Włodzimierz Rędzioch talks with prof. Valentina Colombo about the dramatic events in Egypt

I have recently conducted a few interviews with prof. Valentina Colombo, an Islamic expert from the Roman European University, connected with the so-called ‘Arabian Spring’. A very important statement resulted from our interviews: Islam cannot be compatible with the Western democracy, and, thus – democratic elections serve to Islamic forces only in aiming at the authority, because they do not care about democratization of the country, but only islamization of the society. Last year, on 30 June, as a result of free democraticelections, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood became the president of Egypt. Therefore, my first question concerned this problem.

WŁODZIMIERZ RĘDZIOCH: - Did the scenario of islamization of the country repeat in Egypt after the election of the president Muhammam Mursi?

PROF. VALENTINA COLOMBO: - Unfortunately, during the presidency of Muhammad Mursi, my predictions turned true, both about the restriction of freedom of speech and inability for repairing the Egyptian economy. All this caused much discontent and outrage of people, both of the Muslims and the Christians, which resulted in the fact that in the last months over 25 million people gave their signatures under the petition of the ‘Tamarrod’ (revolt) Movement which demanded the president’s resignation. So, it can be said that in Egypt the secular regime of Hosna Murabak was replaced by a democratically elected Islamic regime of Muhammad Mursi. The ‘Arabian Spring’ turned out to be a big illusion for the Egyptians – after some time people felt its negative consequences: lack of safety in streets, lack of freedom in media, and especially lack of bread at homes. The motto of the Muslim Brotherhood: ‘Islam is a solution’ turned out to be a bitter disappointment. This disappointment caused a situation where most society supports the military forces, because they removed the Islamic ‘dictator’. Unfortunately, it is not understood in Europe or the United States, where there are still talks about the ‘coup’ and there are threats about stopping bringing help to Egypt.

– Can Professor say how the Egyptian society is divided today: military, laymen, the Christians, the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists, extremists with al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya?

– Today the real ‘heroes’ of the society are the Egyptians who came out into streets, in order to support the ‘Tamarrod’ movement. They found an ally in the army which always – as in the case of the overthrow of Mubarak – plays an important role in the breakthrough moments of the history of Egypt. The army is the only real force in the country and can impose its will. The ‘Tamarrod’ movement is constituted of Muslim laymen and the Christians, that is, this part of the Egyptian society, which thinks in civilian terms, and in terms of nationality, not religion. On the other hand – the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists identify themselves with the Islamic religion, and this dependence is their criteria in their evaluating people. The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists are two sides of the same medal: the first ones – apparently more ‘moderate’, the latter ones – more conservative. In fact the recent events showed a real image of supporters of the Brotherhood, an aggressive character of this movement, which does not exclude using radical groups or armed militia in crisis situations. The arson of churches and governmental buildings is an example of what they are able to do when they are moved away from the authority which they have always wanted.

– Fr. Hani Bakhoum, a spokesman of the Catholic Coptic Patriarch, speaks about bad and biased activity of the world media, which distort facts, and, first of all, keep silent about them and trivialise the problem of attacks on the Christians. What can we say on this issue?

– The world media, especially the European and American ones, were trying to conceal the violence of the Muslim Brotherhood towards co-citizens, the Christians and Muslims, in order to make people believe that it is the army which resorts to repression on the global scale. Official appeals of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the person of pope Tawadros II and the Coptic Catholic Church are not usually considered. However, I would like to quote an appeal of a lay person, the chairman of the Foreign Press Association in Cairo: ‘Dear colleagues from the Foreign Press Association in Cairo, I do not want to express my opinion on the domestic conflict in Egypt, but I think it is my duty to make you aware of the fact that our journalistic actions, as well as our life, are more and more at risk. Unfortunately, some of your colleagues fell victims to fatal assassinations – they were not accidental victims of the chaos or gunfire but chosen targets. They were not victims either of policemen or the army, but the so-called peace demonstrators. Today, I escaped death from a sniper’s bullet myself, and the man who was shooting at me was not a policeman at all. It is shocking what acts of violence are committed by ‘protesters’. They attack accidental people, their own country, they attacked public buildings and a bigger number of churches, shops and houses of the Christians. (…). My conscience and career ethics force me to express a definite disapproval towards the fact that the war which is being led by ‘protesters’ against their own country, is quite rarely commented on in a suitable way by journalists’.
All the mentioned messages and appeals say about terrorism clearly and make allegations against the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the West, considering protection of its inner safety, is not courageous enough to proclaim this truth.

– Why did the outrage of the fanatic Muslims focus on the Christians?

– I would specifically say that it is all about the outrage of the Muslim Brotherhood and its followers. The explanation is very simple – movements like the one founded by Hasan al-Banna in 1928, have an ‘excluding’ vision of the world: ‘Who is not with us, is against us’. The Christians (or if they acknowledge their subordinate status) are regarded as enemies, because they are believers of the religion which would be to distort the ‘real religion’, Islam and they are seen as polytheists, because they believe in the Holy Trinity. On these days of the lying propaganda, there are also those who, like Tariq Ramadan the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, say that the attacks on churches were ‘crafted’, in order to show the Muslim Brotherhood in a bad light and justify military actions in this way.

– The Islamists, who consider themselves as ‘real believers’, imprisoned Catholic nuns in the monastery in Beni Suef, and later they set fire to the building (the nuns miraculously escaped the death), they raped women in Sinai, killed a 10-year-old boy, only because he was a Christian, they are still threatening that they will kill the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church Tawadros II, who must live imprisoned in the monastery. These are only a few examples of the ‘activity’ of the Islamists. Why can’t Islam solve the problem of violence, which is even encouraged for?

– Unfortunately, Koran – the text revealed in the 7th century, the ‘fruit’ of the Beduin society – is full of appeals for resorting to violence, which, taken out of the context of that epoch, became very dangerous. Moreover, we should not forget that the Muslim Brotherhood has the following motto: ‘Koran is our constitution, the prophet is our leader, jihad is our road; and death for God is our purpose; and its symbol is the book of Koran with two crossed swords and the word: ‘Prepare’ – it is the beginning of the Koran verse (verse 60, Sura VIII): ‘Prepare’ as much force and riding army against him, as much as you can, which you could use to scare God’s enemy and our enemy’.

– What’s Professor’s opinion on the policy of Western countries towards the Muslim countries in the recent years, that is, the years of the ‘Arabian Spring’? I mean the co-participation in the ‘coup’ of Kadafi in Libya, and at present, the support of Islamic terrorist groups in Syria.

– This is schizophrenic policy, whose aim is only to protect its own economic and domestic interests, and which does not consider real interests of people or minorities of Arabic countries. Therefore, the West is an ally for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia, supports rebels in Syria and condemns only symbolically the persecution of the Christians. It is a very short-sighted and dangerous action, because the Muslim Brotherhood has already planted its roots in Europe and the USA, and now it is blackmailing the West from inside, because when it acknowledges it necessary, it can give the Salafists and jihad a green light for acts of violence and terroristic attacks.

– What is the role of various Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, countries of the Persian Gulf, Iran on the Egyptian chessboard?

– On the Egyptian chessboard, on the side of the army there are: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arabic Emirates, whereas Katar who has always been a follower of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban, supports the Brotherhood also in Egypt. Generally speaking, as a result of Syria crisis, we are witnesses of consolidation of the blocks of Shiites (Shiism – a political religious faction in Islam; the Shiites recognize righteous successors of Mahomet in descendants of the fourth caliph of Ali ibn Abi Taliba, husband of Fatima, the fourth daughter of the prophet; they are persecuted by Orthodox Sunni who are the majority in Islam (see W.R.) - which is constituted by Syria regime, Iran and Hezbollah, which is confronted with the Sunnis. Unfortunately, both the Sunnis and Shiites declared the holy war (jihad) in Syria, therefore, the Syria conflict became international – it involves also rebels coming from Europe – and there is a risk that it will spread to neighbouring Lebanon, over which the phantom of new religious civil war appeared.

– Finally, I would like to ask a question, which has not been answered by anybody in a convincing way so far: Is there anything what we can do here, in Europe, in order to protect our Christian brothers from persecutions in the Muslim countries?

– I think that we have to appeal to authorities and institutions in order to awake their consciences. We must not be afraid of telling the truth and we should unmask what is happening in the Muslim countries. We must not close our eyes to the facts of setting fire to churches and murdering the Christians. We must also make efforts to build a dialogue between the Christians and the Muslims, so that it would help in denouncing all acts of violence, no matter what religion is expressed by the victims. It is not going to be easy, but we must be acting now, when it is not too late yet.


"Niedziela" 35/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: