Egyptian-German scholar Dr. Hamed Abdel-Samad discussed in his "Box of Islam" online lecture series the persecution of Christians in Egypt by Islamists and the authorities. Rejecting the claim that terrorism is rooted in oppression and injustice, Dr. Abdel-Samed said that the Copts and Yazidis do not become terrorists despite their oppression. "Terrorism is caused by an ideology that stems from the textual roots of your religion – not from the interpretation of these texts, but from the texts themselves," he added. The lecture was posted on Dr. Abdel-Samad's YouTube page on February 27.
Hamed Abdel-Samad: "The [Coptic] minority is humiliated, because there is no equality. This has happened time and again. It is not the first time. In 2013, I wrote an article in Al-Shorouk about a Christian teacher called Bishoy Kamil Kamel. His story is tragic. Somebody opened a Facebook page under his name and cursed Islam. Even though his family proved that that page did not belong to him, the man was imprisoned for six years. Why? Because of what is going on today in El-Arish and what happened in Minya. Muslim zealots gathered outside his home, burned down his home, and wanted to kill his Christian neighbors. Along came the armed forces, cordoned off the area, and said to the Christians: 'In order to be spared the wrath [of the Muslims], leave the place, and flee.' That's what happened. They gave him a swift trial – he got six years in prison – and that was that. After I wrote my article in Al-Shorouk, they went and got fresh evidence, and after three years in prison, they found him innocent and set him free. Exactly the same story recurred with another young Christian, Gamal Massoud, who did not do a thing. A friend of his tagged him in an image in which the Prophet or Islam was vilified. A tag! It appears automatically on Facebook pages. He was caught and imprisoned for three years. That was in 2012. These things... Five Christian children were putting on a comic play about ISIS and the way they pray... They were caught and imprisoned for I don’t know how many years. When these children fled from this cruel and unjust sentence to Switzerland, and recounted what had happened, people said: 'They are tarnishing Egypt's reputation.' That's just great. People who kill, enslave, slaughter, burn, and disrobe [women], are not tarnishing the image of Egypt, but these children who went to Switzerland and said: 'We were tried unjustly' are tarnishing its reputation.
"To be fair, in 2004 the Sheikh of Al-Azhar issued a fatwa – or rather, half a fatwa – according to which it is permitted, according to Islam, to build churches, as long as they do not harm national security. I don’t understand how a church can harm national security. What, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar is not aware of the fact that it is the mosques that are harming national security? That it is the mosques that preach hatred? Is it the Christians who pray: 'God, make orphans out of the Muslim children'? Is it the Christians in their churches who say: 'Do not take the Muslims as your allies'? Are they the ones who say: 'And kill them wherever you find them'? Do they say: 'Fight those People of the Book who do not believe in Allah... until they pay the jizya willingly in submission'? Are they the ones who say this? No! This is said in the mosques. It is the mosques that pose a danger to national security. This is why the Ministry of Religious Endowments is currently instating a unified khutbah – they are concerned that if people talk seriously about Islam, it will lead to terrorism. That is only logical. So what is it that harms national security?!
"Don't tell me that terrorism is the outcome of injustice, of oppression, and of social circumstances, because nobody is more oppressed now then the Copts of El-Arish. Can you imagine the Copts of El-Arish becoming terrorists, wearing explosives belts, and blowing people up, because they are oppressed? Did the Yazidis do this after they were burned and raped? No! Terrorism is caused by an ideology that stems from the textual roots of your religion – not from the interpretation of these texts, but from the texts themselves. All we are doing is going around in circles. If we are unwilling to recognize the source [of the problem], we will never resolve it. The problems grow, the violence escalates, and the terrorists gain ground day by day."