Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

6/5/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

To date the fate of the Coptic Christian community remains uncertain in a post revolutionary Egypt. This uncertainty is vividly depicted in two recent court rulings: one hopeful, the other crushing. But I see only one hope for Coptic Christians, a fundamental change in the mindset of the Muslim people.

Coptic Christians demonstrate in front of the High Court in Cairo in response to the Abu Qurqas ruling

Coptic Christians demonstrate in front of the High Court in Cairo in response to the Abu Qurqas ruling

Article Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/5/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Christian, Coptic, Persecution, Elections, Egypt, United States, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - To date the fate of the Coptic Christian community remains uncertain in a post-revolutionary Egypt. This uncertainty is vividly depicted in two recent court rulings. According to an article published by Compass Direct News, one of these rulings offers hope to the Copts while the other dashes that hope. As for me, I see only one hope for the Copts, a fundamental change in the mindset of the Muslim people.

The first ruling reaches back to an incident that occurred on January 11, 2011, shortly before the revolution broke out. The incident involved a Muslim police officer on a Cairo-bound train who killed a 71 year old Coptic man and wounded his wife plus four others. Witnesses said they saw the deranged police officer roaming the train looking for Christians and yelling "God is great" as he shot them.

On March 12, 2012, a judge sentenced the police officer to death. Samia Sidhom, the managing editor of a Cairo newspaper, said the ruling came as a surprise. It was rare, she added, because it went against an unwritten rule that says judges are not to give the death penalty to Muslims for killing Christians. It was so rare that it had to be approved by the state appointed Grand Mufti.

Although this ruling seems hopeful on the surface, the second court ruling did not go so well. This case involved a riot that broke out in the village of Abu-Qurgas on April 18, 2011. The riot began after a bus driver became angry about a speed bump placed in front of the home of a wealthy Christian. The incident resulted in the death of an elderly Christian woman and two Muslim men and dozens of Coptic homes and businesses being set on fire.

As a result, 12 Christians and eight Muslims were arrested. The charges included murder, disturbing the peace, inciting sectarian strife, arson, and possession of unlicensed firearms. The trial ended on May 21, 2012. The judge found all 12 Coptic Christians guilty and sentenced them to life in prison, while all the Muslims were acquitted and released.

The ruling was a bitter shock to the Coptic community because, according to the article, all eight Muslims had been charged with the same crimes, and no Muslim property had reportedly been damaged. A Coptic human rights lawyer in Egypt, Athanasious Williams, said the trial was completely unjust.

He expects Christians will continue to be persecuted in Egypt regardless who wins Egypt's run-off election for president scheduled in mid June between the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohammed Mursi and Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, a former member of the Mubarak administration.

Williams said, "I am expecting the worst in all cases. Either the Islamists will take over, or Ahmed Shafiq will. If the Islamists take over, we will be like Iran, and they will enforce sharia law, and there will be no freedom of religion. There will be no freedoms of any kind. There will be no freedom in art, opinion or anything. If Shafiq takes over, it will be the same way it was before."

As far as I am concerned, hope for Egypt's Coptic Christian community does not rest on court rulings or the upcoming presidential election, although these are very important. What is really needed is a fundamental change in the mindset of the Muslim people. Without that, I do not believe there is hope for the Copts or Egypt or the entire region.

When I refer to the Muslim mindset, I am thinking of something Robert Reilly said in his book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind. He said the idea of "cause and effect" does not exist in the Muslim mind. Thus, they generally do not see an inner logic to things. Nor do they learn or develop critical thinking skills. Without a foundation of fixed knowledge, he says, there is only opinion and sophistry, which promotes irrational behavior and forces people to live in a world where myth and fantasy seem real.

This social condition can be explained in large part based on the Muslim understanding of ultimate reality, that is, God. Both Muslims and Christians believe that God is all-powerful, but for Muslims this quality is supreme and essentially negates all of God's other qualities. This one idea colors just about everything Muslim's believe about God, reality, human nature, and society.

Related to this exaggerated notion of God's sovereignty, is the idea that only God is real, that reality is illusion. Thus, Muslims believe that God is unlimited, pure will and power. For them, this means that Allah cannot be bound by order in the universe or reason or anything limiting. Allah can act capriciously, and without regard for the good of the person or creation. For Muslims, then, reality is not ordered; it is unknowable and without purpose.

Therefore, reason is not valued, but neither is morality, for human behavior has no moral value beyond absolute obedience to Allah's capricious will. So Muslim law, for instance, is not necessarily tied to human experience or objective reality or truth or reason. Consequently, Muslim law does not concern itself much with individual rights. Nor does it generally contain well-defined rules or precedents. This allows Muslim lawmakers and judges much discretion, as we have seen.

Postmodernism in the West does not acknowledge Islam's all-powerful God, or any other god for that matter, yet it parallels an Islamic world view in some significant ways. Like Islam, Postmodernism sees the world as unknowable. There is no one truth. Truth is relative, if there even is such a thing. So it is not important to seek truth. Instead of truth, Postmodernism seeks power that is unrestrained by moral limitations and can be exercised arbitrarily just like Islam's all-powerful God.

Although they come from opposite ends of the spectrum, both Islam and Postmodernism arrive at a view of reality which is essentially irrational and amoral. Reilly says that both Islam and Postmodernism (secularism, socialism, liberalism, etc.), demand that reality conform to their world view. He also says they both seek earthly utopias through politics and stringent control of the population.

Christians, on the other hand, have a profound belief in a universe that is objectively ordered and intelligible. It is a universe created by an all-powerful but loving God, the triune God. Therefore, Christians believe that the universe is objectively real and that much can be known about it through the use of reason and that it is basically good and filled with beauty. 

Furthermore, Christians seek to understand their faith through reason. The Christian faith is not just about great mysteries and life after death; it also speaks of our nature and our relationships with each other, and it sees intelligible order in both. We call this order natural law, and it attests to our dignity as moral beings with inherent rights. Human beings are not the puppets of capricious, amoral gods. Nor are they mere products of evolution which can be molded by the postmodern, secular state into whatever it wants.

I see a time coming when more and more people around the world will demand to be ruled based on objective truths which they can come to know through reason and freely submit to, not out of fear, but out of admiration and loyalty to the goodness and beauty of those truths. This, then, is the real hope that I see for the Copts.

The Copts have displayed great courage time and time again. This was evident as thousands of Copts risked their well-being and possibly their lives when they demonstrated this past week in front of Egypt's High Court and demanded justice for their fellow Copts from Abu Qurqas who were condemned to life in prison. But they can do only so much in such a hostile society, and greater hostility is likely after the runoff elections for president in a couple weeks.

Islamists have already gained control in parliament, and their candidate is leading in the presidential election. It is believed that an Islamist government will institute sharia law in Egypt, which is highly discriminatory of non-Muslims. So the Copts are not in a position to effectively advocate for change despite their heroic efforts.

However, Christians in the West are in a position to help: if not directly, at least indirectly. This is especially true for Christians in the United States. In addition to prayer--prayer always comes first--it would seem that one of the best things we can do to help the Copts is to protect a Christian mindset in our own country from the ravages of Postmodernism.

Our country was founded in large part on the Christian mindset mentioned above. Our constitution is based on an objectively ordered view of the world and reason. And the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence specifically mentions the natural law. If this mindset is allowed to be extinguished in the most powerful country in the world, then it is unlikely it could take hold in Muslim society. More likely is that the world would plunge into a darkness filled with opinion, sophistry, myth, and fantasy for generations.

If we show just half the courage our Coptic brothers and sisters have shown, then we can protect a Christian mindset and the light which it brings to the world. To do this, we need to stand up for truth, goodness, justice and beauty every chance we get. We also need to show strong support for leaders who will stand up for these values and oust those who do not.

While this mindset and its light will not guarantee a better life for the Coptic Christians in Egypt, it is absolutely essential because it provides the foundation for a better life. So, in this respect, just by protecting a Christian mindset in the United States, we can help keep hope alive for the Copts and all Christians and people of goodwill around the world.
 
 
-----

Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

-----

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2014
Ecology and Justice:
That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick: That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.



Comments


More Middle East

Palestinian Christians prevented from Easter pilgrimage to Jerusalem since 1967 Watch

Image of Israel issues some permits to both Christians and Muslims during religious holidays, but this can be a lengthy and bureaucratic process. Permits are usually issued to older, married Palestinians.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Palestinian Christians feel the sting of segregation acutely during Holy Week. Strict, Israeli restrictions on movement prevents their access to holy sites in nearby Jerusalem. Many holy sites have remained out of reach in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since ... continue reading


BIGGEST IN THE WORLD: Saudi Arabia determined to build world's tallest building Watch

Image of High winds will also be a problem for this gargantuan building, so the tower will change shape regularly to counter it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Not be outdone, Saudi Arabia is vowing to build the world's tallest building. Said structure, called the Kingdom Tower, heads into construction next week. AT its height, 3,280 feet, it will eventually dwarf Dubai's Burj Khalifa, which stands at 2,716 feet, the ... continue reading


AL-QAEDA ALIVE: 'We must eliminate the cross ... The bearer of the cross is America!' Watch

Image of  In the video, the nefarious

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"This is quite an extraordinary video," terrorist experts Paul Cruickshank says. There's another word for it: absolutely horrifying. In the video, the nefarious "crown prince" of al-Qaeda, Nasir al-Wuhayshi is seen addressing a group of 100 like-minded ... continue reading


Suffering, dying in silence: Syrian Christians face arduous holy week Watch

Image of Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus says that Syrian Christians face a seemingly endless Way of the Cross, with many suffering and dying in silence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The assassination of Dutch Jesuit Fr. Frans van der Lugt, shot to death by an unknown assailant at his base in Homs, Syria on April 7 has cast a pall for the faithful here. Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar of Damascus says that Syrian Christians face a ... continue reading


Asia Bibi remains in prison, reluctant officials hide behind bureaucracy Watch

Image of Asia Bibi remains in prison, judges unwilling to take up her case for fear of violence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman facing death for blasphemy in Pakistan still sits in a women's prison her case held up by deliberate delays and a reluctance of judges and others to hear her case. Officials are afraid that they will become targets of Islamic ... continue reading


Dutch priest beaten, killed at his Syrian monastery Watch

Image of Father Frans van der Lugt was described as a man of great courage who

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Dutch Jesuit priest, 75-year-old Frans van der Lugt was beaten and shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his monastery in Homs, Syria this week, the Vatican said. He had been living in Syria since the early Seventies. He's being described as man of great courage ... continue reading


Tunisian government strives to root out Islamist influence from Mosques Watch

Image of Tunisia's newly elected government, recognizing that one of the nation's chief sources of revenue is tourism, has wasted little time in quelling extremist factions there.

By Kaci Racelma (Algiers, Algeria)

Tunisian authorities, along with the Islamist party Ennahda had clashed on several levels for any months. The conflict was felt on all strata of Tunisian society. Violence roiled in the streets, to the universities, in places of worship and private homes. ... continue reading


Syrian refugees in Lebanon passes one million mark Watch

Image of U.N. staff in Lebanon register 2,500 new Syrian refugees every day, the UNHCR said.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Syria's devastating Civil War drags into its fourth year without an end in sight, the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon has officially passed the one million mark, the United Nations' refugee agency says. Syrian refugees now make up almost a quarter of ... continue reading


Meet Catholic Online's new Middle East correspondent Watch

Image of Kaci Racelma received his Bachelor of English literature in 1996. He has worked in the daily Algerian newspaper la Nouvelle République since 1998.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Journalist Kaci Racelma has joined the Catholic Online family as a much needed and vaunted Middle East correspondent to our international news desk. We welcome his wealth of experience in relaying breaking stories in this complex part of the world.  LOS ... continue reading


Authorities break up kiddie sex abuse ring, 17-year-old pimp and several men arrested Watch

Image of Several hundred women in Israel - many of them foreigners - are trafficked within the country annually for commercial sexual exploitation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Tel Aviv Police have arrested seven men in connection with a child molestation ring. An undercover investigation began after one of the purported victims came forward and told them about a number of girls who had sex with a group of adults in exchange for ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:11-26
11 Everyone came running towards them in great ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 8:2, 5, 6-7, 8-9
2 even through the mouths of children, or of babes in ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:35-48
35 Then they told their story of what had happened on ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 24th, 2014 Image

St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
April 24: Franciscan Capuchin martyr. He was born Mark Rey is Sigmaringen, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter