CAIRO, Egypt – Sunday, the Egyptian military opened fire on thousands of Christians protesting in Maspero, Cairo. In the words of one Christian eyewitness, armored vehicles “came at great speed and drove into the crowds, going backwards and forwards, mowing people under their wheels. The most horrible scene was when one of the vehicles ran over a Copt’s [Christian’s] head, causing his brain to explode and blood was all over the place. We got a clear message today that we are no first class citizens.”
Various numbers of casualties have been given; AINA asserts that at least 35 Christians were massacred, many beyond recognition, and over 300 wounded; hundreds are still missing. Graphic pictures of some of the slain can be seen here.
Of course, you would not know any of this following the Western mainstream media (MSM). Conditioned to always appear “fair and balanced”— especially when the incidents being reported are neither—the MSM is giving the impression that the conflict consisted of equal violence and intolerance from both the military and “militant” Christians—or, to use the MSM’s favorite, and increasingly meaningless, euphemism, “sectarian strife,” conjuring up images of equally armed, equally militant factions fighting for supremacy.
Meanwhile, the MSM avoids the most obvious aspect of the conflict: religion, as Muslims—yet again—mow down infidel minorities for all to see.
While the military dictatorship cleanses Egypt of its Christian minority, the Egyptian media only depict images and “information” that comport with that agenda—all, of course, while naïve, gullible, or lazy Western reporters lap it up. State news, for example, asserted that armed Christians were on the offensive, killing three soldiers, injuring twenty, and burning state property—wanton lies, according to many eyewitnesses—yet perfectly in line with the MSM’s obsession never to portray Muslims as aggressors.
Accordingly, these distortions were unhesitatingly regurgitated by the MSM. The BBC‘s headline was “Egypt troops dead after Coptic church protest in Cairo” [since changed]—as if that was the relevant news; the report’s opening sentence highlighted Christian protesters “clashing with security forces, with army vehicles burning outside the state television building,” again, portraying the protesters as the aggressors.
Even Fox News had its readers sympathizing with Egypt’s military, even as the latter was busy massacring Christian citizens: the report told of an Egyptian soldier “collapsing in tears” as Christians “attacked” a fellow soldier. Of course, watching nearly 20 members of the police beating, dragging, and kicking a Christian for protesting the burning of his church—all while shouting slogans like “You infidel son of a bitch!”—might counterbalance Fox News’s weeping soldier.
A new CNN article titled “Egypt’s Tensions Explained” does anything but that. After asking “Why have we seen an upsurge in sectarian violence this year?” it states that “the reasons are not clear”—code for “the reasons are not politically correct”—and blames “those opposed to democratic changes” and “efforts by extreme Islamist groups to resist attempts by the Copts to establish more churches”—again, careful to portray the Copts as somehow equally responsible as the Islamists who murder them.
And, as usual, while mentioning the numbers of dead and injured, the MSM devoutly refuses to indicate who the dead are: after all, the overwhelming majority are Christians, and that fact would throw a wrench in their “balanced” portrayal of equal culpability.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, where objectivity is not at the mercy of ingrained relativism, political correctness, or the chronic need always to depict Islam in a positive light, eye-witnesses are describing these events as “war crimes” perpetrated by an Islamist-inclined regime against the nation’s native Christians. Dr. Imad Gad, for instance, Strategy Expert at the Ahram Center, denounced the military’s “crimes against humanity,” which he witnessed firsthand during a live phone interview.
What sparked these latest crimes against humanity in Egypt? Why were Christians protesting in the first place? The answers to these questions only further validate the notion that Muslim persecution of Christians—whether perpetrated by the local mosque or the state—is a fact of life in Egypt.
Days ago, thousands of Muslims attacked and destroyed yet another church, in Edfu—following the New Year church attack, which left 23 dead, the destruction and desecration of the ancient church in Sool, and the Imbaba attacks, which saw several churches set aflame. In all of these wanton attacks, not a single Muslim perpetrator was prosecuted by the Egyptian regime.
In the recent Edfu church attack, security forces “stood there watching”; the Intelligence Unit chief of the region was seen directing the mob destroying the church. The governor himself appeared on State TV and “denied any church being torched,” calling it a “guest home”—a common tactic to excuse the destruction of churches. He even justified the incident by arguing that the church contractor made the building three meters higher than he permitted: “Copts made a mistake and had to be punished, and Muslims did nothing but set things right, end of story.”
The grotesque irony is that Christians went to demonstrate in Maspero because that is where Egyptian media are located, and they sought to get the world’s attention, highlight the nonstop abuses they are suffering. Not only were they massacred for their trouble, but they were portrayed as the “aggressors” by the same media they vainly hoped would reveal their predicament to the world.
Meanwhile, the international community sits idly by. Despite the fact that the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom recommended that the U.S. government classify Egypt as a “country of particular concern”; despite the fact that several Egyptian churches have been destroyed with impunity in the last few months; despite the fact that any rational person could have read the writing on the wall—despite all this, the State Department failed even to cite Egypt as a “country of particular concern” in its recent religious freedom report.
Such journalistic and international dereliction of duty makes them complicit in the crimes, accessories to the massacres, and violators of the very notion of human rights they obscenely claim to advance.
Raymond Ibrahim, a widely published Islam-specialist, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. This editorial is reprinted as it originally appeared in the Middle East Forum on October 11, 2011.