Editor’s note: Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a director at the New America Foundation and the author of “Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden — From 9/11 to Abbottabad.” Jennifer Rowland is a program associate at the New America Foundation.
(CNN) — There have been Christians in the Middle East since the time of, well, Christ.
Now that two millennium-long history could be in danger.
Islamist thugs have attacked dozens of churches across Egypt in the past few days, burning many of them down.
The attacks seemed to be protests against the brutal military government crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood that killed many hundreds of Egyptian Islamists over the past week.
Pope Tawadros II, the leader of Egypt’s Christian Copts, met publicly with top military officers as they announced the coup that removed President Mohamed Morsy and his Muslim Brotherhood government from power in early July.
Christians, who make up 10% of the population, and other minorities had complained that a new constitution that had been passed by the Morsy government infringed on their rights.
For some Islamist militants, now it’s payback time. According to one report, 52 churches across Egypt were attacked in 24 hours last week. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has counted at least 30 churches attacked, along with other Christian facilities.