It is one thing for Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi not to be able to prevent surprise Islamic terror attacks against Egypt's Christians, the Copts. But what does one make of the fact that his own government also discriminates against and persecutes Copts?
Most recently, a court sentenced 19 Muslim defendants to a one-year suspended sentence for attacking an unregistered church near Giza last December 22. Then, dozens of Muslim rioters had gathered outside the building; they eventually stormed it and "destroyed the church's contents and assaulted Christians inside."
Based on this sentencing (from a misdemeanor court no less), the defendants are not required to serve prison time unless they get into trouble again. On the other hand, a Coptic Christian defendant was fined 360,000 Egyptian pounds (equivalent to $20,383) for setting up the unlicensed church. The court's logic is that, by using an unregistered building as a church, the entire incident is the Copt's fault—for aggrieving local Muslims. Meanwhile, the well-known fact is that getting a church permit in Egypt is as difficult as getting a mosque permit is easy...Havoc ensues when Copts merely try to renovate a church, while ten mosques are opened every week. In other words, if the government did not make it so difficult for Copts to congregate and worship, Copts would not need to resort to using private homes and unregistered buildings.
This is hardly the first such incident to reflect the Egyptian authorities' flagrant double standards. Muslim uprisings against Copts meeting in private homes or using unregistered buildings to worship are common occurrences. Local officials usually side with the rioters. Last summer, in the village of Kom al-Loufy in Minya, where some 1,600 Copts have for five years been trying to reopen their church, Muslims rampaged through the village, burning Christian homes to the ground, based on a rumor that Copts were using one of their homes as houses of worship.