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

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

Why Saturday Was a Resounding Defeat for Iran

Yaakov Lappin provides a concise and useful overview of what transpired on Saturday. For him, the bottom line is this:

Iran and its jihadist Middle Eastern axis sustained a resounding strategic defeat. . . . The fact that 99 percent of the threats were intercepted means that a central pillar of Iranian force projection—its missile and UAV arsenals—has been proven to be no match for Israel’s air force, for its multilayered air-defense system, or for regional cooperation with allies.

Iran must now await Israel’s retaliation, and unlike Israel, Iranian air defenses are by comparison limited in scope. After its own failure on Sunday, Iran now relies almost exclusively on Hizballah for an ability to threaten Israel.

And even as Iran continues to work on developing newer and deadlier missiles, the IDF is staying a few steps ahead:

Israel is expecting its Iron Beam laser-interception system, which can shoot down rockets, mortars, and UAVs, to become operational soon, and is developing an interceptor (Sky Sonic) for Iran’s future hypersonic missile (Fattah), which is in development.

The Iron Beam will change the situation in a crucial way. Israell’s defensive response on Saturday reportedly cost it around $1 billion. While Iron Beam may have to be used in concert with other systems, it is far cheaper and doesn’t run the risk of running out of ammunition.

Read more at JNS

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Iron Dome, Israeli Security, Israeli technology