July 17, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5366

Muslim Brotherhood: The Copts Are Behind The Egyptian Military Coup That Removed Mursi

July 17, 2013
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 5366

Following the ouster of Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) began accusing the Copts in Egypt, along with their supporters, of being behind his removal – which they call "the June 30 coup" – and of playing a central role in the protests that led to it. The MB is basing these claims on the fact that when Egyptian Defense Minister Al-Sisi announced that Mursi had been removed, Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II had been standing at Al-Sisi's side.

These MB claims were expressed, inter alia, by Mursi supporters in the form of demonstrations, in which protestors accused the Copts of fomenting a revolution against Islam; some of them chanted "No to the Crusader revolution." In addition, media close to the MB published articles inciting against Egypt's Copts.

For their part, the Copts are claiming that since the January 25, 2011 revolution, and particularly since Mursi became president, the violence perpetrated against them by various Islamic elements including the MB has been steadily rising. It is reported that during Mursi's single year in office, over 200,000 Copts fearing for their lives have fled Egypt for Europe, and that since June 30 of this year violence against Copts and Coptic property, including arson against churches, has spiked.

Another cause of anxiety for the Copts is the increasing violence in the Sinai Peninsula and the escalation of militant activity there, particularly following the assassination of the pastor of a church there and the kidnapping and beheading of a Sinai Copt by gunmen.[1] Egyptian Coptic attorney and human rights activist Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights, called the violence against his community "ethnic cleansing and organized slaughter," and added that his office had been set on fire three times so far.[2]

This paper will present examples from media outlets close to the MB of accusations leveled at the Copts following Mursi's removal:

Article On MB Website: The Coptic Church Wants To Eradicate Islam In Egypt

In an article posted on the MB website titled "The Military Republic Of Tawadros," Dr. Hilmi Al-Qa'oud claimed that the Coptic church was behind the military coup against Mursi. He wrote: "The Church is unsettled since the January [2011] revolution, and since the Islamic movement emerged on the scene and garnered massive popular support by elections and by referendums. Accordingly, [the Church] openly and secretly led the process of opposition to the Islamic stream and this stream's rise to power. [The Church] gathered around itself the secular minorities – Communists, Nasserites, liberals, opportunists, and mercenaries – in addition to [its] advance rebel force, established by [the late Coptic patriarch] Shenouda [III] in the form of what he called youth movements or human rights activist [corps]... and they are joined by the traitor rebels from the diaspora, who [in July 2011][3] declared the establishment of the independent Coptic state.

"They all sang the praises of the civil state, and attacked the religious – that is, Islamic – state. The satanic propaganda machine led by the mercenaries demonized the Islamic stream and portrayed it as having failed... Since the Islamic stream refrained from acting against this disgraceful crime, out of self-respect and [with the aim of] preserving the homeland, and also because it has few media outlets, many believed the rumors and lies that were spread... [and came to see] the Islamic majority as a Satan that must be stoned by all possible means. It is this that led to the military coup.

"In recent days, the Church has praised the mercenary Tamarrud movement, with [Coptic Patriarch] Tawadros expressing his happiness over its existence and over the June 30 protests by secularists and by sectarian [elements, i.e. the Copts], and encouraged [the Copts] to participate in them. Likewise, Christian satellite TV channels ceaselessly incited [their viewers] against the Muslim president [Mursi] and the Islamic movement. [Thus, for example] a female Christian rebel broadcaster declared, 'Christ's blood must fill the [city] squares,' and sectarian rebels claimed that Islam would end on June 30 and that they would never accept shari'a rule.

"At the meeting where a coup was decided on to remove the Muslim president, Muhammad Mursi, Tawadros stood before the military commander of the coup and praised the move. With that tragic scene, and with his gloating, he showed the world that it was the Church that had decided to put an end to the Islamic rule, and even to humiliate the first Muslim president, who was elected by the Egyptian people in clean democratic elections..."

Tawadros Is Now The Leader Of The Military Republic

"The Church is opposed to Islam and to the Muslims. Its traitorous stance is understandable – but what cannot be understood are those who belong to Islam, who have turbans or beards [that is, Al-Azhar and the Salafis]. How can they agree with the military's crime against the homeland, against Islam, and against the Muslims? ...

"During [his] 40 years [as Coptic patriarch], Shenouda failed to eliminate the Islamic movement, despite all the assistance he received from the tyrant [Mubarak], [and also despite] the illegal permits obtained by the patriarch and his [Coptic] sect for building churches, the special laws that stand above Islamic laws, the irregular hiring, and the using of the media and the press to support the sectarian rebellion and to justify this preferential treatment [for the Copts] that was obtained through force, despite [the wishes of] the people.

"[Shenouda's] replacement [Tawadros] is following in his predecessor's footsteps, and is striving to eradicate Islam in Egypt completely – in education, in the media, in legislation, in the economy, and in public life. Since taking up his post as the head of the Church, he has successfully recruited conscience-free individuals with Muslim names with the aim of defaming Islam and fighting the Islamic stream. The young people of the Church have succeeded in forming militias under a variety of names that invest efforts in protesting, together with the criminal Black Bloc gangs,[4] and in violent actions that include the use of Molotov cocktails and bullets...

"Today, Tawadros prides himself on his success in being the first leader of the Church to head [the group] that removed the Muslim president who memorized the entire Koran, prays in mosques, and hates oppression and tyranny. [Tawadros] is also proud that the coup's commander answers to his authority, his will, and his demands... It can be said that Tawadros is now the leader of the military republic that toppled the legitimate regime and the legitimate Muslim president...

"Will this situation persist?... I do not believe that the road ahead for Tawadros' military republic is [unobstructed], because both the Egyptian people and the times have changed [since the January 25 revolution]."[5]

Kuwaiti Weekly Close To MB: Despite Patriarch Tawadros' Assurances When He Took Office, The Church Is Directly Interfering In Political Affairs

The Kuwaiti weekly Al-Mujtama', which is close to the MB, published an article that harshly attacked the Copts. It stated:

"The role of the Orthodox Church in the counter-revolution [that is aimed at] burning down Egypt is clear and very methodical.

"The [great] number of Christians who were officially recruited by the Church to participate in the demonstrations was clearly visible at the protests [outside the presidential] Al-Ittihadiyya Palace and Al-Tahrir [Square] – to the point that some political analysts, such as [Al-Watan columnist and Cairo University political science professor] Moataz 'Abd Al-Fattah, estimated that at least 50% [of the protestors] were Christians.

"The new [Coptic] Patriarch Tawadros, who despite his short time [in office] has already come under fire several times for his hostility towards the president and the MB, made clear declarations in support of the Tamarrud and against President Mursi; he also congratulated the rebel youth and the Egyptian military following its July 1, 2013 announcement [of its ultimatum to President Mursi]...

"The interesting thing here is the extraordinary way in which the Christians mobilized for the success of the coup against Mursi and the MB, and in support of the Tamarrud movement – which is the 'new face' of the [National] Salvation Front – and of those who lead it – the young people, some of whom are Christian. This is in addition to the participation in the move against Mursi by the Egyptian churches – which opened their doors in order to [help] collect signatures on [the petition for] no confidence [in Mursi]. This can be considered direct intervention in political affairs by the Church – in contrast to statements made by Patriarch Tawadros II when he was nominated that the Church would keep out of politics and political conflict. Furthermore, photos show several priests and monks adding their signatures to the Tamarrud's [petition for] no confidence in President Mursi. Most of the signatories on [these] forms are Christian..."

50% Of The Anti-Mursi Protestors Were Copts

The article also quoted Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya official 'Assem 'Abd Al-Maged as calling Tamarrud members "communists" and as saying: "The ones who are leading the Tamarrud movement constitute an extremist group of Copts that includes 'Maspero' youth who killed soldiers,[6] members of the popular stream, and anarchists."

It also quoted Al-Watan columnist and Cairo University political science professor Moataz 'Abd Al-Fattah as saying: "You can't miss the huge numbers who took to the streets on June 30 to express their opposition to the president – I estimate them at six million countrywide. But let us look at the composition of these masses.

"I estimate that [according to] the most accurate breakdown, 50% [of them were] Copts. The huge concentration of Copts in these demonstrations was obvious to all; I put them at about three million protestors."[7]


[1] Al-Hayat (London), July 14, 2013; Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 11, 2013.

[2], July 15, 2013.

[3] In July 2011, Maurice Sadeq, a Coptic activist living abroad, declared the establishment of an independent Coptic state., July 11, 2011.

[4] The Black Bloc emerged prominently in Egypt, following the events of January 25, 2013, as a movement opposed to the MB regime; it imitates protest groups in Europe whose members dress in black and wear masks at demonstrations.

[5], July 15, 2013.

[6] In the October 9, 2011 "Maspero" protests, thousands of Copts marched on the Egyptian TV building in Cairo to protest against sectarianism in Egypt. Twenty-four Copt protestors were killed by the military; some of them were crushed to death by armored personnel carriers.

[7] Al-Mujtama' (Kuwait), July 7, 2013.

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