The Disaster at an Egyptian Church Is a Symptom of Systemic Persecution—and a Country in Decline

Aug. 22 2022

Although Egypt’s Coptic Christians have been subject to numerous violent attacks by Islamist groups in recent years, it remains unclear whether the recent fire at a church outside Cairo was the result of arson or merely an accident. Samuel Tadros argues, however, that the conflagration—which left 41 dead, including eighteen children—was in either case a consequence of discriminatory legislation, and of Egypt’s disfunction more broadly.

Since 1938, the Egyptian regime had controlled the building of churches in the country through a set of laws and regulations that after a long process required the personal approval of Egypt’s ruler not just for every new church building but even for renovations, building bathrooms, or even repainting of old churches. During Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, Copts were lucky if they received ten new permits per year for both new churches and renovations.

Faced with this grim reality, Copts resorted to the only way possible for them to have places of worship; they built churches illegally. . . . The buildings never had any safety measures and would never get any zoning approval from any regulatory authority, but they were the only option Copts had.

The reality is that the fire and deaths is the perfect illustration not just of the Coptic tragedy but of Egypt’s as a whole. One could start with the fact that firefighters arrived . . . an hour and a half late, despite their station being close by, and blame their slow response for the deaths, but in truth firefighters in Egypt have very little equipment or training to deal with such events.

The . . . collapse of Egypt’s fortunes since 1952 has been mirrored among its Copts. The country that once led the Middle East in modernization is today dependent on foreign handouts for its survival. The Cairo of literary giants and glamorous movies that were read and watched by every Arabic speaker in the Middle East hardly produces anything of cultural significance today. It is a country from which over a million Copts have migrated pursuing economic opportunities and religious freedom in the West. Or perhaps it is the reverse. A country that has been kicking out its minorities—from the Jews, Italians, and Greeks in the 1950s to the Copts today—is simply bound to decline and to meet repeated tragedy.

Read more at Providence

More about: Egypt, Middle East Christianity, North African Jewry


The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship