As if the failure even to acknowledge the existence of genocide happening against Christians in Syria were not enough…
The UK Home Office’s Independent Advisory Group on Country Information has just issued further guidance to staff stating that senior members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood should be considered for asylum in the UK. It states that senior, though not generally more junior, members of the organisation “may be able to show that they are at risk of persecution, including of being held in detention, where they may be at risk of ill-treatment, trial also without due process and disproportionate punishment”.
The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood government of President Muhammad Morsi was overthrown by the military in July 2013 following mass street protests against its arbitrary extension of its own power. In December 2013 the new Egyptian government of President al-Sisi declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organisation and in January 2015 theBrotherhood put out a statement calling for its followers to embrace “jihad” and “martyrdom” in fighting the current regime – a fact which the Home Office guidance acknowledges.
However, what the new Home Office guidance fails to mention is that, since the overthrow of the Morsi regime, Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been mounting violent attacks on Egyptian Christians, who they blame for taking part in anti-government street protests during the time of the Muslim Brotherhood government.
While President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was in power a number of its leaders encouraged their supporters to attack Christians. For example, when a referendum was held on approving the new constitution that made sharia the main source of law, one prominent Muslim Brotherhood preacher told his followers:
“A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church—by Allah, and again, by Allah—if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter [screams of "Allah Akbar!" followed by chants of "With our soul, with our blood, we give to you, O Islam!"] … We say and I say to the Church: Yes, you share this country with us; but there are red lines—and our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Mohammed Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him” [followed by more wild shouts of "Allah Akbar!"]”
When President Morsi’s government was overthrown, that is exactly what many Muslim Brotherhood activists did - took out their anger on Egyptian Christians, with more than 80 Egyptian churches attacked and Christians killed. For example, in Minya up to 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters set fire to churches. This was not a short-lived incident, but a foretaste of what has continued since then. For example, in March last year just after 21 Egyptian Christians had been beheaded by Islamic State in neighbouring Libya, Islamists thought to be Muslim Brotherhood supporters attacked and set fire to a church at Al Our village, the home of 13 of the Christians killed in Libya. Furthermore, only two weeks ago the Head of the Egyptian Coptic church warned of further likely attacks on Christians.
Now consider the fact that there are approximately 20,000 Egyptian Christians in the UK, most of them British citizens. They feel the attacks on Egyptian churches very personally. When the beheadings and attacks on the church in Minya happened last year one Coptic Orthodox priest in London told The Guardian,“We are very scared, some people in my congregation have said they are scared to be in the UK – these people are everywhere.”
So, exactly why is the UK Home Office telling senior members of a foreign extremist organisation with a proven track record of attacking Christians that they can apply for asylum here?