The four centuries of ceaseless warfare between the Byzantine (Eastern-Roman) Empire and the Sassanid Persian Empire in the 6th and 7th centuries had weakened both empires. It was at this unfortunate juncture that the Muslim Arabs pounced on both empires in fourth decade of the 7th century (641 C.E.). After their conquest of the Byzantine provinces of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine (today's Israel), they invaded Egypt in December 641 C.E.
The persecuted Copts were the original inhabitants. Egypt, before the Islamic invasion was not an Arab country. Many of us are under a mistaken impression that Egyptians are Arabs. Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 attacks who led a group of Arabs was an Egyptian. So also was the Cairo born Yasser Arafat, who deceived the world by posing as a Palestinian. Both these scoundrels certainly considered themselves to be Arabs, as do the millions of Egyptians today. But little do they realize that apart from the few Arab invaders who traumatized Byzantine ruled Egypt in the 7th century, none of them are descendants of Bedouin Arabs. They descend from the Pharaohs (Firaun) who built the classic Egyptian civilization along the Nile valley in beautiful cities like Luxor, Memphis, Karnak and Thebes.
Egypt was one of the precious crown jewels of the Eastern-Roman Empire. More importantly, Egypt was also the breadbasket of Rome first and of then Constantinople. It was a fertile land that produced and exported wheat, corn, wine, oil, textiles, glass, cosmetics, and medicinal and chemical products of the time. The population of Egypt made up of Christian Copts was estimated to have been about 9 millions at the time the Arab aggression in 641.
Egypt before the Islamic invasion was not an Arab country
Many of us are under a mistaken impression that Egyptians are Arabs. Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 attacks led a group of Arabs was an Egyptian. So also was the Cairo born Yasser Arafat, who deceived the world by posing as a Palestinian. Both these scoundrels certainly considered themselves to be Arabs, as do the millions of Egyptians today. But little do they realize that apart from the few Arab invaders who traumatized Byzantine ruled Egypt in the 7th century, none of them are descendants of Bedouin Arabs.
They descend from the Pharaohs (Firaun) who built the classic Egyptian civilization along the Nile valley in beautiful cities like Luxor, Memphis, Karnak and Thebes. Their Pharaohs like Ramses, Nefertiti built awe-inspiring Pyramids, that reflected deep mysteries of the universe as many of the pyramids are built to depict star constellations of those days.
The religion of the ancient Egyptians was based on nature-worship, as was that of the pre-Islamic Arabs, the Greco-Romans, Hindus, Mesoamericans, etc.
Pre-Islamic rulers of Egypt after the Pharaohs
From the 6th century B.C.E. up to the 4th century B.C.E. Egypt was under Persian rule of the Achemenian (Hakkamanishiya) dynasty. The Persians were Zoroastrians, but they did not in any way interfere with the religious beliefs of the Egyptians.
A Christian monastery hidden in the hills in Egypt. When the Roman emperor Constantine embraced Christianity in the 4th century did the people of Egypt as subjects of the Roman empire start converting to Christianity. And when the Arab Muslims invaded Egypt, the native Egyptian population was fully Christian, although the ancient religion has influenced Egyptian Christianity and many of the original rituals were being followed by the Egyptians. But when the Arab Muslim stormed in to Egypt, the Christians were subject to fierce persecution, and many of the churches and Basilicas were destroyed and converted into Mosques. Egypt's Coptic Christians had to retreat to the hilly and barren areas to remain safe from being converted to Islam at the pain of death by their Arab Muslim tormentors.
In the 4th century the Persians were displaced in Egypt by the Greeks under Alexander, who built the city of Alexandria on the Nile Delta, to serve as a entry port for the Greeks who came sailing across the Mediterranean.
Even the Greek rule of the Ptolemys next three centuries did not interfere with the religious beliefs of the Egyptians. They continued worshipping their age-old deities, the Sun God, Ra or Amon Ra, Horus, the sky god, who had the head of a hawk, and body of a human and many others. In the 1st century C.E. despite the efforts of Greco-Egyptian rulers like Cleopatra, Egypt became part of the Roman Empire under Julius Ceaser. But even the Romans did not tamper with the religious beliefs of the Egyptians.
So after a procession of invaders the Persians, Greeks, Romans, the religion of the Egyptians remained unique and original. Only when the Roman emperor Constantine embraced Christianity in the 4th century did the people of Egypt as subjects of the Roman empire start converting to Christianity. And when the Arab Muslims invaded Egypt, the native Egyptian population was fully Christian, although the ancient religion has influenced Egyptian Christianity and many of the original rituals were being followed by the Egyptians.
The Greek word Egyptos came from the ancient Egyptian words Ha-Ka-Ptah which translates as "the house" or "temple of the spirit of God Ptah", one of the major ancient Egyptian Gods. The word Copt is also derived from Ka-Ptah. So Coptic simply means Egyptian, however the Muslim population of Egypt now mistakenly calls themselves Arabs. So in contemporary usage, the word Copt or Coptic has come to mean the Christian population of Egypt.
The Egyptians considered themselves to be a Hamitic people, unlike the Arabs who are Semitic. The Hamitic people comprised the Egyptians, Nubians (Sudanese), Abyssinians (Ethiopians), Somalis and Masai (inhabitants of Kenya and Tanzania). The ancient civilization of Egypt is not referred to as the Arabian civilization of ancient Egypt, nor are the pharaohs referred to as Arab kings.
The Arab character was imposed on Egypt only after the Arabs overran Egypt in 641 C.E. It was the Arabs who gave the name Copt to the Egyptians. The word Copt is an English word taken from the Arabic word Gibt or Gypt (derived ultimately from Ka-Ptah). The Arabs after their conquest of Egypt in 641 A.D. called the indigenous population of Egypt as Gypt from the Greek word Egyptos or Egypt. The Greek word Egyptos came from the ancient Egyptian words Ha-Ka-Ptah or the house or temple of the spirit of God Ptah, one of the major ancient Egyptian Gods. The word Copt or Coptic simply means Egyptian, however the Muslim population of Egypt now mistakenly calls themselves Arabs. So in contemporary usage, the word Copt or Coptic has come to mean the Christian population of Egypt.
The Muslim gangster who first tormented the Egyptians
The Muslim gangster who first tormented the Egyptians was Amr bin Al-Aas who overran the Nile valley under the orders of another gangster, (the Caliph) Umar to spread Jihad in Egypt and convert the Kafir Egyptians to Islam. Amr bin Al-Aas who like Umar was also a first generation convert to Islam, had visited Egypt, before his clan, the Bani Sahm of the Quraish tibe had been forced to embrace Islam, when Mohammed-ibn-Abdallah overran Makkah (Mecca) in 630 C.E.
Like the other Quraish chiefs, Amr had bitterly opposed Islam in his early days. In fact he had commanded a Quraish contingent at the battle of Uhud in 630 A.D. and under the leadership of Khalid-ibn-Waleed and had defeated the Muslim gangsters led by Mohammed-ibn-Abdallah (the brigand who led the first band of criminals who became the first Muslims and he their prophet).
But after the fall of Mecca to the Muslims, Amr bin Al-Aas and Khalid-ibn-Waleed rode from Mecca to Madina and there both of them were forcibly converted to Islam. Their conversion was not voluntary, but once they saw that it made good practical sense to join the victorious Muslims, they too joined the band and not just survived but thrived by wholeheartedly using the same techniques of tormenting others looting and raping them and compelling all their victims to embrace Islam. Thereafter Amr like Khalid-ibn-Waleed took part in all the campaigns fought by the Muslim gangsters.
Taqiyya which means deception in Arabic is the cornerstone of Muslim relations with Kafirs (non-Muslims). Muslims are encouraged to deceive Kafirs all along. The technique Taqiyya was consistently used in warfare by Muslims and it was this which gave them victory over non-Muslims in addition to their schizophrenic savagery.
We may note that the ancient civilization of Egypt is not referred to as the Arabian civilization of ancient Egypt, nor are the pharaohs referred to as Arab kings.
The Arab character was imposed only after the Arabs overran Egypt in 641 C.E. It was the Arabs who gave the name Copt to the Egyptians. The word Copt is an English word taken from the Arabic word Gibt or Gypt (derived ultimately from the ancient Egyptian term Ka-Ptah). The Arabs after their conquest of Egypt in 641 A.D. called the indigenous population of Egypt as Gypt from the Greek word Egyptos or Egypt.
The story of Amr - the first Muslim tormentor of Egypt
There is a story that before joining the gang of Muslims, when Amr was still a nature worshipping Arab before being corrupted into a brutal despot by Islam, as a young boy he had traveled once to Palestine with a caravan. One day it was the duty of Amr to shepherd the camels of the caravan in the plain outside Jerusalem. It was a hot day, and as Amr sat under the shade of a tree, he saw a weary traveler come that way. The traveler appeared to be in a bad state because of thirst. Amr placed his water skin at the
disposal of the traveler who drank to his fill. Having quenched his thirst the traveler
lay to rest under a nearby tree and soon he was sleep.
A little later Amr saw a snake crawl out from a hole and proceed to the sleeping
traveler. Amr took out his bow and shot an arrow at the snake which fell dead. After some time the traveler woke to find that a dead snake lay near him. He asked Amr as to what had happened, and Amr told him that he had shot at the snake. Turning to Amr, the traveler said, "You have saved my life twice firstly when I was dying of thirst, and secondly when I was exposed to the danger of the snake". He said that he would pay him an amount equivalent to the blood money for two lives. He stated that he had come to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage from Egypt. This man was no ordinary person, he was Maqauqas the High Priest of the Christian Copts in Egypt. He wanted Amr to accompany him to Egypt where he would pay the blood money. Amr hesitated to visit Egypt but Maqauqas, the Egyptian priest painted such a rosy picture of Egypt that the curiosity of Amr was excited and he ultimately agreed to accompany the Egyptian priest.
Amr and the Egyptian priest traveled to Egypt. Throughout the journey Maqauqas looked after all the needs of Amr. When they reached Alexandria Amr was lodged in a magnificent mansion and treated as a royal guest. Maqauqas, the powerful host of Amr took him to attend the festival at the Hippodrome. One of the rites performed at the festival was the Golden Ball rite. A priest struck a golden ball and sent it flying in the air. The belief was that he in whose sleeve the golden ball landed would be the destroyer of Egypt. When the high priest struck the garden ball every one followed the path of the golden ball with tense expectation. As the ball curved in the air, it landed in the sleeve of Amr. The spectators were dumbstruck. They could not believe that an uncouth Arab from the desert could destroy Egypt. They thought that there had been some mistake somewhere in the shooting of the golden ball.
When the Arab Muslims invaded Egypt, the native Egyptian population was fully Christian, although the ancient religion has influenced Egyptian Christianity and many of the original rituals were being followed by the Egyptians.
Maqauqas, Amr's bewildered host said to him, "I cannot say, but this omen from the gods on high can never be false. Strange are the ways of destiny and who knows some day you may come here again."
The puzzled Amr returned from Egypt loaded with gifts and money. But the episode of the golden ball always remained fresh in the memory of Amr. He often tried to dismiss it as an idle dream, but in his heart of hearts there was a strong conviction that some day he would march to Egypt as its conqueror and destroy all that existed there.
So when Amr became the Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim forces in Syria, he incessantly thought of conquering Egypt and fulfill his desire that had been aroused with what had been prophesied for him. His desire was fulfilled when Umar gave him orders to conquer and devastate this Kufr land. Amr b. Al-Aas immediately left for Egypt with 40,000 soldiers.
Babylon was a city in Byzantine Egypt, not to be confused with ancient Babylon in Mesopotamia. This was the city which the Arabs renamed as Al Fustat and later as Al Qahira (or today's Cairo). The Muslims launched attacks on the fortress of Babylon every now and then, but these were repulsed. For two months the confrontation wore on with the Byzantines sitting tight in their defenses and repulsing the frequent Muslim attacks against the crossings of the ditch that surrounded the city.
In the latter part of December 639 the Muslim army reached Farma on the border of Egypt. It was a fortified town manned by a Byzantine garrison. The Muslims besieged the town. There were sallies and counter sallies with no decisive result. The siege dragged on for two months. Towards the fall of February 640 an assault group led by Useifa-ibn-Wala assaulted the fort at the dead of night. Thereupon the Byzantine resistance collapsed and this outpost city was captured by the Muslims.
The use of subterfuge and foul tactics, made the conquest of Egypt a walkover for the insidious Muslims
After the fall of Farma the Muslims marched to Bilbeis 40 miles from Memphis. Bilbeis was in the Negev desert (on the border of what is Israel today), the Muslims advanced It was a fortified town, and the Muslims besieged it, cutting off the water supply. The siege lasted for a month, and towards the end of March 640 the city
surrendered to the Muslims.
From Bilbeis the Muslims marched to Babylon (a city in Byzantine Egypt, not to be confused with ancient Babylon in Mesopotamia). It was this City of Babylon, the Arabs renamed as Al Fustat and later as Al Qahira (or today's Cairo).
Due to the use of subterfuge and foul tactics, the conquest of Egypt had been a walkover till then. But at Babylon this expectation was belied. Even at the outposts of Babylon, the Muslims had to meet stiff resistance. The siege of Babylon dragged on for seven months. Babylon was a larger and more important city and here stiff resistance was expected. Amr nevertheless persevered and pushed on to the very walls of Babylon.
Babylon was the key city of Egypt. Close to it was Memphis the ancient capital of the Pharaohs. (Modern Cairo is built at the one time site of Babylon). The Muslims arrived before Babylon some time in May 640 C.E.
Babylon was a fortified city, and the Byzantines had prepared it for a siege. Outside the city, a ditch had been dug, and a large force was positioned in the area between the ditch and the city walls. The fort of Babylon was a massive structure 60 ft. high with walls more than 6 ft. thick. The fort was studded with numerous towers and bastions.
As soon as Amr arrived at Babylon, he formed up his force of 4,000 men in assault formation and attacked the Byzantine positions in front of him. This tactic led to some fierce fighting, but the attack was repulsed by the Byzantines. Amr pulled his men back and went into camp near the east bank of the Nile. The Byzantine force in Babylon was six times the strength of the Muslim force, so the Muslims decided to use the easy way out by employing subterfuge.
The Jihadis vandalized this ancient land of Egypt and wiped out Christianity as well as the ancient culture of Egypt - leaving only the massive Pyramids and the Sphinx as mute witnesses. In fact, the Muslims also tried to desecrate these lifeless but awesome monuments but the monuments survived because of their gigantic size, to be the mute witnesses to the barbaric Muslim attack on Christian Coptic Egypt. Except for these monuments, the Muslim did succeed in brutally destroying the glory of ancient Egypt, its language, culture, and religion. A glory that had stood uninterrupted before it was vandalized by these barbarian Bedouins.
The Muslims launched attacks every now and then on the besieged Christian at Babylon, but these were repulsed. For two months the confrontation wore on with the Byzantines sitting tight in their defenses and repulsing the frequent Muslim attacks against the crossings of the ditch. In July, Amr wrote to Umar asking for reinforcements. In August a reinforcement 4,000 strong came from Syria. Thus reinforced the Muslims renewed their attacks with greater force, but still their attacks were not able to make any headway against Byzantine resistance.
In these desultory skirmishes, a good number of Byzantine soldiers were killed, but no dents were made in the defenses of the city. The attacks were called off and Amr again wrote to Umar for more help. Umar raised a force in Madina for dispatch to Egypt. Among those who volunteered to fight on the Egyptian front was Zubeir bin Al-Awwam, a cousin of the accursed Prophet Mohammed.
Umar indeed offered Zubeir the chief command of Egypt. Zubeir did not accept the chief command, but he agreed to go to the help of Amr. So another reinforcement force 4000 strong was dispatched from Madina to Egypt. It comprised four columns each column one thousand strong. The Muslims now renewed their attacks against the Byzantines. In the attack launched by the Muslims some bloodied fighting followed, and some
Byzantine detachments posted in front of the ditch were driven behind the ditch. The main Byzantine defenses however, remained unshaken. Consequently, Amr with Zubeir decided to lift the siege of Babylon and attack the fortress of Heliopolis instead that was lightly defended.
There was a cavalry clash outside the fortress of Heliopolis, and though many Byzantines were killed, the engagement was not decisive. From the Muslim camp Amr and Zubeir dug a tunnel into the fort and slipped some of his hand-picked soldiers and after overpowering the guards opened the gates for the Muslim army to enter. Thereupon the local Byzantine garrison was massacred, and the city was occupied by the Muslims. This reminds us of the tunnels which the Palestinain terrorists of Hamas, Jihad Islami (Islamic Jihad) and Fatah dig in Gaza to smuggle in weapons from Egypt into Gaza to launch terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli civilians. The weapons have changed from swords to suicide vests, but the murderous Muslim mentality has not changed one bit.
The taking of Heliopolis by subterfuge
Ten miles from Babylon was another fortress at Heliopolis. It was the city of the Sun Temple of the Pharaohs. There was the danger that a Byzantine force from Heliopolis might attack the Muslims from the flank while it was engaged with the Byzantine army at Babylon. So with some detachments Amr and Zubeir marched to Heliopolis. There was a cavalry clash outside Heliopolis, and though many Byzantines were killed, the engagement was not decisive. From the Muslim camp Amr and Zubeir dug a tunnel into the fort and slipped some of his hand-picked soldiers and after overpowering the guards opened the gates for the Muslim army to enter.
Thereupon the local Byzantine garrison was massacred, and the city of Heliopolis was occupied by the Muslims after a general slaughter of the unarmed civilian population. This reminds us of the tunnels which the Palestinain terrorists of Hamas, Jihad Islami (Islamic Jihad) and Fatah dig in Gaza to smuggle in weapons from Egypt into Gaza to launch terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli civilians. The weapons have changed from swords to suicide vests, but the murderous Muslim mentality has not changed one bit.
The attempt to take Babylon by drawing the Byzantine army out of the fort using a feigned retreat
From Heliopolis, Amr and Zubeir with their band of gangsters returned to Babylon to press the siege against the Byzantines with greater ferocity. The Byzantines on their part began to sally forth across the ditch and counterattack attack the besieging Muslims.
To break this stalemate the Muslim high command approved a stratagem. The following day when the Byzantines launched the attack the Muslims fell back according to a pre-determined plan. The Byzantines thought that they had overpowered the Muslims. They pressed the attack, and the Muslims continued to withdraw till the a large part of the Byzantine army had crossed outside the ditch. At a signal of Amr, five hundred Muslim horsemen led by Kharija bin Huzafa broke cover and rode out into the rear of the Byzantine army. The main Muslim army now turned back and charged the Byzantines with great violence. Reeling from Muslim blows the Byzantines moved back to be attacked in the rear by Kharija and his men.
The Byzantine forces were now thrown into confusion. Many Byzantines were killed, but the main Byzantine army again managed to cross the ditch and seek shelter inside the walled city. The Byzantines entered the city and shut the gates. But now the area between the ditch and the city came to be occupied by the Muslims and that was a tactical advantage.
The Muslims brought some catapults into action and started hurling boulders inside the city. That caused considerable distress to the Byzantines locked up in the city.
How Muslims used betrayal of personal relations to conduct sham negotiations for spying on the Byzantine garrison
Under desperation the Byzantine General Theodorus appointed Maqauqas the Viceroy of Egypt and the High Priest of the Copts whom Amr had met in his pre-Muslim days in Palestine, and when Amr had given him water when he was dying with thirst and then saved him from snakebite. As such Maqauqas trusted Amr and when he was not a Muslim Amr was also a trustworthy man. But now Islam had changed all that and Amr decided to use his past relations with Maqauqas to use emotional blackmail and capture the strong fort city of Babylon using subterfuge.
Maqauqas asked for Amr to send in his emissaries. These emissaries remained in Babylon two days. During these two days they studied the defenses of the fort from inside. In the guise of emissaries Amr had sent in spies. The Muslim envoys saw Maqauqas, and they offered the Byzantines the usual three alternatives?
- Embrace Islam.
- Surrender and pay Jizya.
- Face a Muslim attack.
The Byzantine guards allowed the Muslim delegation to approach the Gate, as negotiations were in progress under the patronage of Maqauqas the High Priest of the Copts who was a great personal friend of the Muslim Commander Amr.
But this time, once the Muslims approached the Gate and were under Stone canopy above the gate over which stood the ramparts to defend the gate from any assault, the Muslims overpowered the Byzantine delegation which had come out of the fort to negotiate with the Muslims. After slaughtering the Byzantine delegation, the Arabs then set fire to the huge wooden gate and burned it down to attack the fort. Such was the Muslim subterfuge that led to the fall of Babylon to the Muslims. It was on the site of Byzantine Babylon did the marauding Arab Muslims established a camp called Al Fustat that later was renamed Al Qahira or the Cairo of today.
Maqauqas wanted some time to consider the matter and the Muslim envoys returned to their camp. When they returned they were accompanied by some Coptic and Byzantine emissaries who went to the Muslim camp to continue negotiations, but there was no progress as the Muslim stuck to their three alternatives - Islam, Jizya, or war.
The emissaries traversed back and forth for many days. On one such occasion when the Muslims called the Byzantine emissaries to the fortress gate for negotiations. The Byzantine guards allowed the Muslim delegation to approach the fortress gate, as negotiations were in progress under the patronage of Maqauqas the High Priest of the Copts who was a great personal friend of the Muslim Commander Amr.
But this time once the Muslims approached the Gate and were under Stone canopy above the gate over which stood the ramparts to defend the gate from any assault, the Muslims overpowered the Byzantine delegation which had come out of the fort to negotiate with the Muslims. After slaughtering the Byzantine delegation, the Arabs then set fire to the huge wooden gate and burned it down. The Byzantine army inside could not attack them, as the Muslims were standing under the ramparts around the gate, and the Byzantine soldiers were above the ramparts and so could do nothing to put out the fire that had been lit from outside the Gate.
Once the Gate was partially burnt down, the entire Muslim army that lay in wait in their camp rushed towards the burning gate and leapt through the flames into the city. And once the Muslims gained access to the city, the resistance there was fierce. But the unexpected subterfuge had unnerved the Byzantines and their resistance gradually collapsed and the capital city of Byzantine Egypt passed into the hands of the Arab Muslims. Such was the Muslim subterfuge that led to the fall of Babylon to the Muslims. It was on the site of Byzantine Babylon did the marauding Arab Muslims established a camp called Al Fustat that later was renamed Al Qahira or the Cairo of today.
Lessons from the Battle of Babylon for the Americans and Europeans of today
During the negotiations, Maqauqas had offered an amount of 100 diners to each Commander, and one thousand diners to the Caliph. But the Muslim negotiator Ubada scornfully told Maqauqas that the Muslims could not be bought with gold which anyway would all be theirs after they had taken the city by force. He added that if they died in the battle, they would get paradise. This holds a lesson for today's Europeans who think they can buy off Iran and the Muslims by offering them incentives, membership of the WTO, Trade Pacts, etc to make them give up the pursuit of Nuclear Weapons. The Muslims (in Iran) care two hoots for the Trade treaties which the Europeans are offering them, or for membership of the WTO. The Iranians as Muslims cannot be bought (or brought to their senses) by offering them economic prosperity. They will use these negotiations for buying time till the nuclear weapons and delivery systems are ready and then strike at the West, beginning with Israel, i.e. if the Israelis do not destroy the Iranian nukes before that, which we fervently hope the Israelis do.
We also see how the Muslims can stoop to any level of deception to defeat and exterminate the non-Muslims following their Doctrine of Deception and Subterfuge (Taqiya) which is deeply ingrained in the Muslim culture and psyche. The status of the Infidels is well documented in the Qur'an and Hadith.
Deceiving the infidel Kafirs (non-Muslims) by any means to gain an advantage is sanctioned by the Qur'an and supported in the Hadith. Trusting a fundamentalist Muslim is like trusting a Nazi during WWII or a Communist during the Cold War, but only worse as the Muslims are infinitely blood-thirsty as compared with the Commies or the Nazis.
Muslims believe they are under a mandate from some divine allah to kill kafirs (non-Muslims). Islam as theology-inspired terrorism is on a much stronger psychological foundation than just a political philosophy as was Communism or a ultra-Nationalism as was Nazism. So if allow the Muslims to deceive us, they will win and civilization will be lost forever. So in the war on terror, it is our death or that of the Muslims. The choice is clear, and we need to outwit them in the use of Taqiya (also spelt as Tequiya, Taqiya or Taqiyyah).
The capture of Alexandria by deception
When Umar the gangster chieftain whom the Muslims call Khalifah (Caliph), received the report of Amr bin Al-Aas about the conquest of Babylon he advised Amr to wipe out Kufr (non-Muslim religious belief) from Egypt entirely. He ordered Amr to go on to capture the port city of Alexandria (which the Muslims re-named Iskandariya).
When the Muslims appeared before Alexandria in March 641, the city was heavily fortified. There were walls behind walls, and forts within forts. The Byzantine force within the city numbered 50,000 while the strength of the invading Muslim force was over 100,000. There was also no dearth of provisions and food supply in the city. The city had direct access to the sea, and through the sea route help from Constantinople in men and material could come any time. As Amr surveyed the military situation, he felt that Alexandria would be a hard nut to crack. The Byzantines had high stakes in Alexandria, and they were determined to offer stiff resistance to the Muslims as this was the last Byzantine held city in Egypt after the fall of Babylon, Heliopolis, Bilbeis and Farma.
Lessons from the Battle of Babylon for the Americans and Europeans of today
During the negotiations, Maqauqas had offered an amount of 100 diners to each Commander, and one thousand diners to the Caliph. But the Muslim negotiator Ubada scornfully told Maqauqas that the Muslims could not be bought with gold which anyway would all be theirs after they had taken the city by force. He added that if they died in the battle, they would get paradise. This holds a lesson for today's Europeans who think they can buy off Iran and the Muslims by offering them incentives, membership of the WTO, Trade Pacts, etc to make them give up the pursuit of Nuclear Weapons. The Muslims (in Iran) care two hoots for the Trade treaties which the Europeans are offering them, or for membership of the WTO. The Iranians as Muslims cannot be bought (brought to their senses) by offering them economic prosperity. They will use these negotiations for buying time till the nuclear weapons and delivery systems are ready and then strike at the West, beginning with Israel, i.e. if the Israelis do not destroy the Iranian nukes before that.
But despite the strong and skillful defenses of Alexandria, Amr boasted that in spite of the heavy odds the Muslims would be able to conquer the city by using subterfuge. The insidious Muslim brutes accordingly decided to lay siege to the city. The Byzantine Christian defenders mounted catapults on the walls of the city, and these engines pounded the Muslims with boulders to which was tied burning straw and Naphtha (the origins of a weapon fashioned later called Greek Fire). This caused considerable damage to the Muslims and Amr ordered his men back from the advance positions near the walls so that they might be beyond the range of these missiles.
A see-saw war followed. When the Muslims tried to go close to the city they were pounded with missiles.
And when the Muslim retreated away from the Walls of the fort, the Byzantines sallied from the fort to attack, although they were invariably beaten back by the Muslims.
Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor collected a large reinforcement at Constantinople. He intended to sail
at the head of this reinforcement personally to Alexandria. But before he could finalize
the arrangements he died. The reinforcements mustered at Constantinople dispersed, and no significant help came to Alexandria.
The foul move used by Muslims to win a duel and gain freedom when they were trapped by the Byzantines
When the Muslims came to know that the Byzantine emperor had died and that no reinforcement was likely to come to Alexandria they took full advantage of the demoralization among the Byzantine ranks and intensified their attacks. In one of the assaults the Muslims got into one of the towers. Facing a fierce Byzantine counter-attack, the Muslims withdrew. As the Byzantines closed the outer gate, the found to their utter delight that four of the attacking Muslims were trapped inside. These four Muslims descended to an underground chamber but because of the narrowness of the entrance that allowed entry to only one person at a time, it was easily defended by these four men and it was not possible for the Byzantines to descend to the
chamber to capture these Muslims alive. Left to themselves these Muslims would have been starved to death within a few days. Among these four trapped Muslims was Amr that horrid Muslim commander who had betrayed the personal trust placed in him by Maqauqas the Coptic High priest and had used this trust to capture Babylon. As the Byzantines were not aware of the identity of these four Muslims, they took them to be ordinary soldiers of no particular significance.
In a playful mood the Byzantines asked these trapped Muslims to surrender for if they did not do so they would automatically die in the underground cellar within a few days. The Muslims refused to surrender. Whereupon the Byzantines said that they could be exchanged with Byzantine prisoners in the Muslim camp. This was also not agreed to by the trapped Muslims. Thereupon in a chivalrous mood the Byzantines said, "Let us have a duel, one man out of you and one man from us. If your man kills our man all of you can depart. If your man is killed the rest of you will be our captives". To this the Muslims agreed.
Amr wanted to offer himself for the duel, but Masalma a young man of great sinews prevailed upon him that he should let Masalma fight the duel. Amr ultimately agreed. The Byzantines gave a solemn undertaking in accordance with the terms of the agreement they had offered to the trapped Muslims. The Muslims came out of the cellar into the chamber where the duel was to be held. Had the Muslims been in place of the Byzantines, they would have immediately surrounded the enemy prisoners and slaughtered them. But the Byzantines were an honorable people, not dishonorable like the Muslims, so they kept their word.
Accordingly the Byzantine champion stepped forward and he was met by Masalma from the Muslim side. The contest was hard and stiff, and it appeared as if the Byzantine champion would score. But ultimately Masalma through a foul move tugged hard at the armpit hair of the Byzantine champion. At this unexpected foul move, the Byzantine Champion drew back, and seizing this moment, Masalma killed him by stabbing his dagger through the Byzantine champion's heart so hard that the dagger stuck out from his back. In spite of the foul move by Masalma, the Byzantines kept their word. After the duel was over they opened the gate of the tower and let the Muslims go in peace. Little did they know that these four included the Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim force Amr, whom they could have ransomed and used in negotiations, and could still have ultimately killed him. This is what the Muslim would have done, had the shoe been on the other foot!
Use of subterfuge carries the day for the Muslims at Alexandria
After the release of Amr and his band of three Muslims, the stalemate continued. The Muslims intensified their attacks but there was no slackening of the Byzantine resistance. The siege dragged on for six months, and in Madina Umar got impatient. In a letter addressed to Amr the Caliph expressed his concern at the inordinate delay in the completion of the conquest of Egypt.
"When you get this letter, address the Muslim soldiers and urge them to fight. Launch the attack in the early afternoon of a Friday for that is the hour of Allah's blessing.
Amr bin Al-Aas assembled his men, and read to them the letter of Umar. Fiery speeches were made to inspire the Muslims to violent action. It was decided that after the ensuing Friday prayers an all-out assault would be launched on the enemy. Ubada was chosen to carry the standard and launch the assault.
The following Friday after the noon prayers, the Muslims marched to the battle-field with the coffins tied on their heads. They moved forward with the fury of a torrent, but the Byzantines were more than prepared for this. The full onslaught of the Muslim attack was blunted and the Muslims were given a bloody nose. Many Muslims died on that Friday and the attack was a dismal failure. Their accursed allah had refused to oblige the Muslims and that too on a Friday - the Sabbath of the heathen Muslims!
That night there was dejection in the Muslim camp, and there was talk of lifting camp and moving back to Al Fustat (the camp which the Muslim had put up outside the walls of the fallen Byzantine fortress of Babylon). The ferocity of the Byzantine defense had swept aside the Muslim attack. When all seemed lost, a recent Coptic convert to Islam named Abu who was a fisherman, suggested to Amr that he and his friends who could speak the Greek language could go around the bay and early at dawn land their fishing crafts in the harbor.
This was the usual practice of the fishermen who brought in the catch every morning to Alexandria. After landing there, Abu suggested that he and his gang would go to one of the gates and overpower the unsuspecting guards in the twilight of the dawn and open the gate. At a signal from Abu, the Muslim army could then rush inside the city. Amr agreed to this scheme and, unfortunately for the valiant Byzantine defenders, the trick worked. Next day, before the sun rose the city was carried by the Muslims by storm. Over 20,000 Byzantine soldiers were killed and more were taken captive. The rest of the Byzantine army found safety in flight to Constantinople through ships that stood anchored in the port. Some wealthy traders also fled, but many of the lay population remained back and all through the next three days there was a horrendous carnage in the city.
The palaces were stripped bare, the women folk were taken into sex-slavery, the most beautiful one taken into the harems of Amr and his commanders.
Amr reported to his boss Umar:
"We have conquered Alexandria. In this city there are 4,000 palaces, 400 places of entertainment, and
The Muslim soldiers were keen to collect the war spoils and distribute them among themselves. The matter was referred to Umar, who decided that the Muslims could appropriate all the property which was their by the right of might. After all with the Muslim the adage "Might is Right" was to make itself known over and over again in the next fourteen centuries in the ravages they caused all through Africa, Asia and Europe.
The destruction of the Library at Alexandria
Scholars have differed in views on how the ancient library of Alexandria was destroyed. However, recent research by Luciano Canfora concluded that the Arab general Amr at the orders of the Arab Caliph Umar did the heinous deed of destruction of the library. The story of the Arabs destruction of the library indicates that it took them six months to burn the books in about one thousand public baths in Alexandria.
This was a shameful act on part of the unlettered Arabs, whose Islamic mentality told them that no other book need now exist, as the Quran contained all that they needed! This was the justification of the barefooted and lizard-eating Arab Muslims for burning down all libraries, not just in Egypt but also in Syria (Damascus), Persia (where they burned the royal Zoroastrian library at Ctesiphon), Spain, India (where they burned the Buddhist university of Nalanda). The burning of libraries was one of the most heinous of the many Muslim crimes against humanity.
The Jihad against Libya and Tunisia
After the easy campaign of Egypt, the Jihadis moved to Nubia, but there the Nubians used guerilla tactics and utterly exhausted the Muslim army and forced it to retreat from Nubia. This ensured that Southern Sudan and Abyssinia (Ethiopia) remained Christian which is what they are up to the present day. So after the failure of the campaign of Nubia in the south Amr decided to undertake campaigns to the west of Egypt where lay the Byzantine ruled provinces of Libya and Tunisia.
In September 642, Amr led his troops to the west. After one month of marching the Muslim forces reached the city of Pentapolis in Lybia. The country was nominally under the suzerainty of the Byzantines, but they had made no serious arrangements for the defense of the city. The Muslims consequently occupied it without any resistance. The citizens sued for peace, and Amr gave them peace on the usual terms embrace Islam or pay the Jaziya. Consequently, many of the poorer sections of the populace who did not have children to offer to join the Muslim army and who could neither afford to pay the Jaziya, embraced Islam.
The inhuman condition of conscripting Christian children into the Muslim army - Precursors to the Turkish Jannisaries
A peace pact was drawn up at Pentapolis for the people to accept Islam or to pay Jizya. One inhuman condition imposed by Amr on the people was that in lieu of Jizya, it was open to the citizens to sell their children to be converted to Islam and enlisted into the Muslim army. After a series of wars, the Muslim army was getting depleted, especially after the disastrous campaign of Nubia and so Amr sought to make use of this provision to enlist able-bodied teenagers and youngsters into the Muslim army.
Seeing the hopelessness of their situation, many poorer citizens of Penatpolis sent their children into the Muslim army. This way they could avoid paying Jaziya, and their children could bring in booty as Muslim soldiers who would plunder other cities. This was a shameful surrender, but like many Arabs, Persians, Syrians, Egyptians, the Libyans had no better alternative when faced with annihilation and slavery at the hands of Muslims, had they chosen to remain non-Muslim.
This force conscription of non-Muslim youngsters into the Muslim army was a precursor of the practice of the Jannisaries that the Ottoman Turks used against the Christians of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia. The Muslims also renamed the city of Pentapolis as Al Burqa, as they had renamed Babylon as Al Fustat, and later as Al Qahira (Cairo)
How the Muslims used deceit and blackmail to capture the Libyan city of Tripolis (modern Tripoli)
From Al Burqa, Uqba bin Nafe was sent at the head of a column to undertake a campaign against Tripolis. Soon after the Muslim army marched westward from Burqa. They arrived at the walled city of Tripolis in the spring of 643 A.D. there was a Byzantine garrison here and it refused to surrender. The Muslims accordingly laid siege to the city. Amr put his camp on a high ground and blocked all land routes to the city. The city however had free access to the sea, and the passage to the sea could not be blocked by the Muslims as the Muslim army did not have any means of imposing a naval siege.
Muslims use of subterfuge to occupy Tripoli
The Byzantine garrison remained locked up within the fortifications and did not come out into the open. As the siege accordingly dragged on for two months, the Muslims decided to use subterfuge. They opened negotiations with the Christians and offered to lift the siege during the week of Good Friday and the feast of Easter. The Muslims allowed the Christian inhabitants to visit the Cathedral of Mother Mary that was situated on a Hillock outside the walls of the city. The Christian pilgrims were being escorted by only a small contingent Byzantine troops as the pilgrims were to be allowed to proceed unmolested to the Cathedral as per the terms of peace offered to them by the Muslims.
Taking advantage of this nominal and weak security arrangement and the presence of a large number of civilians in the group of pilgrims, the Muslims broke their word as they had originally planned, and seized a number of the Christian pilgrims as hostages. The Muslim captors questioned the pilgrims as to who they were in the hierarchy of the Byzantine nobility. To their dismay, none of the hostages were of high rank, they all came from humble families. The intention of the Muslims was to take hostages from the pilgrims, whom they hoped would be from high ranking families who prayed at the Cathedral to celebrate the feast of Easter every year. However, the Muslims realized that among the hostages were two daughters of a guardsman.
The Muslims promised to give a thousand dinars to each of them, if they could tell the Muslims an easy way into the city. The two patriotic girls pleaded ignorance of any such path. On seeing their obstinacy, the Muslim threatened to kill them along with the other hostages. The siege of the town was resumed once again.
During the daytime, the Muslims tied the two girls to poles outside their camp which was visible from the ramparts of the Fort of Tripoli, taking them inside their camp for the night. This sight was heart-wrenching and after a few days, the Muslims deliberately lowered their guard and let the two girls sleep in a seemingly unguarded tent. After a few days the girls made a predictable attempt to escape. The Muslims who had kept a small contingent hidden from the sight of the girls followed them stealthily and realized that the girls were circumventing the city walls to go across to the beach from where the Muslims saw that their must be some way to enter the city from the seaward side, which was also fully fortified. They saw the girls slip into a channel which went under ground and followed the girls.
This channel was hidden from view by big boulders and so was not visible to a casual visitor. Hence this access into the city had remained unknown all through the two months of siege. Little did the two girls realize that they had unknowingly revealed to the Muslims the secret path into the fortified city!
When the Muslim contingent discovered this passage that provided the city access to the sea they sent for reinforcements and rushed into the city through this passage raising the blood-curdling shouts of 'Allah-o-Akbar.' In the commotion during the dead of the night, the Byzantine guards thought that the entire Muslim army had entered the city. There was panic in the city and some of the Byzantines sought refuge on board the ships that lay anchored in the harbor. The Muslim contingent seized one of the Gates and opened it for the main Muslim army waiting outside to rush in with murderous yells of 'Allah-o-Akbar'.
The Muslims then pressed the attack from outside, after having got into the city. There was blood-chilling slaughter and looting that went on for the entire next day, till Amr called for it to stop, so that an orderly plunder could be organized. The surviving Byzantine garrison fled to the ships and sailed away. Thus the Muslims could capture the city without much resistance. The citizens surrendered and most of them accepted Islam and from then on Tripoli, the capital of Libya, which had till then been a Christian City, established by Romans, became a Muslim city, and remains so till this day.
From Tripoli, Amr sent a column to Sabrata a city forty miles from Tripoli. A feeble resistance was put up and thereafter the city surrendered and agreed to pay Jizya.
Arab and Turkic Dynasties, 640-1798 A.D
After the Muslim occupation of Egypt, several Muslim Arab and Turkic dynasties ruled Egypt from 640 A.D. to 1798 A.D. The French were the first non-Muslim power to enter Egypt. The French were led by Napoleon Bonaparte who defeated the Ottomans rulers and their Mumeluke auxiliaries of Egypt in 1798 A.D. But for an uninterrupted period of 1150 years the Muslims had tyrannized Egypt.
The Muslim Arab dynasties included the Umayyad (660-751 A.D.) and the Abbasids (751-880 A.D.). The Turkic dynasties include the Tolonides (880-904 A.D.) and the Akhsids ( 904-913 A.D.). They were followed by the Fatimites (913-1171 A.D.), a Shiite Arab dynasty. They were followed by Turkic, Ayubides (1171-1250 A.D.), the Mamelukes (1250-1517 A.D.) and the Ottomans (1517-1798 A.D.).
Resistance to Arab Muslim Oppression in Egypt
The Arab's oppression led the Christian Copts to several rebellions, but these rebellions failed to break the yoke of Muslim oppression or achieve independence. The Copts in the eastern Delta fought against the Umayyad oppression in 725 A.D. A large-scale Coptic revolt against the Abbasids took place circa 815 A.D. El Maamoun, the Abbasid Caliph, had to bring in a large army with elephants to conquer the Coptic revolution of 815 A.D. Even as late as 1176 A.D. the Copts of the city of Koptos revolted against the oppression of the Turkic rulers. The policy of heavy taxation, pillage, and violence was also accompanied by forced migration of Copts to other parts of the Islamic Empire, and settlement of Muslim Arabs into Egypt. As a result, many of the Copts were forced into Islam to escape the continued oppression, arbitrary humiliation and heavy taxation. The forced Islamization policy was followed by the Arab Muslim oppressors, and later on also by most of the Mameluks and Ottoman Turkish rulers.
After the Arab Muslim conquest 641 A.D., the Arab rulers primary interest was in exacting the maximum financial gain out of the rich land of Egypt. John of Nikiu in his chronicles indicates that Amr the commander of the first Muslim invasion," increased the taxes to the extent of 22 batr of gold till all the people hid themselves owing to the greatness of the tribulation, and could not find the wherewithal to pay."
The Umayyads followed by the other dynasties instituted heavy taxes including poll tax or Algyzya, tribute and different exactions. At times the Arab rulers found it convenient to throw prominent Copts, e.g. a Bishop, in jail and request ransom to release them. The Umayyad Caliph Suliman ibn abed Almalek reflected this policy, in writing his appointed ruler of Egypt " to milk the camel until it gives no more milk, and until it milks blood".
Though some of the Arab rulers were prudent, most were oppressive, cruel and committed blood-chilling atrocities against the Coptic population. The ultimate policy of the Muslim Arab rulers changed gradually from maximum financial gain to Islamization either through incentives of reduced taxation, or by outright violence and force. Arab and Turkic rulers from different dynasties continued to levy heavy taxation to impoverish the Copts, instituted policies to eradicate the Coptic culture, language, leadership, and initiated violence and pogroms against the Coptic population.
Assault on Coptic Language, Culture, and Monuments
The assault on culture that was initiated by the destruction of the library at Alexandria and continued by the Umayyads who decreed the use the Arabic language instead of Coptic in the governance of Egypt. It took centuries for Arabic to replace Coptic as the spoken language of the land. But the Coptic language continued to be in general use until the 13th century.
Unlike the Persian, Greek and Roman rulers who had maintained and rebuilt some of the ancient Egyptian temples, several Islamic rulers destroyed and pillaged the ancient Egyptian temples and Churches. The marble and porphyry pillars obtained by the destruction of many ancient temples and churches were used to build palaces, mosques, and at times just to leave a trail of destruction. Sultan El Aziz attempted to destroy the great pyramids of Giza circa 1193 A.D. He gathered a large labor force that attempted to destroy the pyramids for eight months. At the end of which, they succeeded in only destroying a part of the casing of the pyramid and made a small breach in one side. Fortunately the great effort needed convinced El Aziz to abandon the destruction of the pyramids!
Resistance to Arab Muslim Oppression in Egypt
The Arab's oppression led the Copts to several rebellions, but these rebellions failed to break the yoke of oppression or achieve independence. The Copts in the eastern Delta fought against the Umayyad oppression in 725 A.D. A large-scale Coptic revolt against the Abbasids took place circa 815 A.D. El Maamoun, the Abbasid Caliph, had to bring in a large army with elephants to conquer the Coptic revolution of 815 A.D. Even as late as 1176 A.D. the Copts of the city of Koptos revolted against the oppression of the Turkic rulers. The policy of heavy taxation, pillage, and violence was also accompanied by forced migration of Copts to other parts of the Islamic Empire, and settlement of Muslim Arabs into Egypt. As a result, many of the Copts were forced into Islam to escape the continued oppression and heavy taxation.
The forced Islamization policy was followed by most of the Arab rulers, and later on also by most of the Mameluks and Ottoman Turkish rulers. Gradually, the population of Muslims increased and that of the Copts decreased. The population of the Copts decreased from nine million at the time of the Arabs conquest 641 A. D. approximately 700,000 at the early 1900's.
Trails and Tribulations of the Copts
Though persecution of the Copts by the Arabs, Mameluks and Turks was the norm rather than the exception, most of these rulers needed the knowledge of the Copts to govern the country and collect taxes. The history of the Islamic era shows a vicious cycle in which the Muslim rulers hired Copts because of their knowledge, skill and honesty to administer the affairs of the government of Egypt. Accordingly, some Copts did well and prospered, to ultimately attract the envy of the Muslim rulers who occasionally changed their minds and expelled the Copts from government jobs, confiscated their property, put them in jail, and at times put them to death.
As the affairs of the government became erratic without the knowledge which only the Copts had, the rulers had to hire the Copts once again on many occasions. Under the rule of the Fatimite dynasty, El Hakem, one of the Muslim rulers was in fact insane. He hired several Copts in his employment, and later he suddenly decided to either to force his Coptic employees into Islam or kill them. Two prominent Copts Fahed ibn Ibrahim, and Yuhana ibn Nagah, were among El Hakem's employees, who accepted death rather than converting to Islam. This happened in 1004 A.D.
But during exceptional and short reigns of moderate rulers, many Copts managed to excel in literature and the arts. Among the famous writers during the Ayubide dynasty, were the Iben Al Asaal brothers. Though the rule of the Mameluks produced many beautiful monuments, they were bloodthirsty and extremely oppressive for the Egyptians Christian Copts.
It is not unusual to read about pogroms launched against the Copts during the Mameluks time. A supposedly devout unknown Fakir, who would instigate a Muslim mob after the Friday Muslim prayers to attack the Copts, their homes and businesses. Usually the pogroms started on Fridays, as they do even today. Imagine people who go to "pray" come out to commit arson and murder!
However, the Mameluks also needed the services of the Copts to run the affairs of the government. Ibrahim Algawhery, a Copt, was the Chief Clerk of the Mameluks Abuel dahab and Ibrahim Bey in 1795 A.D. Effectively he was the prime minister of Egypt. Later on in the early 20th century another prominent Copt Botrous Ghalli became the prime Minister of Egypt under the rule of the British rule. In the recent past another copt with a similar name became the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN). He was Butros, Butros Ghali. But the compulsions of the safety of his compatriots (held hostage) in Muslim ruled Egypt, forced him to take a stand favorable to the Muslims in World affairs.
Modern Era, After the Ottomans
After the French left Egypt, the country returned to the rule of the Ottomans and Mamlukes. An Albanian who was an officer in the Ottoman army, Mohamed Ali, and who had nominally converted to Islam to rise in the hierarchy of the Ottoman army managed to become the ruler of Egypt under the Ottoman Empire 1805 A.D. Mohamed Ali was a smart ruthless ruler. He remembered his Christian roots as an Albanian convert to Islam (as did Mustapha Kemal Pasha of Turkey later in the 20th century). Mohammed Ali managed to massacre the Mamlukes and also get rid of the Ottoman occupation army. He introduced western style education, industry, and new crops. His rule did not care much about religion as much as about competence. He hired a lot of Armenians and Copts to help his government.
He challenged the rule of the Ottoman Empire, but he lost as the European powers stupidly intervened on the behalf of the Ottomans 1845 A.D. Egypt became semi-independent under the Ottomans Empire, then under the British Empire 1882 A.D. and was again ruled by the family of Mohamed Ali through 1952.
A group of army officers led a coup d' etat that ended the rule of King Farouk, the last ruler of the Mohamed Ali family. The coup brought Nasser and his fellow officers to power. He pursued a socialist domestic policy, alliance with Soviet Union, and aggressive conflicts against the West and Israel. Nasser's socialist policies and conflicts with the West resulted in severe economic hardships for Egypt.
After Nasser's death 1970, Sadat assumed the presidency of Egypt. Sadat reversed his predecessor's policy, expelled the Soviet advisors, followed a more pro-western approach, and pursued peace with Israel. After a militant Islamic group assassinated Sadat in 1981, Hosni Mubarak assumed the presidency in Egypt until the present time. President Mubarak continues to follow a pro-western policy, and brokered several peace initiatives in collaboration with the U.S. between the Israel and the Palestinians. Although Mubarak may be outsmarted by the Muslim Brotherhood which is gaining ascendancy in Egypt.
The position of Copts in the 19th and 20th Centuries
The poll tax, Algyzia was finally abolished in 1815 A.D. This gave some relief to the Copts in the 19th century-mid 20th century. This period saw a modest revival and renewal. A Coptic leader, Pope Cyril the 4th, a reformist followed the ancient Egyptian or Coptic tradition of respect for knowledge and learning in the 19th century. He looked to the western knowledge for inspiration. He established two schools with a western schooling system, and imported a new printing press to disseminate information. He started an effort o collect and catalog Coptic music and hymns. The Coptic music has been handed down orally from the days of the ancient Egyptian temples.
It is believed that the Egyptian Government agents poisoned him and he died in 1861 A.D., as they were concerned about his reformist movement. The Copts in the 19th and early 20th century worked together with their Muslim compatriots to achieve independence and democracy in Egypt. They participated in the revolt of 1919 against the British rule after WWI. Several political Coptic leaders participated in the short-lived democratic parliaments in the early to mid 20th century.
World War I resulted in the defeat of the last Islamic Empire, the Ottoman Empire. The last Caliph of the Muslims; the Ottoman Sultan was replaced by a secular president in modern Turkey. Turkey had till recently moved towards being a secular nation, and the impact of a superior western culture and influence was felt in many Muslim countries.
But as a reaction to the developments in Egypt, this a militant fundamentalist Islamic called the Muslim Brotherhood was initiated in 1920's (offshoots of which are the Hamas and Al Qaeda). Other groups also followed, e.g. the society for Muslim Youth, taking inspiration from the Hitler Youth. These movements aimed at resisting the influence of the superior western culture. These movements espoused a more conservative interpretation of Islam, and many of them also espoused violence against the Copts that raged on intermittently for years.
Nasser became President of Egypt shortly after an army coup in 1952. Though Nasser cared mostly about power more than religion, many of his protege's espoused the more fundamentalist Islamic teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Nasser government followed a socialist regime and nationalized most of the private enterprises, which hit the Copts a lot harder as they depended on private businesses for their livelihood. The economic pressures and resurgent discrimination led many Copts to start immigration to countries such as the U.S.A., Canada, and Australia in the 1960's. Active and successful Coptic-Americans live at present at most of the large metropolitan areas of the U.S.A and many other Western countries.
President Sadat was successful in establishing a peace treaty with Israel. However, in his struggle for power against the Nasserite factions, he encouraged the militant Islamic groups in Egypt. In the 1980s, the militant fundamentalist Islamic movement resurgence was accompanied by renewed and escalated assaults on the Copts in Egypt. The Militants instigated several violent episodes against the Copts and western tourists, attacked, sacked and burned churches and Coptic businesses. G. Kepel in his study of Muslim extremism in Egypt indicated that the Militants financed the assassination of President Sadat using gold robbed from Coptic-owned goldsmith stores. The strategy of Sadat to use the Brotherhood, had boomeranged on him!
On the political side, the Islamic Militant groups called for changing the laws from the civil laws to the Islamic code or Sharia. Their claim is that the return to Sharia provides a solution instead of the western approach of democracy and free enterprise. It would return the Islamic countries to the glory of the medieval age Islamic Empires. However, the return to the Islamic code essentially deprives the non-Muslims including the Copts from equal rights as compared with the Muslims and subjects them to formal discrimination. In the 1990's attacks on Churches, property and businesses of the Copts have been on the increase.
Abduction of young Coptic girls and forced Islamization has also increased. Pogroms have been frequent lately. In the early days of the year 2000, a pogrom was initiated by the militants Islamic groups resulted in the murder of about 21 Copts, and the destruction of many Coptic homes, businesses and a Church in the village of Al Kosheh in Southern Egypt. Similar incidents and persecution continues. Even obtaining permits to build or maintain churches is getting a lot more difficult in today's Egypt. The sad irony is that the laws used to mire requests for permits for churches are rooted in the laws of the Ottoman Empire. Though the Ottoman Empire has expired after its defeat in World War I, the Egyptian government bureaucracy spurred by the militants teachings uses the defunct Ottoman law called the Hamayouni decree against the Copts free expression and practice of their religion.
The heritage and legacy of the Copts and their ancestors the ancient Egyptians continue to be manifested all over the world in every day life in the use of the Gregorian calendar, a descendant of the ancient Egyptian solar calendar. The Coptic name of ancient Egypt " Chimie" has lent itself to the modern Chemistry. Ancient Egypt continues to provide inspiration for cotemporary mystics and followers of new age beliefs. Modern artists continue to be inspired by ancient Egypt. In recent years, architects have taken renewed interest in Egypt and the forms of its stylishly pyramid, continue to be applied to many public and commercial buildings.
* For those uninitiated, PBUH expands to Perpetual Battle Upon Hagarism (Islam) - founded by the mass-murderer and pedophile pretender prophet Mohammed-ibn-Abdallah (Yimach Shmo - May his name and memory be obliterated).
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Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest
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Why I Am Not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq
Onward Muslim Soldiers by Robert Spencer
Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by Bat Ye'Or
Islam and Dhimmitude:
Where Civilizations Collide by Bat Yeor
What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, and Commentary by Ibn
Islam and Terrorism: What the Quran Really Teaches About
Christianity, Violence and the Goals of the Islamic Jihad
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The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert
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Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest
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Don't Keep me Silent! One Woman's Escape from the
Chains of Islam
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Christianity And Islam: The Final Clash
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Holiest Wars : Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden
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The Last Trumpet: A Comparative Study in
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Unleashing the beast: How a fanatical
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(Religion and Politics)
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Islam and the Jews: The Unfinished Battle
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The Challenge of Islam to Christians
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Infiltration : How Muslim Spies and Subversives have Penetrated
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Unfortunately for humankind, the end of the death-seeking fiery cult of Islam can only come about through a fiery death-giving weapon. Ironically such nuclear mushroom clouds would be the blazing hell-fire that the Quran talks about and acknowledges will bring about an end to Islam such that there will be no one across the globe to say "Lah ilah il Allah, Mohammed ur Rasoolallah" (There is no god but allah and Mohammed is his prophet).