Monthly Archives: April 2013

Egypt in Exchange

By Martin Roth

The headline to this opinion piece in Britain’s Daily Telegraph says it all:

The Muslim Brotherhood wants Spain back. Can the Christians have Egypt in exchange?

Our Church Is In The Hands Of God – No One Can Hurt It

By Martin Roth

According to the First Things blog:

Copts have no illusions about the possible consequences of their new assertiveness: more persecution. But it seems a price they’re willing to pay. A senior Coptic monk told the AP, “Our church grows stronger with martyrdom. My faith and confidence tell me that so long as our church is in the hands of God, no one can hurt it.”

This reflects what I wrote in my novel “The Coptic Martyr of Cairo:”

“You said something during the demonstration that I didn’t quite understand. You said that each stone the protestors throw makes you stronger?”

“That’s exactly right. When I am not afraid of death, when I know that I might die, but when I also know that by dying I will be going to a much better place, then I am made stronger. And my assailant is made weaker by comparison. The victim becomes the victor. If he kills me I shall rise up to eternal life and become stronger. I will be together with Jesus. The assailant has lost all his power. He is defeated. When you spend several decades in a monastery you learn truths like that.”

“So you actually want your churches to be attacked? Your people killed?”

“No, of course not. It causes great pain within our community when that happens. But we strive to be like Jesus, who died a martyr. Our founder was the apostle Mark, who wrote the earliest of the gospels. He was executed and died a martyr. The Egyptian church has been built on the blood of our martyrs and is renewed and strengthened by them. Far more than in any other country. Because God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him. I can quote to you by heart the beautiful words of the Book of Revelation. ‘When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony.’ Many of our people know this verse.”

“But if you keep having martyrs, soon there’ll be no one left.”

“Do you truly believe that? Christians have been in this land for two thousand years. The baby Jesus moved through our land. The apostle Mark, who wrote one of the gospels, he founded our church. Do you think God will allow our church to fall?”

“There are lots of countries that used to be Christian. The whole of North Africa…”

“I can’t speak about those other countries. Maybe the people there were not true believers. But I do know that God is faithful. And He will respond to our faithful witness to Him.”

Who Is Sending Guns To The Copts?

By Martin Roth

Last week, at the conclusion of a post about Egypt titled ARAB SPRING NOT LOOKING SO SPRINGLIKE, Professor Glenn Instapundit Reynolds asked: “Meanwhile, is there anyone sending guns to the Copts?”

I quickly emailed to say that my latest novel, The Coptic Martyr of Cairo, told a story of a Christian militia traveling to Cairo to help a church under attack from Islamists.

This led to a plug for the book the next day, with Instapundit writing:

YESTERDAY I ASKED IF ANYONE WAS SENDING GUNS TO THE COPTS. Martin Roth emails: “In my latest thriller, The Coptic Martyr of Cairo, a Christian militia team arrives (from Korea) to help a Coptic church under attack from Islamists.” Okay. Is anyone sending non-fictional guns to the Copts?

Well, now it seems we have an answer of sorts. The Los Angeles Times, in a report titled Egypt’s Coptic Christians live in fear of Islamic extremists, writes:

“Mubarak painted a pretty picture but he didn’t help us,” said Wadie, who plans to leave Egypt after he receives a master’s degree. “Today, things are more systematic against us. Copts are definitely arming themselves, but the problem is the weapons dealers are Muslims.”

Not The Best Time To Be In Korea

My wife is in Korea right now visiting her family. It’s not the best time to be in Korea, and I’ll be happy when she gets back, next Tuesday.

She says that the media are full of reports on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack, and how to escape if Seoul is invaded. It’s all adding to the fear level, which is already high. Many foreign residents have left.

I’ve written several times in my novels about North Korea, rated by Open Doors in its World Watch List as the country where Christians endure the worst persecution.

Here is an excerpt from my novel Military Orders:

Sunhee witnessed her first public execution when she was nine years old. It was an exhilarating experience, like watching a movie in real life, and she recalled it often, especially when it came time for her own execution.

In a country where the primary entertainment was the cinema, mainly featuring movies about North Korea’s triumph over the imperialist United States, the Great Leader had added public executions as another means to keep his population docile. These provided drama while engendering fear.

Sunhee recalled that, a few days before the event, posters went up around town to announce that the condemned man had been convicted of stealing state property and had been sentenced to death. On the day itself kids skipped school, and Sunhee even spotted some of her teachers in the crowd. The location was a disused strip of rocky land between the railway station and the seafront.

First the man was paraded through the main thoroughfare of Kyongsong, the only paved street in the town. The excited crowd followed, growing larger as the time of the execution drew near. Sunhee recalled that at one time during the procession she was close enough to the man to look into his face. He was quite old. And in his eyes she saw not fear but indifference.

At the site a hole in the ground had been readied, and soldiers pushed a thick pole into this. The man was made to don a specially designed padded execution suit, intended to absorb his blood.

Then the soldiers tied the condemned man to the post in three places, at his eyes, chest and legs, and placed a large open body bag at his feet. Sunhee was near the front, with the other kids, hoping that after the soldiers had fired their rounds they might retrieve the spent shells as souvenirs.

Now the drama began. Three soldiers raised their rifles and aimed. Their commanding officer gave the order. They fired first at the eyes. The rope snapped and the man’s head collapsed, as if he were bowing to the crowd. At the same time his head exploded with a burst of steam and his brains cascaded into the body bag. A second volley at the chest sent him crashing head-first – or what remained of the head – towards the body bag. A final volley at the legs snapped the ropes there, and the entire body fell into the bag. A couple of young soldiers then swiftly dumped the bag onto the back of a truck, for later disposal in the mountains.

As intended, it was all quite theatrical. Sunhee’s two brothers later told her that this quick execution was reserved for relatively minor crimes. Those convicted of significant offenses against the state received a public hanging, which in North Korea meant a rope around the neck, then being hauled slowly upwards into the air and left to die a lingering, kicking, screaming death.

More Killings of Copts in Egypt

The killing continues in Egypt. Four Coptic Christians were killed north of Cairo over the weekend, and one more outside the cathedral in Cairo.

The BBC’s correspondent writes:

The priest of the local church, Father Sourial Yunnan, told us that after living peacefully with their Muslim neighbours for so long, conditions for Christians in Egypt had deteriorated under the ruling Muslim Brotherhood. He, like many, believes worse is yet to come.

Back at the cathedral, the funerals turned into a demonstration against Egypt’s ruling party. It spilled out into the streets and there were clashes with police and locals. It was an outpouring of rage, but also fear about the future.

A correspondent for The Independent agrees:

Many fear the real danger could come if the Muslim Brotherhood, which has seen its popularity recede in recent months, feels directly threatened by widespread unrest, triggered by anger at the worsening economic situation. Many will worry that if it casts about for someone to blame, the finger might fall on the country’s already persecuted Copts.

Andrew Stuttaford says simply at National Review Online:

Somehow I think that it will not be too long before there is another exodus from Egypt.

Here is a brief excerpt from my book, “The Coptic Martyr of Cairo” –

A look of anger crossed Father Youssef’s face. “And now things are getting worse. We get many, many attacks on our churches. The police often won’t help. We can’t get permits to build or renovate our churches. Muslims can build as many mosques as they wish, but we have trouble adding one new toilet to a church building. Some professions are effectively closed to Christians. Young Muslim kids in some towns grow up being taught to spit on Christians. Out in the country there are increasing numbers of young Christian women being kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men. Sometimes they are threatened with rape if they don’t convert. Some have committed suicide. Others have been converted by force. And then, even if they escape they are expected to remain Muslim, because the laws make it almost impossible to convert from Islam to Christianity. On Fridays you walk through the streets of suburbs like this one and for morning prayers you can hear some imams preach hate-filled sermons from loudspeakers on the top of their minarets. They call Christians dogs and unclean and unbelievers and Crusaders and friends of the Zionists. Or they say Christians worship many gods, because of the trinity.”

“Wow,” muttered Brett.