Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Are Christians being crucified by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?

Christian online news sources have been full of stories for the past few days about the crucifixion of Christians and government opponents by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The earliest version of this story seems to be in a Christian Post article here. All of the articles I have found quote the same article which has since been removed from the Sky news Arabic web site:

Several Middle East news agencies are confirming reports that some of the Muslim Brotherhood operatives have "crucified those opposing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others."

I can't find any corroboration for this story. The Coptic Orthodox Church has no information on this on its official UK news service, another UK Copticnews service or on other Coptic news sources (e.g. www.wataninet.com).

I have found one article rebutting the claim here.

There are also no photos or videos which you would expect given the prevalence of camera phones in the middle east (they even got film of Colonel Gaddafi after his capture and the execution of Saddam Hussein).

On the balance of probabilities - especially given the Copts silence on this when it would strengthen their case - this story is unlikely to be true. It may even have been propagated by Islamists looking to intimidate Coptic Christians in outlying areas of Egypt.

Oddly, the people allegedly crucified were not Christians (as is being reported on Christian discussion boards and Facebook pages) but media opponents of the government. My guess is that the part of the story about media outlets being attacked is true, but the crucifixion part is not.


Update
I have found  a cached copy of the original Sky News Story.
Also evidence of the killing of Coptic Christians in Egypt, but not the crucifixion story.


Update 23rd August 2012
This story is continuing to morph. Here is the latest iteration from the American Centre for Law and Justice from 21st August:
Numerous reports have emerged this week that the radical Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, that now controls the government of Egypt, has begun crucifying Christians in that country.
Even though the original source story does not mention Christians and refers to only one instance of crucifixion.

Read the full article here from 21st August:
http://aclj.org/radical-islam/egypts-christians-grave-danger-muslim-brotherhood-crucifies-opponents

Interestingly, the ACLJ wrote to Hillary Clinton on 22nd August with a slightly reduced claim:
Supporters of the recently installed Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt have begun to publicly crucify opponents of the regime. It appears that secular Egyptians and Coptic Christians are at heightened risk.
Note that they have not included their earlier claim that the brotherhood has "begun crucifying Christians in that country".

The first widely circulated report of this incident seems to come from Worldnet Daily on the 18th August:
http://www.wnd.com/2012/08/arab-spring-run-amok-brotherhood-starts-crucifixions/

A very good article by Jonathan Kay of the Canadian National Post dissecting the spread of the story:
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/08/22/jonathan-kay-how-egypts-crucifixion-hoax-became-a-classic-internet-urban-legend/

Which contains a statement from Sky News Arabia:

Yesterday I contacted the management of Sky News Arabic, and asked them about the crucifixions. According to Fares Ghneim, a Sky communications official, the crucifixion claim “began on social media. It started getting pick-up from there and eventually reached us.”
“Our reporters came across reports of the alleged crucifixions and a story very briefly appeared on the Sky News Arabia website,” he added. “The story — which was taken down within minutes — was based on third-party reports and I am not aware that any of our reporters said or confirmed anything along the lines of what is quoted in the article [by WorldNetDaily] … What’s unclear is where websites in North America got [the] Sky News Arabia bit from. As mentioned [previously], none of our correspondents confirmed this issue or commented on it. Clearly there is an intermediate source the websites got the info from, but as of yet we haven’t been able to identify it.”

And Jonathan Kay's opinion from the same article:
Why do so many people believe this made up story? For the same reason that people believe all urban legends — because they play to some deeply held narrative that resides in our deepest fears. In this case, the narrative is that the Arab Spring is part of an orchestrated Islamist plot to destroy Western civilization (beginning with Israel). Believers in this narrative (who are especially numerous in America’s right-wing Evangelical circles) are so hungry for news items that purport to offer confirmation that they ignore the credibility of the messengers. If they had checked out the credibility of WorldNetDaily, for instance, they would have found that the site’s past “scoops” have included the claim that drinking soy milk makes you gay, and that Barack Obama himself is gay (presumably from aforesaid soy milk).

It should be noted that the ACLJ letter to Hillary Clinton asked for all aid to Egypt to be stopped. This is at the same time as Egypt is negotiating for funds from the IMF and president Mursi is planning a visit to Washington. Its not outwith the bounds of possibility that these stories are being stoked by those opoposed to continuing US involvement in the middle east peace process.


Numerous sources?
One of the common threads of all the reports of this story from the past 48 hours is that they are claiming multipe reports and multiple sources as evidence that the story is true. Take for example this article from American Thinker:
This story is hard to believe but comes to us from multiple sources
Although when you read the multiple sources they direct you to they all quote from the original (and now deleted) Sky News Arabia article with no other sources.

Christian Reaction
Reaction from Christians is starting to boil over. See this video from Paul Begley as an example.

Article by Doug Hagmann from Tuesday 21st April "confirms" that it is Christians who were crucified and and concludes:
Based on the limited facts presented above, and there are many more untold, it should be clear who and what is behind Arab Spring, and the motives of the same. If Obama and his cabal of sycophants continue to promote Arab Spring as a success and tolerate the persecution of Christians, it should be clear what’s in store for the Christians and Jews of America.
The time for Christians and Jews in America and throughout the West to speak up is now. To quote Thomas Mann, “Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.”


Update 24th August
Walid Shoebat - a former Muslim commentator on middle east issues has produced some further evidence which he claims proves the story. You can read his article here.

Here is the eye witness report extracted from his article:
...they propped up a young man and tied him up on a tree.....Yes, this is the incident… I saw a young man was beaten to a pulp while he was hung on the tree… Yes this is what I witnessed … he was a young man less the 21 years old...…women even ran to mosques and men ran after them to attack them in the mosques. No one was spared.”
Whilst "beaten to a pulp while he was hung on the tree" is pretty gruesome it is not a crucifixion, so this eyewitness testimony does not corroborate the crucifixion story as Shoebat claims. There is also no indication that the person was a Christian. People running into mosques for shelter suggests otherwise, but it could go either way.

Update 28th August - Final!
I think this will be my final update on this, but its an interesting one. Following on from my questioning of various bloggers and people circulating the crucifixion story via Twitter I am starting to see a revisionist position being adopted to justify their belief that the story is true. Because the "eye witness" account and photograph do not support the original story they are starting to revise their definition of what constitutes crucifixion. Whilst I had been looking for someone who had actually been nailed to something, they are willing to accept much less. Take this revision by Walid Shoebat of his original article:

Here is the truth of the matter: Kay was right on an assumption he made; no one can produce a Passion of the Christ type crucifixion that occurred outside the Presidential Palace with a Jesus look-alike showing bloody hand marks. That is if one defines crucifixion that nails must be hammered into the hands and the feet. Crucifixion is when a victim is affixed to a tree or a cross by ropes or nails, or some combination thereof. In this case, the evidence is clear; crucifixion by roping victims to trees did happen. [from shoebat.com - underlining added by me]

If this definition is accepted then the available evidence fits this definition and you can declare the crucifixion story as true.

We truly are living in a world of doublespeak.


My take on this
From what I can find the actual incident seems to have been that:
A number of government opponents from a media organisation (probably muslims because the survivors ran into a  mosque for shelter)  were ambushed or kidnapped by an Islamist group and taken to a public place where they were beaten up. This included one 21 year old man being tied to a  tree and beaten.  If the photo in circulation is genuine then one man had a wound to his side. One or more people may have died.
How we got from that information to Christians being crucified outside the presidential palace is the real story. It shows how stories can change as they are spread. Especially where indignation is involved and there is an information vacuum. There may also be a perverse form of wishful thinking by Christians who would view an event like this as evidence that prophecies were coming true and the second coming will be soon.

NB
Let me get this straight: I am not denying that these crucifixions happened. They may have done, but there is currently insufficient information to make that statement. Government opponents are being attacked every day in Egypt (Muslims and Christians). These attacks are being widely reported with plenty of corroboration. The difference with this story is the crucifixion angle, the claim that it was Christians and the lack of corroboration.

23 comments:

  1. You have some good sources, but the first report of this in the Western media came out on the 16th. Check my reply to your comment at my blog.

    To put this in perspective, you may wish to consider the concentration camps where the Nazis eliminated the Jews and the "unfit." Although the Nazis eventually slaughtered millions, not much news escaped. Much the same thing happened with the gulags in the USSR. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn broke that story with a book.

    What is happening in Egypt has yet to even approach the scale of what happened in Germany and the USSR. Hopefully, the Egyptians don't let it.

    Another thought. Crucifixion is showy; it is meant to intimidate. At this point, I don't think the Egyptian government wants anything especially showy.

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  2. During WW2 the media was totally controlled. The British (and presumably US) government were fully aware of the holocaust by 1943 but chose not to share that information with the public. They also kept news of the bombing of the houses of parliament secret for the whole length of the war *the house of commons suffered a direct hit). These days this would be impossible to control because of people's ability to communicate directly with each other. Whether these events in Egypt are true or not, the thing I find most interesting is how the story has morphed from (presumably muslim) media opponents of the governemnt to Christians being martyred just for being Christians. The story has suffered from a game of chinese whispers.

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  3. ACLJ has run this story. I trust them because they are a respectable Law firm and wouldn't want their name clouded over with untruths. Especially to this magnitude.

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  4. Thanks for that info Jo Jo.
    Here is a link to their article:

    http://aclj.org/radical-islam/egypts-christians-grave-danger-muslim-brotherhood-crucifies-opponents

    "Numerous reports have emerged this week that the radical Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, that now controls the government of Egypt, has begun crucifying Christians in that country."

    Interesting how the story has morphed into Christians being crucified from the original report which was of government opponents connected to the media. Also, are coptic orthodox people really Christians? I suspect some of the evangelicals circulating this as evidence of Christians being persecuted would still want to convert them if they turned up at their church on a Sunday.

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  5. Think about that last paragraph in your last comment. Because we are human we all have our own limited point-of-view. Because we have a free will and love ourselves, we tend to think too much of that point-of-view. So we take in everything we see and frame what we see to suit our own agenda.

    With respect to Christians, what is your agenda? I am not certain, but I suspect you are a skeptic and keenly aware of "inconsistencies."

    Inconsistencies. No two people are the same. Therefore, when people share a creed, they share that creed each in their own way.

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  6. I believe that Coptic Orthodox Christians are Christians, but it interests me that evangelicals count orthodox and Catholics as Christians when it suits them (in church growth figures or persecution stories) but if they turned up at their church on a Sunday they would not be considered as Christians.

    I have a thing about hypocritical inconsistency!

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  7. Gordon - Each Christian sect has beliefs that distinguish it from the others. Why do Christian so divide themselves? God allows us to.

    Whether you are a Christian or not I don't know. Nonetheless, I think it safe to say, you think more highly of what you believe than whatever it is you think evangelicals believe. That said, I suspect you would still take the side of evangelicals if some group that rejects religious freedom started persecuting evangelicals. So why do you condemn evangelicals for doing the same thing?

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  8. It doesn't matter which church you attend, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, etc. if your commitment to God is weak, you don't pray and you don't know what your Bible says and you warm a church pew once in awhile to ease your guilt, then you probably have to ask yourself if you are really a Christian after all. I don't know if the photo of the man crucified is a martyred Christian or not, but it sure makes me take a hard look at myself and assess my commitment to Jesus Christ. Am I willing to take up my cross and follow Him?

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  9. Was he crucified though? People seem to believe so in spite of the evidence. Maybe this is an example of faith being about believing without, or in spite of, the evidence.

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  10. Fear and faith don't happen to be the same thing. We don't have faith that Muslims crucified anyone. We fear that they have and they will.

    When people crucify someone, they intend to intimidate those who remain alive. The point is to use cruelty and terror as an object lesson. Therefore, when people crucify their opponents, that tells us much about their character and ethics.

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  11. here is a picture of the man that was beaten....
    https://www.facebook.com/?!/photo.phpfbid=10151005932322077&set=a.188418327076.139759.500

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  12. The above is the picture of the man that was beaten and crucified.

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  13. Citizentom - So you are saying that even if nobody was crucified, we should be fearful that they might have or that they might in the future?

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  14. Listen Sir.

    It's funny how these things showed as legit. CNN even Youtube had a few live feeds. When posting on Facebook, I put up some Satanic photo's, young lady with a bar code 666 on her head. You have to agree that there is a lot of like's and share for Jesus on FB. If a person who BELIEVES in GOD and BELIEVES that Jesus did heal, even if they do believe with a grain of salt the he is the SON of GOD, they are Christians. Christians does not mean they have a rule set in life like no pork on Sunday or no cold beer on a hot day doing yard work. When I man or female or even a child is hammered to a tree, that Sir is the sign saying and a alarm goes off in my head "It has started" It's great your showing this blog, it is great your showing evidences to your understanding on what the news say. Your lacking the deleted videos on youtube, on CNN and many other company's who first produced it that no longer admit they had it in the first place. Someone was crucified, proof was there for a short moment. Online gaming forums and even online in the chat people are saying they are scarred when they live there. I in courage you to download BF3 to your PC along as get yourself the PS3 and add me. I will introduce you to a 17 year old who lives there. Who knows whats up. Come over to facebook and add me and many more and make some friends over there. I'm telling ya it's not a questionable thing. They are being crucified on a dam tree and anything they can be killed on. Look at the USA, there is what? how many petitions asking for help from the USA? yet it's ignored. Even thou we cant stop it cause it's started, its sad to see such a great blog and it truly is! divert it from the truth. To much questions and defining whats truth and not truth here.

    So to answer your question, He was crucified and yes he is not the only person and no people should not be fearful, they should be scared as hell cause it is the end times. You are not going to get any news reports or nothing. Go get it from the people who live there by means of Facebook and online gaming community's.

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  15. rightminds, that picture has been removed as well. so is the account who created it.
    https://www.facebook.com/?!/photo.phpfbid=10151005932322077&set=a.188418327076.139759.500

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  16. Gordon -- I said what I said. What I said explains itself. If you insist upon reading into it something that was not said, that requires a certain kind of faith.

    I noticed you never bothered to respond to my comment here.
    http://www.ecalpemos.org/2012/07/matthew-henry-on-homosexuality.html

    When the facts obviously are not working for you, do you always fall back to ridiculing the credibility of those holding a different view? Sort of makes a serious discussion impossible, doesn't it?

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  17. Great post Gordon! Intriguing, and it says a lot about how we mould information to hear what we want to hear.

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  18. Hi Gordon, Stuart's link led me here and you
    may be interested in my 'Clarification of Crucifion Reports' re your & Jonathan Kay's comments vs original reporter's review. Trust you will find it fair overview.
    [See http://wp.me/p1Y1yB-1TZ]

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  19. From your article:

    Raymond Ibrahim concludes his firm rebuttal as follows:

    All this leads to the most important point. Whereas Kay appears intent on proving that the crucifixions never happened, a close read of my article shows that I never said they did happen. As always, I merely reported and translated what was on the Arabic media; noted that Sky News took its story down; and then offered my own interpretation—including the fact that Muslims have been known to crucify their opponents in the modern era, crucifixions are prescribed by the Koran and Sharia, and an Egyptian parliamentarian recently called for crucifixions to be legalized.

    In light of all the above, I reiterate my original conclusion: “there is little reason to doubt this crucifixion story.

    Indeed, soon after this crucifixion story appeared in the Egyptian media, a disturbing video surfaced from Yemen, of a mutilated man, crucified.

    How long before the usual naysayers try to portray even this video as a “hoax”?"

    (my emphasis added).

    Just because someone was crucified somewhere else does not mean that the original story about Egypt is true. There seems to be a tendency towards wish fulfillment in the way this story has developed.

    He says there is little doubt that the event took place effectively because muslims do this kind of thing. That's not great evidence is it?

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  20. It is easy to look up the definition of crucifixion as being a person tied to a tree or a cross. Jesus was crucified using nails but binding someone to a cross was more commonplace. The method caused slow asphyxiation.

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  21. You are breath of fresh air in a whirlwind of deception. Words have power and the ACLJ intentionally uses words to mislead and deceive Evangelicals and COnservatives who tend toward semantic literalism. God bless you for you objectivity!

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  22. So: This didn't happen?
    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=crucified+chistian+in+egypt+%26+picture&qpvt=crucified+chistian+in+egypt+%26+picture&FORM=IGRE

    Guess your screed is wrong, huh?

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  23. No. You are wrong. That image is not from Egypt and not of this incident. Its also not a crucifixion.

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