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Egypt: Lessons for American Freedom

Burnt Church in EgyptAfter Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi was recently removed from power in Egypt, Islamic radicals went to work in that country. First came the red graffiti that was splashed on Christian churches, homes and shops. Then came the attacks. Since August 14, at least 47 church buildings and monasteries have been set ablaze or looted, including one Coptic church that had just been built after 13 years of haggling for construction permits. Christian schools, homes, and shops are continuously besieged by Brotherhood supporters who have killed several Christians in recent days as they protest the deposing of their Islamist leader. Up to now the Obama Administration has not condemned the anti-Christian persecution that has swept that country. Congressional response has been muddled: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says that aid to Egypt has been halted because of the riots, but the Pentagon says that is not true. But open discussion about the anti-Christian animus in that nation is regularly avoided.

Regardless of the intransigence of leaders in Washington, private citizens are saying "enough is enough." In the West, an online public petition (protectchristians.com/pc) is calling for national leaders, including President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and British P.M. David Cameron, to demand an end to anti-Christian violence in Egypt.

At the same time, as stark evidence of America's abundance of freedom, Al Jazeera, the Arab media television network based in Qatar, has begun broadcasting this week in the United States after taking over Al Gore's defunct Current channel. The Al Jazeera news operation, long considered to harbor pro-Islamic sympathies, has engendered widely divergent responses here in America. In the Baltimore Sun, Gil Roman has authored articles on the Arab media company that lead with glowing statements like "Why Al Jazeera's purchase of current TV is a good thing for [American] media," and he claims that it will bring "solid journalism" to viewers. On the other end of the spectrum are the detractors. AT&T and Time Warner Cable will omit Al Jazeera from their cable listings, and Israeli news publication Arutz Sheva states this week that the Arab news operation is "widely seen as being biased in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood." The Israeli news source goes on to say that Al Jazeera is a "key agitator in the rebellions that have spread throughout the Arab world in the last two years."

Abundant First Amendment freedoms allow Al Jazeera to prosper within American borders, while at the very same time, on the other side of the world, Arab nations openly persecute Christian minorities. There is a lesson here. Christian communicators in the U.S. have plenty of reasons to fight for religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of the press within our own nation, beginning with the best one of all: to preserve our ability to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But here is one more reason: to role model what true freedom really looks like to the rest of the world. It is a lesson that Egypt desperately needs to learn, and soon.  

By Craig Parshall
Senior Vice President & General Counsel, National Religious Broadcasters
Director, John Milton Project for Free Speech    

Click here to read more articles written by Craig Parshall.

Published: August 22, 2013

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