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October 18, 2011

Egypt Ascends the Pyramid of Hate

Pyramid of Hate.jpg

Take a look at the image above.

It’s a “Pyramid of Hate�? used to educate middle school students in the United States about the process of demonization that precedes mass killings. The image is part of an anti-hate curriculum created by “Partners Against Hate�? or PAH for short.

PAH is an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Justice and supported by a number of organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence, the Legal Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund. PAH charged with reducing hate crimes in the U.S. The goal of lesson plan in which this pyramid appears is to “examine the escalating nature of hate and to consider the difficulty of stopping the progression once it begins.�?

The pyramid describes in a graphic way, the process by which societies fall prey to the impulse to engage in acts of mass violence against minorities.

At the bottom of the triangle, we see preexisting hostility toward the target population. On the next level, we see discrimination and above that, we see scapegoating. Above that are violence and hate crimes, and at the very top we see genocide.

Also included in the lesson plan are questions designed to elicit discussion from the students. One of the questions asks “What are some factors that make it more likely that hate will escalate? (e.g., hate behaviors are tolerated, the media reinforces stereotypes, friends and family agree with and reinforce each other’s prejudices)�?.

Looking at this pyramid in light of what has happened in Egypt in the past few months is, or at least, should be, a deeply disconcerting experience, in part because it highlights just how vulnerable Egypt’s Coptic Christians are to further acts of violence. While its unlikely that Egypt's Copt's will endure a full-scale genocide like the one endured by Jews in Europe, it's entirely reasonable to conclude that we will see ethnic cleansing of Christians in Egypt on a mass scale in Egypt, just as we have in Iraq.

First, Coptic Christians are clearly the target of pre-existing hostility in Egypt. Talk to Coptic Christians living in the United States and they will tell you that Christians are regarded as dirty, unclean by their fellow Egyptians who are Muslim. To be sure, not every Muslim in Egypt feels this way about Copts, but the notion that Christians are unclean is pervasive in Egypt.

Secondly, Coptic Christians are the target of discrimination in Egyptian society and much of this discrimination is sanctioned and imposed by the state. They have been denied the right to build their churches without the permission of the Egyptian President. They have been barred from positions of responsibility in the Egyptian government. The are denied the right to display crosses on their churches or ring bells in their steeples for fear of offending Muslim sensibilities.

We also see violence and scapegoating. Christian women and girls have been kidnapped, raped, and forcibly converted to Islam. We see churches bombed, set on fire and Christians attacked in their homes during what can accurately be described as pogroms.

Coptic Christians have been scapegoated for the violence they have endured on October 9. Writing for Al-Masry Al-Youm Ahmed Zaki Osman reports that a number of columnists are suggesting that “Coptic religious leaders, clergy and intellectuals are responsible not only for the Maspero violence but also for threatening national unity.�?

This is all very troubling, but what is even more troubling is the role Muslim religious leaders have played in fueling Egypt’s ascent up the pyramid of hate. Attacks on churches in Egypt often take place after Friday prayers during which imams denounce Christians as infidels. Writing about acts of oppression against Christians that took place during the month of September, Raymond Ibrahim reports that:

In a circulated video, the grand mufti of Al Azhar, Ali Goma'a, referred to Christians as "infidels"; in the same vein, Wagdi Ghoneim, a popular cleric and former U.S. imam, called Copts "Crusaders" on Al Jazeera television, insisting that they do not deserve equal rights with the Muslims in Egypt; Abu Shadi, a representative of the Salafis, told Tahrir News that the Copts must either convert to Islam, pay jizya [an increased tax for not being a Muslim], and assume an inferior status, or die.

Just how much further will Egypt ascend up the pyramid of hate?

Posted by dvz at October 18, 2011 10:51 AM


A pyramid is apt, isn't it?

Posted by: Steve from Raleigh at October 18, 2011 04:29 PM

I am shocked at the statement: "The are denied the right to display crosses on their churches or ring bells in their steeples for fear of offending Muslim sensibilities." I go to Egypt every year, and my cousin lives right next to a big church. When I used to stay up all night at his house in 2009 I would hear the bell's ringing at like 7 am-ish. I have pictures of church's with huge crosses being displayed (e-mail me and I will gladly send them to you) The "Hanging Church" named because of it's " suspended in the air architectural appearance" is one of the churches I visited. How can such a blatant lie be posted on a supposedly "whistle blower" site?!

DVZ writes: Thanks for your comment, Ramzy. Things have gotten substantially worse since your last visit in 2009. On October 8, 2011, the Associated Press reported the following:

"In the past weeks, riots have broken out at two churches in southern Egypt, prompted by Muslim crowds angered by church construction. One riot broke out, near the city of Aswan, even after church officials agreed to a demand by local ultraconservative Muslims, called Salafis, that a cross and bells be removed from the building."

The article was published in the Washington Post here:

Clearly, Coptic Christians are subject to higher levels of hostility, violence and intimidation since your last visit.

Moreover, Coptic Christians in Egypt who wear crosses on necklaces typically keep them covered up under their shirts or blouses to as not to offend their Muslim compatriots, who in some instances, spit on Egyptians who display outward signs of their Christian faith.

Posted by: ramzy wagdy at October 19, 2011 05:31 AM

Every Coptic Egyptian has a tattoo of a blue cross right on the wrist, where you feel for a pulse. So I believe that the Egyptian Coptic have made themselves visible, unlike people of other faiths, ever since Alexander invaded Egypt and have lived along each other since . Why now put salt on wounds? There have always been issues between them, but usually they settle down in the end. When we entered Iraq it was the "deadly triangle" Kurds, shites, and sunnis. The motive behind creating rifts between the Egyptians must be sinister, since there is never "let's create peace talks between the copts and muslims. Half of Egypt is uneducated, which means they go to their priest or imam for things like health and good fortune. That in itself makes it easy to manipulate the uneducated and naive. You can tell the level of poverty in an american city by how many churches it has.
In Israel it is taught to children that not only what used to be Palestine is their G-d given land but what extends beyond it all the way across the Nile to the Euphrates river. The Arabs are afraid of this. If anyone needs to be feared, it is the IDF, with the 4th largest military in the world, and no one can put them in check for any humane abuses, like last years flotilla disaster. Why can't they apologize?

DVZ writes: Thanks for your comment. It appears that you have abandoned your initial argument, that Copts are not denied the right to place crosses on their churches and to place bells in their steeples. This in fact has happened. Copts have in fact been coerced to not display crosses on their churches and to not ring bills.

I have been told that there is a tradition in Egypt of calling the Coptic faithful to churches with wooden clackers instead of bells because historically, they have been denied the right to use bells.

Your mention of the Coptic tatoo is interesting. A few months ago, several Coptic Christians were murdered on board a train by a gunman who was a police officer, (if memory serves). Reports at the time indicate he knew who was a Copt and who was not by virtue of the tatoo you mention. Also, Coptic women do not wear veils and are often spit on for not wearing them. I have been told by credible sources that these tatoots are put on Coptic believers to make it harder for women to be forcibly converted into Islam. Is this true, Ramzy?

Your suggestion that Snapshots is pouring salt on the wounds is frankly outrageous. It is the Salafists who falsely accuse the Copts of storing weapons in their churches, it is the Salafists who falsely accuse the Copts of abducting and raping Muslim women, when in fact is is the other way around. It was the journalist on state-run television who called on Egyptians to go out into the streets of Cairo and defend the military. It was Muhammed Sayyd Tantawi, the Grand Mufti of Al Azhar University, the most prominent institution of learning in the Sunni world that called on Christians to pay the jizya. Snapshots did none of these things. Please do not mistake us for the Salafists or others in Egypt who incite violence.

As far as your accusation that in Israel it is taught that it is their G-d-given right to hold the land from the Nile to the Euphrates, that is simply laughable. Every Israeli leader since the 1990s has been willing to exchange land for peace. The notion that the promise of land in the Hebrew Scriptures is going to determine the borders of the modern state of Israel is simply not operative today. If these beliefs were as widely held, as say for example, Koranic teachings about Jews and Christians are currently believed in Egypt, there would be a problem. They aren't.

Your characterization of the flotilla is counterfactual as well. Armed and trained fighters, some of whom expressed a desire for martyrdom (death) attacked Israeli soldiers who were equipped with paintball guns. These fighters took men hostage, threw them from one deck to another on board the Mavi Marmara and injured them badly.

The activists on the other vessels were left unscathed. It was only on board the Mavi Marmara where soldiers were attacked, was their a problem.

The math is pretty simply, Ramzy. Don't attack the IDF and you have nothing to be afraid of.

Posted by: ramzy wagdy at October 24, 2011 12:02 AM

Thanks for the response. First of all the flotilla incident has been recognized by the world as a humanity crime. Paintball guns, that is very laughable, I'm sorry, considering that this is a military that uses world banned weapons like phosphorus gas on humans (see youtube)
Number two: It is fact that Muhammed Sayyd Tantawi was Mubarak's religious arm. No one ever respected him in Egypt, not even even the "boogie man" salafists. His speeches were always joked about because of how they always aligned with the Mubarak regime. You guys fail to mention(probably because of no contact with actual Egyptians) the enormous hate for Saudi, the salafists and wabbists by the Egyptian youth, which account for 60% of the population, if not more. Remember, just a few months ago Saudi opened it's door to Mubarak for refuge? That left a permanent mark on the Egyptian population. This can be seen on Facebook posts all over. Why do we demonize wahabbists or salafists but not Evangelists and Hasidim as hardcore fundamental religious groups? I don't think neither should be demonized.
You must understand that it is the people of Egy AGAINST it's despotic government which is still under control by Mubarak loyalists, in the state controlled media, police force and army. How can you throw dirt on a pure, grassroots uprising of millions of people to overthrow a dictatorship of 30 years and try to build a democracy, improve the economy, and hover above the average of $2 dollars a day of pay. In the end that's what it boils down to, people (Taoist, Buddhist, satanists and whatever) want to eat, want to live, and be treated humanly by the same standards that are held to by america and other developed countries. AND BE FREE.

I am not gonna get into individual story "battles"
All I can say is just a few months ago we saw on CNN police vans plowing through Egyptian civilians like bowling pins. Any Egyptian will tell you that the police and the army of current are the enemy, but as the mother of civilization, they want bloodless change of the 30 year old political/ government structure. Don't worry, like I said, the youth have internet and aren't in a bubble like the old generation. They have been lied to in so many ways by mubaraks regieme for 30 years, it gonna be hard to bullcrap a bullcrapper. The fact remains that crosses in Egypt are everywhere(SPOKE TO MY FRIENDS AND RELATIVES YESTERDAY AND ASKED THEM), and the small groups like wahhabbists or salafists are being used to portray the general Egpytian population, when in reality if they were given their own party they would never win. God Bless America and true Democracy!

Posted by: ramzy wagdy at October 24, 2011 11:26 PM

"Force women to convert." Although that may be true in the country side in egypt, it's not in Cairo where most of the population lives. My cousin had a relationship with a coptic girl, she had to hide him from her life out of fear that they (the church) would send her to a Monastery far away from the city, by force, until she came back to the right path. He really wanted to marry her, but in egypt you don't have that freedom. There are horror stories about muslims trying to marry copts, for in the Quran you are allowed to marry from the people of the book(christians and jews). Families threatening girls with death if they ever married a muslim is very common. I am not jumping on the muslim bandwagon here, I'm filling in the gaps that you may have missed. Gaps that make your article look very one-sided.

DVZ Writes:

Posted by: ramzy wagdy at October 25, 2011 06:25 PM

In your words:"that was a long while ago since your visit to Egypt in 2009" This paper was written in 2009. Secondly, the the third citation using information from Al-ahram news cannot be taken seriously since it is a government owned media company. It's interesting how this newspaper and other kept the Egyptian people is the dark for 30 years. I would leave the US and visit Egypt and read/watch state owned news agencies' articles, and compare them to the news here. It was like something from Orwell's 1984 to say the least. It's always about women when the mid-east is criticized, it plucks a certain sensitive chord in people's hearts.
I waste a lot of time that I should be using to study for class posting on this site, so can you at least please also post what I said earlier in response to the comment about the Jew-hating government bought imam? I don't know why you selected not to post it, but I guess that means I was on the right track with that one, lol.

Posted by: ramzy wagdy at October 26, 2011 06:22 PM

To Ramzy Wagdy

>> So I believe that the Egyptian Coptic have made themselves visible, unlike people of other faiths, ever since Alexander invaded Egypt...

Alexander invaded Egypt more than three centuries before the birth of Christ. Copts are a Christian religious group, and thus could not have existed then.

>> The motive behind creating rifts between the Egyptians must be sinister, since there is never "let's create peace talks between the copts and muslims.

You've got this one right. Egyptian Islamists see widening those rifts as their path to power. Why should they negotiate away their mechanism for acquiring total power?

>> You can tell the level of poverty in an american city by how many churches it has.

Actually, because American churches are built at the expense of their parishioners, and not the government, the number of churches usually reflects the religious diversity of the population.

>> In Israel it is taught to children that not only what used to be Palestine

Do you mean that in the Palestinian Territories children are taught that what has always been the Land of Israel is actually Palestine?

>> If anyone needs to be feared, it is the IDF, with the 4th largest military in the world

Actually, Israel doesn't even have the fourth largest military in the Middle East. Check with the IISS' "The Military Balance"

>> in Cairo where most of the population lives

Let's see: Egypt's population is somewhere between 80-90 million, Cairo has about 20 million, including nearby areas. The math I learned makes that about a quarter, which wasn't what "most" meant the last time I looked it up.

>> in the Quran you are allowed to marry from the people of the book(christians and jews).

Correction, MEN are allowed to marry women from the People of the Book, but women are not allowed to marry men from these faiths since they would then be lost to Islam.

Mr. Wagdy, do you bother to check the facts about the topics on which you write?

Posted by: Ethan at October 26, 2011 06:27 PM

Ramzy: Earlier you stated that it's always about women when the Middle East is criticized. That's a bit hyperbolic, but yes, indeed there is a concern about women's rights in the region. To wit:

Posted by: DVZ at October 29, 2011 12:07 PM

i am from egypt and welcome

Posted by: zaool at October 29, 2011 03:34 PM

When can we put an end to this madness? They are also humans regardless of their faith. Coptic Christians should be given equal rights as the Muslims.

Posted by: Leslie Edmonds(secretstojewelrymaking) at December 16, 2011 07:30 AM

I think the Pyramid of Hate will still continue to ascend not until all Coptic Christians there will be converted or killed. It's sad to know that there are no other options for Christians to express their way of living and their freedom.

Posted by: Craig Egan (jewelry making businessman) at January 13, 2012 12:07 AM

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