US: Sectarianism not only cause for Christian problems in Egypt, Iraq
CAIRO: American television network ABC broadcast what has become a controversial report concerning Christians in Egypt and Iraq. The network reported that there is “unjustified” concern in Western nations, especially the United States, over the situation of minorities in both Egypt and Iraq, which Western media have reported are “plagued with sectarian tensions and violence”.
Naguib Gobrail, a leading Coptic lawyer who regularly lashes out against the Egyptian government for its treatment of Coptic Christians in the country, called the report “crazy and irresponsible.” His office, which issued a statement on his behalf, called ABC “part of the problem,” adding that “until the world recognizes the harsh realities on the ground here in Egypt, Christians will continue to be beaten, murdered and treated as infidels by the Muslim majority.”
ABC news quoted Professor Hilal Kashan, a Professor of Political Science at the American University in Beirut (AUB), as saying that the tension has not risen between Muslims and Christians in the region, “contrary to rumors in the Western media, particularly in Egypt and Iraq”.
He claimed “that there is unusual concern about the acts of violence suffered by Christians in Egypt and Iraq”.
Kashan said in the report that “acts of violence driven by personal motives occur frequently, but is only highlighted when they include Muslims against the Copts”.
The network attributed in its lengthy report the conditions of Arab religious minorities, the migration of some Arab Christians to the West to economic motives, regardless of allegations of “discrimination” faced by Christians in some Arab countries.
The report by ABC said “the search for better opportunities abroad, and low birth rates of Christians” in Egypt, and the Arab world are the major causes behind the migration of Arab Christians abroad stressing that the economic reasons supersede the sectarian tensions in both nations.
Egypt has the largest single Christian minority in the Middle East, Coptic Christians, who according to reports make up to 10% of the population.
However, the report excluded Iraq from this, where Iraq has witnessed sectarian tensions in the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Although the report indicated that there were complaints from Christians in Egypt of being subjected to “systematic governmental discrimination,” it argued that the motive behind the migration is more “economic” than anything else.
ABC also quoted Professor Fiona McCallum, University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and a specialist in the study of the situation of Christians in the Middle East and Egypt, as asserting that “people are seeking a better life and this applies to all people in the region, Muslims too.”
The report continued to say that “Christians in the region had traditionally been in a better position for migration, more than their Muslim counterparts because of the high level of education they have.”
The network noted a decline in the number of Christians in the Arab world not only because of migration, but also due to lower birth rates among Christian Arabs compared to their Muslim counterparts.
Gobrail added that “this report is more of the bias Christians have to face in the world today because of the way Muslims are taking over the media.”