by John Rossomando
August 23, 2013
Hundreds of Egyptians – Christian and Muslim alike – gathered outside the White House Thursday afternoon to call attention to the plight of Coptic Christians and denounce what they see as the Obama administration’s tepid response to a recent spate of church burnings.
“Down, Down with Ikhwan!” they chanted in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Since Egypt’s army cracked down on Muslim Brotherhood protesters, the Islamist group and its supporters have torched dozens of churches and attacked Christians.
Muslim women in hijabs could be seen mingling among their Christian neighbors and joining in the chants.
Protesters later marched to the headquarters of the Washington Post and CNN to express anger at the lack of coverage given to the attacks on Egyptian Christians. Then they went to the Council on American Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) headquarters. Protest organizers consider CAIR to be the Muslim Brotherhood’s “embassy” in Washington.
The sight of hundreds of angry protesters outside its building prompted the Washington Post to lock down its lobby.
Protesters defended the Egyptian military’s decision to forcefully clear out the Muslim Brotherhood protesters staging sit-ins in Cairo, and they chided the Obama administration for condemning the military’s action.
“Egypt right now is dealing with terrorists,” said protester Sherif Mina. “I mean, he’s talking about peaceful demonstrations in Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood. Is it peaceful when you carry machine guns, and artillery weapons – and all these kinds of torture that they’ve done to the Egyptian people, and the neighborhoods that they were sitting in?”
Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged the popular Egyptian belief that the military intervened at the request of the people. But talk of cutting off U.S. aid in the wake of the army’s crackdown – in which hundreds were killed – seems to have reinforced protesters’ perceptions that the Obama administration has sided with the Brotherhood.
Many Egyptians now consider the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization that destroyed the fabric of Egyptian society during its year in power, protesters said. That belief was proven by street protests against President Mohamed Morsi – the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate – which drew an estimated 30 million Egyptians. American foreign policy should back the majority of Egyptians who do not want the Muslim Brotherhood back, protesters said.
They also called for a secular, free and democratic Egypt.
Basic necessities became scarce under Muslim Brotherhood rule, electricity became sporadic, gas lines were common, and poor Egyptians were being hurt by the declining value of the Egyptian Pound by the time 30 million Egyptians took to the streets to say they had enough.
As the army violently clamped down, Islamists turned to Egypt’s Christian minority as easy scapegoats or accused the military of promoting “Islamophobia.” But that didn’t fly with Muslims who joined Thursday’s protest in Washington.