Islamic leaders continue to portray the popular protests against President Morsi and his recently passed Sharia-heavy constitution as products of Egypt's Christians. Recently, Muslim Brotherhood leader Safwat Hegazy said in an open rally, as captured on video:
A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church — by Allah, and again, by Allah — if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter…. our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Muhammad Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him."
More recently, Dr. Wagdi Ghoneim — who earlier praised Allah for the death of the late Coptic Pope Shenouda, cursing him to hell and damnation on video — made another video, entitled, "A Notice and Warning to the Crusaders in Egypt," a reference to the nation's Copts, which he began by saying, "You are playing with fire in Egypt, I swear, the first people to be burned by the fire are you [Copts]." The video was made in the context of the Tahrir protests against Morsi: Islamic leaders, such as Hegazy and Ghoneim, seek to portray the Copts as dominant elements in those protests; according to them, no real Muslim would participate. Ghoneim even went on to say that most of the people at the protests were Copts, "and we know you hid your [wrist] crosses by lowering your sleeves."
The heart of Ghoneim's message was genocidal: "The day Egyptians — and I don't even mean the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafis, regular Egyptians — feel that you are against them, you will be wiped off the face of the earth. I'm warning you now: do not play with fire!"
Along with trying to incite Egypt's Muslims against the Copts, and threatening them with annihilation, Ghoneim made other telling assertions, including:
- Addressing the Christians of Egypt as "Crusaders," once again showing Islam's simplistic, black-and-white vision, which clumps all Christians — of all nations, past and present, regardless of historical context and denomination — as one, in accordance with an Islamic tradition that states "All infidels are one religion."
- Comparing Christian Copts to animals: "Respect yourselves and live with us and we will protect you… Why?… because Allah has forbidden me to be cruel to animals. I'm not trying to compare you to animals … but if I am not cruel to animals or plants, shall I be cruel to a soul created by Allah? You are an infidel in Allah's sight — and it is for him to judge you. However, when you live in my country, it is forbidden for me to be unjust to you — but that doesn't mean we are equal. No, oh no."
- Telling Copts: "I want to remind you that Egypt is a Muslim country…. if you don't like the Muslim Sharia, you have eight countries that have a Cross on their flag [in Europe], so go to them. However, if you want to stay here in Egypt with us, know your place and be respectful. You already have all your rights — by Allah, even more than Muslims… No one investigates your homes, no one investigates your churches. In fact, in the past, the Islamic groups used to fake their IDs and put Christian names on them when they would go out for [jihadi] operations, so that when the police would catch them, they would see they are Christians and be left alone." Ghoneim misses the irony of what he says: Police know that Egyptian Christians are not going to engage in terror; Egyptian Muslims are suspect.
- Saying, in mocking tones, towards the end: "What do you think — that America will protect you? Let's be very clear, America will not protect you. If so, it would have protected the Christians of Iraq when they were being butchered!" — a reference to the fact that, after the U.S. ousted Saddam Hussein, half of Iraq's Christian population has either been butchered or fled the nation, and all under U.S. auspices.
- Claiming that the Copts are only four million while the Muslims are 85 million — even as Coptic Orthodox Church registries maintain that there are more than 15 million Copts, and most outside analysts say 10 million, in Egypt— and adding that Morsi was only being nice by saying, as he did during one of his speeches: "There are no minorities in Egypt." Ghoneim fails to explain, if Copts are so few — four million compared to 85 million — how could they be so influential, and flood the Tahrir protests with such large numbers?
- Mocking new Coptic Pope Tawadros—not surprising considering his great hate for the former Pope—by claiming that the new Pope urged Copts to protest; that the new Pope wants to see Morsi and Sharia law fall, and by adding, "Is it not enough that you have all those monasteries?"
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.