This notion, that the actions of one affect all, plays out regularly in Egypt. According to Bishop Kyrillos, “every time there is a rumor of a relationship between a Coptic man and a Muslim girl [which is forbidden under Islamic law], the whole Coptic community has to pay the price: ‘It happened in Kom Ahmar (Farshout) where 86 Coptic-owned properties were torched, in Nag Hammadi we were killed and on top of that, they torched 43 homes and shops and now in Al-Nawahed village just because a girl and a boy are walking beside each other in the street, the whole place is destroyed.’”
Worse, as the world continues to shrink, the Muslim world’s indigenous Christians are being conflated with their free coreligionists in the West: perceptions of the latter affect the treatment of the former. Race or geography is no longer important; shared religion makes them all liable for one another. A dhimmi is a dhimmi is a dhimmi.
For example, aside from the Baghdad church massacre, Iraq’s Christians have long been targeted “over their religious ties with the West. … Christians specifically were targeted by Church bombings and assassination attempts owing to a perceived association with the aims and intentions of the occupying forces.” Little wonder more than half of Iraq’s Christian population has emigrated from the country since the U.S. toppled Saddam’s regime.
Historical precedents to this phenomenon are aplenty. Whereas the Copts today are cited as the reason behind the massacre of Iraqi Christians, nearly a millennium ago, Copts were massacred when their western coreligionists — the Crusaders — made inroads into Islam’s domains. Again, the logic was clear: we will punish these Christians, because we can, in response to those Christians.
It should be noted that this approach applies to all non-Muslim groups — Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. — living amidst Muslim majorities. Yet, because Christians are the most visible infidel minority in the Islamic world, most modern examples relate to them. The Copts are especially targeted because they comprise the largest Christian bloc in the Middle East. (Centuries before the Muslim conquests, Egypt was a bedrock of Christianity, and Alexandria arguably equal to Rome in authority. The result is, after centuries of persecution, there is still a viable Christian presence in Egypt — much to the Islamists’ chagrin.)
Treating non-Muslim minorities as hostages can even have international consequences. According to Jewish writer Vera Saeedpour, the Turkish government pressured Israel’s policies, including by threatening “the lives and livelihood of the 18,000 Jews” in Turkey:
In the Spring of 1982 when Jews scheduled an International Conference on Genocide in Tel Aviv, they invited Armenians to participate. Ankara protested. The Israeli Government moved swiftly to get organizers to cancel insisting that the conference as planned would threaten “the humanitarian interest of Jews.” The New York Times explained what “humanitarian interest” meant. Organizers were told by Israeli officials that Turkey meant to sever diplomatic relations and had threatened “the lives and livelihood of the 18,000 Jews” in the country. (NYT 6.3.82 and 6.4.82) To drive home the message, Ankara even sent a delegation of Jews from Istanbul who warned that they could be in jeopardy if the conference included Armenians. Chairman Elie Wlesel was first quoted as saying, “I will not discriminate against the Armenians, I will not humiliate them.” Later, citing threats to the lives of Jews in Turkey, he resigned.
All this is a reminder that yet another aspect of Islamic doctrine and history — to be added to jihad, taqiyya, wala wa bara, etc. — is alive and well in the 21st century. Treating one set of non-Muslims as hostages, to be abused as a form of retaliation to their coreligionists — far or near, singly or collectively — is just another tactic to assume leverage against the infidel.