Great darkness in Egypt

Uprising hopes give way to growing Islamism, racism and anti-Israel venom

Eldad Beck, YNET

UPPER EGYPT – Maha, an Egyptian merchant in her 40s, doesn’t sleep well at night. Ever since the January 25 revolution, she is experiencing a difficult period. “In the first days of the mass demonstrations against Mubarak, my mother and me couldn’t even sleep because of fear,” said the Christian Copt. “We didn’t know what will happen to us. Ever since then, even though the general security situation in the country has stabilized, our fears were confirmed.”

In recent months we have seen significant escalation in violent clashes between radical Islamists and members of the Copt minority across Egypt. It started with the lethal suicide attack in one of Alexandria’s main churches in the first days of the year, even before the popular protest against Mubarak gained steam. Twenty three worshippers were murdered and some 100 were wounded.

Egyptian opposition sources claimed at the time that the attack was organized by a secret unit established by the former interior minister in order to undermine domestic stability and reinforce the regime’s hold on the country. A few weeks ago, when angry Islamist masses attacked a Cairo church where two Christian women who converted to Islam were apparently held, some charged that loyalists of the outgoing regime were identified among the radical Muslim activists. Ten people were killed in the clash, while security forces stood at the sidelines and observed.

Maha has no doubt as to who stands behind the growing violence against Copts – the Salafiyun, the ultra-conservative Islamic camp. Al-Qaeda’s new leader, Ayman al-Zawahri hailed from the Salafiyun’s ranks. So did Mohammed Atta, the commander of the September 11 attacks, who was a member of mosque affiliated with the movement. The Salafiyun are inspired by Saudi Arabia and seek to impose traditions from the early days of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad era.

“They hate everyone,” said Maha. “They also hate Muslims who are not like them, but they mostly hate us, Christians. One of their leaders said during a TV show that he dreams of waking up one day and discovering that Egypt is free of Christians. ‘They should go to the US and Canada,’ he said. ‘It’s not their country.’ Unbelievable chutzpah….we were in this country hundreds of years before Islam and the Arabs arrived.”

‘Islamists are taking over’
According to official figures, some eight million Copts live in Egypt, comprising 10% of the population. The Copt Church claims that the community numbers 13 million. Many Christians, young and wealthy, left Egypt in recent years, seeing no future for themselves in the country.

“At first we thought that the revolution would put Egypt on the right path,” said Maher, who immigrated to Canada and returned to visit his family. “We believed that the many minorities in the country would be able to live freely in a new society, yet today we no longer believe it. The Islamists are reckless and are taking over the country. It’s only a matter of time before they impose Islamic law here.”

In post-revolution Egypt, almost no day goes by without the Salafiyun assaulting Christians or members of other Muslim sects. They even took over a Cairo mosque held by the State, removed the local Imam and appointed one of their own instead – an elderly preacher who was recently released from jail and boasts of fighting the “Zionists” in 1948.

Indeed, Egypt is still far from being a free country, and radical Muslims are doing as they wish, under the auspices of the supreme military council. The despair of non-Sunni minorities is so deep that many Copts have armed themselves and are opening fire every time Muslim masses threaten their communities. Representatives of the Shiite and Sufi camps also declared “jihad” against the Salafiyun this past week, making it clear that from now on violence will be met with violence.

The tense atmosphere also drew, against their will, Mickey and Minnie Mouse into the fray. The Twitter account of Egyptian-Copt billionaire Naguib Sawiris, a telecommunication tycoon who recently formed a liberal-secular party, featured a photo of Disney’s stars with Mickey boasting a thick Salafi-style beard and Minnie’s face covered by a black niqab. The Salafiyun responded quickly: The immediately issued calls to boycott Sawiris’ phone companies and torch their offices. “We must cut off the tongue of those who attack our religion,” boycott organizers declared.

Sawiris already stirred a storm in the past after declaring that he feels like a foreigner on Cairo’s streets when facing the growing number of people adhering to radical Islamic dress codes. His party, which endorses separation of religion and state, still waits for approval from the central elections committee. Islamic parties established ahead of the upcoming elections for parliament were not forced to wait.

Should the planned elections timetable be adhered to, nobody in Egypt doubts that the big winner of the “freedom revolution” would be the Islamist movement on all its shades. Following the elections, Egypt will be under the control of Islam that is more radical than the one ruling Turkey. “Today’s Egypt is very different than the Egypt we knew so far,” a Western diplomat said.

The initiators of the January revolution – the liberal, secular and democratic youngsters – are feeling that they are losing control over the movement they launched. While the revolution against Mubarak’s regime was initially led by members of the middle class, now it is being taken over by the simple folk, who pull it in entirely different directions: More Islam and aspirations for the return of a powerful leader.

“Before, we barely had any parties, and now we have too many,” says Mohammad while sipping tea at a Luxor teahouse. The 25-year-old studied industrial design but like many others didn’t find a job and is making a living from tourism. “We need a president that will restore Egypt’s stability. Everything happening around here now greatly harms the state and our economic situation.”

Muhammad, a Muslim, said he will not be voting for one of the Islamist parties and boasts of having Christian friends. “We cannot afford to isolate Egypt from the world,” he said. This is what will happen if the Islamists win the elections. This will harm tourism even more. How will we make a living?

The uncertainty over Egypt’s future under Islamist rule is making some people long for Mubarak’s days. “At the end of the day, he was a good leader,” said Ahmad, a young student. “He did not lead us to adventurous wars; we had stability and security. It’s a pity that at the end he became detached from the people. His great mistake was to groom his son, Gamal, as his successor.”

The Islamists are careful not to voice overly zealous sentiments in respect to Israel. They know that after the elections they will have to swallow some bitter pills. Some of the people interviewed for this article estimated that the Islamists will expel Israel’s ambassador from Cairo should they win the elections but that they still realize they must show some flexibility.

However, the Islamists don’t need to make much effort on the Israel front. The supreme military committee, the transition government and the secular democratic parties are doing the job for them by spreading hateful anti-Israel propaganda and erasing any sign of peace, with the exception of the business normalization. In the days of the previous regime, anti-Israel propaganda was the only area where almost absolute freedom of speech was allowed, but now we are seeing reckless abandon.

Israel is accused of everything – causing the “civil war” between Muslims and Christians, causing the terrible Egyptian economy’s terrible state, and of course, engaging in reckless espionage. The best way to eliminate someone politically is to accuse him of having ties with Israel. Egyptians are eagerly reading reports about Israel’s “secret takeover” during Mubarak’s era; most of the stories are pure inventions meant to implicate former top officials in the gravest crime of all: Normalization with Israel.

Meanwhile, businessmen associated with the previous regime are accused of planning to sell Cairo’s main streets to the Jewish Agency, “which is planning to take over Cairo as it took over Palestine.” If this hysterical witch-hunt, which is replete with anti-Semitic tones, wasn’t enough, Egyptian daily al-Wafd reported this week that Israel also stole the opera Aida from Egypt.

“Israel, as usual, is exploiting events in Arab states in its favor…as it considers itself a Middle Eastern state, it organized several Aida shows at the Dead Sea on June 5th and 6th. It appears Israel chose those dates in order to celebrate our defeat in the 1967 war. Aida was written especially for Egypt, yet Israel is always trying to take over the property of others.”

July 9, 2011 | 11 Comments »

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  1. The Obama administration having orchestrated the ouster of U.S. ally, moderate Mubarak (who is now under arrest), have achieved exactly what they wanted – the rise to power of their top favorites, the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Which U.S. ally is targeted next for Islamic conquest?

  2. The Jew, or Christian, who takes Marxism or Human Secularism, or whatever they wish to call their treason, as their new “religion”, and joins the enemies of our two faiths, either openly or through silent complicity, in their persecution, are no longer Jews or Christians. They are our enemies as surely as if they were birthed from a Jihadists womb, and deserve no further consideration, but that given to ones enemy.


    “If your brother invites you to worship deities your ancestors did not know, kill him.”

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011
    “As A Jew,” J’Accuse The Ultimate Antisemite

    Whether it comes from respected journalists, politicians, “peace activists,” Nobel prize winners or religious leaders, it is a daily barrage of hate aimed at anyone Jewish. Yet the ultimate anti-Semite is not the gentile that spouts the hatred and bile that has become commonplace once again in the world. The ultimate anti-Semite is the Jew who joins with the persecutors and tries to use the fact that they emerged into this world from a Jewish womb, as a right to destroy their own people. You can’t call them anti-Semite after all they are Jews, they shout…but they are Jews without a shred of attachment to the Jewish people, to history or to reality.

    In truth it is the anti-Semite who needs these ultimate anti-Semitic Jews for cover. To make themselves believe their hyperbole that they are not Jew haters but freedom fighters. That they are the moral and better human beings. That they are the righteous among us. The problem is that we, the members of the Jewish people, allow it to happen. We get all defensive when some inane individual, who has no bearing upon our world, says, “As a Jew….” Well to say “as a Jew,” you at first have to care about the survival of the Jewish people, the religion of Israel and the Jewish State. These ultimate anti-Semites care about none of this…what they ultimately care about is only themselves.

    “But those of us who love our heritage, our people and our freedom can say the same thing. We can say to the world, “As a Jew,” my voice is important on matters effecting the Jewish people. “As a Jew,” i do not have to apologize for being a Jew. “As a Jew,” I do not need the world’s approval for my existence. “As a Jew,” my word and beliefs about my people are what matters, not anyone else’s. “As a Jew…” I defend Israel, the Untied States, true freedom, and truth and justice. “As a Jew,” I defend my right to live in my ancestral homeland in a Jewish state and use any means at my disposal to protect myself and my children and my home. “As a Jew,” I have the right to demand that the world recognize my humanity and that I am part and parcel of humankind. “As a Jew,” I demand that I have a right to call out the anti-Semites for being anti-Semites including and especially those who demonize and wish to destroy Israel, whether they be Moslem, Christian, atheist, Buddhist or another Jew. “As A Jew,” I demand the right to be heard and not to have to give credence nor respect to those who have abandoned our people and help those that wish to murder our children. “As a Jew,” I say there are not always two sides to every story. “As a Jew,” I say, Jewish history is Jewish history, you cannot accept it, then “as a Jew,” I call you an anti-Semite. “As a Jew,” I demand that my history be respected and honored and not denigrated by those who celebrate the slaughter of Jewish children.

    So “As a Jew,” I say that the ultimate anti-Semites are those Jews who betray their people and try to use their Jewish heritage as an endrun around their own self-hatred and self-degradation. If their actions would be seen as anti-Semitic if they were not Jews, then their actions are anti-Semitic as Jews. They do not get anymore of a pass because they are from the People of Israel. In fact, what it does is make their betrayal even more apparent and their lives even more devoid of heaven.”

    Read More:

  4. As a political cynic, it was pretty obvious to me that Egypt would most likely end up controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood once the dust settled from that country’s “Democratic Revolution”.

    Carter gave them Iran, Obama gives them Egypt.

    The Left never disappoints, if something is bad for Israel and the West, they are all for it.

  5. February 8, 2011 Rob Eshman, editor of the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles wrote the following editorial chiding those Jews who are concerned about developments in Egypt. As of July 9, 2011 Eshman has not admitted are not corrected his previous naïve views. Nor has Eshman apologize to the many Jews who had expressed concern and whose concerns he dismissed with disdain. Quoting from his editorial:
    The last two weeks have been a shining moment for the Egyptian people. For us Jews, not so much.
    In the fight for freedom they have been bold; we have been cautious.
    They have acted without fear; we have withheld our applause. They have sacrificed; we have remained suspicious. They have stood before tank turrets and raised the Egyptian flag. We have logged into chat rooms and raised red flags.
    When I wrote last week that too many Jews and mainstream Jewish organizations were treating freedom in Egypt like it’s the “F” word, my inbox filled up with reproving “reality” checks….
    Everywhere across the Internet and in Israel, Jewish voices rang out with full-throated pessimism. The images from Tahrir Square did not inspire much beyond fear. This was the Egyptian moment, a popular uprising hoping to shake off oppression and restore dignity, but instead of cheering it on, embracing it and urging our leaders to support it, we greeted it with dire warnings and anxious silence….
    Yes, Islamic extremism, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, is a danger. Yes, a Pew survey showed 49 percent of Egyptians support Hamas. Yes, the Quran has many nasty bits about Jews. We get it. We hear your siren. But look at the faces at Tahrir Square and tell me: Now what?  
    “What one hears while strolling around are all the pent-up hopes, aspirations and frustrations of Egyptians for the last 50 years,” New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote from Tahrir Square. “I know the ‘realist’ experts believe this will all be shut down soon. Maybe it will. But for one brief shining moment, forget the experts and just listen. You have not heard this before. It is the sound of a people so long kept voiceless, finally finding, testing and celebrating their own voices.”
    Nice try, Tom. But too many of us are so busy sounding the alarms, we can’t celebrate, we can’t see, and, because of that, we can’t take those actions that might influence a dicey situation to have a positive outcome, even if that means sending some supportive Tweets to someone interviewed on CNN….
    We Jews have three other good reasons for our fearful reaction: The Holocaust, the Holocaust, the Holocaust. …
     But still, there are times in history and in life when we have to rise above our nature, and our past, and our biography, and make the best of a good situation.
    Last Shabbat, Rabbi David Wolpe posted on his Facebook page a small teaching that didn’t explicitly say anything about the Egyptian uprising, but that I’m going to believe was at least a veiled reference.
    “We can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark,” the rabbi quoted Plato, “the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light.”
    (1) Your article should reassure all Jews living within missile range of GazA OR Lebanon, OR on the border with Egypt that they have nothing to fear. Daniel Pearl did not fear. He was butchered because he was a Jew. The 2 IDF reservists who took a wrong turn into Ramallah did not fear. They were butchered because they were Jews. The Pass baby was murdered by a Palestinian sniper because she was Jewish.?Some years ago a woman wrote a letter to the Jewish Journal claiming you are a coward for sitting safely in Los Angeles and criticizing the IDF. You were wrong then… You are wrong now!

    (2) Eshman ,NYTIMES, TIME ,NPR CLAIM the brotherhood Is nothing to worry about.
    For years they ALSO CLAIMED Stalin not a tyrant; Castro was agrarian reformer ; Hezbollah and Hamas were basically social welfare organizations; etc.

    FROM NPR : 
    … Brotherhood the most powerful force among the Egyptian people. But he and other leaders hasten to add that they will make no grab for power in a post-Mubarak Egypt.?… the Brotherhood can’t be ignored. It claims 600,000 members, and even as a banned movement, it managed to win one of every five seats in Parliament during the 2005 elections.
    Many rapists relax victims “ keep quiet , you won’t get hurt”.We were relaxed by Revolutionary Guard , Hezbollah, Hamas,NOW THE BROTHERHOOD.

    NPR analysts describe Brotherhood as moderate Islamic political & social movement ,fiercely nationalistic ;engages in philanthropy. appeals to Egypt’s urban professionals & the middle class.
    Egyptians interviewed believe Brotherhood has as much right as anyone to help shape their country’s future, as long as it doesn’t try to take over.
    They are a very important player, and as long as they agree on the principle of equality and the principle of the rule of law, they should be included in the political discussion of the future of Egypt

    Eshman wrote this op-ed on 2/8/11. Edmund Sanders wrote this report on 2/22/11. Will events on the ground lead Rob to a new and correct reassessment?
    In Egypt, ‘pro-democracy’ leaders already seeking to ‘reassess’ peace with Israel?By Edmund Sanders and Batsheva Sobelman

    ROB:?…difference hope &reality;. 2005, Lebanon had “Cedar Revolution”. Hundreds of thousands took to streets, protesting against Syrian/Hizbollah-backed assassination of prime minister, Rafik Hariri. Just as they are doing this month all over the Middle East, Western TV reports celebrated the event. The democratic will prevailed. Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon. Yet today, six years on, Lebanon has never been a less politically plural place. The Christians believe that they are all but finished; the Sunni minority are embattled; the Shia extremists are back, and in charge.?This example is worth bearing in mind …
    MOORE: what happens after we stopped watching… (Telegraph)

    Rob: your Egyptian fantasy is unraveling in just a month:
    ?Sectarian clashes kill 13 near Cairo
    Published: March 9 2011 17:46 | Last updated: March 9 2011 17:46?Sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians on the outskirts of Cairo have left at least 13 people dead and 140 injured, the first deadly violence between the two communities since last month’s uprising in Egypt that toppled Hosni Mubarak.?The fighting in Manchiet Nasser on Tuesday night erupted after thousands of Coptic Christians, most of them rubbish collectors, had come from their settlements on the city’s eastern edge to protest at the burning of a church by Muslims in a village outside Cairo

    If you agree with me that Eshman’s editorial is both wrong and dangerous you can contact him at and let him know your thoughts about what is happening in Egypt and his failure to correct his previous optimistic statements and his criticisms of those in the Jewish community who were concerned about the possibility of the Muslim brotherhood taking control of Egypt and canceling the petroleum shipments to Israel, opening the border with Gaza, and possibly renouncing Egypt’s obligations under the peace treaty that they signed with Israel.

  6. Attacks on Christians really haven’t let up in 2000 years. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes less. The Arab Moslems worship the idol Allah, whom they “made with their own hands” through Mohammed. Idolators hate worshippers of the one true God.

  7. Such a terribly backward society. I am proud to say, even my grandparents who were extremely poor, from Tuchin in Poland, were very progressive, forward thinking. There was no hatred towards others. On the contrary, being deeply observant and pious Jews they were extremely tolerant of others.