It is sad when we find a professor – a person the public is taught to look up to – using straw man arguments in order to bolster the beliefs of racial orthodoxy. The article in question is designed for children – who usually lack the ability to ask critical questions or to distinguish between education and deception.
Professor Audrey Smedley sets about misleading children in her interview with PBS called “Race – the power of an illusion”. Here are some blatant deceptions from from interview:
Race is an ideology that says that all human populations are divided into exclusive and distinct groups; that all human populations are ranked, they are not equal. Inequality is absolutely essential to the idea of race. The other part is that the behavior of people is very much part of their biology.
In all my years associating with other race-realists, not once have I heard somebody claim that races must be exclusive or distinct. In most cases, races blend into each other and there is a continuum. As for rankings, It is unclear what she means. Is she referring to their overall worth as Human Beings or is she referring to specific abilities? As for overall worth an individual normally would value one of his own kind over a foreigner, just as one values his own children more than the children of strangers. The question “which race is worth more” would be answered differently depending on who is being asked. As for specific traits, why would one assume that various populations (evolving under different conditions) would miraculously end up having exactly the same average abilities? Would it be logical to assume that an Inuit could, on average, run as fast as a Masai? People are not usually offended when told they cannot run very fast – but they do get offended when told they are not very intelligent. This is not a valid scientific argument that intelligence is somehow different; all this tells us is that people tend to get more emotional when it comes to intelligence. So, from a purely objective standpoint, there is no reason to assume that average I.Q. will be the same all over the world. Therefore, we may rank races based on average I.Q. or any other ability or trait.
Smedley writes “Inequality is absolutely essential to the idea of race.” Yes, it is. As a matter of fact, inequality is absolutely essential to the idea of evolution. Is Smedley opposed to the idea of evolution? There is only one place where equality is the norm: in the fantastical minds of leftist ideologues. It is a rarity in the real world – equality under the law not withstanding.
And then the idea that all of this is inherited. People don’t only inherit their biological features, but they also inherit their moral and temperamental and intellectual features. And it stays with us right into the 21st century. Not only are all of these features inherited, but they are not transcendable. You can’t change. Racial populations, individual races, and individual people cannot change their race. So there’s no way in which you can transcend this identity. Once you are identified as a socially low-status race, you remain so forever.
One problem with leftists is that they tend to see most things in black and white. There are few grey areas for them. In the real world, people who are born with certain tendencies can overcome them. Belonging to a particular race only means that you, as an individual, are more likely to have a certain set of traits, predispositions or proclivities to certain diseases. It does not dictate that you will act upon those dispositions or that you will actually get those diseases. You can still control your habits and behaviors. Here, Smedley implies that blacks are of lower status than whites. She seems to be oblivious to the fact that, during the last 40 years or so, whites have been relegated to the back of the bus so to speak. Perhaps this is due to her own privileged position.
Race wasn’t invented because it is a set of beliefs and attitudes about human variation. It has nothing to do with the biological variation itself. You can have many societies with great diversity in physical features without the idea of race. Race represents attitudes and beliefs about human differences, not the differences themselves.
It is unclear what Smedley means by this but I’ll venture a guess. She seems to be saying that “race” is an ideology that is divorced from the actual science of human biodiversity – and yet she admits that such diversity exists. Would she feel better if we called them “populations” rather than “races”? If “racists” shed their attitudes and beliefs, would it then be alright to study human biodiversity? But what if those attitudes and beliefs are, themselves, the products of such study? She refers to “diversity in physical features”, implying that there is no diversity in mental features. Yet she presents no evidence of this. In fact, there is much evidence to the contrary.
One of the things we have to recognize is that slavery existed virtually everywhere. It existed throughout the Mediterranean, for example. Slavery was thousands of years old by the time the colonists in America established slavery. There was no need to justify slavery because the Spanish had slaves; the Portuguese had slaves. In other words, slavery was part of the normal state of affairs of the colonizing nations. It was part of their world.
She conspicuously leaves out the fact that slavery was especially prevalent in black Africa – and that black Africans were major participants in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
In the 1820s and ’30s, a physician by the name of Samuel Morton, who lived in Philadelphia, began to collect skulls. And he collected skulls from populations around the world, and began to measure the internal capacities of these skulls. He devised a mechanism for using mustard seed and other materials to measure the internal capacity. He discovered that African skulls were smaller on average than European skulls, and that different populations had different average measurements in their skulls. This provided confirmation of the belief that Africans were less intelligent than other people.
It was assumed, both by the population at large and by scientists, that people with larger heads and larger brains presumably were more intelligent than people with smaller ones. We now know that this isn’t true. There are many people who have small skulls who are highly intelligent. But the fact is that there was a need to have scientific confirmation of the existence of races. And since races had to be different from one another, one of the ways of measuring these differences was essentially to say that the average skull size of races were different.
Yes, of course there are many people who have small skulls who are highly intelligent. Nobody disputes this. The crucial point that Smedley conveniently leaves out is that not all correlations are absolute. There is a correlation between brain size (relative to body size) and I.Q. and there is a correlation between skull size and brain size. It is hard to believe that somebody could be a professor and not be aware of this. One can only conclude that Smedley is intentionally deceiving people. She conveniently leaves out decades of documentation regarding the persistent scholastic achievement gap between blacks, whites and Asians. The fact that the larger-skulled races consistently outperform the smaller-skulled races (on average of course) must be pure coincidence in her eyes.
She concludes with this exhortation:
If you give up racism, you’re not giving up privileges. What you’re doing is expanding privileges. You’re not giving up your rights. You’re not losing anything. What you would be doing is gaining something. White Americans don’t realize how much has been lost by their failure to integrate blacks into the community. A great deal of talent, a great deal of skills and wonderful creativeness has been lost, simply because we’ve not allowed black Americans to become part of this total society.
How anybody, in this day and age, could write such a statement boggles the imagination. The most frightening aspect of all is this:
Site Information for pbs.org
I hope to see the day when race-realist sites get that kind of ranking. When the truth is valued over propaganda and when lying to millions of children is recognized as the serious crime that it is.
While there is a continuum among races, there are points where certain races do not meet. Some groups(let’s call them micro-races) have no members that have reproduced with others ever since that group was distinct from all other human groups. The point is that purity still exists, but it is increasingly hard to find. In terms of superiority, Michael Levin has a great article about that in a back issue of American Renaissance entitled “Is There a Superior Race?” http://www.amren.com/ar/1999/02/ He shows that “people have four definite standards more or less clearly in mind when they compare
human groups” among other things.
Finding a middle ground where I feel it’s alright inside with my conscience over this whole racial subject since I was a young teenager has been very difficult for me.
For one, I had my father who was losing money to non-white immigrants on the job because they underbid constantly, even though their work was inferior. Eventually we moved because of that, and that my parents didn’t want my younger sister to go through the racial problems that I encountered in high school. I went from a half white school at age 16 to a school that was 99% white.
Ironically in that 97% white city I shed a lot of my racial feelings and became more liberal. Which is easy to do when you don’t have racial tension, which explains a few things among all those white liberal conclaves . . .
I have never felt comfortable with my country being swamped by foreigners, even when others my age would decry me a racist. I just could not get over the feeling that the flood of non-white immigrants felt very wrong inside, and that our way of life will eventually have to change to meet the newcomers.
Moving back to the city of my birth at age 25, I was surprised how much more the people of Vancouver seemed to have integrated with each other. To a foreigner it might seem a city that has been taken over since 50 years ago by East Indians and Asians, but regardless interacial relationships have become nearly the norm instead of the exception.
My jaw dropped when I saw East Indian women dating White men, which I know to be a taboo, but is becoming increasingly common.
Unfortunately for the race realist/nationalist interracial relationships are horrible, but I feel it is better than isolated communities right next door with extreme tension like how I remember it when I was younger.
I worked in construction for a few years, and found that nearly every white guy except for the boss was dating or married to a non-white. I had asian women flirting with me, which was a totally new experience and had me all of a sudden thinking that it may be different, but might not be so bad to consider someone of another race to date.
Not out of choice, but by being open, I came across an attractive black woman who four years later I married. Being with her had me open myself to the internet to find the views of black people. Which led me to sites like Amren out of disgust because of their hatred of all things white. . . There are not many blacks in Vancouver city, and they are pretty much all newcomers so we are looking at best first and young second generations; we really have no history of black people here.
I think liberalism has it’s merits, but also it’s faults. Anything taken to it’s extreme can be dangerous, and this is where liberalism has brought us. Ironically I see liberalism increasingly being poked fun at by people of all walks of life. Even on my favorite show The Simpsons they trashed liberals in one of their jokes on a new episode last night.
It’s one thing to want fairness and equality, but it must be by merit, not enforced, or we all lose. With recent elections in Europe, and the upcoming British one I am seeing people starting to get a level head when it comes to the reality, and the damage done by extreme liberalism run amok.
Unfortunately this is a mixed blessing, because with all signs pointing to a US economic collapse, and a looming world wide depression, guess where liberalism will go? That’s right out the window, and on will come conservatism in an extreme form to counter the mess the former has left us with.
But will it be any better?
If you give up racism, you’re not giving up privileges. What you’re doing is expanding privileges. You’re not giving up your rights. You’re not losing anything.
Hmmmm….look what happened when the White Rhodesians and White South Africans gave up “racism.” They not only lost their privileges, but also were reduced to second class citizens and then subjected to ethnic cleansing. Same for the French colons in Algeria.
We can also see the same trends in the USA in the last several decades as affirmative action, open borders, diversity agitprop, and so forth become entrenched.
It’s also odd that she would use the term “privilege” to refer to the state of affairs in the good old bad old days: when White Americans were the majority and society reflected their values. Realistically speaking, your average American was enjoying the fruits of their own civilization. The fact that a minority might have been on the short end did not mean that your average White had some sort of special “privilege” within his or her own society.
The odd thing is, she seems to believe that the USA is still stuck in 1953, and that two generations worth of civil rights legislation and liberal social engineering never occurred. What exactly does she want Whites to do now, in 2010, that has not been done over the last several decades? How many more concessions must American society make?
Apparently, she sees the relationship between Whites and blacks in America in the same manner as a Marxist might see a “privileged” bourgeoisie versus the “oppressed” proletariat. Of course, the bourgeoisie was (in the Marxist sense) a minority imposing its will on the majority. In the old America, the country was in fact run for the majority.
But it goes back to the attack on “White privilege:” the actual agenda is to treat White people as an overthrown ruling class, thereby justifying any kind of agitation and class war against them. What makes this all the more amazing is that many Americans see nothing wrong with this situation, and that most elite institutions in the USA go along with the program.
Is this a nation of sleepwalkers?
If minorities experienced this kind of persecution then I would have sympathy:
“The Symbolic Victims of Egypt
Adel Guindy – 5/4/2010
On January 6, 2010, at 11:30 p.m., gunshots were heard in Nag Hammadi, Egypt (a town situated 80 kilometers, or 50 miles, north of Luxor). The shooting was aimed at a group of Copts leaving church following the midnight Christmas Mass (which the Coptic Church celebrated on January 7, 2010, in accordance with the old Julian and Coptic calendars). Seven people were murdered, including a Muslim who happened to be in the vicinity. In addition, nine Copts were injured, one later succumbing to his wounds at the hospital. The victims were all 17 to 29 years old.
Had it not been for the bishop’s decision to begin mass earlier than usual and to finish well before the traditional hour of midnight, the number of victims could have been substantially higher. The bishop decided to hold mass early due to threats he had received in the days before Christmas regarding “a special Christmas gift.” Though the State Security had been informed of these threats, no action was taken.
The following morning, Christmas Day, Copts gathered in front of the town’s hospital where the dead and wounded had been taken. Corpses were lying on the ground and the wounded were not being treated. The hospital and security personnel would not release bodies to be buried, and relatives complained of rude and provocative treatment by them. As the crowd soon grew to 2,000 people, the authorities decided to prevent the families from carrying on with the funeral procession at the nearby church and used tear gas, clubs, and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd (wounding seven people), which began shouting anti-government slogans and throwing stones at the security forces and at the hospital facade. Once permitted to resume the funeral procession, Muslim onlookers began throwing stones at them.
During the period of the funerals until January 9, 2010, Copts and Coptic property in Nag Hammadi and the neighboring villages of Bahgura and Tarkas were targeted by Muslims in a wave of attacks. An estimated 3,000 Muslims reportedly broke into, looted, and set fire to Coptic-owned shops. Mobs also tried to force their way into Coptic homes to attack residents. In some instances, Muslims initiated vandalism of their Coptic neighbors’ property, though there were a few cases in which Muslims attempted to help their Coptic neighbors. Official statements, however, made sure to emphasize that “there were 28 Christians” among the 42 people arrested.
Throughout these events, the security forces were only present around police stations and on roads into and out of town, not interfering with the mobs. Moreover, fire trucks arrived hours late–as they were busy dispersing Copts gathering around the bishopric building. As with similar past incidents in which security forces failed to prevent initial attacks (despite the warnings) and to protect the Copts against looting, vandalism, and arson, they reverted to haphazard arrests on “both sides,” tortured and humiliated prisoners, and severely restricted freedom of the press and civil society representatives. As of mid April 2010, those still under arrest for “rioting” (16 Muslims and 13 Copts) were released without charges.
Two days after the rioting, three people turned themselves in to the police. Following preliminary investigations, the trial began on February 13, 2010, but was delayed on three separate occasions, the last time until May 16. The three defendants pleaded not guilty, and Hamam Kamuni, presumably the main perpetrator, told the court: “How could someone who commits such a crime voluntarily surrender to the police?” Kamuni is said to have often worked as a bodyguard for important people in the area, including government officials and members of parliament. The exact motives of the perpetrators, and who was behind them, are still far from clear. Nonetheless, just hours after the attacks, the Ministry of Interior issued a statement that “all indications relate the crime to the consequences of the rape of a Muslim girl in one of the villages of the governorate, for which a young Coptic man is accused,” despite the fact that the alleged rape occurred six weeks prior and in an unrelated town. The statement was in reference to accusations by a Muslim family in Farshut (Qina Governorate) on November 18, 2009, that a 21-year-old Coptic man had raped their 12-year-old daughter. Following his arrest, the man denied the accusation. The following day, riots broke out in which Muslims demanded the alleged rapist be handed over to them for punishment. Thousands of Muslims attacked, looted, and set fire to numerous Coptic-owned shops. Security forces kept a very low profile until the following evening. Dozens of rioters were arrested, but most were promptly released. Attacks also spread to a nearby village (Abu Shusha). The forensic report regarding the victim (dated November 21, 2009) is rather vague and inconclusive, lacking detailed investigative measures such as DNA analysis. The case, however, was transferred to the court (the same court that handled the Nag Hammadi case) and the trial opened on February 17, 2010 only to be postponed, on three separate occasions, to May 15. All of the defense’s requests were subsequently denied.
Government officials from the governor to key ministers as well as the state-owned media came to repeat the linkage the police report initially made between the Nag Hammadi and Farshut incidents, despite the fact that the report was issued before the suspects in the former case were identified, let alone arrested. Foreign news dispatches and commentaries also perpetuated the idea that the two incidents were linked, as they mostly quoted the official sources. The speaker of the National Assembly further made a false claim on BBC-Arabic TV that the girl “had died because of the rape.” Even the prosecutor’s decision on January 16, 2010, to refer the perpetrators of the Nag Hammadi attacks to a criminal court described them as a group of “lawless persons, honoring no values, who [committed the crime] because they had heard about the rape of a Muslim girl in a nearby district…”
The government officially insists that the attacks were not acts of “sectarian violence” against Copts but simply an ordinary criminal act (if anything, motivated by the Copts’ own “crimes”). Furthermore, officials have insisted that the only threat to Egypt’s “national unity” comes from “external pressures and foreign intervention” in the country’s “internal affairs.” “External pressures” here in particular refers to demonstrations by Coptic emigrants condemning violence in Egypt and the lack of action by its leadership.
Indeed, President Husni Mubarak, who remained conspicuously silent after the attacks, finally acknowledged them in a speech at the Police Day celebration 18 days later. He warned that he would be firm with whomever, from “either side,”’ endangered the “national unity.” He blamed the lack of enlightened religious narration by both the Islamic religious institution of al-Azhar and the Coptic Church. He also called upon intellectuals and writers to take action, never saying a word as to his own responsibilities and that of the rest of the political leadership.
THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
When issues of violence against the Copts have reached foreign journalists, NGOs, and politicians, the government has often been quick to issue statements acknowledging the existence of violence but has downplayed it by stressing that the number of victims is relatively small when compared with the thousands who perish elsewhere, for example, in Nigeria’s sectarian clashes or in Sudan.
Nonetheless, violence against Egypt’s Coptic minority is only one of facet of systematic discrimination it faces. The situation of the Copts has even been described by some as one of “daily martyrdom.” In the words of Sameh Salah, whose brother was killed in the Nag Hammadi attacks, “We all envy those martyrs. They escaped the humiliation that we endure[….] the Lord saved him from the miserable treatment and loathing the rest of us get.” There is no indication that Egypt’s political leadership has come to realize the need to address the “Coptic issue.” While the government makes great efforts to present to the outside world an optimistic picture of the Copts’ situation, it does little to address the reality.
While attacks like that in Nag Hammadi are not daily occurrences, the number of incidents is on the rise. Following are some representative examples of discrimination and, in some cases, violence, that have occurred since the beginning of 2009.
On February 19, 2009, eight Copts were killed when two walls of a demolished church collapsed in Maragha (Sohag Governorate). In 1979, the Habitat Department reported the presence of numerous cracks in the century-old mud-brick church. Between 1986 and 2006, further inspections confirmed the dangerous condition of the building, and the local bishop repeatedly pleaded with the authorities to issue a permit to rebuild. In November 2008, the local State Security officer finally inspected the building and was so alarmed by the state it was in that he asked for the engineering drawings of the replacement building to be submitted urgently so that the necessary permits from the authorities in Cairo could be obtained. As one wall collapsed in January 2009, State Security told the priest to begin demolition and to prepare for rebuilding. However, after the demolition was almost completed, he was ordered by the State Security not to hold off rebuilding until the permit from Cairo was issued. State Security even refused to allow temporary scaffolding of the crumbling walls. The next month the walls collapsed, resulting in the eight deaths.
In another incident, on June 30, 2009, the Administrative Court rejected a lawsuit (no. 4475/58) filed by Girgis Malak Wasif, a Copt, contesting the state changing his religion to Islam after his Christian father had converted when he was seven years old. The plaintiff argued that, having reached the age of legal maturity, he had the right to choose his religion. The court explained its rejection by noting that “the principles and judgments of Islam, as the religion embraced by a majority of Egyptians… determine the right of the non-Muslim to embrace the revealed religion of his choice, and these same judgments prohibit a person who has entered Islam from leaving it, given that it is the seal of the revealed religions.” The court stated that public order “is pained by harm to the official national religion, which has taken up a permanent place in the hearts of the majority of the Egyptian people, represented by the evil of rebelling against its judgments and the criminality of apostasy.” The court added that “the Muslim who has freely embraced Islam… cannot forsake it.” The ruling stated that conversion was only permissible if it followed a certain order “sanctioned by the Almighty God: He who believes in Judaism is called on to embrace Christianity, and he who believes in Christianity is called on to embrace Islam, the seal of all religions. In all these cases, the opposite is incorrect, as evidenced by God’s ordering of the revelation of His religions, and in accordance with public order and morals in Egypt.”
On July 17, 2009, after the Friday Muslim prayer, some alleged 2,000 Muslims from the village of al-Fuqai (Beni Su’if Governorate), attacked a building belonging to the Christian Love Association and several homes inhabited by Copts after rumors spread that they intended to turn it into a church. The attackers chanted anti-Christian slogans and demonstrated against the presence of a church in the village. They began throwing stones, breaking into and vandalizing some of the homes. Security forces arrived later but did not arrest any of those involved. No police report or complaint was filed with the prosecutor. Security forces shut down the association’s building and prevented Coptic villagers from praying there.
That same month, on July 28, 2009, a Coptic man was ordered by State Security to stop working on a wood warehouse he was building in the village of Reida (Minya Governorate), because they believed he intended to turn it into an Evangelical church. The directive came four days after attacks on Christians in a nearby village by Muslims opposed to the establishment of an Evangelical church in that village. The State Security demolished the sections of the warehouse that had been built.
Two days later, on July 30, 2009, a Coptic woman was arrested by the police in Mansura (Dakahliyya Governorate) while applying for birth certificates for her two children, on charges of using falsified official documents that listed her as a Christian married to a Christian man. The police charged her with forgery, as her father had converted to Islam when she was 12 years old and had changed her name and religion to Islam. At the age of 18, she had married a Christian using her Christian name and religious affiliation, and the couple had two children. In January 2006, she had filed a lawsuit with the Administrative Court in Cairo, asking to compel the Civil Status Authority to issue her a national identity card containing her actual religious affiliation and her birth name. The court had suspended the case on March 4, 2009, pending a decision from the Supreme Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of changing one’s religion on official documents in light of the limitation presented by Shari’a (Muslim law), which is considered the main source of legislation in Egypt.
On September 17, 2009, a 65-year-old Coptic man in al-Bagur (Manufiyya Governorate) was stabbed to death by a Muslim in front of his shop. The perpetrator then moved on to the village of Bahnay, four kilometers away, where he stabbed a 40-year-old Coptic man in his shop after crying out, “You infidel, you Nazarene.” No previous disputes are known to have existed between the victims and the attacker. When a relative went to the police station to report the assault, he was told that he had no right to file a police report since he was not injured. Meanwhile, the perpetrator went to the neighboring village of Miyyit Afif, where he stabbed yet another Copt, aged 30, in front of his smith shop. The attacker was arrested the following day and was charged with premeditated murder and attempted murder, though what happened in the case since then is not known. Dozens of people who took part in the al-Bagur victim’s funeral procession held signs calling for a fair trial, for an end to attacks on Copts, and for Mubarak’s protection in light of the State Security’s failure to protect Copts.
On October 8, 2009, several Copts from the village of Abu Shusha (Qina Governorate) demonstrated at the Patriarchate grounds in Cairo, asking Pope Shenouda III to intervene with the authorities regarding their closed church–the only one in the area–which had 5,000 members. The church had been destroyed in a fire in October 2005, but after years of attempts to receive a permit to rebuild or even repair the building, none had yet been granted.
On October 20, 2009, Faruk Henry, a 61-year-old Coptic man, was shot dead in Dayrut (Assyut Governorate) because his son had been accused of having a relationship with a Muslim girl. The four killers were arrested, but on October 24, after the prosecutor ordered their cautionary investigative imprisonment for two weeks, some 2,000 Muslims rioted, breaking, burning, and looting dozens of shops, pharmacies, offices, and other Coptic property, as well as two churches (Orthodox and Evangelical) and a charity clinic run by the Catholic Church. The security forces were slow to intervene, waiting several hours after the attacks began. The next day, 30 people were arrested. Four were tried by the Criminal Court of Assyut on accusation of the killing but, on Feb. 22, 2010, the court discharged them for lack of evidence.
On October 27, 2009, Muslims in the village of Badrman (the Minya Governate) protested against the renovation of the bell tower of the village’s church, for which a special permit had been given, and looted and perpetrated personal attacks against Copts. Twenty-two Muslims were arrested, but were all released four days later, after a “conciliation session” arranged by the authorities on October 29. In such sessions, Copts are often pressured into renouncing their complaints for the sake of “maintaining peace,” and perpetrators get away with their crimes.
Also on October 27, 2009, police forces arrested a 48-year-old Coptic teacher, in Salamut (Minya Governorate) for performing prayer in his house without prior authorization. The incident for which he was arrested was a memorial service performed by a priest and attended by family members. It was held in the home, as the Copts in the village had not been granted a permit to build a church.
On October 28, 2009, a tailor shop in Esna (Luxor Governorate) was set on fire because the Coptic owner had asked the Muslim owner of a neighboring shop who was loudly playing the Koran on his speakers all day long, to lower the volume. A “conciliation session” was organized, and the complaint was dropped.
Permits to Pray
In Egypt, building a new church requires a presidential decree in every case, a complicated and slow process. Moreover, the State Security often imposes its authority, making the process difficult even after obtaining a presidential decree. In addition, there are many throughout the country who take on a self-proclaimed sacred duty to ensure that no non-Muslim prays anywhere without “proper” authorization. Rather than resolving the problem, the government has gone to extremes to deny it, especially when addressing foreigners.
On July 18, 2008, the office of Egypt’s foreign minister, Ahmad Abul Gheit, sent a ten-page facsimile regarding the situation of the Copts in Egypt to his counterpart in a certain country in Central Europe. The faxed letter was a response to queries following serious complaints by that country’s citizens of Egyptian origin. Regarding “church building,” the Egyptian government’s letter stated:
It is worth mentioning that the total number of churches in Egypt is 2,524 churches, 1,319 of which are Copt Orthodox, and the total number of monasteries in Egypt is 196, 84 of which are Copt Orthodox. The following tables show that the building and maintenance of churches in Egypt has not stopped in Egypt [sic] and that these churches are distributed throughout the country.
The table in the letter listed the number of decrees granted for new churches each year from 1998 to 2007 as: 5, 10, 10, 12, 2, 8, 6, 9, 1, 2. However, another table within the government’s letter lists the number of existing churches and monasteries as 2,456, 264 fewer than mentioned elsewhere in the same letter (2,524 churches plus 196 monasteries, a total of 2,720). Yet according to the official 2007 government report of the Information and Decision-Support Center (IDSC), there are only 1,878 churches in Egypt.
The number of monasteries reported in the government’s letter is also exaggerated. The active and semi-active Coptic Orthodox monasteries at best number 33, not 84 as reported, and those of other denominations (essentially the small Catholic community) could not possibly make up 112. Similarly, the table cited in the letter shows the number of presidential decrees granted each year for churches. Yet Mufid Shihab, Egypt’s minister for parliamentary affairs, said the number of new churches built “over the past twenty-five years […] reach[ed] 500, of which 180 were built in the past two years alone.” Egypt’s review report, which was presented to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on February 18, 2010, stated that “over the period between 2005 and July 2009, a total of 138 decrees to build new churches have been issued.” Shihab personally presented the report at Geneva and said the number of permits issued since 1982 was 527, of which 138 were granted between 2005 and July 2009.
In fact, a detailed study by the author of all presidential decrees issued over the 2005-2009 period shows their number to be 126, of which only 37 correspond to new church building permits (13 in 2005, 18 in 2006, 6 in 2007, and none in the following two years). These were spread between the various denominations: 22 for the Orthodox, 10 for the Evangelicals, and 5 for the Catholics. Further, 34 decrees were for menial repairs or refurbishments of existing churches, and 55 decrees were issued to “regularize the situation of existing churches.” In the past, the policy of needing a presidential decree in order to build a church, based on the 1856 Ottoman Hamayuni Decree, was not always enforced. However, it has been rigorously applied since 1971.
Thus the figures Egypt provided to the UNHRC are inaccurate. There is also no way to verify the actual number of repair permits issued or implemented in practice, but the aforementioned February 2009 incident in which eight Copts died is indicative of what happens in reality. It is the State Security in Cairo that decides when permits for repairs are issued. Moreover, the reported figures for new-church permits are quite low considering demographic growth.
Copts are said to represent approximately 10 percent (approximately 9 million people) of Egypt’s population, with 90 percent belonging to the Coptic (Orthodox) Church. If according to the government’s letter there are barely 1,400 Coptic churches, it can therefore be deduced that there is one church per 5,800 Orthodox Copts. Copts thus often have to travel far distances outside of their towns for religious services (baptism, marriage, funerals, and regular mass).
There is thus a double standard regarding churches and mosques. Unlike churches, mosques require no building or repair permits. Such discriminatory policies are difficult to disguise, and the claim made in Egypt’s UNHRC report that the Coptic minority “fully enjoy[s] constitutionally guaranteed rights,” is incorrect. Such policies contradict international and human rights laws, but are rooted in the Shari’a dhimmitude rules, which declare that no new church can be built and restricting repairs. Upon his return to Cairo, Minister Shihab stated that Egypt “remains an Islamic country according to its constitution,” and would thus not accept certain UNHRC recommendations. He added that “nobody could force us to accept a recommendation on protecting the rights of minorities, as Egypt has no minorities–and had we accepted [such a recommendation] this would have constituted an admission that we discriminate against minorities.”
Underrepresentation in Institutions of Higher Education
In Egypt, Copts are denied occupation of certain public positions (such as within the State Security and similar departments) and represent under 2 percent in other posts, including in the judiciary, the diplomatic corps, the army, the police, local governance, the media, and the universities. For example, there no Copts in the top positions at Egyptian universities. There are 17 public universities owned and financed by the state in Egypt. Each has a president and three or four vice presidents. Out of a total of 71 people in these positions, there is not a single Copt. Out of the 274 faculties within these universities, only one has a Coptic dean. Of the 673 vice-deans, there is likewise only one Copt.
At the next level of leadership–department chairpersons–at the Universities of Cairo, Ain-Shams (Heliopolis), and Alexandria–which were all established before 1952–there are 12 to 15 Coptic chairpersons among the 479 department heads, only 2.5 to 3 percent of the total. There is not a single Copt among 283 chairpersons in the Universities of the Delta (Tanta, Mansura, and Zaqaziq) and of Helwan (south of Cairo). In Upper Egypt, where the Coptic community is concentrated and reaches over a quarter of the population in some governorates, there is one Copt among 421 department heads at the Universities of Minya, Assyut, Fayum, and South Valley.
Thus, at the 11 universities referred to above, there are 13-16 Copts among 1,183 chairpersons, representing only 1.5 percent of all chairpersons. The total number of Copts in leadership positions at all levels is 15-18 out of 1,921, well below 1 percent. These numbers do not include al-Azhar University, which has over 500,000 students in its 53 general faculties (excluding the Islamic theology faculties), where non-Muslims are not allowed to enroll. Furthermore, there was only one Copt out of 425 graduate students sent abroad in fall 2007 to study for a Ph.D. These students usually return to teaching positions in the universities.
A previous study on Assyut University found that whereas Copts represent between 20 and 29 percent of the students in various faculties, they account for less than 6 percent of the professors. Their ratio falls to 1.7 percent at the next level of staff (associate professors, lecturers, etc.), indicating a declining trend for the future. Though Copts emphasize the importance of education, they are not represented in university teaching and leadership posts. In fact, distinguished Coptic students systematically find themselves downgraded in order to prevent them from qualifying for teaching posts. Their complaints go unheeded, and it is usually difficult to argue each case. However, the overall statistics are evidence of their underrepresentation. The exclusion of Copts from Egypt’s educated elite, a phenomenon which the government denies, also prevents them from entering high-level technocratic, ministerial, and government posts.
PERSECUTION OF THE COPTS: A POLITICAL NEED?
Under Anwar Sadat’s presidency (1970-1981), the Islamist groups were given free rein. Following Sadat’s assassination in 1981 by the Islamists, the period of Islamic Jihad’s armed conflict in Egypt came to an end. Yet by the 1990s, the second phase had begun, and jihadi groups resumed their attacks, including a long series of terrorist operations against the Copts, the government, and tourists. This phase ended with the November 1997 terrorist attack targeting tourists in Luxor.
While there have been a few sporadic attacks since then, the third stage of jihadi violence has been aimed primarily against tourists (in Sinai and Cairo), with no significant violence from Islamist groups against Copts. The violence has rather come from individuals not belonging to or acting on behalf of a particular group. It is common in these cases that no specific perpetrators are named and the crimes thus become “public.” Thus the aggressors have rarely been brought to justice nor has any condemnation ever been issued. This is also the result of the security apparatus’ failure to handle and process criminal evidence appropriately.
The Islamization of Egyptian society from the bottom up, beginning in the 1970s and based on Article II of the Constitution, has enabled this status quo. Yet parallel to the government’s attempts to suppress violent jihad in the country, state-sponsored Islamization has continued and intensified. This strategy employed by the regime has attempted both to satisfy and keep the Islamists in check by offering them a formula in which the state continues to rule from the top while the radical Islamists determine and supervise social norms.
Islamization has penetrated the media, education, and the state infrastructure. For example, in the judiciary, judges often ignore existing civil laws and rule according to Shari’a (referring directly to Article II of the constitution). Throughout the process, the regime has not taken action to halt Islamization or discrimination except in cases that have threatened its own stability. In other words, the regime’s priority is its own survival, especially as elections approach. This is linked to two issues: the desire of the “Islamic street” and corruption.
First, the “Islamic street” is growing stronger and is demanding greater Islamization, and the regime has met these demands in order to increase its own legitimacy, power, and domination. For example, during a meeting discussing the subject of pigs and the N1H1 flu, Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif said, “Indeed it has long been a popular demand, Mr. President, to rid (Egypt) of swine altogether.” The meeting concluded with an urgent presidential decision ordering the killing of around 1 million hogs. While the health issue was the rationale for doing so it seems hard to accept that this was the full explanation, since the danger was so small and no other country took measures anywhere near as extreme. The fact that this order would please the Islamists must have been a major part of the government’s considerations. Indeed, despite criticism from the World Health Organization, the decision could not be discussed or revoked. Even Health Minister Hatim al-Gabaly later admitted on television that he hadn’t been involved in the decision, he had only heard about it after the fact “like everybody else.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, which influences and leads the “Islamic street” in Egypt, has a rather complex relationship with the regime. While studying and discussing the Islamists as a contender for government power, it should also be remembered that there are levels of cooperation between the two sides. Aware of the possibility, which is manifested periodically, of repression as well as their own relative weakness, the Islamists avoid pushing too hard or challenging the regime. At the same time, the regime tries to buy off the Islamists and preoccupy them by yielding them a large measure of power over setting social and cultural norms and by tolerating, if not encouraging, the oppression of Copts.
Second, corruption is no longer just rife but has become one of the pillars of the regime, with a powerful oligarchy firmly in place. This is linked to its inability to confront and solve the escalating societal, demographic, and developmental problems in a satisfactory manner. The 2009 Failed State Index compiled by Foreign Policy includes Egypt among the “In Danger” group of countries, only slightly better off than the “Critical” group. On a scale of 1 to 177, Egypt ranked forty-third, with Somalia ranking lowest, as the most failed state, and Norway (at 177) as the most stable.
This situation has led to popular discontent among Egyptians. Yet instead of addressing the root of the problem and working to resolve it, state officials have often used the Coptic minority as a scapegoat. For example in an address to the International Labor Organization, Minister of Manpower Aisha Abd al-Hadi, stated, “Whereas Copts number only 10 percent of the population, they own 30 percent of the national economy.” Despite the inaccuracy and lack of basis to such claims, they clearly do not promote and are even harmful to national unity.
The government’s handling of violence against Copts has shown its failure to protect its citizens and to uphold international and Egyptian civil law. Moreover, this violence represents only the tip of the iceberg of policies of discrimination and exclusion, which in turn feed into the cycle of violence. In a socially regressing Egypt, Copts have become symbolic victims. In addition, the regime’s strategy of cooperation with the Islamists could backfire. By allowing a greater measure of Islamization, it might be preparing the stage for much stronger Islamist challenges in future.”
This is the life of living under Islamic rule. Equality for those of the true religion, and death to all others.