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Christianity Attacked At Holiest Celebrations
By Piers Akerman

The aftermath of the suicide bombing attack on St. George Church in Tanta, Egypt on Palm Sunday. ( AP/Nariman El-Mofty)
Christians the world over rejoice in Easter as the commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus, the core occurrence in their religion.

The secular, meanwhile, enjoy chocolates.

Some Muslim leaders ­entreat their followers not to eat chocolate and to ignore the Christian celebration. Other Muslims set out to murder Christians as they celebrate the holiest of their holy days.

This is no way for humans to act but the secular world and the Islamic world pay little ­attention to regular massacres of Christians.

Last weekend, on Palm Sunday, suicide bombers targeted members of the Coptic faith in Egypt. The murderous maniacs attacked churches in Tanta and Alexandria, killing 44 and wounding scores more.

The attacker in Tanta slipped into the front pews of the church before detonating his charges and turning the joyous scene into a charnel house. In Alexandria, the bomber blew himself up at the gates of St Mark's Cathedral as the Coptic patriarch, Pope ­Tawadros II, led believers in the Palm Sunday service.

It is difficult not to feel an even deeper ­despondency about these ­attacks, as horrific as the slaughter of Christians elsewhere continues to be.

The Copts maintain one of the oldest forms of Christian practice surviving. Tradition has it that St Mark brought Christianity to Egypt in about 42AD, and established it in ­Alexandria. The Greeks, when they arrived, called all Egyptians Copts, and the Egyptian language was known as Coptic.

The church founded by St Mark in Alexandria was core to Christianity. The Nicene Creed, the simple statement of belief recited by Christians, was formulated by a council in 325AD led by the Patriarch of Alexandria, St Alexander, and one of those most prominent in the procedures was the future Patriarch, St Athanasias.

Alexandria had housed the greatest library in the ancient world before it was burnt by the Romans in pre-Christian days. Historians say the fire may have spread accidentally from ships in the harbour. The library was rebuilt and the city retained its reputation as one of the most cosmopolitan seats of civilisation in the world.

Egypt became a Christian ­nation, not through invasion, but through persuasion.

That changed with the Arab invasion 600 years after St Mark's arrival. In 642AD, Caliph Omar promptly ordered the burning of the papyrus books and records in the ­rebuilt library.

It is held that he told a general: "If those books are in agreement with the Koran, we have no need of them, and if these are opposed to the Koran, destroy them."

The destruction of knowledge, beauty and culture was ­deliberate -- as deliberate as the most recent destruction of the ancient monuments and temples in Palmyra in Syria by ISIS and the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan.

The murder of Copts at worship in their Christian churches in Egypt got a brief flurry of attention but the narrative ignored the history.

The Copts predated the ­Islamic Arabs in Egypt. The Copts were a force for good, for civilisation, for decency and civilisation. Islam, notwithstanding those Muslims paraded by the ABC as paragons of enlightenment, has shown itself to be medieval.

Laughably, and with perfect timing, a moronic Muslim ABC presenter proclaimed her religion to be a haven for feminists even as a clutch of her ­hijabed sisters endorsed the Koranic prescription for male domination -- just give the ­recalcitrant wife a few gentle lashes when all else fails.

The secularist sisterhood belatedly breathed some sotto voce tut-tutting, but no one it seems wants to get into the guts of the matter and actually read aloud the Koranic verses and hadiths with the condemnation they deserve.

Had the Reverend Fred Nile or any other Christian leader advised young husbands to belt their wives ­occasionally, the ABC would have been in a meltdown.

The West has for too long believed it is too civilised to comment on Islamic atrocities. Their faith, their problem. A matter of taste, perhaps, like chocolate or murder at Easter.

But while the Shia-Sunni ­rivalry has played out barbarously since the death of ­Mohammed, the brutality of Islam has actually always been a problem for non-Muslims.

The Koran is full of hatred, let's be honest. It is no New Testament. There is no forgiveness. There is submission -- or death. Aayan Hirsi Ali is correct.

She knows Islam and left that religion -- a sin for which she is now under a permanent fatwa. She has to live with around-the-clock protection.

The late cartoonist Bill Leak also had to live with protection after his life was threatened by Islamic zealots when he drew a caricature of ­Mohammed. He understood the threat was real; the corpses of the staff at Charlie Hebdo were testament to the will of those who claimed the religion of peace as their faith.

Yusuf Islam, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, once endorsed the fatwas calling for the death of the author Salman Rushdie because of his prize-winning work Satanic Verses. The singer later ­explained he was only stating that blasphemy is a capital offence according to the Koran.

He gets a singing tour of Australia. Hirsi Ali cannot speak here because of well-founded security concerns.

There is something deeply wrong with this equation -- not that Yusuf should be subjected to anything but his ageing fans.

Yet as the Copts have known since the Arabs arrived in Egypt, and as the Swedes, Dutch, Belgian, French, British and the Americans know, safety cannot be guaranteed anywhere while Islam is held to be the only true faith.


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