A pro-Islamic State (IS) media outlet, Wafa Media Foundation, has called for attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christians, saying they are “infidel fighters” and their churches must be blown up.
The Islamic media group said Copts have rejected the Islamic condition of so-called ‘dhimmitude’ denoting submission or second-class status imposed by Sharia law on Christians.
Wafa Media claims Christians in Egypt have continued to build churches and even promote television networks to spread the Christian messages.
Islamic State in Egypt claimed responsibility for the Palm Sunday bomb attack, December 2016, and for the attack on a bus in May that killed about 30. The group sent out an online video in February calling for the killing of Copts who it decribes as the major target, the “favourite prey”.
This threat comes less than a week after Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar university and mosque, who described Islam was facing “a war against itself,” met with Pope Francis at the Vatican last Tuesday 7 November, at an interfaith dialogue conference organised by the Sant’Egidio Catholic community and pledged greater co-operation to fight terrorism.
El-Tayeb said, Al-Azhar “is offering its resources and a greater contribution for a permanent collaboration aimed at finding solutions to terrorism”.
Wafa Media Foundation and IS are not the only voices calling for attacks on Coptic churches and the killing of Egyptian Christians. Ayat Oraby, an Egyptian Muslim immigrant, wife and mother of two children, in New Jersey, USA, uses her YouTube channel and blog to attack the Egyptian government and other Arab leaders. “The idea of the Islamic caliphate,” she wrote in a September Facebook post, “is not a political rhetoric but a future that we believe in and a revelation by Allah to his Prophet.”
Oraby is calling for violence and discrimination against Egypt’s Christians and denying them equal rights, including a limit on church construction. “The problem of the Christians in Egypt is that they follow the church gang,” she wrote. “They believe that (Coptic Pope) Tawadoros the criminal, or any other criminal who will replace him, was selected by the Lord and speaks on His behalf. The church gang deceives its followers in this despicable way, just like a thief or a swindler from the Middle Ages.”
Oraby accused the Copts of supporting the “revolt against the elected Muslim president (Mohammed Morsi) and you stood in the face of the will of the Muslims.” she therefore called all Muslims to “boycott them (Copts) and do not buy their products; force them to understand the consequences of their actions, to understand that their Cross will not prevail over Egypt and that Islam is above all, whether they like it or not.”
With more than 600,000 Facebook followers Atyat Oraby must be taken seriously, says Hany Ghoraba, an Egyptian writer, political and counter-terrorism analyst.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos