Growing up on the mean streets of Cairo, I was routinely cursed, spat upon and beaten for being different.
As a native-born Egyptian, I looked like your average kid. Black hair, Mediterranean olive skin. I spoke Arabic with a Cairo accent, just like everybody else. So what was my great offense? Michael, my name. A dead giveaway as a Coptic Christian.
Though it may sound shocking, compared to the brief rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi during 2012-2013, my youth represented the good old days.
While discrimination against Christians has always been present in Egypt, at least during President Mubarak’s rule, he didn’t want Copts to be persecuted. While sometimes he looked away, he mostly punished those who committed major crimes against us. Though Copts make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s more than 80 million people, we always have to watch our backs as if we were alone.
If life was tough under Mubarak, it became an absolute nightmare under Morsi. When the Muslim Brotherhood, a.k.a. “Ikwhan,” took power by the ballot box, thanks in part to the White House role in forcing out Mubarak, it literally became “open season” on Christians.
The Western mainstream media’s honeymoon with President Morsi was short-lived, since it became obvious he was the wolf-in-sheep’s clothing that Copts knew he was. Morsi arrested and tortured his political opponents. And when the Egyptian courts challenged his authority, he declared himself above the law. So much for a peaceful democracy, elected by the people.
And just like the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist roots, nothing changed. They looked away as militants smuggled Iranian rockets and their components from Sudan, northwards through Egypt, and eventually into the Gaza Strip via concrete-hardened tunnel networks. Israelis paid a heavy price last year, with Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, firing 4,000 rockets at them.
Yet while things looked bad, like another hostile theocratic regime named the Islamic Republic of Iran, all was not lost in Egypt. Once millions took to the streets, they ousted Morsi and stopped the reign of terror.
The backlash against Copts was ferocious, with the Ikwhan showing its true colors again. My people were hunted down and killed. Churches were ransacked and burned.
Americans should know this truth — the Ikwhan was founded as a terrorist organization in the 1920s, committed to violently erasing their target of “colonialism” and Western influence from the Middle East. They want to re-establish a Caliphate. Anti-Western, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic hatred was hardwired into the Ikwhan. To them and fellow extremists with the Islamic State, a.k.a. “Daesh” as their Arabic acronym spells out, the Christians and Jews in the Middle East are modern day Crusaders.
It’s why Libya’s affiliate of Daesh captured 21 Coptic Christians and beheaded them. These were not military men, simply laborers trying to earn a living like countless other Egyptians in Libya.
It’s why the Islamic State’s “caliphate” which now rules about a third of Syria and Iraq is waging genocide against Christians and their protectors too. In the video of torching the caged Jordanian Air Force Lieutenant alive, they refer to him as a “crusader pilot.”
While President Obama and the White House can’t even utter the words “radical Islam,” at least some brave Middle Eastern Muslim leaders are correctly identifying the problem.
Egypt’s President Al-Sissi courageously lectured Egypt’s religious leaders that there is a problem within the Islamic practice and interpretations. In order to stop terrorism, Islam needs a revolution from within, he said. Bahrain’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Salman also called out political Islam. And Jordan’s King Abdullah II was right when he said the Islamic State is at war with “civilization.”
So why doesn’t President Obama even acknowledge the obvious? I’ll let Americans debate that and reach their own conclusions. I personally moved to America to enjoy equal opportunities, human rights, freedom and the values that make this country great. Unfortunately, the U.S. image has worsened in the Middle East after Washington leaders backed the Muslim Brotherhood and are still giving Al-Sissi’s government such a hard time. Even as it faces a threat to its existence from terrorists.
I ask the Obama administration to please stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and beyond. And stop being so soft on political Islam and their supporters. If they only spent a fraction of the time focused on protecting human rights of Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Middle East now being slaughtered, compared to their concern for Gitmo detainees who are committed to killing us, the world would be a better place.
And lastly, if the White House can’t help protect religious tolerance and promote gender equality in Egypt, both Americans and Egyptians should ask them to stay out. We would be better off without them.
Dr. Michael Morgan is an Egyptian Coptic Christian doctor, born and raised in Egypt, and now based in New York. He is the founder and host of “American Pulse TV” a weekly program that airs on Saturday nights on Egypt’s Al Kahera Wal Nas Network.