Egypt’s Coptic Christians are advising the world that Islamist have issued public warnings that Christians must leave the city of Minya before Friday August 23 or face death. Announced from the minarets of mosques, the threat came after Christian homes and businesses were marked with black Xs while Muslim properties were marked with red Xs. According to Mid East Christian news, Muslims have burned and looted the homes of eight Coptic families in the village of Saft el-Laban near Minya. Minya is approximately 200 miles south of Cairo.
Over the last week, some 100 Christian churches and associated buildings were put to the torch by Muslims in various places in Egypt. A priest was harassed by Muslims, while a Christian taxi driver was murdered. Twitter sites associated with Coptic Christians are characterizing the burnings and threats as ethnic cleansing. A Twitter account called Coptic Nationalism tweeted, ‘Seriously, the calls of ethnic cleansing of Copts are being raised right now from the minarets of mosques in the village of Dilja, Upper Egypt.”
Despite calls for prayers by the leader of Coptic Catholics, as well as leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church, for prayers and solidarity, a White House spokesman downplayed Islamist persecution of Christians. When asked if President Barack Obama has drawn a “red line” beyond which the chief executive would act, press secretary Josh Earnest said “Well, I didn’t bring my red pen out with me today.”
Having made the jest, Earnest said that the Obama administration is “outraged… and concerned” about the Muslim attacks on almost 100 churches, monasteries, orphanages and other Christian sites. Christians’ shops and homes have also been looted and burned by mobs. Even so, Earnest did not name or criticize the attackers, even though he did denounce Egypt’s military for allegedly perpetrating “violence…against peaceful protectors.” Christians point out that the great majority police officers and soldiers are Muslim, and have thus far done little to protect Christians. President Obama met with several aides on August 20 to discuss the events in Egypt.
Some observers fear that events in nearby Syria, where a nerve-gas attack killed scores near Damascus, may overshadow the conflict in Egypt between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood and the al-Qaeda terrorist group. Attacks against Christians have only increased throughout the so-called Arab Spring that brought down the former president Hosni Mubarak.