Better News for Coptic Christians

CAIRO — Pushed to the edge of endurance, Egyptʼs persecuted Christians have started to see some relief from Islamist persecution, as Egyptʼs security forces and law courts crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood and its violent activities.

Ever since a popular uprising backed by Egyptʼs military toppled the government of President Mohammed Morsi on July 3, the Muslim Brotherhood has seethed at their fall from power. And they have directed much of their rage at Egyptʼs Coptic Christian minority, which accounts for 10% of Egyptʼs 84 million people.

However, the tide of persecution endured by the Copts may be turning. While military and police operations regain security over the country, a court in Cairo has ordered that the Muslim Brotherhood be banned and its assets confiscated by the state.

The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ruled Sept. 23 in favor of the Tagammu party, which accused the Muslim Brotherhood of carrying out terrorist activities and using religion for its own political ends, according to The New York Times. The Middle East News Agency reported the Ministry of Social Solidarity will wait on the outcome of two other court cases involving the Brotherhood before enforcing the ruling.

Father Rafic Greiche, spokesman for Egypt’s Catholic Conference, spoke with the Register from Cairo and said the situation for Christians has improved since the Muslim Brotherhood onslaught that began Aug. 14. Mobs, enraged by the militaryʼs violent crackdown on Brotherhood demonstrations, retaliated by destroying more than 60 churches, hospitals and schools. They also killed, harassed or assaulted Christians unfortunate enough to be caught in their path.

“We are still under threat,” Father Greiche said. “Everything canʼt come back steadily overnight.”

However, he said the court-ordered seizure of the Muslim Brotherhoodʼs assets was a “wise decision” that would deal a critical blow to its network of patronage and support.

“Most of the Egyptians, Christians and Muslims, have been awaiting this verdict,” he said.

The Muslim Brotherhoodʼs extensive network provides social services and welfare payments for many Egyptians from its own coffers. This allows it to command a great deal of loyalty from its supporters. But Father Greiche said this network also helps the Brotherhood pay its supporters to demonstrate, protest and carry out terrorist acts against Christians and Muslims who oppose them.

“This money has to get all dried up,” he said, explaining that the loss of money will greatly curtail its influence and violent activities over time. He added that, once the ruling is in place, “it will get drier, bit by bit.”

The Military Rescues the Christians

Violent clashes between Egyptian security forces and the Muslim Brotherhood have left hundreds of Brotherhood members dead and thousands injured and arrested.

Ashraf Ramelah, president of Voice of the Copts, told the Register that Egyptʼs security forces face an enormous challenge in bringing the country under control. Ramelah said that Morsi freed and pardoned convicted terrorists and allowed Hamas agents to infiltrate the country.

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