Category Archives: The Coptic Martyr of Cairo

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.”

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.

Egypt’s Maspero Massacre of Christians – Justice Still Denied

By Martin Roth

The hero of my novel “The Coptic Martyr of Cairo” is a professor whose outlook on life is changed when he hears the testimony of a young Egyptian Christian who was wounded during a deadly protest in Cairo.

I wrote:

He paused and looked around the group, before resuming. “I assume you did some reading on modern Egyptian history before coming out here, so you’ll know that the demonstrators actually succeeded in getting rid of President Mubarak. But that left the military in control, at least until elections could be held, and the military in this country is not necessarily a friend of the church. Anyway, late in 2011 a large group of Christians held a demonstration to protest against the burning of a church and of some homes and some businesses that were owned by Christians. Marco was one of the organizers. Well, the military turned up, ostensibly to ensure that things didn’t get out of control. But instead of maintaining order, which is what they were there for, some of the soldiers started opening fire on the young demonstrators. And then they began driving military vehicles straight at them as well. Marco was lucky. He only got shot in the leg. He’ll be limping for the rest of his life.”

He paused, and turned to watch as several cars suddenly arrived and stopped, right in front of them. The occupants hurried into the church.

“But about two dozen of the young people were killed,” Rafa continued. “Some from the bullets, others mangled quite dreadfully by the armored vehicles. And hundreds were injured. And while all this was occurring, an Egyptian state television program was broadcasting an appeal for people to rush to the defense of honorable soldiers who were being attacked by mobs of armed Christians. Some news reports said falsely that Christians had killed at least three soldiers. One television channel interviewed a soldier who called the Christians ‘sons of dogs.’ And quite a few news outlets reported the lie that America was planning to send troops to assist the Christians. Marco told me that it was at this point that he knew the future of Egypt was grim. Mubarak had been a greedy and unscrupulous dictator who had driven the Egyptian economy into the ground. But at least he had maintained a certain degree of control. Christians faced huge discrimination, and there were often incidents against them, but generally they could rely on the authorities to protect them. Not any longer. With Mubarak gone even the soldiers were showing their true feelings.”

Now an Egyptian court has sentenced two of the Christian protestors to three years in prison, on a charge of stealing a machine gun from a soldier during the incident.

The Coptic Solidarity website notes that none of the military leaders of the units responsible for the more than two dozen deaths has been brought to trial.

Egypt’s Daily News newspaper comments acerbically:

The Maspero Massacre took place after a predominantly Christian peaceful march from Shubra to Maspero, the state-run Egyptian Radio and Television Union. No top-ranking military officials were held responsible for the massacre, and, to date, only three soldiers have been convicted. The families of the dead feel that they have still not seen justice.

Helping Persecuted Mideast Christians Defend Themselves

By Martin Roth

Here’s something interesting. My novel “The Coptic Martyr of Cairo,” concerns a group of warriors traveling to Egypt to help defend persecuted Christians in that country. That was fiction.

But now I learn of a group actually doing this, in real life.

A Christian guy who calls himself Molotov Mitchell, president of Illuminati Pictures, does regular video commentaries at the WND (World News Daily) website. Recently I watched one, and was intrigued to hear him state:

Christians are being terribly persecuted around the Middle East. I can’t stand it. But as a Ron Paul conservative I also don’t believe that it’s my government’s job to get involved. However, I can help. I can travel to the Middle East to help those people.

And that’s precisely what my team of instructors and I chose to do. We went to the Middle East, we trained people who had been targeted by terrorists, in counter-abduction, and now we’re back.

If you want to change the world the answer isn’t big government. The answer is self-government. The answer is never restricting freedom. The answer is always more freedom.

Absolutely fascinating. I’d love to learn more, and have tried to contact Molotov Mitchell, via his film company, but haven’t been able to elicit a response.

Kidnap of Egyptian Copts – A Growing Business

By Martin Roth

Do a Google search of “kidnap” and “Copts” and you will receive hundreds of thousands of references. It is also one of the themes of my novel “The Coptic Martyr of Cairo.”

The Bulletin of the Oppression of Women carries just one horrific example, of a 20-year-old devoutly Christian woman who disappeared while on her way to college, almost certainly a kidnap victim.

Hundreds of young Coptic women…have left home under mysterious circumstances or simply vanished…Surrounding most disappearances are allegations that the women have been kidnapped by a small number of fundamentalist Muslim gangs or men working on their own, and forced to undergo conversion to Islam through intimidation, violence and rape.

Now the Coptic Solidarity website says that the kidnapping of wealthy Copts and blackmailing them to pay ransom has become “a dominant trend” since the January 2011 Revolution.

A number of criminals have specialized in executing such operations in collusion with the police, including a certain Nofal Rabie. The security forces sought Rabie’s help to eliminate a number of Jihadists, and in return allowed him to impose ransoms on Coptic dealers.

On December 1, 2011, unknown armed assailants stopped Pharmacist Michelle William and Dr. Magdy Helmy on their return home from work, kidnapped them and blackmailed their families. The families responded and paid 600,000 Egyptian Pounds [about $90,000] to release them. This incident was the first in what became a growing trend.

…The incident pushed Nag Hamadi’s Bishop to hold a press conference in early January to bring attention to the number of kidnappings that have targeted Copts and to pressure security forces to stop the phenomenon.

Observers described the repetition of kidnapping cases as a systematic attempt to drain the wealth of Copts, as the city includes a large number of wealthy Copts who have more money than influence. Copts frequently face attempts of blackmail from thugs, while similar crimes involving the kidnapping of Muslims are rare.

 

More Trouble In Egypt As Soccer Fans Erupt

By Martin Roth

Egypt is in turmoil. And it is not just political. Sport is involved, too.

In my novel “The Coptic Martyr of Cairo” the main villain, named Mohamed Marzouk and responsible for the murder of a priest and the kidnap of a young Egyptian Christian, is a huge soccer fan. He is a member of the Ultras, the super-fanatical group that supports Cairo’s Al Ahly team.

Here is a part of what I wrote:

The Ultras specialized in beating up the supporters of their opponents. Mohamed was just thirteen when he and his friends began traveling down to Cairo to watch Al Ahly games. The best were always those against their hated Cairo rivals Zamalek, when the taunts and provocations of players and supporters alike usually turned the pitch into a war zone. In fact, the Egyptian soccer authorities often imported foreign umpires just for this game, such were the passions on and off the field. Just as enjoyable – and bloody – were the matches between the Egyptian national team and their hated rivals the Algerians.

It was their fighting prowess that led the Muslim Brotherhood to recruit the Ultras when the Arab Spring uprisings began.  Mohamed had been on the front lines in Tahrir Square, braving the tear gas and the bullets, along with the other Ultras, fighting for an end to the hated Mubarak regime. He had little doubt that it was the muscle of the Ultras, not the weak-kneed protests of the democracy advocates, that had brought down the government.

Of course, the authorities had to take revenge, and they did so in February 2012 when a riot broke out at an Al Ahly game against Al Masry in Port Said and seventy-nine people died, with more than one thousand injured. Fortunately Mohamed had run out of money that weekend, and hadn’t traveled to watch the match, otherwise he would surely have been in the thick of the violence, and might have ended up among the dead.

But he remembered angrily discussing the disaster with friends later. “You saw it all on television. The authorities didn’t even attempt to search the Al Masry supporters.”

“When have you ever gone to a soccer match where you aren’t searched for weapons?”

“Exactly. The Al Masry supporters were all carrying knives. It was allowed by the authorities.”

“Allowed? It was encouraged. And then when our boys were attacked the police did nothing.”

“They even locked some of the gates, so our boys couldn’t escape. Then they just stood by and watched.”

An Egyptian court has just handed down a verdict in the trial of some of the instigators of that soccer riot in Port Said, sentencing 21 of them to death. This has led to more rioting, with several dozen further deaths. According to a report:

In Cairo, the divisive nature of the trial was on display. Relatives of those killed at the soccer game erupted in joy in the courtroom after the verdict was announced.

Families yelled “Allahu Akbar!” Arabic for “God is great” and pumped their fists in the air. Others held up pictures of the deceased, most of whom were young men from Cairo’s poor neighborhoods.

…Fans of Al Ahly, mostly young men in their teens, promised more violence in the days leading up to the verdict if the death penalty was not handed down. Their main Facebook page had called for bloodshed.

“This was necessary,” said Nour al-Sabah, whose 17-year-old son Ahmed Zakaria died in last year’s melee. “Now I want to see the guys when they are executed with my own eyes, just as they saw the murder of my son.”