “Facebook Post Sparks Violence in Egypt: Copts Suffer

  1. I wonder if this is a rural or semi-rural area – they have survived as Coptic islands in a sea of Islam. Many Copts have been used by the less literate Muslims as clerks and low-level administrators since the Copts are usually educated and often own small, vulnerable businesses. For instance, some sell wine, which Muslims can’t do.

    It’s a fragile state of affairs and has been ever since Islam conquered and ruined a once-vibrant nation. More than a thousand years ago, Egypt became one of the places that lost the craft of cart-building. Native Egyptians (Copts, now) left off making carts since they’d learned any such valuable finished product could simply be taken away by the invaders.

    The Desert Dwellers who’d invaded abhorred manual labor. They still do, which is why Saudi Arabia and the rest of ’em have to import their laborers.

  2. This is reminiscent of the case of Salamat Masih that I came across in Pakistan in 1994. Salamat Masih and two of his relatives were accused of writing blasphemous graffiti on the wall of a mosque even though none of them was literate. As is customary in such cases, the islamic mob rioted and and demanded that the accused be taken out and hanged. After all, this was Pakistan. To be accused was to be guilty so to hell with due process.

    When the prisoners were being taken from the court someone opened fire severely injuring Salamat Masih and his brother while killing their other relative. Nobody was arrested for the murder.

    The accused were defended by the late Asma Jehangir and were eventually acquitted. The presiding judge was shot on the steps of the court building in Lahore and killed.
    I do not recall whether the muderer of the Judge was caught – or even if the Police sought him. This was Pakistan after all.

    • Isn’t that place called Asia? I mean all the Pakistani immigrants to England are kindly called “Asians” so Lahore must be in Asia. Pakistan isn’t a thing anymore, surely.

  3. In Pakistan Sharia Law is overtly represented in the current legal code in the form of the infamous blasphemy laws. In Egypt as Dr Ramaleh notes “Technically, there are no religious blasphemy laws formalized into state law, but this type of dispute functions according to Islamic religious law”. That means that “Cultural Sharia” trumps secular law in some areas of life in Egypt. The same goes for most other Muslim countries (plus Bradford, Malmo, the banlieus of Paris, Dearborn Michigan etc etc). We have got used to the idea of Cultural Marxism in the West to understand the otherwise mystifying actions of our elites. Perhaps in time the idea of Cultural Sharia may become similarly adopted and used to understand the attitudes and actions of Muslims in the West, ostensibly subject to Western law.

    Muslims tell us that The Reliance of the Traveller is just a dusty old law book which has no relevance today but the imams in the Menbal area could have been quoting directly from it in their Friday sermons. In fact it could be seen as a handbook for Cultural Sharia. Here two relevant quotes from it which sanction vigilantism in defence of Islam:

    q0.2 “Commanding the right and forbidding the wrong is the most important fundamental of the religion…If it were folded up and put away, religion itself would vanish, dissolution appear, and whole lands come to ruin”.

    q2.3 “Some scholars stipulate that the person delivering the censure must have permission to do so from the caliph…This is untrue, for the Koranic verses and hadiths all indicate that whoever sees something wrong and does nothing has sinned”.

    Section q5 details the prescribed remedies for righting wrongs of escalating levels of severity:

    Explaining That Something Is Wrong, Forbidding The Act Verbally, Censuring With Harsh Words, Righting The Wrong By Hand, Intimidation by making realistic threats, Assault “to directly hit or kick the person”, Force of arms.

    Details here: https://sectionsatov.wordpress.com/2018/07/21/q/

    • “Cultural Sharia”: the Copts of Egypt, Christians of Pakistan (actually Christians everywhere) are deemed by Muslims to be Dhimmis living under an implicit Dhimmah such as that formulated in the Pact of Umar and quite irrespective of their true legal status.
      Thus any “insult” to Islam is a breach of the (implicit) Dhimmah and the surrounding Muslims are thereby enabled to treat the quasi-Dhimmis as “people of defiance and rebellion” – i.e. they become fair game for slaughter, rape, despoilation, etc.
      Having studied the reactions of the “Muslim mob” around the world there is such commonality to it that it can only be due to an almost universal view of the “other”.
      Furthermore the reactions of the mob are to precisely the sorts of things that are banned by the Pact of Umar which has led me to conclude that orthodox Muslims see all non-Muslims are Dhimmis – at least at a subconscious level, due to ~1400 years of inculturation into that attitude.

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