The White House’s deputy press secretary today downplayed Muslim attacks on Christians in Egypt, joking about the savagery that has left at least six Christians dead.
Press secretary Josh Earnest was asked by Fox News’ correspondent, Ed Henry, if President Barack Obama has a “red line” beyond which he would act against Muslim attacks on Egyptian Christians.
“Well, I didn’t bring my red pen out with me today,” Earnest joked.
After making his joke, Earnest said the administration is “outraged… and concerned” about the Muslim attacks on almost 100 churches, monasteries, orphanages and other marked Christian sites. Many Christians’ shops and homes have also been looted and burned by mobs.
But Earnest didn’t name or criticize the attackers, even though he did charge the military with perpetrating “violence… against peaceful protestors.”
“I can tell you that we have condemned in unambiguous terms all the violence that’s has been perpetrated there in Egypt,” he said.
“We have been concerned and condemned the violence that has been perpetrated by the government against peaceful protestors, and we’re just as outraged and just as concerned about reports that Christian churches have been targeted,” he said.
During the last year, Obama backed the brotherhood-backed elected prime minister, and is now considering whether to strongly push for its return to power.
“The violence in Egypt should come to an end… and that is the way we’re going to facilitate the kind of reconciliation that will allow the interim government to make good on their promise to transition back to a democratically elected civilian government,” Earnest added.
The anti-Christian attacks began shortly after massive public protests prompted the military to remove the president and parliament, all of whom were backed by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The brotherhood’s medium-term goal is the creation of an regional Islamic government, in which women and non-Muslims would have a subordinate legal status.
Christians say the attackers are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, who dislike Christianity and who are angry at the Christians’ support of the military rules.
Also, the attacks may be intended to help the brotherhood portray the struggle as a battle between a Christian-backed military government and the vast majority of Egyptians, who see themselves as observant Muslims.
Only 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million population are Christians, after centuries of apartheid-like official discrimination following the Muslim invasion 1,350 years ago.
Christians allege the government’s soldiers and police — nearly all of whom are Muslim — have done little to protect them from the attacks.