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The West has behaved terribly over Egypt

Anglo-American policy, from the Iranian coup to the Egyptian one, has been a disaster – now Christians are suffering the backlash

By on Monday, 19 August 2013

Members of the Egyptians Army walk among the smoldering remains of a pro-Morsi camp (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

Members of the Egyptians Army walk among the smoldering remains of a pro-Morsi camp (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

The weekend before last I was away sunning myself in beautiful Gozo, and thus I missed the very silly piece in the Observer written by Nick Cohen, in which he castigates the Pope, for, among other things, making reference to Masonic lobbies that may (or may not) be operating in the Vatican. You can read Mr Cohen’s piece here  and you can also read the letters in reply that the Observer has published, most of which are very sensible, apart from one from Dumfries. 

While Mr Cohen’s anti-Papal article betrays a woeful ignorance of the Catholic Church, I would not like to suggest that Mr Cohen himself is silly. Only yesterday he produced this piece on the situation in Egypt, which perhaps more than any other amongst the acres of commentary, says something useful and true. 

The West is in a bind about Egypt, and has allowed itself to overlook its supposedly deep rooted belief in democracy and effectively sanctioned an army coup. This will have damaging long term effects, because from now on every protestation by a Western government about the promotion of democracy abroad will look like hypocrisy. For the truth is that Morsi was democratically elected, and the West did defend him.

People in the Middle East, unlike in our own country, have long memories, and they can point out that the West has form in this matter. The West has long been friendly with undemocratic regimes like that of Saudi Arabia; and it was Britain and the United States who got rid of Mossadegh  back in 1953; that may seem like a long time ago to us, but to Iranians the overthrow of a democratically elected leader by foreign powers seems recent. Indeed, its effects are still with us all. Britain and America are still paying the price for this intervention in the internal affairs of Iran. Of course, no Western power is intervening in Egypt, but, and it is a huge but, the Egyptian army receives massive subventions from the United States, which the States is in no mood to cut off. If people in the Middle East seem to believe in conspiracy theories, their history, and the history of Anglo-American interventionism, gives them some excuse.

Right now Egypt is a land of burning churches. Alas that this should be so! Once more one fears that the Islamists, looking for someone to blame, blame the Christians. Just what we can do to help seems far from clear. Meanwhile, the military rulers of Egypt have said that the army will rebuild all the destroyed and damaged churches. Will this mean that the Islamists will see the Christians as the natural allies of the army, even more so than before? It is a nightmarish situation for all Christian minorities in the Middle East, where the choice lies between Islamism on the one hand, and brutal secular dictatorship on the other. In truth, it is not much of a choice at all. Perhaps by letting the Muslim Brotherhood run riot and burn down churches and attack other buildings, the Egyptian military want to send out a clear message: back us, accept us, for the alternative is chaos. That may well convince the wavering middle classes of Egypt. It seems to have convinced the Coptic Church leadership which has come out with a strong statement of support for the army. 

It cannot be easy for the Copts. But why on earth the American government should give over a billion dollars per annum to this military machine is something that we should all be discussing urgently.

  • Julian Lord

    Oh well that makes all of the anti-Christian violence in Egypt perfectly OK then …

  • Julian Lord

    I’ve lived under a Catholic Monarchy, Ben.

    Only the Church better reflects the plan of Divine Governance.

  • GFFM

    I am completely ashamed of the lack of leadership and outrage within the US government over the violence toward Christians in Egypt. It is shameful. Aid should be frozen immediately. 44 Churches have been destroyed as of this moment and countless Christians have been killed. Average Americans are disgusted and completely frustrated with the lack of formal outrage from our State department and our leaders. We have very few news sources in the States which have even covered the carnage and Church burnings in Egypt.

  • Tosh

    I myself am from the Middle East- allow me to give you a very small window into that world.

    Democracy is new for the Middle East (we all know that )- let me explain and I know that for a European mind, especially the one immersed in the British mind-set (freedom of thought) will find this very difficult to comprehend- people in the Middle East live in a
    patriarchal society, a reality which is very real and lived- this means that
    they are moved and lead by the “strong man”, the father, brother, uncle, is the
    leader in the family. If one would like to endorse a different opinion than the
    one practiced by the prevalent leader (be it the leader in the family, the country
    or the house of prayer) then one would either have to keep that opinion to oneself or expect to either fight hard for that thought to be accepted or, be left out in the cold.

    Now, this can seem very, very strange to a western mind but, the western powers have played this idea for ever by supporting different “dictators” who are men. We have all
    seen them fall one by one after the new generation realised that democracy can
    be theirs. This is because the new generation of young people have either lived
    and studied in the west and can understand how democracy would work (freedom of
    thought and freedom of living life according to one’s conscience) or they have been exposed to it through other means. In the history of the world what is taking place in the Middle East is relatively mild compared to the wars and revolutions lived through by previous European generations to bring about the change that we enjoy today.

    Revolutions will be bloody (just think back to the French revolution) and the change it brings will take time to get ingrained into the psyche of the people. Change takes time- the world has become smaller in the sense that other countries will try and “help” either by meddling in the affairs of the other countries or by condemning them. The West
    is pretty good at doing just that but, if you look back at the history and what
    people had to live through in the West to get to where they are today, then one
    realises that things take time and people will die violent deaths. (I am not
    saying that it necessarily needs to be like this but, humans’ being sinful
    creatures have a tendency to resort to violence).

    Secondly the Eastern mentality of martyrdom is prevalent in that society and to die for a cause is not frowned upon, on the contrary- it is revered. Some mothers and fathers bring up their male child to be the martyr, the leader and to die for the “just cause”. Dying is not “bad” (unlike in the Western culture where death has become far removed
    from our everyday lives and hidden in hospitals and old people’s homes- this is
    an observation).

    This is a change over period from patriarchal society to democracy in the Middle East and North Africa and this change will be violent especially when it is happening too fast
    and if weapons are involved. All that we can do as Christians is to pray for
    peace – that peace will prevail in men’s and women’s’ hearts- that this peace
    will cross the border of religion to be felt by both Christian’s and Moslem’s.
    Pray, pray, pray, for peace to prevail- that is our only legitimate “weapon”
    and the only way that we can allow ourselves to meddle in other people’s
    affairs. Christians will pay the price for this change in the Middle East and
    North Africa as they are seen as the link to the Western world bringing about
    this change.

    Moslem’s are fighting for their way of life (patriarchal) and for wanting things to stay true to Islam. Christianity has no place there in their eyes as it indorses freedom and the freedom of conscience. We have to pray that one day all people of different creed’s and religions can live in peace, loving each other and accepting each other- that one day violence will not be seen as the only way out.

  • Julian Lord

    cut’n’paste, “phil”

  • $24570317

    I was not talking about the NUMBER of words – and I trust “Granny” understands that.

    As you are someone, Julian, who also sometimes does what “Granny” has done here (but to nothing like the same ridiculous extent), I can understand your sympathy for her.

    Orwell’s advice: “Never use a long word where a short one will do……
    If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out” and the rest of it, is good.

  • Julian Lord

    Doubleplusword unbellyfeel

  • alba

    Apparently Turkey’s Erdogan once said that democracy is like a bus: you get on, you get to your destination, and you get off.
    Holding/winning an election does not make you a democrat.

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