When one examines the increasing violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt, it is impossible to only blame ISIS. Violence against Coptic Christians has long occurred in Egypt due to socio-political conditions created by state and society. Such discrimination and persecution was primarily secret and not well known. ISIS’ rise has highlighted the Coptic Christian’s plight. Protecting Coptic Christians requires more than defeating ISIS.
06/28/2017 Egypt (Eurasia Review) –On 26 May, the Islamic State (IS) murdered 29 Coptic Christians on a bus in Minya, the latest targeting of Egypt’s largest minority community. Three church bombings since December, also claimed by IS, have killed over 70 Copts. The government of Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi casts itself as the protector of Egyptian Copts, and violence against them appears to result straightforwardly from the ideological-strategic imperatives of IS. Yet such a shallow narrative is inadequate to understand recent outbreaks of violence affecting the Coptic community. Rather, these episodes must be placed in the broader context of violence against Copts in Egypt. Implicated is not only the role of IS, but also that of the Egyptian state and society in producing socio-political conditions amenable to violence.
Deadly attacks and less visible instances of violence against Copts have long occurred under successive authoritarian regimes in Egypt. An especially salient episode unfolded in October 2011, highlighting the imbricated roles of state and societal actors: 28 Copts were massacred for protesting government passivity toward assaults on churches by Muslim extremists. In discouraging broader civil disobedience, security services knew that targeting a marginalised group would provoke little public outcry.