The President recently stated that he observes “with alarm” that in many of the world’s regions, especially in the Middle East and in North Africa, “inter-confessional tensions are mounting” and “the rights of religious minorities are infringed, including Christians and Orthodox Christians.” He urged the international community to take steps towards “preserving the rights of Christian people worldwide” and preventing the violence that they suffer routinely in dozens of nations around the globe. His words come at a crucial time as Coptic Christians are continually targeted for retribution by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Who was the President speaking? Vladimar Putin, President of Russia.
Which begs the question, what is President Obama’s position regarding widespread Christian persecution? As Ann-Marie Murrell, National Director of Politichicks.tv, so eloquently noted after President Obama’s remarks from Martha’s Vineyard following the crisis in Egypt:
“Not a word about all the Coptic Christians being continually slaughtered in Egypt, yet as soon as the Muslim Brotherhood is attacked the president takes a break from his vacation to make this statement: ‘The United States strongly condemns the steps that have been taken by Egypt’s interim government and security forces. We deplore violence against civilians. We support universal rights essential to human dignity, including the right to peaceful protest.’ Can we take this to mean he only deplores violence when it’s being used against the Muslim Brotherhood?”
The brutal treatment of Coptic Christians has been well documented–during the reign of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, following the ouster of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the subsequent targeting of Christians in retribution by the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama’s only caveat was this passing statement in which he said: “We call on those who are protesting to do so peacefully and condemn the attacks that we’ve seen by protesters, including on churches.”
Lela Gilbert is a writer, journalist and author, with an extensive background in writing about the worldwide persecution of Jews and Christians. Lela has traveled to Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and throughout North America. She is a contributor to Jerusalem Post, National Review Online, and Weekly Standard Online. She serves as an adjunct fellow at Hudson Institute, Washington, DC. She lives in Jerusalem, Israel and Southern California. Lela has authored or co-authored more than sixty books including her latest release Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner. Along with Hudson Institute colleagues Paul Marshall and Nina Shea, she recently co-authored Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians
In an interview exclusively for PolitiChicks.tv, I asked Lela Gilbert specifically about the government and media’s refusal to condemn the atrocities waged against Coptic Christians.
LG: Many believe that the Muslim Brotherhood is being persecuted in light of the military actions taken against the sit-ins. Can you give our readers some background into the Muslim Brotherhood?
Lela Gilbert: The big story has been the attack on the Muslim Brotherhood by the Egyptian Army. Why is the Muslim Brotherhood under the gun? Because it is one of the most devoutly religious, strictly disciplined and observant Muslim organizations in the world. And, apart from out and out jihadists like al Qaeda, the MB are the most determined to impose their narrow Islamist world view on a country of some 82,500,000 people, many of whom do not in any way embrace the Brotherhood’s desire for Sharia law and hardcore Muslim enforcement on all Egyptians, believers or not.
They also would like to impose their views on the rest of us, because their ultimate goal is a pan-Islamist Empire. That’s why they are hard at work all over the world, including in the US. The belief system of the Muslim Brotherhood is a key aspect to the Egypt story, but it is being reported as a brutal military assault on a victimized group of moderate Muslim youth and their unfortunate President. The Brothers are repeatedly identified as moderates, which is far from the truth. And the religious nature of their relentless campaign to Islamacize Egypt – led by now ex-President Morsi – is lost in translation.
LG: If one of the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood is to be seen as “moderate” and “victims”, why do they engage in brutalizing Christians?
Lela Gilbert: The MB’s motto is: ‘Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
That brings us to the Copts – the largest Egyptian religious minority – perhaps comprising 10% of the population. Their people group dates back to the Pharaohs – they are not Arabs – and their church was founded in 65 AD by St. Mark. It’s some 700 years older than Islam. When the Muslim Brothers (and their Islamist cohorts) burn Coptic churches, rape their women and girls, kidnap their children and terrorize their communities, it is not a defensive attack. It is quite simply an Islamist assault on Christianity. And it is in perfect obedience to the MB motto. Meanwhile, the Copts are paying the price for their courageous faith in a country where they are always at risk.
The reason the Christians are being persecuted in Egypt, and the reason the Jews were driven out of Egypt in the mid-20th Century are the same: we both believe in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Christians believe in Jesus — a Jewish Messiah — and we all worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Christianity is rooted in Judaism. And radical Muslims – such as the Muslim Brotherhood – cannot allow us to be in their pan-Islamic Empire, which they intend to cleanse of all “infidels.”
LG: What is your assessment of the mainstream media’s refusal to acknowledge the targeting of Coptic Christians by the Muslim Brotherhood-other than an occasional report?
Lela Gilbert: Western journalists are often blind to the significance of religion in the shaping of world affairs and, in a close-up perspective, human behavior. Many journalists are not people of faith, and they simply cannot see, and thus discount, the place of religious belief in the stories they cover. This is so, even though religion is at the heart of many of the biggest stories of our time, especially with regards to the Middle East, terrorism and anti-Israel, anti-American propaganda. Yet it never crosses the mind of Western journalists that anyone would be interested. Religion is a sidebar at best. That’s the primary reason it goes unreported.
LG: In your opinion, why does America and its government appear to be on the “wrong side” in support of the Muslim Brotherhood against the military in Egypt?
Lela Gilbert: I don’t know that an informed American public would be on the wrong side. Thanks to the media’s poor reporting, America’s grass-roots population simply doesn’t know what’s going on unless they are researching on their own. And in some ways, they tune it out. Its far away, it’s ugly and bloody and hard to understand. And what can we do? There’s a sense of powerlessness that makes us all want to turn away. Meanwhile, our present administration in Washington, DC believes, because the Muslim Brotherhood dresses in western attire, is clean shaven, and speaks good English, that they are “people we can talk to”. The Arab world thinks President Obama has sided with the Muslim Brotherhood and openly says so in their media. That’s one reason America is extremely unpopular in the Middle East.
LG: You mention the “sense of powerlessness that makes us all want to turn away.” If there is a “take-away” from this interview, what would it be?
Lela Gilbert: I think being informed is hugely important. I write a lot about Christian persecution in the present, and about the abuses Jews have experienced in Muslim lands in the past. In both cases, people invariably say something like “I had no idea! Why didn’t we hear about this? It’s terrible!” Then they want to know what they can to do to help.
I hope we can communicate to the Christian community that these Copts, and the Syrian Christians who are also suffering greatly right now, and other Christians of many varied denominations in Muslim lands are our spiritual brothers and sisters. They are in many ways more courageous and faithful than we’ve ever had to be – at least not yet. They have different forms of worship – priests, incense, liturgy, ancient language – but they are not denying their ancient Christian faith under the worst of threats. We need to pray for them and embrace them in our hearts as part of our faith family. We need to speak on their behalf whenever we can find the opportunity. I work with Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, which addresses the persecution of all faiths. We have a website www.persecutionreport.net that offers up-to-date reports on the status of believers who are under fire in the world. Some of those reports come from groups who do advocacy for Christians, so their websites will be on the links for future reference.