Mubarak the Peacemaker?

Today, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian dictator, will arrive in Washington, D.C. for the purpose of participating in the Middle East Peace Summit planned by U.S. President Barack Obama. There he will discuss the Palestinian-Israeli issue, along with Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leader Abbas.

According to the Egyptian media, Mubarak will be giving a speech aiming to explain Egypt's interest, along with all other Arab countries from the area, in promoting serious peace talks between the Arabs and Israelis. The prospect of Mr. Mubarak sitting down to broker or somehow facilitate peace between the Arabs living in Gaza and the state of Israel is laughable. Despite the signed peace treaty of 1979 between Egypt and Israel, during his twenty-nine years ruling Egypt, Mr. Mubarak has never once paid a visit to his neighbor, Israel, because he does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of their country.

Within Mubarak's country, Arab-Muslim leaders and Egyptian media commonly refer to their Israeli neighbors as Kafirs (unbelievers), and everyone in the West by now knows the ramifications of being a Kafir in the eyes of Islam. This alone is enough to question Mr. Mubarak's integrity and intentions as he sits down at the table in Washington this coming week.

But if his attitude alone isn't proof enough that he is just playing a phony peacemaker game here in his current visit to America, look at Mubarak's record until now. As peacemaker, he allows the excavation of at least four hundred tunnels between the Egyptian borders in Sinai through Gaza. The purpose of the tunnels is to smuggle weapons to terrorists who fight against the only democratic country in the region. Does Mubarak expect the West to actually believe he does not know about these gun runs, or does he believe his brand of peacekeeping is perfectly acceptable to us? The West doesn't seem to mind either way because we are convinced that Egypt is a free and peaceful society aspiring to live among other democratic nations.

In the last couple of weeks, Egyptian, Israeli, and some Western media have reported that the Egyptian police arrested a few terrorists in Sinai launching missiles at an Israeli port. Within a few days of that arrest, the Egyptian police seized war weapons en route to Gaza. In the entire twenty-nine years of Mubarak's rule, there has never been even one arrest or weapons seizure prior to these recent actions. On the eve of his visit to Washington, this allows Mr. Mubarak to go to Washington as a hero. He can now report his strong record of halting terrorist activity. It is up to us to know that this is the Arab mentality at work creating propaganda for the West; it is certainly not longevity of conviction to stop terrorism and not a reversal of policy after years of complacency. 

Allow me, Mr. Mubarak, to ask a question of you. I promise to keep your answer confidential. What are you planning to do with those arrested, the so-called Fydaeen? There is no news concerning any trial -- are you planning to free them when you return from Washington, or are they already free?       

If this isn't enough argument for Mubarak as peace-faker, shall we look at how this prompter of peace keeps peace within his own borders, where the so-called government overlooks the trend in minority killings and unsolved murders as they relate to the non-Muslim minority? The country's economy is supported by Western aid and is managed with a fascist Wahhabi-type police system. Shall we in the West ignore all this as Mr. Mubarak contributes his thoughts to these very important peace talks this week?

What about the Coptic minority population of Egypt, whose members begs for fairness under the law but find themselves instead needing protection from it? Mubarak would have the West believe that the repeated acts of violence against this minority group are merely accidental or random when there is a very clear pattern of abuse, and because the Mubarak regime does nothing to stop this, the regime is complicit. If Mubarak is in fact, as he himself has claimed, the president of all Egyptians, then he is indeed the protector of all violence against Copts. 

Copts, for example, appealed to Mubarak on various occasions, looking for protection and fair treatment, but this president of all Egyptians chose to follow his law of the desert, Arab-Islamic law, and use it against them. The following is just a sampling of what has occurred in recent times:

  • 1990: Six Copts were murdered and fifty wounded (Manfaut-Upper Egypt) -- Burning of Coptic agriculture land due to rumors of Copts' intention to build a church (Bolak El Dakror, Cairo) -- Attack on Copts (Abu Matamer-Behera, North of Cairo), where six Copts, including one priest were killed, with various injured.
  • 1991: Thirteen Copts were killed by Muslims mobs in Imbaba - Cairo.
  • 1992: Fourteen Copts were massacred in El Manshia - Assyout, Upper Egypt.
  • 1994: Islamic attack on the Virgin Mary Monastery (Al Kossia), where five monks were killed with machine guns.
  • 1997: Nine Copts were massacred in front of St. George Church in Abu Kurkas, Upper Egypt -- thirteen Copts killed and other six wounded in Takla town - Bahgura, Upper Egypt.
  • 1998: Two Copts were killed in Kosheh 1; the aggressors took their bodies out of the town. This attack was followed by a second one known as Kosheh II, where Muslim mobs attacked Copts leaving their church on Sunday New Year 2000, killing nineteen, burning Copts homes and businesses, and looting Copts' belongings.
  • 2002: Muslims attacked St. Mary Church in El Menea, Upper Egypt.
  • 2003: A Coptic woman was murdered with a police gun.
  • 2005: Attack by Muslims in various Coptic churches in Alexandria; same attacks occurred in 2006 -- the assassination of a Coptic attorney and the throwing of his body from a window.
  • 2006: Forcing fifteen Coptic families to leave their homes and business in Kena, Upper Egypt.

The entire list is too numerous to include here. I chose a few facts in a few years to illustrate the point that Mubarak, who is the leader of a supposedly civil country, is very definitely allowing this destructive trend involving massacres of a portion of his citizenry to continue. Shall we now take him seriously as he comes to Washington offering his mediation to generate peace?

This year, once again, Mubarak will come to Washington masquerading as a genuine peace-loving leader of a real democratic republic who seeks to keep peace within his own borders and beyond using principles of fairness and equality, freedom of speech, and especially freedom of religion. The Western leadership reaches out and warmly receives him -- like-minded statesmen, one to another. How long will we allow this charade to go on?

Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization working to free the oppressed and persecuted Coptic Christians of Egypt. Dr. Ramelah is a Copt who was born and raised in Egypt.
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