Egyptian Christians Targeted By Muslims In Retribution For Morsi Ouster

The aftermath of the removal of Mohammed Morsi from power is taking ominous turns:

CAIRO — The military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi has unleashed a new wave of violence by extremist Muslims against Christians whom they blame for having supported the calls to overthrow Mr. Morsi, Egypt’s first Islamist elected leader, according to rights activists.

Since Mr. Morsi’s ouster on July 3, the activists say, a priest has been shot dead in the street, Islamists have painted black X’s on Christian shops to mark them for arson and angry mobs have attacked churches and besieged Christians in their homes. Four Christians were reported slaughtered with knives and machetes in one village last week.

The attacks have hit across the country, in the northern Sinai Peninsula, in a resort town on the Mediterranean coast, in Port Said along the Suez Canal and in isolated villages in upper Egypt.

Tensions between the Christian minority and extremist elements in the Muslim majority are not new, but many cite anger among Islamists at the removal of Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from power as fueling the recent increase in violence.

Many Christians were alarmed at the victories of Islamists in elections after the 2011 revolution that overthrew Mr. Morsi’s autocratic predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. Although Christians by no means represented a majority of the anti-Morsi rallies that preceded Mr. Morsi’s downfall, Christians did participate in the campaigns to remove Mr. Morsi that so deeply antagonized his supporters.

“They thought Christians played a big role in the protests and in the army’s intervention to topple Morsi, so this is revenge for that,” said Ishaq Ibrahim, who has documented the violence for the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, or EIPR.

Many Islamist leaders blamed Christians and holdovers from the Mubarak era for the mass protests against Mr. Morsi that took place on the June 30 anniversary of his swearing-in. Even rank-and-file Islamists maintaining a sit-in in a Cairo suburb calling for Mr. Morsi’s return often have spoken spitefully of what they described as Christian collusion.

In some places, Christians were admonished not to participate in the anti-Morsi protests. Fliers distributed in the upper Egypt province of Minya, documented by EIPR, warned that “one liter of gas can light up your gold, wood, plumbing, tractor, carpentry shops, buses, cars, houses, churches, schools, agricultural fields and workshops.”

They were signed “people who care for the country.”

If the aftermath of this coup turns into sectarian violence, then Egypt may find itself heading down a path that will be bad not only for its own future, but for the future of the entire region.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Religion, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Moosebreath says:

    I’m sure John McCain is already saying this is a reason to invade.

  2. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    The Copts were already getting the crap kicked out of them by the Muslim Brotherhood. It seems they see the Copts as the next best thing to Jews when it comes to venting their frustrations and asserting their Islamic supremacy.

  3. stonetools says:

    Shias are also going to come in for a bit of stick. Minorities are going to be under threat for a while .

  4. Gustopher says:

    So, is this an actual thing that is happening, or a very trumped up story promoted by the Conservative Christians here?

    It doesn’t pass the obvious sniff test — the Egyptian military is not actually filled with Christians, so retaliation seems poorly aimed. I don’t doubt that there are acts of retaliation against minorities who might support the coup, but I do question whether Christians are being targeted more than actually influential groups.

    I honestly don’t know, but based on past history, I tend to be wary of stories that fit the right wing framing a bit too much. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that this is mostly manufactured, like the IRS “scandal”, or Saddam Hussein’s troops pulling Kuwaiti babies out of incubators.

  5. @Gustopher:

    It doesn’t pass the obvious sniff test — the Egyptian military is not actually filled with Christians, so retaliation seems poorly aimed.

    Yes, and if there’s one thing we know, it’s that sectarian violence never results in irrational scapegoating.

  6. Tillman says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Pretty much what I was going to say. The Coptic Christians, like Christians across the Middle East, are a minority. They also have a handy label to use when things go wrong in a majority-Islamic country.

    I understand Gustopher’s reticence, but this has more to do with groups and power than it does a particular set of people trying to influence our perception of Egypt.

  7. crysalis says:

    Christians being slaughtered (yawn) only worth 6 comments on this site, which is dominated by people aligned with the “tolerant” political party. Hey, another islamic atrocity, another 40 or so children burned to death in Nigeria by Muslims… Who cares? You know those being slaughtered are just those nasty little intolerant Christians right?

    No big deal. Islam is a peaceful religion, plus whispers “Don’t rile them up, ’cause I have no backbone and we don’t want to piss them off. Ignore the obvious depravity and savagery.

    (wink) They’re just “disaffected”.

    OTB regulars have no spine, testicles, or real humanity.

  8. anjin-san says:

    @ crysalis

    How does you talking tough on a blog help even a single person in the real world? Do you think it shows you have a “spine”?

  9. MarkedMan says:

    BTW Crysalis, did you speak out when Christians were committing genocide against Muslims in Bosnia and Serbia? And organizing rape camps

  10. Tyrell says:

    How many billions of dollars of tax payers’ money is sent over there?