Sunday, November 6, 2011
They and they alone are responsible for the slaughter of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
The killing of dozens of Coptic Christian protesters during the recent turmoil in Cairo is one of the by-products of the Arab spring – and, unfortunately, a predictable one. Secular dictatorships such as those of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and even of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gadaffi in Libya were a bloody nightmare for political dissidents. But Christian minorities felt protected from Islamic persecution and were allowed to practise their religious faith. In exchange, respecting a tacit compromise, they stood at a distance from politics. This is known in the Vatican as "the panda syndrome", after the name of those inoffensive, vegetarian bears protected by Chinese authorities, to prevent their extinction. "But when a species has to be protected, it means it's already disappearing," points out the Egyptian Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir.
Samir is an expert. Pope Benedict XVI asked him to organise the synod of Middle Eastern bishops in October 2010 in Rome. And he knows that Christian "pandas" in his land and in all the Arab world are fighting a desperate battle for survival. That's why many local Catholic bishops greeted the revolts in the Maghreb and elsewhere around the Mediterranean with open scepticism and concern. They foresaw that political progress could be matched with religious regress, and a worsening of their condition as non-Islamic citizens...........