CRITIQUE OF ALISTAIR BURT’S STATEMENT ON THE RECENT ATTACK ON THE COPTIC CATHEDRAL IN CAIRO
Figure 1: Alistair Burt MP.
Alistair Burt MP is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. The minister is The minister is based in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and is responsible for Middle East and North Africa besides Afghanistan and South Asia, counter terrorism and counter proliferation. On 9 April 2013 he issued a statement titled “Alistair Burt condemns violence outside Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, and calls on all parties in Egypt to respect freedom of religion”. The “violence outside Coptic Cathedral in Cairo” is of course the Islamist violent attack on the St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral, in Abbasseya, Cairo, on 7 April as Copts gathered to attend the funeral service of four Copts who were massacred by Muslims in the village of Khosous, Qaliubiya Province, two days earlier, on 5 April 2013.
Here is Alistair Burt’s statement:
Alistair Burt condemns violence outside Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, and calls on all parties in Egypt to respect freedom of religion.
Reacting to violent clashes that broke out at St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo following a funeral there, Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said:
I strongly condemn the violent clashes that occurred outside Cairo’s St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral on 7 April, leaving at least one person dead and many others injured. I offer my condolences to the families of the victims, and urge all to show restraint. Freedom of religion and belief is a vital component of a democratic society, and it is important that individuals are able to visit their places of worship safely and peacefully, and that security forces act effectively to protect them. We welcome the news that there will be an investigation into the incident.
The reader can easily see the inadequacy of such a statement and its moral weakness. The violence was perpetrated by Muslims against Copts at both Khosous and the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo. But at no place does the minister mentions the Muslim perpetrators or the Coptic victims of the violence. But the most flabbergasting part of the statement is his call: “I … urge all to show restraint.” This could be very amusing had it not been so painful: the “violent clashes”, which had ended a couple of days earlier, were actually, as we have already said, an attack by Muslim Islamists aided by the interior ministry apparatus of police. To ask “all”, meaning the Coptic victims of violence and its Muslim perpetrators, to show restraint is bamboozling – it simply ignores the victim-criminal dynamics of such clashes in Egypt. And lastly, he says, “We welcome the news that there will be an investigation into the incident.” This is good, but have you detected any call for a quick, full, open and independent inquiry? Is there any emphasis from Great Britain that Egypt brings the perpetrators of this violence to justice?
I know Alistair Burt, and I know he is a good man, but he is clearly influenced by political correctness. Further, he must be thinking of the national interests of Britain with the Egyptian government and the Islamists in the Middle East and North Africa – these, admittedly, surpass the importance of the human rights of the 15 million Christian Copts. All this is understandable; however, while the Copts and Christians of the Middle East suffer, in part because of such betrayal policies by the Great Powers, we must question the morality of such policies. There was a time when Great Britain made a great contribution to the emancipation of the Christians in the Middle East: the times of The Right Honourable Stratford Canning, Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe. Not anymore, it seems.