Westerners may debate how moderate Egypt’s Islamists are, but for Copts the questioning is futile. Their options are limited. While Copts are the largest Christian community in the Middle East, they’re too small to play a role in deciding the fate of the country. They are not geographically concentrated in one area that could become a safe zone. The only option is to leave, putting an end to 2,000 years of Christianity in Egypt.
The sad truth is that not all will be able to flee. Those with money, English skills and the like will get out. Their poorer brethren will be left behind.
What can be done to save them? Egypt receives $1.5 billion in U.S. aid each year, and Washington has various means to make Egypt’s new leaders listen. Islamist attempts to enshrine second-class status for Copts in Egypt’s new constitution should be stopped. Outsiders should also keep an eye on Muslim Brotherhood politicians who are planning to take control of Coptic Church finances. At a minimum, donors should demand that attacks on Copts be met with punishment as well as condemnation.
Yet looking at the faces of the new immigrants in my Fairfax, Va., church, I cannot escape the feeling that it is too late.