The New Year's Eve suicide bombing at an Egyptian Coptic church that killed 21 people is stoking fears of a new onslaught against Christians by radical Islamists. In response, some radical Islamists are turning to their great boogeyman to deflect attention — the Zionists.
"Mossad behind Egypt church blast," Iran's official television outlet, Press TV, said in a headline Sunday. All the evidence points to a Zionist plot, the article said.
First, "it goes without saying that no Muslim, whatever their political leanings may be, will ever commit such an inhumane act." In addition, Press TV reported that "the fresh plot by terrorists to target churches is an organized Zionist scenario aimed at creating a rift between Muslims and Christians."
Christians are expressing fear the attack marks a widening of attacks by radical Islamists, attacks which have increased dramatically in Iraq. Dozens of people were killed after terrorists took more than 120 Christians hostage in a Baghdad Catholic church in late October.
Egyptian authorities are investigating a radical Salafi Sunni group in Alexandria, London's Telegraph reports. The story notes that al-Qaida in Iraq issued a statement two weeks ago encouraging attacks on Copts. The targeted church appeared on a list of 50 Coptic churches in Egypt and Europe published a month ago by Shumukh al-Islam, a group tied to al-Qaida.
Al-Qaida threats against Christians have spread as far as Canada.
Rather than address the threat directly and offer assistance to stem it, Islamists are building their scapegoat. The rhetoric can't be dismissed as solely the rantings of crazy Iranian mullahs.
A Muslim Brotherhood official, an Egyptian lawyers group, and Lebanon's grand mufti have all said the same thing, though they offer varying motives.
"The Mossad carried out the operation in a natural reaction to the latest uncovering of an Israeli espionage network," the lawyers group said
during a rally for the attack's victims sponsored by the Egyptian Bar Association.
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Shura Council in Egypt condemned the attack, calling it an evil action. Moneim Aboul al Fattouh Abdel said it could not have been done by Egyptians, though he allowed the perpetrator might be the Mossad
or someone else of trying to sabotage Egypt.
"This assault . . . is not an individual internal Egyptian act, but a criminal act with Zionist . . . finger prints that want to sow hatred among Muslims and Coptic Christians," said Lebanon's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani.
The Brotherhood's English-language website summarized an interview spokesman Mohamed Morsy gave Al-Jazeera.
In it, he cast the attacks as an attempt to undermine Egyptian unity, questioning whether Israel wants to undermine that. "In whose benefit and major interest is it to destabilize Egypt's stability and safety?" he asked.
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