We have seen and recoiled from the horrific footage of Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS in 2015 in Libya and the repeated bombings over the past two decades of Coptic churches in Egypt. We read about the Maspero massacre in 2011, when Egyptian military tanks, deployed to protect peaceful Christian demonstrators, instead rolled over them, crushing many to death. And we continue to receive reports of Coptic girls abducted, compelled to convert to Islam and forced into marriages with Muslims.
Each time there is news of another act of hate-filled violence against the Copts, or other religious minorities, we shudder. When there are attacks against Yazidis in the Fertile Crescent, the Baha’is in Iran and Christians and Ahmadis in Pakistan, we ask how Muslims can affirm these crimes against humanity perpetrated under the banner of Islam.
Apart from condemning the visible/demonstrable bigotry and violence — and from appealing to Western governments for assistance — Muslims opposed to Islamist extremism are at a loss about what needs to be done to hold the governments of Egypt and other Muslim-majority states accountable for their failure to protect their religious minorities from the sectarian violence that is regularly directed at them.
Here, regarding the Copts in Egypt, are a few preliminary observations that might serve as a proposal for how Muslims and non-Muslims, working together, might find a way out of this terrible situation and ensure their mutual survival and peaceful co-existence: