ICC Note: As Egypt wrestles with numerous challenges of extremism and terrorism, it’s Christian population often faces the brunt of the violence. Egypt is struggling to protect Christians both using the law and from abuses in society at large. The changes that need to be made are numerous or Christians will continue to be locked up for their faith, barred from construction churches, all while still making up some 10 percent of the country.
03/25/2015 Egypt (CruxNow) Transcendent causes are often born of startlingly clear moral options. Yes or no to equality for African-Americans was the heart of the civil rights movement in the United States, for instance, just as yes or no to self-determination was the basis of decolonization across the developing world.
As those causes develop, however, the choices have a way of becoming complicated. Believing in equality doesn’t dictate whether quotas are the best way to achieve it, and a passion for independence doesn’t suggest what kind of economic or political relationship developing countries should carve out with their former colonial masters.
Today, one transcendent movement in the making is the fight against religious extremism and, in particular, anti-Christian hatred. Egypt neatly illustrates how embracing that cause doesn’t always provide a clear basis for making foreign policy choices.
Egypt is a lynchpin in the Islamic world, home to the Al-Azhar University and Mosque that’s sometimes dubbed the Muslim Vatican. It also has a sizable Coptic Christian minority, one of the largest and most tenacious Christian communities in the region, and today one of the most embattled.
Two recent twists illustrate the “best of times, worst of times” dynamic facing the Copts.
Several years ago, Egypt adopted a law against “contempt of religion,” heretofore enforced exclusively against Christians. On March 22, however, a sentence was upheld for the first time against a radical Islamic firebrand.