An Egyptian Christian, who is a research fellow at an institute for religious freedom in the U.S, says last week's attacks on Christian churches and believers in Egypt are the worst in 700 years and believes Western media has not covered the chaos accurately.
"Egypt has not witnessed this size of an attack on Christians, on churches [current reports of up to 50 churches damaged or destroyed] since 1321," said Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, to The Christian Post on Tuesday.
Tadros said the news of these attacks has been stifled by confused coverage rather than intentional Western media bias appearing to support the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the violence that included hundreds of deaths on August 14, many Christians including the Coptic Orthodox Church, have denounced the news coverage. Also, the scholar argued that foreign journalists have a tendency to focus on events in the capital, Cairo, rather than those throughout the region.
Furthermore, Tadros explained that reporters unfamiliar with the churches may refer to them by different names – in the case of "The Virgin Mary and Saint Abraham's Church," for example, one outlet reported that "Virgin Mary Church got attacked," while another claimed "Saint Abraham's church was burned." Due to such mix-ups, the scholar said he doesn't know how many churches were attacked, but estimated that over thirty churches were "completely destroyed and burned."
These attacks occurred mostly in southern Egypt where militant Islamic sentiment runs strong, the native Egyptian explained. He listed news reports out of the city of Luxor that included a policeman arguing that his job is not to protect people but to arrest the guilty. Also, a Christian whose home was attacked while he was inside reporting that he could recognize his neighbor's voices outside while they attacked.
In contrast to Tadros, Michael Youssef, Egyptian-born pastor and leader of Leading the Way ministries, told CP on Tuesday that he thinks the Western press is most definitely covering up the genocide in Egypt.
"What is communicated in the Western press is absolute falsehood," Youssef said. He explained that the government switch was not a "coup," but a legitimate transition, since the military is not in charge. He also said the Muslim Brotherhood activists are not peaceful protestors – they do not "love" Egypt but seek "the global dominance of Islam."
Behind the Western press' failure to report these truths, Youssef described a shared mentality – "you fight Islam with Islam and having a Muslim Brotherhood government in power will fight terrorism." The Brotherhood, with chapters in 72 countries and hundreds of chapters in the U.S., has been strong-arming Western leaders, he said, threatening terrorism if it cannot rule Egypt.
But this group does not speak for Egyptian Muslims, the pastor argued. He mentioned the widely-reported number of Egyptians protesting the Brotherhood on June 30, 33 million, and a viral picture of Muslims lining up to protect Christian churches. As opposed to the vocal extremists, "moderate Muslims are really the ones leading this charge."
Tadros, however, said anti-Christian sentiment deeply motivates most Egyptian Muslims, and laughed at the 33 million figure given by Youssef, saying "kids in schools wouldn't take that seriously – the public squares in Egypt won't hold numbers like that."
Both, however, called for American Christians to pray for their persecuted brothers and sisters. Youssef also asked U.S. Christians to call their Congressmen, demanding that their leaders express due outrage about this persecution.
Attacks and anti-Christian sentiment in Egypt have forced thousands of Copts to migrate to the United States. Because many elites already have U.S. citizenship, the numbers are hard to determine, but in his own Coptic church in Fairfax, Va., Tadros reported 15 to 20 families joining each month since the revolution. When Pope Shenouda III began his term in 1970, there were two Coptic churches in the U.S. At his death last year, there were 202.
Looking back on history, the religious freedom activist laid out Egypt's important connection to Christianity. Mary and Joseph sought safety from Herod there, after the birth of Jesus, and the Alexandrian Church led the other churches in the early centuries after Christ.