Some say that Muslims should have in Christian countries what they give to Christians in Islamic countries: should we become dogs when we deal with dogs?

I think we’d better treat Muslims according to our character — with just this difference, not on what we should do, but on what they should demand.

Muslims who live in Christian countries, no matter if they are treated right or wrong, have no right to ask for more than what they offer to Christians in Muslim countries. Even if we give them more than what they deserve, they cannot demand this treatment, they cannot accuse us if they don’t find this treatment in our countries.

This I’m thinking while I read the following news about the Copts in Egypt (Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post, excerpts, edited by EB):

Attacks this summer on monks and shopkeepers belonging to Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, and scattered clashes between Muslims and Christians, have compelled many of Egypt’s estimated 6 million to 8 million Copts to isolate themselves in a nation with more than 70 million Muslims. Across much of Egypt, Muslims and Christians note a drawing apart of their communities, especially in the working class. “It’s natural,” Ayad Labid Faleh, a Coptic Christian, said in his auto parts store in the Shobra neighborhood of Cairo.

The Apostle Mark founded the Coptic Church in the 1st century, bringing Christianity to Egypt. Theological disputes split the Coptic faith from the West in the 5th century. Muslims brought their faith to Egypt in the 7th century, and the 14 centuries of conversions to Islam that followed have made Copts a minority here. Tensions between the Arab world, Israel and the West all but swept away the region’s Jewish communities outside Israel by the 1960s. Since the 1970s, the growth of Islamist politics and the flow of laborers back and forth from the Arab Gulf, where they absorb that region’s stringent form of Islam, have increased the influence of fundamentalist Islam and made life more difficult for Christians.

War has devastated Christian communities in countries such as Iraq, where the number of Christians has shrunk from 1 million in 2000 to an estimated 400,000, according to a widely used estimate by Christian organizations. In the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the proportion of Christians has fallen from 90 percent in the 1950s to an estimated 50 percent or less. About one Egyptian in seven in the 1950s was Coptic, but that has shrunk to one in 10 by some estimates, although the Egyptian government publishes no census numbers on the sensitive issue.

Violence between Muslims and Christians flares every few years. In the most dramatic confrontation this summer, settled Arab Bedouins on May 31 attacked monks who have been reclaiming the 1,700-year-old monastery of Abu Fana from the desert in southern Egypt. Monks say the attackers fired on them with AK-47 assault rifles and captured some among them to torture. Attackers broke the legs of one monk by pounding them between two rocks. Egypt’s government invariably denies that sectarian tension lies behind the violence. It blamed the violence at the Abu Fana monastery on a land dispute. Abu Fana’s monks deny that.