Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, writes:
After recent jubilant scenes in Egypt on the removal of Islamist President Mohammad Morsi, the celebrations are over and a violent backlash has begun.
Morsi supporters, protesting against his removal, have come under attack, and they in turn have been lashing out, targeting those who campaigned for his removal and venting their anger against the vulnerable Christian community.
Amid the violence, the country is becoming increasingly polarised and there are fears that it could potentially degenerate into civil war.
On the one hand, the Muslim Brotherhood is in complete disarray, shaken by Morsi’s abrupt and decisive removal from power. The mass popular movement that resulted in the army’s action to oust him was a crushing defeat for the arrogant Islamists, who had tried to make themselves virtually untouchable.
Several leading Brotherhood figures in Egypt have been detained and arrest warrants issued for hundreds more, sparking fears among the group’s supporters that they have returned to the status they had under former President Hosni Mubarak, when the movement was banned and its members hunted down.
On the other hand, the Brotherhood in Egypt does not seem to have been humbled by its dramatic fall and is not bowing out. And that is understandable. Morsi was elected in a fair vote, and the Brotherhood has been arguing for democracy and legitimacy to be upheld.
The killing of at least 51 people at a Muslim Brotherhood sit-in protest near a barracks in Cairo on 8 July was a key event that is likely to influence how the Egyptian people and foreign governments respond to both sides.
The plight of Egyptian Christians worsened under Islamist rule, and there have already been a number of retaliatory attacks against them in the wake of Morsi’s removal. They are an easy target for enraged Islamists seeking revenge. Attacks against Christians began almost straight away, with homes, businesses and churches being targeted in a number of areas.
Atef Gendy, president of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, said on 30 June: ‘…We have learned our lesson and refuse to be a tool in the hand of any regime. We believe that Christians are full citizens, who have the complete right to express themselves peacefully in the way they like. Nevertheless, we call on Christians and Muslims as they demonstrate to avoid all sorts of violence or destruction’.
Egyptians are learning the hard way that a successful revolution does not end at the removal of the sitting leader. The voices of all sections of society, including the Christian minority, need to be heard and represented if people are going to be able to co-exist peacefully and equitably.
That is now the enormously difficult task facing Egypt’s leaders, and it is imperative that they succeed in preventing the country being rocked by counter-revolution upon counter-revolution or possibly even destroyed in a bloody civil war.
Full article at www.barnabasfund.org