If growing numbers of Muslims in Egypt have an intrinsic hatred for all things Christian— demonstrated days ago by the torching of eight Christian homes on the rumor that a church was being built—let us not forget that this hate has instrumental, that is, economic benefits: the extortion of money from the non-believer—tribute from the conquered infidels to their Islamic overlords—otherwise known as jizya.
Consider: on June 24, hundreds of Muslims surrounded a Coptic church in Egypt, vowing to kill its priest—who was locked inside serving morning mass to several parishioners. The Muslims cried "We will kill the priest, we will kill him and no one will prevent us," adding that they would "cut him to pieces."
As usual, police and security forces gave the terrorists ample time to terrorize—appearing a full five hours after the incident began; and when they escorted the priest out, it "looked as if he was the criminal, leaving his church in a police car."
What, exactly, did the rioting Muslims want this time? Why were they threatening to kill the priest?
The official story is that they were livid that the priest had earlier tried to make renovations to the 100-year old church (Islam forbids building new or repairing old churches). After forcing renovations to cease on threats that they would demolish the church, they also tried to banish the priest, giving him 50 days to quit the region. The priest's time was up, yet he refused to abandon his flock. Hence, the wild attack.
However, Arabic news sources like El-Bashayer reveal a different, more practical, motivation: the desire to extort money from the Christians—echoed in an earlier report as a desire for a "donation" from the church:
Security forces succeeded in rescuing the life of the priest of St. George Church in Beni Ahmad, west of al-Minya, from being killed at the hands of the Salafists because of his refusal to pay them jizya money, according to sources…. [T]he church's priest had declared that the Copts would not pay jizya, in any way, shape, or form. This is what caused the Salafists to want to banish him from the region, so they could collect jizya from the Copts.
This is not surprising; anyone following the growing Islamization of Egypt knows that increasing numbers of Muslims—called "Salafists," that is, those who seek to emulate Muhammad and the early generations of Islam—have been eying their Christian neighbors as easy sources for quick cash.
For instance, who could forget Egyptian preacher Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini's recent lament that Muslims could alleviate their economic woes if only they would return to the good old days of Islam—when abducting and selling or ransoming infidels was a great way of making a living. (Accordingly, weeks later, two teenage Christian girls in Egypt were reported as kidnapped, held ransom, and then "sold" to another group.)
Nor is this outlook limited to self-professed "Salafists": Earlier, Dr. Amani Tawfiq, a female professor at Egypt's Mansoura University, said "If Egypt wants to slowly but surely get out of its economic situation and address poverty in the country, the jizya has to be imposed on the Copts." And days ago, Hazim Abu Isma'il, who is running for Egypt's presidency, vowed he would impose the jizya on Egypt's Christians.
Indeed, Al Azhar—Egypt's, if not the Islamic world's top authority, often accused of being too "moderate" by Salafists—recently made Islam's official position clear when its grand leader, Imam Ahmad Tayeb, defying history and reality, proclaimed that "the Copts have been living in Egypt for over 14 centuries in safety, and there is no need for all this artificial concern over them," adding that "true terrorism was created by the West."
Raymond Ibrahim, a widely published author on Islam, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. To receive all his writings, sign up on his free mailing list.