Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton warns Egypt’s ancient Coptic Christian minority could become increasingly endangered should the protests against Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak drive him from power.
The rioting against the Mubarak regime began on Jan. 25, in the wake of the Jan. 15 overthrow of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, with the publicly stated goals of ousting Mubarak from power and protesting Egypt’s high unemployment and rampant corruption, among other issues.
The rioting claimed the ruling party headquarters Friday and pushed the Mubarak regime to shut down Internet and cell phone communications in an effort to clamp down on opponents, and the regime sent the army into the streets Saturday to confront demonstrators as Cairo fell into near anarchy.
Bolton points out Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which promotes the Islamist ideology employed more violently by Hamas and other terror groups, stands to gain despite being a late comer to the revolt.
“One thing I want to say about all of these young people and all of these university students is what they’re learning in the universities is very similar to what the Muslim Brotherhood preaches,” Bolton said. “So we have to worry about the radicalism among the students is very, very high.”
Consequently, conservatives are mistaken thinking anti-Mubarak forces will replace the current regime with a Western-style democracy because Mubarak represents the lesser of two evils when compared with the opposition, according to Bolton.
“The overthrow of the Mubarak regime will not by any sense of the imagination lead to the advent of Jeffersonian democracy,” Bolton said. “The greater likelihood is a radical, tightly knit organization like the Muslim Brotherhood will take advantage of the chaos and seize power.
“It is really legitimate for the Copts to be worried that instability follow Mubarak’s fall and his replacement with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The Copts, who constitute between 10 and 20 percent of Egypt’s population and whose church traces its founding back to St. Mark the Evangelist, have been increasingly targeted by Islamic extremists in recent years and have suffered intense persecution.