Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

6/5/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

To date the fate of the Coptic Christian community remains uncertain in a post revolutionary Egypt. This uncertainty is vividly depicted in two recent court rulings: one hopeful, the other crushing. But I see only one hope for Coptic Christians, a fundamental change in the mindset of the Muslim people.

Coptic Christians demonstrate in front of the High Court in Cairo in response to the Abu Qurqas ruling

Coptic Christians demonstrate in front of the High Court in Cairo in response to the Abu Qurqas ruling

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/5/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Christian, Coptic, Persecution, Elections, Egypt, United States, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - To date the fate of the Coptic Christian community remains uncertain in a post-revolutionary Egypt. This uncertainty is vividly depicted in two recent court rulings. According to an article published by Compass Direct News, one of these rulings offers hope to the Copts while the other dashes that hope. As for me, I see only one hope for the Copts, a fundamental change in the mindset of the Muslim people.

The first ruling reaches back to an incident that occurred on January 11, 2011, shortly before the revolution broke out. The incident involved a Muslim police officer on a Cairo-bound train who killed a 71 year old Coptic man and wounded his wife plus four others. Witnesses said they saw the deranged police officer roaming the train looking for Christians and yelling "God is great" as he shot them.

On March 12, 2012, a judge sentenced the police officer to death. Samia Sidhom, the managing editor of a Cairo newspaper, said the ruling came as a surprise. It was rare, she added, because it went against an unwritten rule that says judges are not to give the death penalty to Muslims for killing Christians. It was so rare that it had to be approved by the state appointed Grand Mufti.

Although this ruling seems hopeful on the surface, the second court ruling did not go so well. This case involved a riot that broke out in the village of Abu-Qurgas on April 18, 2011. The riot began after a bus driver became angry about a speed bump placed in front of the home of a wealthy Christian. The incident resulted in the death of an elderly Christian woman and two Muslim men and dozens of Coptic homes and businesses being set on fire.

As a result, 12 Christians and eight Muslims were arrested. The charges included murder, disturbing the peace, inciting sectarian strife, arson, and possession of unlicensed firearms. The trial ended on May 21, 2012. The judge found all 12 Coptic Christians guilty and sentenced them to life in prison, while all the Muslims were acquitted and released.

The ruling was a bitter shock to the Coptic community because, according to the article, all eight Muslims had been charged with the same crimes, and no Muslim property had reportedly been damaged. A Coptic human rights lawyer in Egypt, Athanasious Williams, said the trial was completely unjust.

He expects Christians will continue to be persecuted in Egypt regardless who wins Egypt's run-off election for president scheduled in mid June between the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohammed Mursi and Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, a former member of the Mubarak administration.

Williams said, "I am expecting the worst in all cases. Either the Islamists will take over, or Ahmed Shafiq will. If the Islamists take over, we will be like Iran, and they will enforce sharia law, and there will be no freedom of religion. There will be no freedoms of any kind. There will be no freedom in art, opinion or anything. If Shafiq takes over, it will be the same way it was before."

As far as I am concerned, hope for Egypt's Coptic Christian community does not rest on court rulings or the upcoming presidential election, although these are very important. What is really needed is a fundamental change in the mindset of the Muslim people. Without that, I do not believe there is hope for the Copts or Egypt or the entire region.

When I refer to the Muslim mindset, I am thinking of something Robert Reilly said in his book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind. He said the idea of "cause and effect" does not exist in the Muslim mind. Thus, they generally do not see an inner logic to things. Nor do they learn or develop critical thinking skills. Without a foundation of fixed knowledge, he says, there is only opinion and sophistry, which promotes irrational behavior and forces people to live in a world where myth and fantasy seem real.

This social condition can be explained in large part based on the Muslim understanding of ultimate reality, that is, God. Both Muslims and Christians believe that God is all-powerful, but for Muslims this quality is supreme and essentially negates all of God's other qualities. This one idea colors just about everything Muslim's believe about God, reality, human nature, and society.

Related to this exaggerated notion of God's sovereignty, is the idea that only God is real, that reality is illusion. Thus, Muslims believe that God is unlimited, pure will and power. For them, this means that Allah cannot be bound by order in the universe or reason or anything limiting. Allah can act capriciously, and without regard for the good of the person or creation. For Muslims, then, reality is not ordered; it is unknowable and without purpose.

Therefore, reason is not valued, but neither is morality, for human behavior has no moral value beyond absolute obedience to Allah's capricious will. So Muslim law, for instance, is not necessarily tied to human experience or objective reality or truth or reason. Consequently, Muslim law does not concern itself much with individual rights. Nor does it generally contain well-defined rules or precedents. This allows Muslim lawmakers and judges much discretion, as we have seen.

Postmodernism in the West does not acknowledge Islam's all-powerful God, or any other god for that matter, yet it parallels an Islamic world view in some significant ways. Like Islam, Postmodernism sees the world as unknowable. There is no one truth. Truth is relative, if there even is such a thing. So it is not important to seek truth. Instead of truth, Postmodernism seeks power that is unrestrained by moral limitations and can be exercised arbitrarily just like Islam's all-powerful God.

Although they come from opposite ends of the spectrum, both Islam and Postmodernism arrive at a view of reality which is essentially irrational and amoral. Reilly says that both Islam and Postmodernism (secularism, socialism, liberalism, etc.), demand that reality conform to their world view. He also says they both seek earthly utopias through politics and stringent control of the population.

Christians, on the other hand, have a profound belief in a universe that is objectively ordered and intelligible. It is a universe created by an all-powerful but loving God, the triune God. Therefore, Christians believe that the universe is objectively real and that much can be known about it through the use of reason and that it is basically good and filled with beauty. 

Furthermore, Christians seek to understand their faith through reason. The Christian faith is not just about great mysteries and life after death; it also speaks of our nature and our relationships with each other, and it sees intelligible order in both. We call this order natural law, and it attests to our dignity as moral beings with inherent rights. Human beings are not the puppets of capricious, amoral gods. Nor are they mere products of evolution which can be molded by the postmodern, secular state into whatever it wants.

I see a time coming when more and more people around the world will demand to be ruled based on objective truths which they can come to know through reason and freely submit to, not out of fear, but out of admiration and loyalty to the goodness and beauty of those truths. This, then, is the real hope that I see for the Copts.

The Copts have displayed great courage time and time again. This was evident as thousands of Copts risked their well-being and possibly their lives when they demonstrated this past week in front of Egypt's High Court and demanded justice for their fellow Copts from Abu Qurqas who were condemned to life in prison. But they can do only so much in such a hostile society, and greater hostility is likely after the runoff elections for president in a couple weeks.

Islamists have already gained control in parliament, and their candidate is leading in the presidential election. It is believed that an Islamist government will institute sharia law in Egypt, which is highly discriminatory of non-Muslims. So the Copts are not in a position to effectively advocate for change despite their heroic efforts.

However, Christians in the West are in a position to help: if not directly, at least indirectly. This is especially true for Christians in the United States. In addition to prayer--prayer always comes first--it would seem that one of the best things we can do to help the Copts is to protect a Christian mindset in our own country from the ravages of Postmodernism.

Our country was founded in large part on the Christian mindset mentioned above. Our constitution is based on an objectively ordered view of the world and reason. And the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence specifically mentions the natural law. If this mindset is allowed to be extinguished in the most powerful country in the world, then it is unlikely it could take hold in Muslim society. More likely is that the world would plunge into a darkness filled with opinion, sophistry, myth, and fantasy for generations.

If we show just half the courage our Coptic brothers and sisters have shown, then we can protect a Christian mindset and the light which it brings to the world. To do this, we need to stand up for truth, goodness, justice and beauty every chance we get. We also need to show strong support for leaders who will stand up for these values and oust those who do not.

While this mindset and its light will not guarantee a better life for the Coptic Christians in Egypt, it is absolutely essential because it provides the foundation for a better life. So, in this respect, just by protecting a Christian mindset in the United States, we can help keep hope alive for the Copts and all Christians and people of goodwill around the world.
 
 
-----

Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

-----

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Middle East

IRAN DEFIANT: Iranian defense Minister says access to nuclear sites will stay restricted Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While there is talk of international cooperation and peaceful coexistence, many representatives within Iran's military complex are vowing to strike against their avowed enemy Israel. The Obama Administration has secured their last needed vote to block a veto ... continue reading


Iran Leader ignores nuclear deal Watch

Image of Iran leaders express their desires and preparations to overthrow Israel.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While the White House received the final required vote to block a veto override in the Senate on the nuclear deal, Iran reported two major statements: Iran leaders vowed to block inspectors who try to access nuclear sites and they will continue to preparation for the ... continue reading


How ISIS profits from destroying historical artifacts Watch

Image of Several historic sites in Iraq and Syria are threatened to be destroyed by ISIS.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State has gained even more notoriety by threatening to "wipe history" as they continue to bring destruction to several sites in ancient Syria and Iraq. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - ISIS is cashing in while destroying history. After ... continue reading


Father of photographed drowned Syrian toddler describes the day their boat capsized Watch

Image of Abdullah Kurdi, 40, cries as he prepares for the funeral of his wife, 27-year old Rehan, and sons, 5-year old Galip and 3-year-old Aylan.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The father of Galip and Aylan Kurdi, the two young Syrian boys who washed ashore a Turkish beach, speaks out. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (Catholic Online) - Forty-year-old Abdullah Kurdi was interviewed and he explained the story behind the unsettling images of his son ... continue reading


Former sex slave describes horrific experience trapped in a room for 5 months Watch

Image of Sunita Duanwar [not pictured], 36, fights against the sex industry preying on desperate women and girls.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Sunita Duanwar opens up about her horrific experience as a sex slave for five months in a Mumbai brothel. She was forced to service 30 men a day every day. She has decided to share her experience nearly twenty years after her escape and has founded a charity group that ... continue reading


Masked men kidnap 18 sleeping Turkish citizins Watch

Image of Iraqi authorities continue to investigate the abduction.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Early Wednesday morning the Iraqi capital was disturbed after masked men wearing military uniforms abducted 18 Turkish citizens working at a construction site.  MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The kidnappers bound the citizens and shoved them into SUVs ... continue reading


ISIS expands with recruitment video for deaf citizens Watch

Image of The Deaf Bible Society reaches out to the deaf community.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Islamic State released a video in March featuring two men communicating in sign language, encouraging the deaf to join their ranks. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - When J.R. Bucklew, president of the Deaf Bible Society, learned that ISIS was attempting ... continue reading


Secret war against terrorists waged by U.S. forces with drones Watch

Image of The Obama administration has relied heavily on drones in carrying out military strategies for dealing with Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan, among several others.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A clandestine war carried out against specific agents of the Islamic State is being waged by both the CIA and U.S. Special Forces through unmanned aircraft, or drones. The program hunts down and kills terrorists operating within the nation of Syria. The program has ... continue reading


Crowd of men watch as Afghan woman receives 100 lashes for adultery Watch

Image of The Sharia Law is still strictly implemented in some areas of Afghanistan.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A man and woman who committed adultery were forced to kneel before a crowd of men while being lashed by an Afghan judge.   MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - An Afghan man and woman were filmed being lashed in front of a crowd due to adultery. Each ... continue reading


'The Great Satan': Iran military official slams United States as country's 'No. 1 enemy' Watch

Image of Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, described the United States as the "Great Satan" and Iran's Experts Assembly leader announced "The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the U.S. its No. 1 enemy." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Colossians 1:15-20
15 He is the image of the unseen God, the first-born ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1 [Psalm For thanksgiving] Acclaim Yahweh, all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:33-39
33 They then said to him, 'John's disciples are ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 4th, 2015 Image

St. Rosalia
September 4: St. Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses and Quisquina, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter