|Egyptian troops shooting as they advance on the Monastery of St. Bishoy|
The Egyptian army blamed the attack on the wall: it shouldn't be there, they maintained, and to support their case against the unarmed monks and workers, they brought in a bulldozer supported by five tanks, armored vehicles, and armed troops to knock it down. As the wall fell, the troops yelled "Allahu Akbar"; as they entered the monastery grounds, Coptic monks, who had been fleeing for their lives, stood and chanted, "Kyrie eleison," an ancient Greek prayer that translates to "Lord, have mercy." Some monks were arrested, and there are reports that the injured were not permitted to be transported to a hospital. The tanks, it should be noted, were paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
|Egyptian soldiers stand over rubble created by tanks and bulldozers|
|Coptic icon of St. Bishoy (320-417 A.D.)|
It is difficult for most Westerners to imagine the monks who venerate St. Bishoy as threats. St. Bishoy, who is known to the Coptic Orthodox faithful as the Star of the Desert, was a fourth-century hermit-monk whose virtues of simplicity, wisdom, self-denial, prayerfulness, and kindness attracted a group of Christian monks who gathered around him and considered him their spiritual father. Tradition holds that Christ appeared to the gentle monk more than once as a stranger to whom Bishoy offered aid. The monks at St. Bishoy have carried on their tradition for 1650 years and, to this day, St. Bishoy's remains are preserved in a chapel at the monastery.
Attacks on the monasteries of St. Macarios of Alexandria and of Saint Paul also have been reported, as well as the demolition of a Coptic church in Tahta. There are reports of torture of priests and monks who have been arrested. A Coptic Orthodox priest recently was stabbed to death by a group of thieves reportedly overheard to be repeating "Allahu Akbar."
It is easy for some Americans to imagine that such reports are inaccurate or that some other motivation besides antagonism toward Christianity by Muslims lies behind these attacks.
When considering those possibilities, it bears keeping in mind that, although 10% of Egypt's population is Christian, 80% of the people who emigrate from Egypt are Christian. That statistic does not argue well for tolerance of Christians in mostly Muslim Egypt.
Hat tip to Atlas Shrugs and Jihad Watch, where cell-phone video of the attack on the Monastery of St. Bishoy is posted.