Kristallnacht, Egyptian-style

Kristallnacht, Egyptian-style

Every time the Koran is wrongly desecrated, riots ensue in the Muslim world, with many fatalities. If the United States military is involved, apologies are offered by our highest elected officials, including the president and secretary of state.

When other faiths are targeted, however, the silence is conspicuous. When Israelis withdrew from Gaza in August 2005, and all the synagogues there were burned by Gazans, where was the outrage? At least there was no loss of life or Israelis left there to persecute.

This is not the case in Egypt. In the 48-hour period ending on Aug. 18, 57 churches were burned by Islamists aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood, with Christians the frequent target of violence and at least two killed after attacks on their property. Where was the outrage by our top officials, including the president? Where are the Christian leaders and moderate Muslims? To date, we have seen very little public indignation.

The horrendous violence in Egypt pits a military that overthrew a democratically elected government and the majority of the electorate in opposition to an Islamic state against the Muslim Brotherhood, which supports it.

In fact, a lesson to be gleaned from the disaster unfolding in Egypt is that premature elections may result in the last free elections held. This happened with Hamas in Gaza and most recently with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. First there must be stability, with a functioning government delivering services. Who is in the best position to achieve that? The Israelis and Saudis, Egypt’s neighbors, are betting on the military, flawed as it is, as the best alternative to mob rule and the Muslim Brotherhood prevailing.

Equally important, a culture of tolerance must be developed for minorities, particularly for the 14 million Coptic Christians, secularists, and Muslim minorities. Unfortunately, this will take time, and patience is in short commodity in the political maelstrom that is Egypt.

Until then, where is the outrage?

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