Every second Saturday of the month, 4 pm - Divine Liturgy in English of Sunday - Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family, Duke Street, London W1K 5BQ. Followed by refreshments.
Next Liturgy: Saturday 14th July - 3pm Great Vespers, 4pm Divine Liturgy for Sunday

To purchase The Divine Liturgy: an Anthology for Worship (in English), order from the Sheptytsky Institute here, or the St Basil's Bookstore here.

To purchase the Divine Praises, the Divine Office of the Byzantine-Slav rite (in English), order from the Eparchy of Parma here.

The new catechism in English, Christ our Pascha, is available from the Eparchy of the Holy Family and the Society. Please email johnchrysostom@btinternet.com for details.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Future Of Egypt's Copts - OpEd Eurasia Review

By Samuel Tadros, Research Fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom

This essay is an excerpt from the Hoover Press book Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity.

The fall of the Mubarak regime in February 2011 unleashed a monumental and contagious wave of optimism. Images of Christians and Muslims holding hands in Tahrir Square were broadcast around the world and gave credence to the narrative that a new more liberal and democratic Egypt was being born. The truth was entirely different.

Copts were never enthusiastic about the revolution. Perhaps it was the wisdom of centuries of persecution that taught minorities the eternal lesson of survival: that the persecuting dictator was always preferable to the mob. The ruler, after all, could be bought off or persuaded to back off, or constrained by foreign powers, but with the mob, you stood no chance. Some of the Coptic youth were lured by the promise of a liberal Egypt in which their plight might finally come to an end, but the older generation knew better. The promises of January 2011 soon gave way to the reality of May, when the churches of Imbaba were attacked, and October, the time of the Maspero massacre. The complete collapse of the police and the state’s repression apparatus liberated Islamists from any constraints. On the national level, Islamists soon swept elections and dominated the political sphere, and on the local level, Islamists, much more emboldened by the rise of their brethren nationally and the collapse of the police were asserting their power on Egyptian streets and villages and enforcing their views. While their leaders such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Deputy General Guide, Khairat El Shater, were proclaiming their goal of the “Islamization of life,” local Islamists were making that goal a reality on the ground.

Patterns of persecution continued after the revolution and were reinforced. The number and scope of the attacks swelled dramatically and they were no longer limited to obscure villages or shantytowns but spread to the streets of Cairo and in front of the official TV headquarters. Church buildings were attacked and burned, mob violence against Copts was on the rise, and the new horror of forced evacuations from villages was becoming more common. Copts in small villages were increasingly forced to adhere to the Islamists’ standards and vision enforced on the ground. Accusations of blasphemy and insulting religion rose with Copts as their primary targets. Seven Copts today linger in Egyptian prisons as a result of court verdicts due to such accusations. The most worrisome aspect for Copts remains the participation of their neighbors, coworkers, and people they had grown up with in attacking them. Even if the Egyptian state ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood miraculously decided to intervene, the local hatreds are now impossible to contain.

On the national level the picture is also gloomy. While the Muslim Brotherhood paid lip service to Western and Coptic concerns before its ascent to power promising equality and freedom for all, once it came to power, those promises were forgotten. The dynamics of Egyptian politics and the rise of the Salafis and the threat they pose to the Muslim Brotherhood ensure that the Muslim Brotherhood will not attempt to address Coptic grievances. The Muslim Brotherhood still insists on using sectarian rhetoric that inflames local angers against Copts, and its leaders use Copts as scapegoats for the problems Egypt faces from train accidents to opposition demonstrations. The new Egyptian Constitution, passed in December 2012, further enshrines both the Islamic nature of the state and second class status for Copts.

The Islamists’ goal is not the annihilation of Copts. Copts are not likely to face a holocaust in the future, though local pogroms are all but guaranteed. The Islamists’ goal is to subjugate Copts to their notions of their proper place as dhimmis under benevolent Islamic rule. It is for Copts to accept dhimmitude, live by it, and embrace it. Copts will be allowed to live in Egypt, tolerated as second-class citizens recognizing and accepting their second-class status. Any attempt by Copts to break those chains of dhimmitude and act as equals is frowned upon as an affront to the supremacy and primacy of Islam in its own land.

Indisputably, there is today a Coptic nation. It is however not a nation that seeks to achieve independence and statehood. That nation is not racial nor, after the loss of the Coptic language, is it based on a distinct language or on purely religious lines. Instead, it is a nation that is founded on the unique history of a church. It is a nation, as S.S. Hassan described it, whose topography is invisible. The nature of the dangers facing that nation have varied throughout its history from assimilation in an imagined liberal Egypt, to the erosion of Coptic uniqueness, the threat of Protestant missionaries, and of modernity and its discontents. Today, this nation faces a more serious threat. It can fight back against persecution although overwhelming odds lined up against it assure its defeat. It can accept dhimmitude and live as second-class citizens, or it can withdraw inside the walls of its ancient church finding comfort within those walls.

The prospects for Copts in Egypt are, to say the least, bleak. Their options are limited. Copts are not geographically concentrated in one area so that the potential for a safe haven may be considered, and unlike the Jewish emigrants escaping Egypt in the ’40s and ’50s, for Copts driven out of their ancestral homeland there is no Israel to escape to. Nor does their overall percentage in Egypt allow them to play a key role in shaping its future. The only option in front of them is to pack their bags and leave, putting an end to two thousand years of Christianity in Egypt. A new wave of Coptic emigration has already started and it is immense. Most are heading to the countries their brethren settled in past decades: the United States, Canada, and Australia. Richer Copts are buying houses in Cyprus and with it receiving residence there, while Georgia is becoming a favored destination for their poorer brethren. The sad reality, however, is that not all of them will be able to flee. There is simply no place in the West for millions of Coptic immigrants. In the end, those Copts with better English and skills will be able to escape, leaving their poorer brethren behind. The community will lose its best elements, those who provide jobs for their brethren, those who donate to the church, further elevating its misery.

The full article may be read here:
The Future Of Egypt's Copts - OpEd Eurasia Review
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