Spencer Uses Supposed “anti-Semitic” stance amongst Copts to support anti-Muslim rhetoric

From Dorado, our newest reporter on Spencer

On  January 9th 2011 in the Duomo Square, Milano, Italy, a rally was held by the Copts of Milano along with some supporting Italian organizations, when members of a Jewish group, ADI (Amici di Israele – Friends of Israel),  put the Israeli flag on their shoulders, many Copts reacted by refusing the presence of the Israeli flags.

Robert Spencer, the so-called scholar of Islam has used this event to suggest to his readers at Jihadwatch that the Copts are victims of a divide and conquer strategy by Muslims, designed to keep what he refers to as “dhimmi communities” at odds with one another. This conspiracy he says has historical roots and global implications. He says all of this of course without supporting evidence being cited in his article.

It is apparent that this new variation of the tu quoque (the anti-conspiracy theory theory) argument is being used to combat another conspiracy theory, namely that somehow the Israelis were responsible for the suicide bombing in an Egyptian Church in Alexandria that occurred during Christmas Eve Mass, killing 21 people. The implication is clear, the Copts are selling themselves short by not accepting support from Israeli groups. It is being suggested, although not in a vocal, explicit manner a la Debbie Schlussel, but with clever word play, that religious persecution of Copts in Egypt is the result of their succumbing to this divide and conquer strategy. He plays the blame game when he states,

“And while some Middle Eastern Christian leaders remain mired in anti-Semitism and dhimmi attitudes of intellectual and political subservience, others are breaking out of it.”

In short, it is all the Copts fault for their supposed “anti-Semitism.” Combat one conspiracy theory by introducing “reasonable doubt” through the method of introducing another conspiracy theory.

There is, of course, no mention of the widespread support of Copts by their Muslim brethren in Egypt. This is just another instance of Spencer using tragedy in the Muslim world to vilify all of Islam and demonize the world’s Muslims by cataloging these events police-blotter style. Spencer’s entire call for an alliance of non Muslim groups against Islam is obviously based on his theory that Muslims or “adherents of Sharia” seek the conversion, subjugation, or death of all non-Muslims. We will assume that he has provided “evidence” for this claim elsewhere in his writings, because he provides none here.

We will also later address this unsupported assertion from Spencer:

“Indeed. Historically, Islamic supremacist masters did their best to sow discord among different dhimmi communities, keeping them apart and at odds with one another, but those communities today only work against their own best interests by refusing to ally together.”

One has to wonder why groups such as Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors(CJHS) continue to invite the likes of Spencer to their events when he isn’t averse to using bigotry to advance his agenda, especially when we consider that Spencer is both a Genocide denier and a Genocide Supporter.

Jewish groups such as this should be wary of a non-Jew who uses bigotry in this way, as it is very possible he could easily turn on his supporters if he accomplishes his goals against Muslims.

His bigotry and opportunism is evident. He is obviously projecting his own anti-Muslim bigotry when he suggests that those who do not take a Pro-Israel stance are somehow against justice and truth and that Copts who refuse alliance with Jewish groups are aligning with “Islamic Supremacists”.

Although not explicitly mentioning the massive amount of support that the Copts are receiving from their Muslim compatriots, Spencer’s suggestion that they should ally with Israeli Groups and extreme Zionists instead of Muslims suggests that he is aware of that support and it bothers him. Egyptian Muslim support for the Coptic Community provides an alternative to his “all Muslims are evil” agenda. Why else would he elliptically use phrases such as “divide and conquer” or Arabic terms such as dhimmi. The Copts are being covertly called dhimmis for not supporting Israel?

And why call the Copts anti-Semitic? After all didn’t they invite the Jewish groups to the rally? It also seems that the word dhimmi is being used to imply some far fetched form of Stockholm syndrome among non Muslims or a caste system in Islam, instead of the traditional Islamic meaning of “protected religious minority”. This seems to be yet another instance of Robert Spencer, the “scholar of Islam”, imposing his understanding of Islamic concepts on the rest of us.

This brings us now to address this idea that Islamic communities historically used a strategy of divide and conquer to control the religious minorities under their political dominion. Spencer seems to wish for his readers to remain oblivious to the scholarship on the matter. Numerous Quranic verses and Hadith when read in their proper context deal with the just treatment of Non Muslims that Islam mandates. The Muslim support of the Copts in Egypt exemplifies this Islamic principle. A twisting of the meaning of this word implies a nefarious agenda. In addition, numerous scholars , both Muslim and non Muslim have concluded that Jews and other religious minorities fared relatively well under Muslim rule in general. Loonwatch has articles directly refuting Spencer’s ideas about dhimmitude in general and specifically treatment of Jews under Muslim rule.

This idea that  Copts and Jews have  more in common than Copts and Muslims, or the Jews and Muslims even, smacks of the very thing Spencer is decrying: “the divide and conquer tactics of Islamic Supremacists”. He is trying to separate the Egyptian Coptic community from compatriots on the basis of religious difference. The irony should not be lost on anyone.

Ahmed Rehab: A Silver Lining in Egypt’s Dark Cloud

Robert Spencer has been steadily attempting to portray a situation in Egypt that does not reflect reality. Articles such as the following by Ahmed Rehab will never appear on JihadWatch because Spencer is vested in a Clash of Civilizations ideology.

An inspiring and heartening post by Ahmed Rehab on the bombing of the Coptic church. We were alerted to this late but this is certainly thus far one of the best posts on the subject. (hat tip: Ivan)

A Silver Lining to Egypt’s Dark Cloud

by Ahmed Rehab

The recent bombing outside a Coptic church in the Egyptian seaport of Alexandria that claimed 21 lives and 96 injuries sent shockwaves throughout Egypt and made headlines around the world.

Much of the global media has limited its interest in the story to the bombing itself and the subsequent angry street protests by Coptic youth; more savvy journalists included some discussion of government negligence and the context of sectarian strife that plagues Egypt today.

Still, an integral part of the story remains untold outside of Egypt: the strong response of everyday Egyptians – Muslims and Copts.

A popular storm of anger, defiance, and national unity is sweeping the country expressed by political leaders, members of the clergy, movie stars, students, and men and women on the street all reiterating one resounding theme: this is an attack against Egypt and all Egyptians.

While sectarian strife – even violence – is a serious problem in this mostly Muslim nation with a sizable Coptic population, Muslims and Copts generally live in peace side by side and have for many centuries.

Ali GomaaEgyptians of all stripes seem to concur that the Alexandria bombing – the most serious act of terrorism in a decade – is an attack on the Egyptian way of life with the intent to drive a wedge between faith communities and push the nation into turmoil.

“This is not just an attack on Copts, this is an attack on me and you and all Egyptians, on Egypt and its history and its symbols, by terrorists who know no God, no patriotism, and no humanity,” said Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the grand mufti of Egypt.

Khaled El Gendy“This cannot be classified as religious extremism, this can only be classified as religious apostasy,” said sheikh Khaled El Gendy a popular Muslim TV personality. “I do not offer my condolences to Christians, but to all Egyptians and to Egypt, All Copts are Egyptian and all Egyptians are Copts; their places of worship are national places of worship, a bomb that targets them bleeds us all.” A high ranking member of the Coptic clergy who sat beside him echoed his words.

“An act like this is wholly condemnable in Islam. Muslims are not only obligated not to harm Christians, but to protect and defend them and their places of worship,” said Imam Ahmed Al Tayeb the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt’s seat of Orthodoxy.

Adel Imam“Let us hang black flags from our homes and black ribbons on our cars to mourn this cowardly attack against our brothers and sisters, let us send a symbolic message of defiance against those who are trying to divide us”, said a visibly enraged Adel Imam, Egypt’s most popular living actor, a Muslim, and a long time advocate for Coptic rights.

The message was not much different on Egypt’s most watched talk shows that were abuzz with Muslim and Coptic guests in the studios and on the streets, expressing their solidarity with each other and defiance against what they see as a common enemy trying to drive a wedge between Egyptians.

Muslim college students in Alexandria and Cairo have vowed to join Copts at their upcoming Christmas celebrations (January 7th for the Coptic Church). “We will be there with signs bearing the Crescent and the Cross, celebrating with them, standing with them, and falling with them if necessary,” said a young, veiled student leader surrounded by her colleagues.

As an Egyptian, I am as invigorated by the current mood in Egypt as I am distraught by the bombing. However, I pray that this welcome surge of unity and camaraderie is seized and eternalized. I hope that it becomes ingrained into our societal fabric and that it is leveraged to induce long needed reforms.

I agree that an attack such as this has the bearings of Al Qaeda and its imitation groups therefore taking us outside the realm of common sectarian strife and into one of national security; nonetheless, Egyptians should see the current atmosphere of empathy as an opportunity to address Coptic grievances and strive towards a more equal society.

We can no longer deny that since the rise of Muslim extremist ideology in the 1970′s, Egypt’s once exemplary Muslim-Coptic relations has deteriorated significantly.

My father tells me that growing up in the 50′s, he often did not know if one of his friends was a Muslim or Copt except by sheer coincidence, and then when he did it mattered little. This was not my experience growing up in Egypt where my religion teacher made sure to warn me against the “treachery” of my Coptic colleagues.

Naguib El RihanyIn the 40′s, no one seemed to care that Naguib El Rihany, Egypt’s then greatest comedian and a national treasure, was a Copt; he was simply Egyptian. Likewise, Copts did not bat an eyelid when Omar Sharif, a Christian, converted to Islam in the 50′s, at the height of his celebrity, a far cry from today’s intense reactions against conversions.

As far back as the 12th century, Egyptian Muslims and Copts fought side by side against the Crusaders, viewed then as a national security threat and not a religious war. Together, they stood tall against British colonialism – a lasting image of the period depicts Muslim sheikhs and Coptic priests marching together side by side and chanting “long live the crescent and the cross!”

One needs not look farther than the Alexandria Church itself to gain a glimpse of the sort of religious cohabitation that is uniquely Egyptian: the church is brightly lit up by flood lights perched up on a Mosque, only 30 feet across the street.

Egyptians are asking today privately and publicly, where has all this gone?

But we need to do more than ask and lament. We need to act.

The post-Alexandria solidarity between Muslims and Copts – the likes of which Egypt has not witnessed in decades – represents a silver lining in Egypt’s dark cloud of sectarian strife and mistrust.

We would be wrong not to acknowledge and applaud it, but equally wrong to settle for it; a silver lining never made for a brighter day.

We need to carry the momentum forward into the realm of real change:

When extremist religious discourse at Mosques (and in Coptic circles) is regularly and unequivocally condemned and countered with a proactive and effective discourse of respectful coexistence, it will be a brighter day.

When Egyptians no longer have to list their faith affiliation on their official government ID’s, it will be a brighter day.

When Copts no longer need a special government decree to build churches (or fix bathrooms in their churches), it will be a brighter day.

When I see talented young Coptic men playing on the Egyptian football national team at a rate proportional to the Coptic talent in my 6th grade class in Cairo, it will be a brighter day.

When the glass ceiling barring Copts from reaching the highest levels of government is shattered, it will be a brighter day.

When Egyptian law, prosecutors, officers, and judges treat Muslims and Copts as merely Egyptians – that is as equal citizens – with merit being the only qualifier, it will be a brighter day.

Given the candid conversations happening all over Egypt today, I believe that a brighter day is within reach. It is up to us “to change this tragedy into an opportunity,” to borrow the words of Sheikh Ali Gomaa.

Clearly, the immediate priority is security, but that must be followed – if not paralleled – with addressing Coptic civic grievances. For this to stand a realistic chance of success, the Coptic cause must become a national cause led and fought for by Muslims under a program of comprehensive civil rights reform.

Ahmed Rehab is a board member of the Egyptian American Society and a co-author and signatory of the Chicago Declaration, a practical document calling for equal treatment of Copts under the law, submitted to the Egyptian government in 2005.

Two missing Coptic women Abused by Priest Husbands, What if they were Muslim?

Robert Spencer was all on this issue before, painting it in a simplified form directly taking the side of ultra right-wing Coptic apologists who hate Islam with a passion. Don’t expect any retractions from Spencer on this one.

Two missing Coptic women had been abused by priest husbands

(StlToday)

CAIRO, Egypt • The wives of two Egyptian Coptic priests, forbidden by the church from divorcing their abusive husbands, desperately sought another way out by converting to Islam. When their intentions were discovered, police handed them over to the church, and their whereabouts since have been unknown.

The cases caused a furor at home that spilled over the borders and turned deadly when al-Qaida in Iraq cited the women as the reason behind the worst attack ever on Christians in Iraq — a siege of a church in October that left 68 people dead.

It was a stark example of the schism between Christians and Muslims that runs through the Middle East and periodically erupts into violence.

“Amid the current sectarian discord, the timing is perfect for al-Qaida to show it is defending Islam and to exploit the situation to rally extremists against the churches,” said Ammar Ali Hassan, an expert in Islamic movements.

Both Wafaa Constantine, 53, and Camilla Shehata, 25, lived in remote rural towns and enjoyed prestige as devoted and pious wives of conservative Coptic priests. But behind that veneer, a lawyer and a church official said, the women were trapped in abusive relationships.

Both tried to seek a divorce through church channels but hit a dead end because the Coptic Orthodox Church forbids divorce — a rule enforced even more strictly against the wives of priests. And they decided to rebel, not only against their husbands but against the whole religion.

They sought to convert to Islam, something viewed as a disgrace in their community. The Coptic Church considers those who convert to other religions dead, making the marriage contract invalid.

Though Egyptian religious authorities say the women never succeeded in converting, the controversy in both cases escalated with protests by Egyptian Christians, who accused Muslims of abducting the women and forcing them to convert.

That riled Muslim extremists in Egypt who protested and accused the church of holding them against their will and forcing them to convert back to Christianity.

Al-Qaida in Iraq turned it into a cause celebre when it cited the women as the reason behind the Baghdad church siege. The group followed with more threats against Iraq’s Christian minority, generating such fear that most Christmas celebrations in the country were canceled.

Oxymoron: Robert Spencer Joins Islamophobes on Panel to Celebrate Human Rights

Voice of the Copts which for all intents and purposes is an anti-Islam Coptic apologetic website is hosting a “celebration” of human rights on Human Rights day which they completely undermined by inviting a panel consisting of some of the most anti-Freedom, anti-Muslim activists (read opportunists) out there.

The panel will include:

Robert Spencer: anti-Muslim director of David Horowitz’s funded JihadWatch. An ally of Fascists and neo-Nazi groups such as: Geert Wilders (Right-wing Dutch neo-Fascist), EDL (English Defense League), SIOE (Stop the Islamization of Europe), BPE (Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa), Ewald Stadler (Far right Austrian politician), BZO, Sergei Trefkovic (Serbian Nationalist, genocide denier). Spencer has also created anti-Muslim org’s along with Pamela Geller, SIOA and AFDI.

Pamela Geller: All you need to know about Pamela, “Pamela Geller: The Looniest Blogger Ever.”

Tawfiq Hamid: Oppurtunist of the worst kind, “Tawfiq Hamid: The Shemp of the Three Stooges.”

It is sad that the Voice of the Copts has chosen to give a platform to hatemongers of the worst kind, it undermines a valuable day and hurts any credibility that they may have.