CBS Surprisingly Highlights Persecution of Christians in 'Majority Muslim' Egypt

Sunday's CBS Evening News refreshingly spotlighted the continuing persecution of the Coptic Christians in Egypt, an ongoing story that the Big Three networks have largely ignored for months. Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer zeroed in on the uncertain future for the religious minority as the country gears for a rare election: "[Egypt's] Christians are deeply worried....Two of the frontrunners in the race with a realistic chance of winning are deeply devout Islamists."

The last time CBS reported on the anti-Christian violence in Egypt was a news brief on the October 9, 2011 edition of Evening News, according to a Nexis search. Since January 2011, ABC, NBC, and CBS's morning and evening newscasts have only mentioned the issue six times.

Anchor Jeff Glor introduced Palmer's report by noting that "Egyptians vote this week in the first free presidential election in six decades. There are thirteen candidates running from all over the political spectrum. But Elizabeth Palmer reports tonight Egypt's largest minority fears their situation may go from bad to worse."

The correspondent began with footage of a Christian worship service in Cairo, stating that "the Coptic Christian ritual is ancient and familiar. But outside the door, Egypt now feels unwelcoming and unsafe. Last May, a Coptic church was set on fire in Cairo. Locals blamed Muslims in the neighborhood. And then, in October, Christians protesting the destruction of another church were mowed down by military vehicles."

Elizabeth Palmer, CBS News Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgPalmer interviewed a Coptic priest and a Christian layman for her report, both of whom expressed concern for their well-being. Father Pola Marqus of St. Mary's in Cairo outlined, "We see that in neighboring countries with Islamic leaders, Christians aren't safe...So we're concerned now about getting an Islamist president, too."

The CBS journalist concluded the segment with a sobering figure: "Since the start of Egypt's political upheaval, an estimated 100,000 Christians have already left the country."

While the liberal media have collectively yawned over the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries, they hyped the supposed "Islamophobia" of the U.S. Back in 2010, the Big Three networks devoted 52 stories to the controversy over the planned mosque/Islamic center near New York City's Ground Zero, according to a study done by the MRC's Rich Noyes. More than half (55%) of the clips or reporter comments during these stories slanted towards the pro-mosque side of the issue.

The full transcript of Elizabeth Palmer's report from Sunday's CBS Evening News:


JEFF GLOR: Egyptians vote this week in the first free presidential election in six decades. There are thirteen candidates running from all over the political spectrum. But Elizabeth Palmer reports tonight Egypt's largest minority fears their situation may go from bad to worse.

ELIZABETH PALMER (voice-over): Mass at Saint Mary's in Cairo starts early at 7:30. Even so, the church is nearly full. The Coptic Christian ritual is ancient and familiar. But outside the door, Egypt now feels unwelcoming and unsafe. Last May, a Coptic church was set on fire in Cairo. Locals blamed Muslims in the neighborhood. And then, in October, Christians protesting the destruction of another church were mowed down by military vehicles.

A year and a half ago, millions joined the call from Tahrir Square for Egyptian democracy. Since then, in this majority Muslim country, Islamic politicians and parties have flourished. So Christians, says Father Pola Marqus of Saint Mary's, now feel under siege.

(translating Father Pola Marqus): 'We see that in neighboring countries with Islamic leaders, Christians aren't safe,' he says. 'So we're concerned now about getting an Islamist president, too.'

PALMER (on-camera): Egypt's presidential elections are just three days away now, and the country's Christians are deeply worried. They are Egypt's largest religious minority, and yet, they don't think that any of the candidates has made them a priority, or is really capable of protecting their community.

PALMER (voice-over): Two of the frontrunners in the race with a realistic chance of winning are deeply devout Islamists. So Christians, like Youssef Radana, just don't know what to expect.

YOUSSEF RADANA: We are in a hazy period where you cannot predict exactly what's coming. Could it be good? Yes, but it might be worse.

PALMER: And if it does get worse, what does the future hold for Saint Mary's? It's full this morning, but perhaps, it won't be for long.

PALMER (on-camera): Since the start of Egypt's political upheaval, an estimated 100,000 Christians have already left the country. Jeff?

GLOR: Elizabeth Palmer in Cairo- Liz, thank you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center