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ICC Note: When Muhammad Morsi was overthrown and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) lost its political power, Egypt’s Christians became the target for brutal attacks. When the army forcefully cleared two Cairo squares of Morsi protestors the result was widespread persecution that swept through Upper Egypt. MB extremists began targeting and attacking Christian churches and institutions. Coptic communities bore the brunt of this Islamist revenge for the sake of sustaining Egypt during a disastrous time. 

06-17-2015 Egypt (Watani): The unsung heroes who bore the brunt of the vicious Islamist revenge against Egyptians once the Muslim Brothers (MB) were overthrown in July 2013 were, indisputably, the Copts. The MB had risen to power in the wake of the Arab Spring uprising in January 2011 and, in June 2012, their candidate Muhammad Mursi became president, winning the elections by a very thin margin. One year in office proved to Egyptians beyond doubt that an Islamist regime is disastrous for the country; they rose in mass protest on 30 June 2013 demanding that Mursi should leave. The army stepped in and, on 3 July, a new order was instated through a Roadmap to a democratic future drawn by the representatives of the various sectors of the Egyptian community.

A sacrifice for Egypt

Egyptians knew all along that overthrowing the Islamists would come at a hefty price and, sure enough, once the MB were toppled the terrorism began. The army, police, and civilians were all targeted. The Copts came in for more than their fair share especially when, on 14 August 2013, the police disbanded the five-week-long Islamist sit-ins at the Cairo squares of Rabea al-Adawiya in the east of the city and al-Nahda in the west. The sit-ins had become a scourge for the local residents, and spearheads for daily violence against the police and civilians.

Once the disbanding operation started in Cairo, a string of nationwide attacks began against Copts, their churches, schools, businesses, homes, and even an orphanage. The assault was especially pronounced in Upper Egypt where close to 100 Christian establishments were torched. Despite the trauma, pain, and loss, Copts uncomplainingly sustained the terrorism. They instinctively realised that this time they were being targeted not because of their Christian faith but because attacking them would effectively divide and inflame Egypt once they start protesting. So they kept their mouths shut; Pope Tawadros’s only comment was: “It’s a sacrifice we willingly offer Egypt.”

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