My journey began on an EgyptAir flight out of JFK. I was a bit surprised, to say the least, when the in-flight video came on prior to departure and instead of the usual safety video, a picture of a mosque flickered on and a deep-toned recorded voice came on reciting Islamic prayers out of the Koran. I’ve flown on Israeli airline El Al a number of times as well as hundreds of other global and U.S. airline companies, and I have never experienced a Christian prayer or a Jewish prayer on a flight, and could only imagine the reaction of Americans if an airline carrier were to try. Regardless of the policies and logic of other airlines, apparently a Muslim-owned airline feels it fit to assume that all its passengers desire to hear a Muslim prayer, regardless of their faith. The safety video followed and my journey had begun. I was on my way to Cairo and Alexandria to get a feeling of what life was like there for non-Muslims.
The first day, I visited old Cairo. Walking through the alleyways, I visited the many ancient churches there. As I rounded a corner I came upon an old synagogue. Excited to find and learn the experiences of Jews who live there, I entered only to be greatly disappointed and utterly disgusted when I saw the synagogue was filled with hijab-clad Muslim women selling trinkets and postcards inside. It’s a museum that I can only assume the government uses to show its “tolerance.” I overheard the tour guides speaking of how there “were once Jews here,” and I was told that there is only one other synagogue in the city. It makes you wonder if someday there will be regions of America with a museum of the last or second to last synagogue or church. Irritatingly, the Egyptian police refuse to allow anyone to take any photos or video at all of the synagogue either inside or out, and they threatened to take my camera if I questioned their rule.
As I continued through the streets, the afternoon call to prayer began to broadcast from a local mosque, then another mosque, then a third, until the deafening sound of thousands of loudspeakers from mosques all over the city pierced through the air with the call of “Allah akbar” followed by Koranic verses.
I recalled how in several American cities including Dearborn, Michigan, sound ordinances have begun to be overturned to allow this to occur in America. I made my way to meet with a friend who is an activist for human rights in Egypt. He showed me the Egyptian constitution which in article II
As we stepped off the train in Alexandria, a police officer approached and told my Egyptian Coptic friend that he did not have a license to be my guide, desiring a bribe before he would leave us alone. This had not been the first time in the trip that a cop came up looking for money. It seemed every time I took out my camera, a police officer would show up to tell me I couldn’t take any pictures and I would have to pay him a nominal fine. Usually the officer would not be looking for a bribe of more than ten or twenty dollars, and thankfully our guide was able to talk officers out of it the majority of the time.
We went to a local hotel where I turned on the television to see the Statue of Liberty in flames. I changed the channel only to see a video clip of a small child crying with her arms in the air, spliced in with images of U.S. soldiers. The video cut to a bleeding boy lying on the ground — an obvious piece of anti-American propaganda. Interestingly enough, to the right of the boy in the video you could see a U.S. medic helping the injured child, no doubt hurt by Jihadist terrorists, but you certainly wouldn’t know that from the theme of the video.
Our first stop in Alexandria was the Church of St. George, the site of a brutal attack in 2005 where a Muslim in his early 20s entered as a prayer service was finishing. He shouted “Allah akbar” and stabbed a nun in the chest with a knife. Several days after the stabbing, an angry Muslim mob also attacked the church, brandishing sticks and throwing rocks at the Christians. Numerous cars and Christian-owned businesses in the area were torched, and in the end, three people were dead from the violence, all of it being sparked by unsubstantiated reports about a theatrical production that occurred at the church which was rumored to have offended Islam.
I attended a prayer service there, and every 15 seconds over loudspeakers aimed at the church from the mosque next door, the Muslims were yelling at the Christians. “Allah akbar! Allah akbar!” they would yell among other things in an attempt to disrupt the prayer. This was entirely outside of the five daily calls to prayer which come over the same loudspeaker. It was intimidation designed entirely to disrupt Christian prayer, and stopped as soon as everyone left after the service was over. I took a short video of the incident, and posted it on YouTube
I met with many people during my trip, and I learned a great deal about what it is like to live as a minority under Islam. I spoke with a priest who told me how he can see the younger generation of Christians there becoming more and more Islamized. I spoke with a man who told me how his young Christian children are taught in public schools there that they are going to hell if they do not become Muslims. I saw brutal intimidation and oppression, and a life dictated by Islamic law that many Americans don’t realize but are slowly beginning to see. Before we left, our guide showed us his ID card which had a glaring number 2 in the corner. He told me that Christians are required to have that number on their IDs. I asked if Muslims were required to have a number as well. “Yes,” he responded. “Number 1.”
In my visit to Egypt I saw a place rampant with police brutality and corruption, where non-Muslims are second-class citizens at best, who are brutally victimized on a daily basis. All this in a nation which is a popular U.S. tourist spot, and has been the recipient of American aid in excess of $28 billion in the last three decades.
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Jesse Petrilla is the founder of The United American Committee (UAC), a federation of concerned Americans promoting awareness of threats to Homeland Security, primarily focusing on Islamic extremism in America.