Christians are persecuted today in many part of the world. Here in the United States we are fortunate that we do not have to live our lives under this constant threat. However, in areas like Egypt and China persecution against Christians is widespread. There is plenty of information on this situation via different groups such as The Voice of the Martyrs. One additional group, which focuses on threats against Egyptian Christians (Coptics) is called the Voice of the Copts, and it is led by Dr. Ashraf Ramelah. Dr. Ramelah has spoken in front of key governmental groups such as the E.U. Parliament and the Italian Parliament.
The following is an unedited Q&A Taber’s Truths recently had with Dr. Ramelah:
What is Pope Theodoros II’s role and attitude towards the ongoing strife in Egypt, regarding persecution of Coptics?
Pope Theodoros II inherited a great and heavy responsibility. The Orthodox Church has been under attack due to the political involvement of Pope Shendua III and other bishops. It is important that Christians Copts in Egypt have a strong spiritual leader. Coptic youth will find their political leader in time. The new Pope has been installed for a short time and his attitude towards the current situation is not entirely clear yet.
What kind of persecution is typical in these days, in Egypt? Has it gotten worse since the “Arab Spring”?
Today Copts have suffered persecution, discrimination and oppression similar to the past 1430 years — the only difference being that modern technology (satellite phone images, videos, and internet accounts) enables the outside world to witness these atrocities. A more appropriate title for the January 2011 revolution is “Islamic Revival,” and Copts are on the front lines paying a huge price.
What is the new government’s official stance towards the Coptics?
Do you mean “official stance” inside Egypt or outside the country? For example, Muslim leaders under Morsi’s government had issued two different and opposing statements concerning this Christmas. One directed at Egyptian Muslims inside the country (in Arabic language only) saying to refrain from greeting Christian Egyptians with “Merry Christmas,” the other, directed at the international community in English and other languages, offering a “Merry Christmas” greeting to Christians in countries around the world including Egypt. The new Islamic Sharia constitution draft recently approved by referendum vote in a fixed, fraudulent election will usher in a restricted and dangerous environment for Christians formulated out of a fierce hatred towards them and veneered over by lies to the outside world.
What is the potential solution to these problems? Is there a practical one?
Are there different kinds of Egyptian Coptics? Are some Protestant?
The word “Copts” means “Egyptians” derived from the ancient Greek word, “Aigyptos.” When Arab-Muslims invaded Egypt in the seventh century Muslims used the term “Copts” for all inhabitants who did not convert to Islam and instead paid the jizyah tax. The Copts community today is comprised of all denominations of Christians now present in Egypt which include the Orthodox Church, the Evangelicals and the Catholics. The Orthodox Church was founded by Saint Mark around 34 AD. The Orthodox denomination is close to 90% of the twenty million Christians living in Egypt.
What can an American Christian do to help the Coptics?
Christians in general need to trust in the power of prayer. In addition to this, American Christians need to understand that democracy, liberty, and freedom of religion and speech are anathema to Islamic ideology and rule. The Muslim Brotherhood and its operatives are trying to take control of America in various ways and methods. It’s time that Americans put aside their political and religious differences and stand up to protect Western principles and values. This is not an instigation of a war against Islam but answering a call to protect American society.
(For more information on the plight of the Copts, please visit www.voiceofthecopts.org.)