“Islam is a political doctrine, not a religion, and America needs to speak out to make sure that Cairo does not turn into another Tehran.”
That is the warning recently delivered by Egyptian-born Cynthia Farahat, 31, the advocacy director at Coptic Solidarity, co-founder of the Liberal Egyptian Party (which merged with the Egyptian Democratic Party to form the Egyptian Social Democratic Party in March 2011), and senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy.
Speaking on the state of Coptic Christians and other Egyptian minorities to an overflow audience of Christians and Jews at the Jewish Center of the Hamptons in East Hampton, NY, Farahat said that since Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power in 1952, Christians, like Jews, have been considered “enemies of the state.”
Moreover, when Egypt ceased to be a secular state in 1971, non-Muslims were no longer considered full citizens under Sharia law. With the recent election of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power, “Copts don’t have a chance, and the Brotherhood’s war against us is going to get much worse,” Farahat said.
As proof, she cited that the Brotherhood is currently distributing leaflets “urging good Muslims to kill Christians.” When asked about the condition of Egypt’s tiny Jewish community, she said that they have suffered severe anti-Semitism for more than a half century but are currently “on the bottom of the list” and not a high-priority target.
The same cannot be said about Egypt’s relationship to Israel, however. Farahat believes that Morsi “will not move against Israel at this time because his army is not strong enough.”
“However, if the U.S. continues to arm Egypt, they will make a move; those American weapons will be targeted at Israel and there will be a bloody war,” she said.
Farahat and her associates began their fight against jihadism after 9/11. They initially formed an online community dedicated to working for “intellectual and ideological change in Egypt” and became an organized political party in 2003 with the support of Mohsen Lotfi El-Sayed, grandson of the founder of Egypt’s modern liberalism. While their fight was initially against the Mubarak regime, they—like the young professionals and others who rose up during the “Arab Spring”—discovered that they had little leverage, and are now deeply disappointed. They consider the newly elected regime of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood to be equally repressive.
According to Farahat, “the Muslim Brotherhood will stay in power as long as it gets foreign support. The Egyptian people no longer see Israel as the enemy; rather they see their own government as the enemy and consider Morsi a terrorist,” she said.
And while Farahat and her associates look to the United States to place Egypt on a list of terrorist states, she does not believe that the American embassy in Cairo fully understands the current situation and believes it is “infiltrated by the Egyptian secret state police.” Consequently, “the message the Egyptian people get is that you can do anything and still get paid by the United States.”
Farahat was born in Cairo in 1980 and received her education there. She came to the U.S. in November 2011 on a tourist visa at the invitation of Daniel Pipes, founder and director of the Middle East Forum and a well-known author and lecturer with whom she had been in contact by means of the Internet. She has since applied for asylum in the U.S. due to her activism on behalf of Christians in Egypt. Her writing has been published in the National Review, Middle East Quarterly and in several other publications in English and Arabic, and she has also testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. She is a recipient of the “Rays of Life Award” from the Endowment for Middle East Truth.
Since her arrival in the U.S., Farahat says her greatest allies have been in the Jewish community and among secular Muslims. She has a dark view of the future, saying, “I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. The Muslim Brotherhood is becoming friends with Iran. The U.S. must stop Iran unless the world wants a Muslim Brotherhood [domination].”