Al-Qaeda's threats against the Copts, after the attack against the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad, have come to shed some light on a new direction taken by this organization. Such a direction is not new in its view of Christians and Christianity, but because it involves the intention to move to "Jihad" in Egypt. Al-Qaeda's Islamists and Bin Laden are universalists: they do not distinguish between Christians, and the whole world is a battlefield for Jihad for them. They have waged Jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, and they wage Jihad everywhere to spread the "faith". They have expelled the Christians from history and are now trying to expel them from geography. Arabism for them means only the language, because it is that of the Quran. As for Arab individuals, be they Muslim or Christian, piety is not the measure of their humanity, as Islam teaches, but rather loyalty (slavery) to the group's interpretations, which ban thinking and forbid thought, and in which illusions are mixed with the fatwas of the illiterate.
The humanitarian situation of the two Coptic women had no influence on the decision taken by Al-Qaeda to attack the Baghdad church, except for the fact that they had converted to Islam, if the story turns out to be true. As for the fact, again if the story proves true, that their rights have been infringed, that is the least of Al-Qaeda's concerns. Women, for this organization, whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim, are not human beings who have feelings, emotions, opinions, ambitions and rights. They are sources of shame that must be concealed.
But far from Al-Qaeda's ideology, which allows for the killing of Muslims and non-Muslims for its own political aims wrapped in religion, the organization's threats against the Copts remain an indication that it is moving its operations to Egypt. They are also an assertion of strongly putting forward the issue of the Christians itself in the Arab World, from Sudan to Lebanon, through Egypt and Iraq, in spite of the difference in the size of the issue in each of these countries.
In Sudan, the Christians are seceding from the Muslims in an independent state, and the fate of the Animists there is unknown. It is a state with unclear borders, and in which the conflict is likely to turn into a civil war, which could turn the country back into a base for Al-Qaeda, one out of which the group's "Mujahideen" would move into Somalia and the Horn of Africa, and into Egypt as well.
And if the conflict in Sudan, in form, is taking place between Salva Kiir's Christianity and Omar Al-Bashir's "Sharia", and has the eyes of the Americans focused on its promised oil, the situation of the Copts in Egypt is completely different. Indeed, they are citizens in a stable country and are not asking for secession, despite the voices of some extremists that rise from time to time, and despite the fact that the Americans arouse the issue of their rights every time they want to further blackmail Cairo.
The Christians in Lebanon, and one must not generalize here, view themselves as the founders of the state and the system. It is a system of bases on a sectarian basis. Every time the demographic balance tilts in favor of this or that sect, the balance of power is disturbed and the struggle for posts and positions begins, because the sectarian law guarantees them and protects those who hold them. The fears of this or that sect do not justify past or future wars, as no one in Lebanon prevents this or that believer from practicing their religious rituals or from building their houses of worship.
In the three countries we have mentioned, there is a political struggle wrapped in religion. In Iraq, on the other hand, killing Christians seems a crime devoid of political goals. Indeed, in Mesopotamia, the Christians are not in competition with any other sect, and they have nothing to do with any conflict between Sunnis and Shiites. They have no ambition of being heads of state, despite the fact that it is the right of any person regardless of their sect. They pose no threat to Al-Qaeda's plans. Attacking them cannot be justified, and can only be described as pure terrorism.
The Arab region is heading in a direction opposite to the historical development of nations and peoples. Instead of heading towards nation-states, it is headed towards sect-states, denomination-states or tribe-states. There is no example of such development except for the establishment of Israel on a religious basis, by a resolution from the United Nations, and its current efforts to become a Jewish state. It is the contemporary racist example for demanding that Christians secede, and that Muslims obtain their own state.
Racism and terrorism are spreading, and they find those who justify them, quite often with international cover.
By Mostafa Zein