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English 11. Dezember 2009

Life of humbleness & meekness

 

 

The virtue of meekness is one of the important Christian virtues.

Suffice that the Lord says about it: “Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt 11: 29)

 

He could have said, learn from Me all perfections of Christianity, but He focused on gentleness and meekness in particular, and mentioned the result. Indeed, for a meek person enjoys a life of rest and calmness, whereas a person who loses meekness lives in strife and worry.  St. Paul the Apostle mentions meekness among the fruit of the Spirit in (Gal 5: 23), for a person who walks in the spirit is of course a calm and meek person. That is why St. Peter the Apostle says, “… the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet 3: 4).  Furthermore the Lord Christ puts humbleness and meekness at the top of the Beatitudes, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Mt 5: 3, 5) Yes, they inherit the present earth, because they usually are loved by everybody, and in the other world they will inherit the land of the living which David the Prophet mentioned, saying, “I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Ps 27: 13) David the Prophet also said, “The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground.” (Ps 147: 6) “The humble shall hear of it and be glad” (Ps 34: 2).

 
Seeing the importance of meekness, the church reminds us of it every morning. In the Matins (the Morning Prayer) we read part of the Epistle of St. Paul which says, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph 4: 1, 2) Undoubtedly longsuffering and forbearance are characteristics of meekness, therefore the church reminds us of it every morning that we may walk in it all day long.  St. James the Apostle, to explain how important meekness is for spiritual life, says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” (Jas 3: 13) He goes further to say, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits.” (Jas 3: 17) All the above are characteristics of meekness. Meekness therefore is associated with wisdom; this is the meekness of wisdom. Even when correcting the others, this should be done gently, with meekness. The apostle says in this concern, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens.” (Gal 6: 1, 2) It means that we should not use violence, insulting, or defamation when correcting the others, but do it with meekness, which is the way of those who walk in the spirit.

 

Meekness was the feature of the Christians from the beginning.  In the Apostolic Era, when a heathen met a friend and saw him cheerful and calm, he said to him, ‘I see that you have met a Christian on your way!” It means that meeting a Christian has its impact on the others, printing the Christian meekness on them! Speaking about faith, St. Peter the Apostle says, “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet 3: 15). When speaking about meekness let us remember that God is the Example.  God’s meekness and gentleness:  God is meek and gentle in dealing with mankind. He permits those who work with Him to speak and express their views with all freedom and boldness, and without fear, even though such views are different!   In His meekness the Lord discussed with our father Abraham concerning Sodom before destroying it. He permitted Abraham to speak to Him with all boldness, saying, “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Gen 8: 23- 25) But for God’s meekness, He would not have accepted such words from Abraham without getting angry! An employee dares not to speak to his boss in this way! Abraham even started to argue with God concerning the number of the righteous, beginning with fifty and ending with ten! God accepted this argument well and said finally, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten” (Gen 18: 32).

 

 God is longsuffering concerning any dialogues. We notice that many of those having authority do not accept that anyone argues with them concerning their decisions, and if ever they accept it they will take it shortly putting limits without yielding to the opinion of the others, but God’s meekness is limitless.   Another example of God’s meekness appears in His talk with His servant Moses when the people worshiped the golden calf and God wanted to consume that disloyal people. God said to His servant Moses, “Let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them.” (Ex 32: 10) Furthermore Moses was so daring and said to God, “Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel …” Then he reminded Him that the Egyptians might say, “He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth” (Ex 32: 12, 13) And strange indeed God in His meekness accepted the words of Moses and relented from what He was going to do! (Ex 23: 14) God, in His meekness permitted Abraham to argue concerning His decision, but with Moses He did more: He cancelled His decision! A human being made of dust may not agree to cancel his decision, and may get angry, considering it an insult against his dignity. The Lord God, on the contrary, accepts such hard words from His servants! 
 

 

 Other examples where God accepts words like “Why?” concerning His judgments and works: Jeremiah the Prophet says to Him, “Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (Jer 12: 1) Many superiors and rulers do not permit anybody to speak to them in such a way concerning their decisions; actually nobody dares! But God accepted reproach from David when he said to Him, “Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” (Ps 10: 1) See to whom David say such word; to the Good Shepherd who made him want nothing (Ps 23: 1)! But for God’s meekness, He would not have permitted the devil to argue with Him and make requests from him in the story of Job.  God even permitted the devil to come among the sons of God when they came to present themselves before Him (Job 1: 6). In His meekness also, when He described Job as being a blameless and upright man, He let the devil interfere, objecting and saying, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (Job 1: 8- 11) Strange indeed that God accepts such talk from the devil and permits him to go further, saying to him, “Behold, all that he has is in your power.” (Job 1: 12) Then when Job succeeded in the trial, God permitted the devil to stand before Him once more, and though God praised Job, saying, “Still he holds fast to his integrity” the devil said unashamedly, “But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (Job 2: 5).   Another example of God’s meekness is revealed in the Lord Christ accepting that the devil try Him. The devil misused this meekness of the Lord and said to Him about the kingdoms of the world, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” (Mt 4: 9)
 

 

A meek person may permit it that some people talk to him boldly, but those should not make use of this and speak to that person unashamedly.

There is much more to be said next time – God willing.

 

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Government and Parliament of Canada mourns the Pope Shenouda

 

 

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada issued a statement today that mourns the Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and the See of St. Mark. He expressed his sadness and sorrows for the departure of the Coptic Patriarch, whom he described as a beloved and respected leader for the Coptic Orthodox Church who led his community firmly against many challenges. Harper added that Pope Shenouda was a symbol of religious, tolerance and understanding between people, and he was so compassionate with Christians and non-Christians. Everyone was attached to him: old and young people. He was honored all over the world. Canadian Ministers as well as members of the Canadian Parliament have issued statements expressing their grief and offer condolences for the death of His Holiness Pope Shenouda.

 

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Coptic fears, Coptic hopes

 

 

 “Our fate is in the hands of God. We are praying for things to go in the right direction. Of course with Pope Shenouda we were safe, because he always protected our rights and spoke for our problems. Now we don’t know what the future will bring,” said Abnoub, a 28-year-old Coptic Christian. Speaking from the courtyard of the Coptic Cathedral in Abbassiya as he joined thousands of Copts who arrived there to pay their last respects to the deceased patriarch of the Coptic Church, Abnoub recalled challenging days for the Copts in Egypt during the past year. He referred to attacks on churches and Copts that were so vile they shocked the entire society. He spoke anti-Coptic incitement that appeared to gain hold. “And in the face of all of this (Pope Shenouda) knew how to act and how to convey Coptic anger without getting us into complicated confrontations”. Abnoub, like other Coptic mourners whose hearts were broken with the sad news announced Saturday, 17 March, that Shenouda had died, felt compelled to be present to pay his respects at the funeral mass. He is planning to take part in the burial ceremony at Wadi Al-Natroun Monastery. Abnoub, like many other Copts, especially those of the younger generation who have known no other patriarch for their church than Shenouda, eyes the future with some trepidation. “We need someone as strong as Pope Shenouda and as wise as Pope Shenouda to defend our rights as a minority in this country,” said Irine, a Coptic women, 20 years old. “If the next pope is not strong then nobody would pay attention to our rights — our rights to have our churches and to have jobs like all other citizens without discrimination”.  Irine and Abnoub have faith, saying the choice of Shenouda’s successor is in the hands of God. But both say they hope that Bishoi — the effective right arm of Pope Shenouda and a man known for his stern positions — will become the next patriarch. “It is a very delicate moment for us now, I mean with all this rise of political Islamist trends. Some are moderate but some are certainly not,” said Dalia, a Coptic woman in her late 40s. Dalia was not planning to join the thousands who have been rushing to Abassiya to pay tribute to their beloved pope. She preferred to say a prayer from her home. But like many of those present in Abassiya, Dalia is worried for the future.
 

Dalia hopes that Moussa — another close confidante of the deceased patriarch — takes to the pope’s chair. Unlike Bishoi, Moussa is known for his more lenient approach. “Polarisation is harmful at this moment and we need to have faith, and not to show strength,” she said. Dalia is not sure that she wants another Pope Shenouda, although she insists that he proved to be a firm leader in times of distress. She favours a future leadership that is closer in style to Pope Kyrolos, Shenouda’s predecessor, who was known more for his spirituality than his wit and taste for politics. “I was never comfortable with the idea of getting the church too involved in political issues. I think this turned against the Copts somehow because ultimately many Copts felt that they were more Copts than Egyptians. This was very unfortunate,” said Dalia. Acknowledging the challenges faced by Copts in Egypt throughout the years of Pope Shenouda, and admitting that society grew more sectarian in nature during the past few decades, Dalia is still convinced that projecting Copts as Copts rather than Egyptians was a mistake that should be rectified. “Today, after the revolution, there is hope to rectify this situation … despite the rise of political Islamist trends, because as you can see not all Muslims are supporting these trends,” said Dalia. “If you want to be a true Christian you cannot fight hatred with hatred. You have to give love, even in the face of hatred. And to be quite honest, hatred is not really all around us,” she added.

 

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Elections for Pope Shenouda’s successor may be postponed: Sources

 

Church sources said today that some religious leaders have expressed the preference to delay the election of the next patriarch of the Coptic Church beyond the election of a new president for Egypt. This means that the election of the next Coptic Pope would not take place before July, if the new president is sworn into office on 1 July as scheduled. “Many inside the (leadership of the) church say it is better to elect the president of the state before the election the head of the Coptic Church,” said one source. According to this and other church sources, it is not perceived as particularly wise within the top ranks of the Coptic Church to hurry in electing the next Pope while the state remains without a president. “At this point in time, Copts want to assert their Egyptian affiliation and to be focused on the presidential elections until it is done and then attend to the election of a new Pope.”  The Coptic Church leadership had already assigned an “acting Pope” who headed mass held this morning for the deceased patriarch, Pope Shenouda III, and who would head the Easter Mass late next month. The rules allow for a relatively long transition between the death of one patriarch and the election of another. Pope Shenouda III himself was elected in October 1971, seven month after the death of his predecessor, Pope Kyrolos, in March of the same year. Only in November was Pope Shenouda III officially seated as the patriarch of the Coptic Church. “There have been attempts and calls, especially on the side of secular Copts, to rectify the bill that regulates the election of the Pope and this amendment can only be passed if ratified by the head of a state,” said another church source. He added that it is doubtful that the new president would jump into an inter-Coptic debate over the method of the election of the Pope. “This is a minefield that nobody would want to enter,” he stated.
 

However, according to the same source, if there are enough voices from within the church leadership supporting the amendments, the new head of state would be in a safe position to support the rectification of the bill. Many in the Coptic Church leadership and in the quarters of Coptic Youth groups are calling for patience in the election of the new Pope. As per the current method of election, a child picks a piece of paper that has the name of one of three candidates put forward by the General Congregation. This assures, sources say, “the hand of God” in the choice. The nomination of the General Congregation of the Church, the same sources suggest, would ultimately be influenced by the overall political atmosphere in the country. It would also, they add, be influenced by grief over the deceased Pope that could perhaps favour some candidates simply because of their close association with the dead patriarch. At this moment, there are three key names that are being spoken of as successors for Pope Shenouda III: Basnati and Moussa, known for their overall theological lenience, and Bishoi, who is known to be more of a hawk. The style and character of the next Pope would have an influence that goes beyond the spiritual leadership of Egypt’s approximately 10 million Copts, in and outside Egypt. It would, as the case had been both with Pope Kyrolos and Pope Shenouda, influence the rapport between the Church and the state, and between Copts and Muslims. {coptsunited.com – By-Ahram | 19 March 2012} 

 

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Egypt’s Christians Prepare for New Political Climate

 

CAIRO: A young woman with a kerchief on her head lit a candle and prayed Sunday beneath a mosaic of Mary and Jesus at a packed Mass at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church. Then she picked up a leaflet next to the candle rack from an organization called Shahid, or Witness. It listed emergency phone numbers, e-mail addresses, Facebook and Twitter information should trouble arise at voting stations during parliamentary elections this week. For those attending Mass at St. Mark’s, in the upper-class district of Maadi in Cairo, the elections represent the beginning of a democratic Egypt but also instill fear of a party coming to power that favors Islamic law. It is widely expected that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will dominate the political landscape. This expectation has already affected the Christian community. Since the Jan. 25 revolution that removed President Hosni Mubarak from power, 100,000 Christian families have emigrated abroad, according to Naguib Gibrael, the Coptic Church’s lawyer. To counter the Muslim Brotherhood, St. Mark’s has encouraged its parishioners to vote for the secular Egyptian Bloc, made up of both Muslim and Christian candidates. Bishop Danial, spiritual leader for church members in Maadi, made a special appearance at St. Mark’s on Sunday. In his sermon, after emphasizing the need to reject hatred in favor of compassion, the bishop turned to politics. “These elections matter a lot to us,” he told the congregation. “Perhaps the situation is not as stable as we would have liked before voting, but we must participate. This is freedom and democracy. The Muslim Brotherhood, however, is very organized.” “You can choose whomever you want,” he added, “but we have had meetings with the moderate Muslims and Christians in the Egyptian Bloc and we support these parties.”

 

The Egyptian Bloc is a newly formed mix of mainly three parties: the pro-business, neo-liberal Free Egyptians; the socialist Gathering party; and the Egyptian Socialist Democrats. There are smaller, Coptic parties, but for many Copts, a separation of religion and government is both in their interests as Egyptians and as Christians to defend themselves against the potential introduction of Islam into politics. “We picked the Egyptian Bloc because it’s the most liberal group and because they are against religious parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood,” Father Ishak, a priest at St. Mark’s, said after Mass. “And if elections are free and fair, it will mean that Copts are more clearly represented and be more active in building a new Egypt.” The head of the Coptic Church, Pope Shenouda III, does not condone political campaigning inside churches and has called on his followers to vote only for whom they think will be the best candidates. Copts, the largest Christian majority in the Middle East, are Egyptian Christians whose ancestors date to the first century and who now number 10 million in a country of 85 million. Their name derives from the Arabic qutb, what the seventh-century Muslim invaders called the Egyptian Christians. According to tradition, St. Mark brought Christianity to Alexandria in the first century and it was the dominant religion in Egypt from the fourth to sixth centuries, until the Arabs arrived and Islam took its place.

 

While Christians and members of other minority religions are free to practice in Egypt, the increase of a stricter interpretation of Islam over the past 30 years has marginalized these smaller groups. According to a U.S. State Department report on religious freedom in Egypt published in September, in the second half of 2010 Christians held less than 2 percent of the seats in the two legislative houses. In the last assembly election, during the Mubarak regime, of the 839 candidates for his National Democratic Party, only 10 were Copts. Religious divisions have led to numerous violent confrontations, though some Muslims and Christians said that most incidents were personal feuds that had escalated into religious battles. “If I were a Muslim and I heard some of these channels, I would probably become violent, too,” said Mena Abdelrahman, 27, a Coptic Christian who is an accountant in Cairo. “Adults program this hatred into children. I once saw a kid around 5 years old kicking a cat. When I asked him why he was doing that, he said, ‘It’s a Copt cat.’ Five years old!” The most recent clash took place on Oct. 9, when hundreds of Copts, and some Muslims, marched on the building that houses the state-run television and radio to protest the authorities’ failure to investigate the burning of a church in Aswan. The demonstration turned bloody when soldiers guarding the building shot at protesters and ran over them with armored vehicles. The protest, which had been approved by the ruling military council, became a battleground that left 28 people dead and 325 wounded.

 

At St. Mark’s, everyone interviewed said that even if an Islamic group won elections they would remain in Egypt, putting their faith in a democratic system that may favor Muslims but will at least include their representatives as well. “We expect a Muslim group to win a lot of seats, and that’s fine, but what we will be looking for is if they try to hijack the Parliament and try to write the constitution their own way,” Ayman Fahmy, a 52-year-old doctor, said after Mass. “If that happens, people will go back to the streets to protest,” he added, noting, however, that if Muslims “are willing to work out a consensus, then there won’t be a problem.”  {Written by MIKE ELKIN – New York Times}

 

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Copt’s Murder a Test of Egypt’s New Anti-Discrimination Law 

  

Egypt’s new anti-discrimination law — hastily announced by the transitional government in the wake of an international outcry over the October 9 killing of 27 mostly Coptic protestors in Cairo’s Maspero district — is being put to the test. The brutal murder of a teenage Christian student in southern Egypt on October 16 illustrates the ongoing threat that Egypt’s Christian minority faces from growing religious extremism, including within its public school system, and the discriminatory denial of justice in cases involving religion.

 

Ayman Nabil Labib was a 17-year-old high school student in the Upper Egyptian town of Mallawi, in the governorate of al-Minya. Egyptian media reports have claimed that he was killed in a fight at school that had no religious overtones. However, according to our trusted source who has asked to remain anonymous and who spoke directly with Nabil Labib Jaballah, the victim’s father, Ayman’s classmates claim that his Arabic-language teacher, Usama Mahmud Hasan, began insulting and harassing the teenager during class on October 16. He reportedly told Ayman to wipe off the cross from his wrist where, like the majority of members of the Coptic Orthodox community, he had a small tattoo of a traditional Coptic cross. When Ayman responded that the cross was a tattoo and therefore impossible to remove, and added that under his shirt he was also wearing a necklace with a cross, the teacher became incensed. Witnesses report that he turned to the other students and asked, “What are we going to do with him?” 

According to classmates, two fellow students, Mustafa Walid Sayyid and Mustafa Hasanayn ‘Issam, were prompted by Hasan’s words and began to strike Ayman. Then they led a group of about 15 students in eventually chasing Ayman as he struggled to escape, finally cornering him in a bathroom. At that point, two school supervisors, Tahir Husayn and Muhammad Sayyid, reportedly forced Ayman into a teacher’s room, which provided the assailants with privacy. There the group murdered Ayman: His body allegedly showed marks of strangulation and having received a heavy blow to the head with a sharp object. His death certificate only specifies “a severe loss of circulatory and respiratory functions” as the cause of death, adding that “the condition is under investigation.”  According to Ayman’s father, both in our source’s interview and in a corresponding one recorded by Copts United, a number of students who were eyewitnesses to the attack on his son told him that they are afraid to confirm these allegations on record, out of fear of retaliation from the teachers and the families of the accused students. Thus, who actually killed Ayman is not known, though it is clear that the teacher, both supervisors, and the 15 students were all complicit. Ayman’s father admits, “In the midst of all this, I still don’t know who really killed my son, and why he was pulled to the teacher’s room and finally killed there.” This ambiguity, weeks after the incident, gives urgency to the call for a proper investigation.

 

Egyptian authorities initially responded by questioning the two student ringleaders, Sayyid and ‘Issam, and subsequently charging them with murder. The governor of al-Minya, the local police chief, and officials from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (the ruling military authority, or SCAF) also visited Ayman’s family, who were receiving visitors at the office of the Coptic Orthodox bishop after their son’s funeral. However, the teacher, Hasan, who incited the attack, and the supervisors, Husayn and Sayyid, who actively abetted the murders and may themselves have had a direct hand in the lethal violence, have not been arrested. These adults, who are public employees and whose actions led to Ayman’s death, have so far gotten off scot-free: The Assyrian International News Agency reports in its own account that although al-Minya’s governor referred these individuals to investigators, they have simply disappeared. None of the other students involved have been charged either.

 

In the days after the Maspero massacre, where military troops opened fire and deliberately ran over Coptic protestors with armored trucks, the Egyptian government tried to shore up its battered reputation by passing an anti-discrimination law that explicitly forbids discrimination on the basis of religion. But if the Egyptian authorities do not pursue justice for the school employees who incited and abetted Ayman’s murder, it will reveal that the government is continuing a policy of impunity for those who threaten and harm Egypt’s already anxious Copts. This latest murder and the apparent failure of Egyptian justice have drawn little attention even within Egypt, where authorities have insisted that there was no sectarian dimension to this murder, despite clear evidence to the contrary. The United States and Egypt’s other allies must pressure the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to demonstrate its claims to be serious about protecting the country’s Coptic minority by pursuing a thorough and immediate investigation into all parties who may been involved, including Usama Hasan, Tahir Husayn, and Muhammad Sayyid of Mallawi. This investigation must include direct eyewitness reports from Ayman’s classmates and others who were present in the school, with clear guarantees of protection from retaliation from other teachers or school officials.

 

During its uneasy ten months in power, the response of Egypt’s transitional government to attacks on the nation’s Coptic minority has been haphazard at best and complicit at worst, as in its role in the Maspero bloodshed on October 9. Its failure to pursue a thorough and fair investigation for the tragic murder of Ayman Labib will only reinforce this precedent of impunity, at a time when the nation’s downward spiral of religious intolerance is drawing the world’s attention. The SCAF should be looking for every opportunity to prove its critics wrong. Unfortunately, this case may yet confirm instead that its new anti-discrimination law is, in fact, only a public relations ploy. {By Kurt J. Werthmuller — Kurt J. Werthmuller is a research fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom} 
 

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Egyptian Revolution in Pictures: Hijacked and Hobbled

 

This caricature recently appeared on the Egyptian political website Mashy.com; it speaks volumes. The bent over, golem-like figure represents al-thawra, or Egypt’s “Revolution.” Serving as a platform to the nation’s “throne,” this hijacked and hobbled “Revolution” is casually ascended by one of the Salafis—also known as “Islamists,” “jihadists,” “radicals,” or, in their own view, “good, pious Muslims.” {Written by Raymond Ibrahim – Jihad Watch – 4 Nov 2011}

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Egypt clashes: Copts mourn victims of Cairo unrest 

 

Eyewitnesses said people were deliberately shot and run over by military vehicles

 

Many mourners expressed anger at the army, which they blame for the deaths. The protesters say they were attacked by thugs before the security forces fired on them and drove military vehicles into the crowds. The ruling military council has ordered a swift inquiry into the violence, in which 25 people died. The council, which was handed the power to govern by President Hosni Mubarak before he was ousted in a popular revolt, is in temporary charge of the country while elections are organised. US President Barack Obama called for restraint “so that Egyptians can move forward together to forge a strong and united Egypt”. “These tragic events should not stand in the way of timely elections and a continued transition to democracy that is peaceful, just and inclusive,” he said in a statement. The Copts, who make up about 10% of Egypt’s 85 million population, have a number of grievances against the interim administration. They say the authorities have been slow to punish radical Islamists who have attacked their churches.

 

Infiltrators blamed: Sunday’s protest was sparked by the burning down of a church in the southern Aswan province. On Monday there were more angry scenes and low-level clashes between security forces and Copts, who had gathered for the funerals. Many mourners directed their anger against the military, and particularly the head of the military council Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi. “Tantawi you traitor, the blood of Copts is not cheap,” Christians chanted outside the hospital where the bodies of their loved ones had been stored. Others called for Field Marshal Tantawi to be deposed. In addition to the 25 people who were killed on Sunday, hundreds more were injured. It is not clear how many of those killed were Christians, but the authorities said three soldiers were among the dead.

 

Coptic Church leader Pope Shenuda III blamed Sunday’s violence on infiltrators. “The Christian faith denounces violence. Strangers infiltrated the demonstration and committed the crimes for which the Copts have been blamed,” the pope said in a statement. The military called on the government to carry out a quick investigation into the clashes by “forming a fact-finding committee to determine what happened and take legal measures against all those proven to have been involved”. Security has been stepped up at vital installations in Cairo, with additional troops deployed outside parliament and the cabinet building in anticipation of further unrest.

 

Election tension: Thousands of people – mainly but not exclusively Christians – joined Sunday’s march from the Shubra district of northern Cairo to the state TV building in Maspero Square. They were calling on the military council to sack the governor of Aswan province. They also accused state TV of fanning the flames of anti-Christian agitation. The demonstrators said they were assaulted by attackers in plain clothes before the clashes with the security forces broke out. The violence began outside the state TV building but soon spread to Tahrir Square, the centre of the demonstrations which led to President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation in February. There were reports of thousands joining in the street violence, attacking both sides. Rioters tore up the pavement and hurled stones.

 

Christians in Egypt have been worried by the increasing show of strength by ultra-conservative Islamists. In May, 12 people died in attacks on Coptic churches. In March, 13 people were killed in clashes between Muslims and Copts in Tahrir Square. A parliamentary election is scheduled for 28 November, the first such vote since Mr Mubarak was ousted. The Copts, the largest minority in Egypt, complain of discrimination, including a law requiring presidential permission for churches to be built. And the country recognises only conversions from Christianity to Islam, but not the other way. {Written by BBC News  – 10 October 2011}

 

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Inside Cairo’s Riots: The Egyptian Junta’s True Colors

 

 

Coptic mourners chanted slogans against the military:

Tantawi you traitor, the blood of Copts is not cheap“!

 

The dead were buried on Monday, more than two dozen Christian Egyptian protesters mowed down by their own military, an army that had won praise back in February for refusing to turn its weapons on demonstrators. After Sunday night’s violence, which left 24 dead and more than 270 wounded, according to the Egyptian Health Ministry, the Arab Spring seems a long time ago. A military council led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi is now in charge of Egypt, and it is resurrecting many of the tactics of deposed President Hosni Mubarak to instill fear and keep the citizenry in line, like using state TV to spread sectarian suspicion and conspiratorial talk of “foreign hands” sowing internal discord.

Sunday’s march in Cairo by Coptic Christians — with a fair smattering of sympathetic Muslim participation as well — started out as a peaceful protest against the recent burning of a church by ultraconservative Muslims and the perceived lackadaisical response by the ruling military junta to a spate of anti-Christian attacks since Mubarak’s ouster. Events rapidly devolved into chaos, with live ammunition fired, clouds of tear gas released and protesters crushed and killed by military vehicles that reportedly rammed into them. Some protesters responded by throwing rocks. (See pictures of the Coptic Christians’ march in Cairo.)  State TV had another narrative: a violent mob of Christians sparked the melee by attacking the military, killing several soldiers. Breathless anchors urged “honorable” citizens to head down along the Nile to the national media building at Maspero to help soldiers defend themselves and public property. The clashes reignited on Monday, when Christians pelted security forces with rocks outside the Cairo hospital where the bodies of victims were taken the previous night. The Coptic church on Monday disputed state TV’s claims, saying there was no evidence that Christian protesters shot at soldiers. Church officials called for a three-day fast to protest the events.

 

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Essam el-Erian condemns the violence, telling TIME that this is a critical period for the country, a “time for solidarity, to implement a state of law, and to make reconciliation between all sections of society.” Egypt’s Christians, who make up about 10% of the country’s 80 million or so people, have watched warily as Salafists and other ultraconservative Muslims, long kept underfoot by Mubarak, have begun exercising their political rights — and influence — in the wake of the February revolution. At 8 million or so, Egypt’s Copts are easily one of the biggest Christian communities in the Middle East, but unlike the much smaller Christian population in Lebanon, for example, they lack political muscle. (Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East with a Christian head of state mandated by political consensus.)  (See TIME’s exclusive pictures of the turmoil in Egypt.)

 

It’s a trying period for the Middle East’s dwindling Christian communities as secular pan-Arab, anti-Islamist regimes fall by the wayside and leave political vacuums in their place. The precedent of Iraq looms large. There were some 800,000 Christians in the country before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein. Since then, hundreds of thousands have fled the war-ravaged state. In majority-Sunni Syria, the minority Christians have largely sided with Bashar Assad’s brutal regime in public, fearful of what may follow it, although many prominent Christians are also part of the opposition. “This is a dangerous period, one that will determine in which direction the country is going,” says Emad Gad, a Copt and leader of the Egyptian Social Democratic party. “Are we taking the first steps toward creating a real state or are we going toward sectarian conflict and war?”

 

Sunday’s violence in Cairo has significance beyond the country’s religious divisions. This is a wider conflict in which Egyptians of all religions are turning against a military regime that just eight months ago was hailed for ensuring a peaceful transfer of power after Mubarak was forced from office. The fruits of Egypt’s revolution have yet to be savored by millions who hoped a quick revolution would bring even quicker economic, social and political benefits. The economy has slumped, and the generals — who initially pledged to hand back power to a civilian administration in six months — seem increasingly comfortable at the helm. Their recently announced electoral timetable would keep them in charge until presidential elections in 2013, much to the ire of many. “I don’t think we’ll have elections at all,” Gad says, echoing a sentiment relayed on Twitter and other social media. “I think that the army let the violence happen so that it could cancel the elections and remain in power.”

 

The Brotherhood’s el-Erian warns against any delay to the elections. “We cannot move forward without elections,” he tells TIME. “We can overcome all of these trials with solidarity and national consensus … The people are waiting for elections and to have a new system.” As the exuberance of Arab Spring becomes a faraway memory in the Middle East, a counterrevolution is gaining ground, exploiting the sectarianism that power brokers in the region have long used to keep their populations at bay. Will Egyptians and other Arabs see through it? Or will they be sucked into its vortex? What happens next on Cairo’s streets will be critical.  {Written by Time Mag – 11 October 2011}

 

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Militant Muslim Mob Burns Christian Homes, Businesses and Coptic Church

  

Please stop religious apartheid in Egypt Shame on you Egyptian army and policeBeating up viciously Christians peacefully protesting the burning of church in Edfu. Why you do not arrest the mob who burnt the church? Why do not you arrest the mosque imam who incited and urged the burning of church? Is Egypt becoming a State who sponsor of terrorism of its own Christians?

 

We have regularly covered the plight of our Coptic Orthodox Christian brethren in Egypt and will continue to do so. We urge our global readership to pray for Coptic Orthodox Christians and for Catholic Christians in Egypt in this critical hour. We must join the growing global pressure on the new government in Egypt in the wake of all of the continuing persecution of Christians in Egypt. If this treatment of Christians is an indication of the attitude of the government of Egypt, the so called “Arab Spring” is a fraud. Authentic freedom recognizes the fundamental human rights of others.

 

CAIRO, Egypt (Catholic Online): The history of Christianity in Egypt goes as far back as the visit of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. (Matt. 2) To the Christians who live in this historic land, the history of the Christian Church is the history of Egypt. According to Christian Tradition, the Evangelist Mark brought the Gospel to Egypt in 61 A.D. and it has a proud and inspiring Christian heritage. The majority of Christians in Egypt are Coptic Orthodox. The very word “Copt” comes from an early Greek name for Egypt. After all, Christianity and Egypt have a long and holy history. Perhaps that is part of the reason why the persistent persecution of Christians in Egypt is so appalling. It strikes at the very foundations of the Christian Church. We have regularly covered the plight of our Coptic Orthodox Christian brethren in Egypt and will continue to do so. They are heroic witnesses in the ancient land into which the Holy family journeyed, a land which is vitally important to all Christians. Their suffering to the point of shedding their blood for the ancient faith should draw every Christian to their knees. It also demands a response of support and solidarity from those of us who can help.

 

We have also repeatedly urged our global readership to pray for Coptic Orthodox Christians and for Catholic Christians in Egypt in this critical hour. The presence of Coptic Christians in this ancient and holy land is vital. Their presence precedes any Muslim claims. Their heroic Christian witness is an inspiration. They are our brethren, joined to us in the bonds of Baptismal communion. Now, there is distressing news out of this land of the Holy Family. Over 3,000 militant Muslims, identified with the Salafi movement which seeks to enforce a strict construction of Shariah law, have gone on a rampage burning homes and businesses owned by Christians. Even worse that than these acts of terror, this mob of militant Muslims set fire to Mar Gerges Coptic Orthodox Church. Witnesses told Compass news that the attacks began after the Muslims offered their afternoon prayers. Michael Ramzy, a villager in Elmarenab, told a local news source that “Imams in more than 20 mosques called for crowds to gather and destroy the church and demolish the houses of the Copts and loot their properties.”

 

This is the third Church in seven months which has been destroyed by mobs of militant Muslims. It is reported that Salafi Muslims were enraged that any symbols of the Christian faith could be seen on the outside of the Church. After a September 2 meeting with the leaders of the military and the village, Coptic clergy agreed to modify the outside so that visible crosses, bells and Christian symbols would not be as visible. That effort to bring peace did not placate the Muslim terrorists. They blockaded the entrance to the Church and began to threaten the Christians in their home. Next, they demanded that the domes, so integral to Orthodox Church architecture, also be removed. Further meetings were held with the priests in an effort to reconcile with the Muslims and build bridges of peace which would allow the Christians to worship freely. The Muslims then burnt the Church. We urge our global readership to pray for Coptic Orthodox Christians and for Catholic Christians in Egypt in this critical hour. We must join the growing global pressure on the new government in Egypt in the wake of all of the continuing persecution of Christians in Egypt. If this treatment of Christians is an indication of the attitude of the government of Egypt, the so called “Arab Spring” is a fraud. Authentic freedom recognizes the fundamental human rights of others.

 

The presence of Coptic Christians in this ancient and holy land is vital for many reasons. Their presence also precedes any Muslim claim. The heroic Christian witness of these Copts is an inspiration to us all. We must join with them in solidarity, pray for them regularly and join in their heroic struggle to protect their fundamental human right to Religious freedom. {Catholic Online – www.catholic.org – Last Updated Sunday, 02 October 2011 }

  

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Egypt Overlooked in State Department’s Religious Freedom Report

 

Washington, D.C. (September 16, 2011):  International Christian Concern (ICC) commends the Obama administration’s designation of eight nations as “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) – a classification appointed to countries that severely violate religious freedom – in the State Department’s Annual Report on International Religious Freedom released on Tuesday. However, the report failed to designate Egypt as a CPC despite the increase of violence targeting religious minorities and the killings of more than fifty Christians in 2011. On April 28, the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, had recommended for the first time that the State Department designate Egypt as a CPC. “Instances of severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government have increased dramatically,” said USCIRF Chair Leonard Leo. “Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

 

Attacks against Egyptian Christians in 2011 include, but are not limited to: 

 

• The bombing outside the Church of the Two Saints on New Year’s morning that killed 23 worshippers leaving a midnight mass celebration in Alexandria.

 

• The destruction of a church by a Muslim mob following reports of a romantic relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman in the village of Sol on March 5.

 

• The killing of nine Coptic Christians by a radical mob and the Egyptian military while Copts were protesting in the Mokattam Hills in Cairo on March 9.

 

• The killing of twelve Christians and Muslims by an Islamist group that attacked St. Mina Church and Virgin Mary Church in the Imbaba district of Cairo on May 7. One church was burned to the ground and numerous Christian-owned apartments and shops were vandalized and looted.

 

Egyptian Christians are also concerned that religious freedom will decline further if Islamist-based parties win the majority seat in Egypt’s parliament in elections scheduled for November. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party is the most organized and financed contender in the elections and has publicly stated their intention to institute forms of Sharia (Islamic law) in the country. While the U.S. gives 1.3 billion dollars in foreign military assistance to the Egyptian government annually, a CPC designation can carry economic sanctions if the Egyptian government fails to address U.S. concerns. Several U.S. congressmen have voiced frustration to ICC over the “illogical” approach taken by the U.S. in continuing to give billions of dollars in aid to a government that is yet to be elected and that may not be interested in honoring previous agreements made between the U.S. and Egypt, like maintaining a peace treaty with Israel. “Egypt should be classified as a CPC,” Coptic scholar Magdi Khalil told ICC. “Further monitoring of persecution, like the special envoy to promote religious freedom in the Middle East known as [house bill] H.R. 440, would be pushed forward quicker and taken more seriously if Egypt was a CPC.”

 

Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “In light of increasing attacks on Christian communities and the Egyptian government’s failure to enhance security and institute nondiscriminatory reforms to protect religious minorities, we urge the Obama administration to strongly consider designating Egypt as a CPC. A CPC designation will give the U.S. additional leverage to place sanctions on existing military and emergency economic aid and to direct a portion of that aid to enhance security for religious minorities and fund civil society groups who are adamant about promoting religious freedom.” [Below is the link to subject report on the State Department web site:  http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2010_5/168262.htm  {Written by International Christian Concern}]  

 

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Muslims Blockade Christian Village in Egypt, Demand Demolition of Church

 

Christians in the Upper Egyptian village of Elmarinab in Edfu, Aswan province, have been forbidden to leave their homes or buy food until they remove the dome of St. George’s Church, which was rebuilt in its previous location. Village Muslims, backed by Muslim Salafists from neighboring villages, have threatened to demolish the church on Friday September 9 after prayers and use it as a mosque.

 
Despite the presence of security forces, Muslims have blocked the roads to the village, refusing passage of any Christians under any circumstance. Yesterday the military governor in Aswan was contacted as Christians were starving in their homes. Security officers were sent and accompanied two Christian youths to buy food for the villagers. Muslims at the entrance of the village tried to stop the two security cars. “Failing that they threatened that this would be the last time,” said one villager. “It was heart-breaking to see the elderly running with the children to get a loaf of bread.”
 
 
On Friday September 2, a “reconciliation” meeting was held under the auspices of security between Muslims and Christians in which the Christians were forced to give in to the Muslim demands of the new church being stripped of crosses, bells and outside microphones (which churches never have). “For the sake of peace we agreed to their demands,” said Father Makarios Boulos, “although the approved permit included crosses, bells and domes.” On Tuesday evening, the same Muslims who attended the reconciliation meeting started to congregate near the church demanding the removal of the six small domes, which would, according to the church’s priest, make the whole church collapse if removed.
 
 
Muslims also demanded removal of any signs of it being a church. “It has to be called a ‘hospitality home,'” Father Makarios said. Confronted with escalating Muslim demands, the Bishop of Aswan, Anba Hedra, refused and warned those who incite sectarian violence, pointing to the fact that the church was rebuilt legally, and any concessions on the part of the church was done for the love for the country, which is passing through a difficult phase. The military council was asked to send troops to protect the village against Muslim violence. Early this morning two army tanks arrived at the village, manned by officers. The military governor paid a visit to the village today together with area heads of security to solve this crisis.
 
 
They listened to the Muslims, who insisted the previous church was not a church, but a hospitality home. The Coptic side was represented by Father Makarious Boulos, Father Salib Elias of the Aswan Coptic Diocese and lawyers representing the church, who presented all valid documents. According to Mr. Mikhail, a worker at St. George’s Church, who was interviewed by Coptic TV, the Muslims were not represented by any official. “They said they are people who have control over the Muslim youths.” Muslims chanted “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest) and said they want the church razed. Mikhail said Security tried to calm them down but fearing the situation would turn for the worse, the meeting was recessed with the promise that “the army and security representatives will come to a solution acceptable to both parties before they leave the village.”
 
 
The authorities demanded that no construction be carried out or services held in the church, and Muslims to refrain from violence. Muslims have been spreading news that the new church was never a church but a hospitality home. Father Makarios said that the church was always a church and has been protected by the police for twelve years and they already have a hospitality home one block away. The church of St. George, built a century ago with soft bricks and palm tree branches, was so dilapidated the local council said it would be unsafe to carry out services there. The church was given permission by the Aswan Governor in June 2010 to rebuild, and the authorities had approved the design. In June 2011 the building of the church began and services were held. Father Makarious said the village Muslims never showed any bad feelings when permission for the rebuilding the old church was issued. “The church was nearly complete when Muslims started to complain.”
 
 
Village Copts have warned that any attack on their church will lead to sectarian clashes. It was reported that some Coptic youth are inside the church guarding it against potential vandalism. Copts have also reported that while they are detained in their homes, Muslims have destroyed their crops. Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination (EARD) reported the incident to the justice committee affiliated to the Prime Minister’s office. A statement issued by EARD today condemed the incitement to demolish the domes of St. George’s Church. The statement accused the Salafists of inciting the village Muslims against the Copts and criticized the “obvious indifference, amounting to collusion, of officials responsible for the security of the country.” The statement held the Military Council responsible should of any harm come to the Copts, their property or their church together with its bells, crosses and domes.
 
 
Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization (EUHRO), said this incident is one in a series of persecutions and attacks on Copts and their churches. “The Muslim Brotherhood announced immediately after the revolution that it is impossible to build any new church in Egypt, and churches which are demolished should never be rebuilt, as well as no crosses over churches or bells to be rung.” Dr. Gabriel, who is a Copt, said the siege of the Copts in their homes is an “international crime” where a minority, just because of its religion, is imprisoned in homes and threatened with destruction of their religious buildings. “When we bring the Coptic case to the International community, no one should blame the Copts or accuse them of exaggeration when they highlight the Muslim intolerance in Egypt.”  {By Mary Abdelmassih -www.aina.org}
 
 

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A 2-year-old girl was savagely raped in Pakistan
because her Christian father refused to convert to Islam

 

 

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Sharia and the latest Ft. Hood jihadist

 

There hasn’t been much news coverage of Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo’s planned jihadist attack against Ft. Hood soldiers. What you haven’t read is spelled out well in the column below by Raymond Ibrahim (highlights added). As you read it, note how Abdo employed several provisions of sharia law. Sharia law threatens America in numerous ways. Abdo’s disloyalty to America is just the latest example.

 

 

 

Abdo’s Loyalty to Muslims Always Meant Disloyalty to Americans

 

 

To anyone familiar with Muslim doctrine, Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo’s actions — from refusing to deploy to Afghanistan lest he kill fellow Muslims to plotting a terror attack to kill fellow Americans — make perfect sense and accord well with Islam’s dichotomous doctrine of wala wa bara [1], often translated as “loyalty and enmity.” Built atop numerous Koran verses and backed by Sharia, wala requires Muslims to be loyal to fellow Muslims, and explains why Abdo refused to deploy to Muslim nations. While loyalty may appear admirable, it has a flipside, bara, which requires Muslims to disassociate themselves from non-Muslims — to be disloyal to them (see al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s 60 page treatise titled “Loyalty and Enmity” in The Al Qaeda Reader [2] for details). For example, Koran 5:51 literally warns Muslims against “taking the Jews and Christians as friends and allies … whoever among you takes them for friends and allies, he is surely one of them,” i.e., he becomes an infidel; 58:22 states that true Muslims do not befriend non-Muslims — “even if they be their fathers, sons, brothers, or kin.”

 

 

Now consider the progress of Abdo and how his actions reveal great doctrinal consistency: First, he objected [3] to participating in any war in any Muslim country, claiming “conscientious objector” status: I don’t believe I can involve myself in an army that wages war against Muslims. I don’t believe I could sleep at night if I take part, in any way, in the killing of a Muslim. … I can’t deploy with my unit to Afghanistan and participate in the war — I can’t both deploy and be a Muslim. He would not be the first to object to combating fellow Muslims: Major Nidal Hasan [4], who went on a shooting spree in Fort Hood in 2009, killing thirteen –and who Abdo heroizes [5] — considered himself to be “a Muslim first and an American second [6]“; the idea of deploying to a Muslim nation, his “worst nightmare [7],” threw him “over the edge.” Then there was Sergeant Hasan Akbar [8], who killed two American soldiers and wounded fourteen in Kuwait “because he was concerned U.S. troops would kill fellow Muslims in Iraq.”

 

 

Next, though Abdo had no problem openly evincing loyalty to Muslims, trusting that tolerant or sentimental Americans would indulge him, he hid his enmity and disloyalty for those same Americans, in accordance to taqiyya [9] — a doctrine that permits Muslims to deceive infidels. In fact, the Koran’s primary justification for deception is in the context of “loyalty and enmity”: Let believers not take for friends and allies infidels [non-Muslims] instead of believers. Whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah — unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions (3:28).

Mainstream Muslim reference Tabari interprets this verse thusly: Only when you are in their [non-Muslims'] power, fearing for yourselves, are you to demonstrate friendship for them with your tongues, while harboring hostility toward them. But do not join them in the particulars of their infidelities, and do not aid them through any action against a Muslim. Accordingly, while Abdo did not aid Americans against Muslims, he certainly made use of his tongue: to support his “conscientious objector” status, he pointed to “the peace that Islam preaches [10] 221;; he claimed [11] that he wanted to fight “Islamophobia” and “put a good positive spin out there that Islam is a good, peaceful religion”; and though he tried to murder Americans by emulating the Fort Hood massacre, Abdo originally condemned it [12], calling it “an act of aggression by a man and not by Islam,” insisting that it ran against his beliefs as a Muslim.

 

 

Even so, anyone reading between the lines should have noticed his enmity: like Hasan before him, who made no secret of his hatred for infidels [13] in statements in front of classmates, Abdo also made anti-American remarks [10] in class. Unfortunately, few Americans are aware of doctrines like wala wa bara and taqiyya; worse, they often project [14] their own beliefs and values — from Christianity to secular humanism — onto Islam and Muslims. For instance, Western people associate piety and religious observance with peace and goodwill: as with Hasan before him — who was described as an “observant Muslim who prayed daily [15]” and “very serious about his religion [16]” — acquaintances shocked at Abdo’s terror plot argue that he was “very devoutly religious [17].” Yet, the fact is there is no inconsistency between piety and prayer on the one hand, and jihad and deceit on the other: all are equally codified in Sharia. Moreover, upholding one doctrine often leads to upholding another: thus loyalty to fellow Muslims is a sure sign of disloyalty to non-Muslims.

 

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BLOCKBUSTER REVELATION! – MINI Documentary – Illegal Obama “Propped Up” By Congress!

 

This Subject simply will NOT go away. Passing this on for YOU to decide on your own.

 

It is real or someone went to extreme lengths. 

 
WATCH THIS VIDEO
 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3aCfR8rmrw&annotation_id=annotation_979885&feature=iv

 

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No Western Politicians has the balls  like Australia  to take a stance.

 

Australia says NO – Second time she has done this! 

 

Australian Prime Minister does it again!! This woman should be appointed Queen of the World. Truer words have never been spoken. It took a lot of courage for  this woman to speak, what she had to say for the world to hear. The retribution could be phenomenal, but at least she was willing to take a stand on her and Australia ‘s beliefs.
The whole world needs a leader like this. Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law, were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.
 
 
Separately, Gillard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying she  supported spy agencies monitoring the nation’s mosques. Quote: ‘IMMIGRANTS,  NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali , we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians. ‘  ‘This culture has been developed over two  centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom’  – ‘We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society. Learn the language!’   ‘Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing, political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian principles,  founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you  consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.’ 

 

‘We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.’  ‘This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, ‘THE RIGHT TO LEAVE’.’  ‘If you aren’t happy here then LEAVE. We didn’t force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.’

 

 

Maybe if we circulate this amongst ourselves in Canada & USA , we will find the courage to start speaking and voicing the same truths.

 
If you agree please SEND THIS ON and ON, to as many people as you know!

 

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Hezbollah working with drug cartels on the border


For years, ACT! for America president Brigitte Gabriel has been warning Americans about terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah partnering with Mexican drug cartels. Rep. Sue Myrick, recipient of our top legislative award the past two years for her courageous efforts to protect our national security from radical Islam, has relentlessly pursued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on this matter. DHS’s response has been “we see no evidence of Hezbollah partnering with drug cartels in Mexico.” Astonishing. Check out this short news story, just the latest on the growing threat Hezbollah poses to the United States.

 

 

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Pressure on Baillieu Government over Muslim women lifting their veils

 

ACTING Premier Peter Ryan says extra police powers that would force Muslim women wearing a burqa to reveal their faces must be balanced with people’s rights to dress as they choose. The Baillieu Government will consider laws being adopted in other states that will give police the power to force Muslim women wearing a full veil to reveal their faces. Islamic leaders and the Law Institute of Victoria have both backed the need for police to be given clear powers to identify people. The Police Association also has supported the need for more clarity for its members.

 

Mr Ryan said today he was unaware of any identification problems in NSW or in Victoria as a result of women wearing the burqa. “And that’s why we are being very tempered about the way in which we approach this,” he told reporters. The Police Minister said while he does not consider the issue a top priority, he has sought advice from Victoria Police on whether officers require additional powers to deal with situations where a woman’s face covered by a burqa cannot be identified. “The starting point is to receive that advice, bearing in mind the enormous respect which we have for people’s rights in this area,” he said. “If anything is to be done in this regard it will be done on a very properly informed basis … and in a manner where there is very broad consultation with community.”

 

The NSW Government this week said it would draw up legislation allowing police to ask any person stopped during routine vehicle checks to remove burqas, niqabs or other head and face coverings at the roadside to verify their identities. The move follows a Sydney judge’s decision last week to quash a six-month jail sentence given to a burqa-wearing mother of seven, Carnita Matthews. Mrs Matthews had been found guilty of falsely accusing Sen-Constable Paul Fogarty of forcibly trying to remove her burqa when she was pulled over while driving in June last year. Anyone refusing to obey the law may face up to a year’s jail under NSW legislation. Western Australia yesterday indicated it would adopt similar laws. Law Institute of Victoria member and former equal opportunity commissioner Moira Rayner said she supported giving police new powers, saying it was not unreasonable for people to be forced to clearly identify themselves. Mr Ryan told the Herald Sun yesterday that NSW’s legislation would be considered by the State Government. “We will have regard to what that legislation is and then consider it in Victoria,” he said.

 

The Islamic community has backed the changes in principle. But Islamic Council of Victoria director Nazeem Hussain warned new laws must be carefully monitored so that police don’t abuse their power. It also wants female police to witness the unveiling. Islamic law allows a Muslim woman to remove her face veil to verify her identity. Police Association state secretary Greg Davies said there needed to be clear cut legislation about what powers officers have. Helen Szoke, Commissioner of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, said there would need to be a good reason to introduce similar laws in Victoria, but wouldn’t rule it out. “There would have to be a compelling reason for you to want to do it,” she said. {www.heraldsun.com}

 

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Egyptian Muslim Ring Uses Sexual Coercion to Convert Christian Girls

 

The number of Christian girls abducted and coerced into converting to Islam since the Egyptian “January 25 Revolution” has skyrocketed, according to Father Filopateer Gamil of St.. Mary’s Church in Giza. “More than two to three girls disappear everyday in Giza alone,” he said. “The cases that are brought to public attention are few compared to what the numbers actually are.” Many Christians blame the military council for not intervening to put an end to this problem, which has escalated after the Revolution because of the “emergence of Muslim Salafists,” says activist Mark Ebeid, “who believe strongly that converting a Christian Infidel is in some ways like earning a ticket to paradise — not to mention the earthly remuneration they get from the Saudis.”

 

Jackline Ibrahim Fakhry, 17, disappeared from a town on the outskirts of Cairo, prompting her parents to stage a sit-in until her appearance. They accused 31-year old Muslim Shokry Abdel-Fatah, who used to take lessons with her mother (a teacher) of kidnapping her. After she returned, Shokry said in a television interview that he has loved her since she was nine years old. He brought her to Alexandria where she met many sheikhs to convert, but she refused. Nancy (14) and her cousin Christine (16) Fathy disappeared from their town in Upper Egypt. Their parents staged a sit-in in Minya until their children surfaced and accused two Muslim brothers, in their late twenties, of being behind their disappearance. The two teens appeared in Cairo, wearing burkas and claiming they had converted to Islam, which is illegal before the age of 18. Instead of being handed over to their parents, they are now in a state care home pending investigations and until they and their parents have reconciled. The two men accused of their abduction have been discharged by the court (AINA 7-4-2011 <http://www.aina.org/news/20110704151452.htm> ).

 

<http://www.aina.org/images/fathygirls..jpg> This issue has been ongoing for over four decades. Coptic Pope Shenouda III warned against this phenomenon back in 1976, saying “There is a practice to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror to Muslim husbands.” Christian parents say their girls are underage children who disappear either due to emotional ties or to blackmail, and they do not get any assistance from the police in locating them, not even after they have been coerced into converting to Islam, which is illegal before the age of 18. Muslims claim the girls, of whatever age, flee their homes and convert to Islam of their own free will (AINA 12-23-2009 <http://www.aina.org/news/20091223164421.htm>).

 

Coptic activist Michael Saeed denies this, saying “there is no legitimate reason which prevents Muslim men from marrying women “of the Book” — either Jewish or Christian — without their conversion to Islam. What we have here is a Saudi Arabia funded campaign of Islamization of Christians in Egypt.” Egypt4Christ, which monitors the abduction and forced Islamization of Christian minors, published this week its latest report, which shocked many people because of the age of the targeted Christian girls, the involvement of high ranking officials as well as the Salafist leader from Alexandria, Sheikh Osama Borhammi, who is contemplating running for President in the upcoming Egyptian elections.

 

Egypt4Christ initiated this project when an Alexandrian priest reported that a ten-year old Coptic girl was sexually abused by a 20-year-old Muslim university student. The investigation by Egypt4Christ, carried out under secrecy, exposed a highly organized Muslim ring centered in the Fatah Mosque in Alexandria. The investigation also uncovered a systematic “religious call” plan, where young Muslim males in high school and university are urged to approach Coptic girls in the 9-15 age group and manipulate them through sexual exploitation and blackmail. The plan, called “operation soaking lupin beans” (small dried beans, soaked until they grow in size and are then eaten raw), aims at sexually compromising Christian girls, defiling them and humiliating them in front of their parents, thereby forcing them to flee their homes, and use conversion to Islam as a “solution” for their problems.

 

“The architect of this idea, who diligently promotes it among the Muslim youth, is Salafi Muslim Sheikh Osama Borhammi, in collaboration with other Sheikhs,” says Ms. Rasha Nour, head of Egypt4Christ.. Some volunteers from the Young Female Muslims Service are also engaged, according to Nour. The report has published the names of those involved in this Islamization ring, including names of co-operating department heads and officers of the Alexandria headquarters of State Security, the name of a legal firm supporting this ring, the location of places used to keep Christian girls, as well as complete addresses and private telephone numbers of those involved.

 

Magdy Khalil, political analyst and researcher in Coptic affairs also believes that abduction and forced Islamization of Coptic girls is an organized crime, carried out through an organized and pre-planned process by associations and organizations inside Egypt with domestic and Arab funding. Recently a new organization named “Alliance for the Support of New Muslim Females” staged protests against the Coptic church, accusing it of abducting Christian-born converts to Islam. “It is a Salafist organization, without a doubt,” says Michael Saeed. “It has a primary role in the Islamization of minors. The proof for this, is that any case of disappearance of a Coptic female in any province in Egypt and at any time, you find they have a complete file on it. A clear blueprint is followed, in coordination with security and legal agencies, to get the results they want.”

By Mary Abdelmassih: http://www.aina.org/news/20110712201559.htm

  

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Egyptian Muslims Torch 8 Christian Homes on Rumor of Church Construction

 

A mob of nearly 200 Muslims torched eight Christian homes on Saturday morning in the Upper Egyptian village of Awlad Khalaf. The attack was initiated by a rumor that a house which is being built by Wahib Halim Attia will be turned into a church. Two Christians and one Muslim were injured, no fatalities were reported.  Wahib Halim Attia obtained a license to build a house in the village on a 95 square meter plot. The house grew to an area of 350 square meters but was still on agricultural land that he owns. This gave rise to the rumor that he intended to build a church instead.

 

Father Weesa Azmy, the priest at St. George Church in the neighboring village of Negou Madam East, said that someone went to the City Council in Dar es Salam and told them about the irregularities in the house construction, and Wahib was ordered to remove the excess by June 24. “Instead Wahib carried on with the construction, which angered the Muslims, who decided to play God and take the law into their own hands; they attacked the construction site and other Christian homes.” According to Father Weesa, Muslims broke into the home of Ihab Tamer, who defended himself with a rifle. A Muslim who was there to help Ihab was injured by a bullet in his leg from Tamer’s rifle. The matter was explained and resolved with the family of that Muslim.

 

According to eyewitnesses the Muslims, mostly Salafists and some youngsters, looted and torched eight homes belonging to Wahib Halim Attia and his two brothers, his three cousins and two other Copts, including Ihab Tamer. The police arrived three hours after the looting and torching had ended. Father Weesa said Ihab Tamer, who was in hiding after the shooting incident, contacted him and he advised him to give himself up to the police as he was acting in self-defense. “If someone sees people breaking into his home, surely he has to defend his family and himself.”

 

The police told father Weesa, who did not witness the incident himself, that most of the attackers were teenagers between the ages of 10 and 14 years old. This was refuted by eyewitnesses. However, he said “if it is true that there were children and teens, then definitely someone else has sent them.” He added he will not attend any reconciliation meetings and the rule of law must be upheld, on the Copt if found guilty and the attackers. Most of the teens and children were arrested by the police but no adults were arrested. Police and security are now present in Awlad Khalaf village and the 30 Christian homes are being guarded, the Security Chief said tonight on the Egyptian State TV. {By Mary Abdelmassih

 

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Tensions Rise in Egypt Over Two Missing Christian Girls

 

Tension is escalating over the case of 14-year-old Nancy Magdy Fathy, and her 16-year old cousin Christine Ezzat Fathy, who have disappeared and allegedly converted to Islam. Many parties are being pulled into the row over their future, including Al Azhar, the Church, activists and lately Islamist organizations, which are threatening violence against the church.

 

The story of the missing girls became public after they disappeared while on their way to church on Sunday June 12. A the two day sit-in staged by Copts in front of the Minya Security Headquarters, demanding Nancy and Christine’s return, focused attention on their story. Rumors in the media emerged as to their whereabouts, the identity of the perpetrators and whether the girls were actually traded to another Muslims gang. Nearly two weeks after they disappeared, Nancy and Christine were found in Cairo wearing Burkas. They were incidentally stopped in the street by a police officer when he noticed that one of them had a cross tattooed on her wrist, as many Copts have. The girls told the policeman they converted to Islam and did not marry any Muslims sheikh as the newspapers said, but fearing the wrath of their parents, they sought shelter at the home of a Muslim man. He issued a report of the incident and let them go.

 

Nancy and Christine subsequently surrendered at a Cairo police station. An investigation into their disappearance was launched, as their parents accused two Muslim brothers from a neighboring village of abducting them. They were also asked about the video clip which appeared on the Internet, taken in Tahrir Square, where Nancy and Christine allegedly converted to Islam. According to the investigators, the Christian minors said they converted to Islam of their own free will, and refused to return to their families, and even applied for protection from them. The prosecution decided to put them in a state care home and provide protection for them, until the completion of the investigation. Authorities also wanted an Al-Azhar scholar to determine if they really believe in Islam.

 

This has angered their families, who said their girls are minors and should not be subjected to such procedures. Both families and the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights Organization protested on Saturday, June 25 in front of the office of the prosecutor general, and demanded for their children to be returned to them. Al Azhar and the Fatwa (religious edict) Committee denied that the two Coptic teenagers had converted to Islam, because they are still minors and have not yet reached 18 years of age, as is required by law. The families’ lawyer, Dr Naguib.Gabriel, said the decision to deliver the girls to the state care home belonging to the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood is contrary to the law, because they are still minors, noting that Al-Azhar said that it does not recognize their conversion, and therefore the two girls should be returned to their families. Gabriel added that he had made a complaint to the Egyptian Public Prosecutor, on behalf of the families, as they oppose handing Nancy and Christine over to the care home. He explained that the decision taken by prosecution in this case confirms the hypothesis that they converted to Islam, despite that being contrary to the law and the Al-Azhar fatwa.

 

Dr. Gabriel said that there is a possibility the two girls were subjected to pressure in order to say they converted to Islam of their free will, or they fear the reaction of their families in case they return home, especially since they come from an ultra conservative Upper Egyptian society, where the disappearance of a girl for days is considered a scandal and a shame. He said he will obtain a pledge from their families to protect them, and not to harm them in any way upon their return. The security director of Minya told Al-Ahram newspaper on June 17 the two girls are considered minors before the law and the authorities and therefore their conversion to Islam and their marriage is not recognized officially as they do not yet have the necessary ID card, which is issued from the age of 16. On this basis, anyone involved in the incident will be punished according to the law.

 

The two Muslim brothers accused by the fathers are in detention pending investigation. The family of the accused protested today, calling for their release because Nancy and Christine said they left home on their own accord and where not abducted. The Egyptian daily newspaper ElYoum7 published a statement from the Islamist “Alliance for the support of New Muslim Women,” in which the group threatened to carry out “extended protests” in all governorates in Egypt if Nancy and Christine are returned to the church. The Alliance emphasized in its statement the protests this time will escalate violently: “We will not retreat this time, until each captive is free and out of the monasteries in which they are held as prisoners.” The statement also said “We say it openly, that we will not go back again to the era when newly converted Muslim women were delivered to the church, which wants to tempt them away from their religion, or forcibly detain them in reprisal for choosing freely their faith.”

 

In the past the Alliance had staged over 20 demonstrations every Friday in support of Kamilia Shehata, the priest’s wife whom they claim converted to Islam but was held captive by the church, despite of Al Azhar confirming that she never set foot there and her appearance twice in public to refute
all their claims of her conversion (AINA: http://www.aina.org/news/20100917220629.htm> ). “The daily abduction and forced Islamization of Coptic minors, conducted by Muslims funded by Saudi Arabia, has escalated to new levels after the January 25th Revolution,” said Coptic activist Mark Ebeid, “and has greatly enraged the Copts. Everyone is now fearing that they might not be able to stand it any longer with the continuous Islamists provocations.”  {By Mary Abdelmassihhttp://www.aina.org/news/20110626170235.htm }

 

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Former Egyptian Interior Minister Accused of Collusion in Alexandria Church Bombing

 

The Egyptian attorney general has reopened the investigation into the bombing of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve, which killed 24 Copts and injured more than 90.

 

On May 25 Coptic Church attorney Joseph Malak presented a petition to the Attorney General to reopen the investigations into the church bombing. The petition accused former Minister of Interior, Habib el-Adly, of criminal responsibility and collusion. The Attorney General assigned the case to the Supreme State Security Prosecution to question the former Minister of Interior, who is presently in prison on other charges, including ordering the shooting of more than 900 protesters in Tahrir Square on January 28. “We expect el-Adly to appear for interrogation before prosecution within the next few days,” said Malak in an interview on Egyptian TV. He said that everyone was surprised when in mid April it was reported that all 20 Muslim suspects in the church attack were released and that they had been held as “political detainees.”

 

The bombing of the church shocked Egypt and the world and brought international condemnation of Egypt, including from Pope Benedict, for not protecting its Christian minority against violence, especially as Egyptian churches had received repeated threats of retaliatory action from al-Qaida militants in Iraq, immediately after the massacre of 58 Assyrians at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in  Baghdad. In both the Iraq and Egypt attacks the reason was allegedly over female Christian-converts to Islam who were held against their will by the Coptic Church. The Coptic church has denied the accusation. The lack of security forces guarding the threatened Egyptian churches was heavily criticized, especially as the security forces withdrew nearly one hour before the blast, leaving only four policemen and an officer to guard the church and nearly 2000 people attending the midnight mass. Coptic activists had called at the time for the resignation of Habib el-Adly, who was then Interior Minister, and pointed fingers at Muslim Salafists in Egypt (AINA 1-2-2011). Following this announcement and the arrest three weeks later of 20 suspects in the church bombing, a media blackout was imposed by the General Prosecutor’s Office.

 

The church in Alexandria assigned Malak to pursue the case. “I had an unofficial meeting with the prosecution in Alexandria, requesting information on the decision to release the suspects in the church bombing, the disclosure of the investigations conducted with them, as well as the progress in the case and if it was still open.” Malak said he was stunned to learn the case had been “frozen” since January 25 and the file was transferred to the Supreme State Security Prosecution. Also, there were no accused, as previously claimed by the Interior Minister, and those who were detained were never investigated. “I was told by prosecution that they do not even have the names of the accused, and the only role they played was investigating the witnesses and the injured.” Malak said he sent a complaint to the Military Council, but never received a reply, so he approached the Attorney General. “We believe the Interior Minister had a security breach and there was a certain security policy which was evident in this case.” He added that after the Egyptian church got direct and clear threats from Al-Qaida in November 2010, the security forces should have been fully prepared for this threat.

 

On January 23, 2011, during Police Day celebrations, Habib el-Adly accused the Palestinian group Army of Islam, which has links to Al-Qaeda, of having masterminded the New Year’s church attack in Alexandria, an accusation denied by the group. But the Interior Minister stood by his accusation and named an Egyptian, Ahmad Lotfi Ibrahim, of being the group’s accomplice and who had admitted in writing to his involvement. An Al-Qaida affiliated group calling itself the “Salafist Combat Group in Iraq” claimed responsibility for the Alexandria church attack. A statement from the group said that a combat battalion went from Iraq to Egypt to perform the operation in order to launch what they called “the release of Muslim captive women from the prisons of the Coptic Church.” The group noted that one of its agents blew himself up. “After the attack we got mixed messages,” said Coptic activist Mark Ebeid, “was it a car bomb which detonated in front of the church or was it a suicide bomber? No one knows what happened.” The current Interior Minister, Mansour al-Issawi, ordered on June 1 the arrest of the main suspect in the church bombing, Ahmad Lotfi Ibrahim.

 

By Mary Abdelmassih
  

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As Islamists Flex Muscle, Egypt’s Christians Despair

 

QENA, Egypt—Five weeks after the fall of the Egyptian regime, Ayman Anwar Mitri’s apartment was torched. When he showed up to investigate, he was bundled inside by bearded Islamists. Mr. Mitri is a member of the Christian Coptic minority that accounts for one-tenth of the country’s 83 million people. The Islamists accused him of having rented the apartment—by then unoccupied—to loose Muslim women.

 

Inside the burnt apartment, they beat him with the charred remains of his furniture. Then, one of them produced a box cutter and performed what he considered an appropriate punishment under Islam: He amputated Mr. Mitri’s right ear. “When they were beating me, they kept saying: ‘We won’t leave any Christians in this country,'” Mr. Mitri recalled in a recent interview, two months after the March attack. Blood dripped through a plastic tube from his unhealed wound to a plastic container. “Here, there is a war against the Copts,” he said. His attackers, who were never arrested or prosecuted, follow the ultrafundamentalist Salafi strain of Islam that promotes an austere, Saudi-inspired worldview. Before President Hosni Mubarak was toppled on Feb. 11, the Salafis mostly confined themselves to preaching. Since then, they’ve entered the political arena, drawing crowds and swaying government decisions. Salafi militants also have blocked roads, burned churches and killed Copts.

 

The Salafi vigilantes who brutalized Mr. Mitri later ignited a bigger controversy that is still playing out here in Qena, an upper Nile governorate of three million people—almost one-third of them Copts. In April, Egypt’s new government appointed a Christian to be Qena’s new governor, replacing another Christian who had held the post under Mr. Mubarak. The Salafis responded by demanding a Muslim governor and organizing mass protests, showcasing the movement’s new political influence. The crisis in Qena, still not fully resolved, raises questions about what kind of Egypt will emerge from the post-revolutionary chaos—and whether its revolution will adhere to the ideals of democracy and equality that inspired it. The country’s military rulers and liberal forces may ultimately succeed at containing religious strife and limiting the Islamists’ political power.

 

Until recently, fears of an Islamist takeover in Egypt centered on the Muslim Brotherhood, a much better known organization that’s trying to project a new image of moderation. While many liberal Egyptians remain deeply suspicious of the Brothers’ true intentions, the Brotherhood now says it accepts Copts—the Middle East’s largest religious minority—in all government positions, with the possible exception of president. By contrast, many Salafis believe it is forbidden by Islam for Christians to exercise political power over Muslims in any capacity, such as governors, mayors or ministers. “If the Christian is efficient, he could be a deputy or an adviser,” says prominent Salafi cleric Abdelmoneim Shehat. Unlike the Brothers, the Salafis long refused to participate in elections and dismissed democracy as un-Islamic—a view held by their spiritual guides in Saudi Arabia. Numbering in the millions around the Arab world, Salafis seek to emulate the ways of the “salaf,” the Prophet Muhammad’s seventh-century companions, and usually reject later theological, social and political innovations as heresy. Osama bin Laden belonged to the jihadi current of Salafism that’s trying to overthrow Arab regimes. Many other Salafis, including Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi religious establishment, and until recently, key Egyptian clerics, hold that obeying political rulers is mandatory in Islam.

 

After the revolution, however, many Egyptian Salafis decided that the shortest way to the Islamic state they desire is through the ballot box. They joined the Brotherhood in backing conservative constitutional amendments that passed in a March referendum. Salafi leaders say they are likely to coordinate with the Brotherhood to field a slate of Islamist candidates for parliamentary elections planned for September. “We’ve found out after the revolution that the Salafis and the Brotherhood have the same concerns,” says Safwat Hegazy, a popular Saudi-trained TV preacher who belonged to the Brotherhood in his youth and has emerged as one of Egypt’s most influential Salafi voices. The main difference between the two movements is organization rather than ideology, he says. “The Brotherhood has rules, leadership, staff, formal members—and it can punish those members who don’t follow its orders,” he says. “The Salafis have no organization whatsoever and no membership. People consider their leader any sheikh that they like.” Amid the recent sectarian unrest, Egypt’s military rulers and civilian government have solicited help from Mr. Hegazy and another prominent Saudi-trained TV preacher, Mohamed Hassan, to defuse tensions. Although the overtures have raised the two clerics’ stature as national leaders, the absence of a Salafi hierarchy also has enabled them to deny responsibility for the violence.

 

In Qena, a leafy city that prides itself on being named Egypt’s cleanest, the Salafi militants who attacked Mr. Mitri and radicalized the protests against the Coptic governor were led by a young man named al-Hosseini Kamal. He had been incarcerated under Mr. Mubarak on suspicion of terrorist activities and, like thousands of such detainees, was set free after the revolution. According to Mr. Mitri and witnesses cited in the police report, it was Mr. Kamal who cut off Mr. Mitri’s ear, after first slicing his arm and neck. Reached on his cellphone, Mr. Kamal asked to call him later, and then didn’t answer repeated phone calls. In days after the amputation, the Salafi militants threatened to kill Mr. Mitri’s siblings and to kidnap his children if he pressed charges, Mr. Mitri and his relatives say. Police refused to help, he says. Scared, he changed his initial testimony to say he didn’t know who attacked him. Instead of prosecution, Egyptian authorities pushed for a “reconciliation” between Mr. Mitri and his attackers. At the reconciliation ceremony, a beaming Mr. Kamal shook hands with the local military commander and other notables.

 

The ear amputation was a “mistake” and “the young people didn’t mean it,” says Qureishi Salama, imam of one of Qena’s largest mosques and a leader of the budding Salafi movement in Qena. Asked about the concerns of Christians, he responds, without elaborating: “Only those Christians who did something wrong should be fearful.” Shortly after the reconciliation, the government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, a reformist chosen by leaders of the Cairo protests, named new local governors. Under Mr. Mubarak, Qena had been the only one of Egypt’s 27 governorates ruled by a Christian. The new appointee, police Gen. Emad Mikhail, was also a Christian. Egypt’s police, widely regarded as brutal and corrupt, had been discredited during the revolution. The choice of Mr. Mikhail left Qena’s political activists perplexed. A few dozen people protested on April 14, including some Christians. But the Salafis objected first and foremost to Mr. Mikhail’s religion. “We didn’t want an imposed Christian quota” on governors, says Mr. Salama, the imam. He and other Qena imams agreed to urge the faithful to show their fury. “In most, if not all, Qena mosques, the imams said that a Christian cannot rule over Muslims,” recalls Nasr Yasin, a 27-year-old activist. “The Salafis mobilized the people on a sectarian basis.”

 

Angry crowds left the mosques and converged outside the governor’s headquarters for a sit-in. Qena’s revolutionary coalition split. Some liberal Muslims, such as Mr. Yasin, were offended by bigoted slogans and left. Others, including Muslim Brotherhood youths, stayed. Hala Helmy Botros, a Coptic blogger active in the uprising against Mr. Mubarak, was stunned to see a former comrade-in-arms with a poster that read: “I am against sectarianism—but I refuse a Copt as governor!” Other protesters screamed: “Islamic, Islamic—we want a Muslim, not an infidel.” The Muslim Brotherhood’s Abdelaziz Mahmoud, a 39-year-old concierge at the luxury Winter Palace Hotel in nearby Luxor, says it was his idea to ratchet up the pressure by temporarily blocking a major railroad passing through Qena just before the new governor was sworn in in Cairo. He proposed a one-hour sit-in on the tracks. But once the Salafi militants, including Mr. Kamal, erected tents across roads and railroads leading into Qena, they decided to camp indefinitely. The blockade severed transportation links between northern and southern Egypt, and between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea coast. Some protestors raised the Saudi flag, which Egyptian Salafis have adopted as their own.

 

Though Egyptian Salafi leaders deny receiving financial support from Saudi Arabia, liberal Egyptians charge that the movement is backed by the kingdom’s deep-pocketed Islamic charities. While Egyptian Salafis often criticize the Saudi government system as un-Islamic, they usually hold its Wahhabi religious establishment in high esteem. They admire Saudi Arabia’s prohibitions on alcohol, the mixing of sexes, and Christian worship. In Qena, as the Salafi-led protests continued, the anti-Coptic rhetoric swiftly got more radical. Protesters shouted “Mikhail is the enemy of God” and carried the new governor’s mock coffin through Qena’s streets, vowing to assassinate him if he ever set foot in the city. Leaflets urging a boycott of Christian businesses circulated in mosques. “It started becoming very dangerous,” says the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mr. Mahmoud. Brotherhood leaders ordered him and others members to abandon the protests. “We withdrew once we realized that some people are raising a sectarian issue. We don’t have any prejudice in dealing with our brother Copts,” says Mohammed Beltagy, a Brotherhood leader in Cairo. Prime Minister Sharaf’s government tried to stand firm. “The governor of Qena has not and will not resign,” said government spokesman Ahmed al-Saman. “Objections based on religion are unacceptable.” Mr. Sharaf dispatched his ministers of interior and local affairs to Qena to try to restore order, but their appeals for calm were drowned out by shouts of “We want a Muslim!” Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim, until recently Qena’s security director, says the army and the police considered breaking up the blockades, but dropped the idea as impractical. “After the revolution, there are constraints in dealing with protests,” he said. “If we dispersed them by force, this could have had serious implications. They could have used weapons, and we would have had to respond with weapons. So we decided to hold a dialogue instead.”

 

For that, Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Prime Minister Sharaf reached out to Messrs. Hegazy and Hassan, the Salafi TV preachers. Flanked by military officers and feted in Qena as celebrities, the two sheikhs quickly endorsed the demonstrators’ demands while asking them to lift the blockade. Mr. Hegazy, who contends the sectarian strife is being orchestrated by the U.S. and Israel to discredit the revolution, says he believes that the entire population of Qena—Muslim and Christian alike—opposed the appointment of Mr. Mikhail. He says he told Egypt’s prime minister and ruling generals that the new Christian governor should be removed immediately. The young militants, however, defied the preachers’ requests to reopen the roads and railways, vowing to maintain the blockade until Mr. Mikhail’s ouster. As the protests entered the second week, demonstrators threatened to cut electricity supplies from the Aswan Dam on the Nile and to stop fresh water to Red Sea coastal towns. Mr. Salama and other local imams called for a “million-man march” after Friday prayers. Prime Minister Sharaf dispatched his strategic-planning adviser, Ahmed Omran, a Qena native, to the city to seek a solution. As he tried to address the crowd, Mr. Omran had the prime minister on his cellphone, ready to assuage the protestors. The angry crowd started chanting “Down with Sharaf!” “This was a total failure,” says Mr. Omran. Undeterred, he donned a traditional galabiya robe and went to meet the Salafi militants, including Mr. Mitri’s attacker, at the railroad tracks.

 

He also solicited the opinions of Christian clergy. With the Coptic Easter two days away, Qena’s priests were worried that the crisis, if unchecked, could lead to pogroms. They told Mr. Omran they were not insisting on Mr. Mikhail assuming office, and would go along with whatever the government decided. That weekend, Mr. Omran says, he told Prime Minister Sharaf that the only solution was to meet the protesters’ demands. He says the prime minister reluctantly agreed. On April 25, the government announced on television that Mr. Mikhail’s appointment was being “frozen” for three months—and that the deputy governor named days earlier, a Muslim former army colonel, would temporarily take over the governor’s duties. Appointing Mr. Mikhail “was not a very well thought out decision,” says Mr. Saman, the government spokesman. At the sit-in, the news was greeted with shouts of Allahu Akbar, or “God is great.” The protest tents were dismantled and the trains started running within hours. Mr. Mikhail continues to draw his governor’s salary at the local-affairs ministry in Cairo. In theory, when the freeze expires next month, he is supposed to assume the governorship. Coptic activists worry that if that doesn’t happen, it would set a dangerous precedent. Mr. Salama, the Salafi imam, counters that making him governor would lead to a “big disaster.”

 

Write to Yaroslav Trofimov at yaroslav.trofimov@wsj.comThis  – Written by YAROSLAV TROFIMOV – WSJ – 21 June 2011

 

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Muslims vs. Texas pig farmer !!!

 

Pig Race Mosque !!!

 
The Muslims move in next door in Katy , Texas , and tell the neighboring pig farmer to sell his pigs or move out!
 

 http://www.youtube.com/embed/dUr1NxJDC94?rel=0

 

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Arab Spring and Christian Winter

 

Islamofascism: Obama wants to reward “democratic Egypt” with $1 billion in debt relief. Only, “democratic” Egypt is torching churches and slaughtering Christians left and right. There’s a howling disconnect between the president’s Pollyannaish narrative of an ‘Arab Spring’ and the reality on the ground in beneficiary countries such as Egypt, where religious intolerance and human-rights abuses are on the rise. In his speech calling for a Mideast Marshall Plan, he failed to mention increasingly violent attacks against Coptic Christians throughout post-Mubarak Egypt. For them, the “Arab Spring” has turned into a bitter and bloody winter.

 

Among recent attacks: 

• An angry mob of Muslims last week threw rocks and firebombs at Christians gathered in Cairo for a sit-in to demand the new regime reopen nearly 50 churches it shuttered. The attacks left more than 65 injured. 

• Jihadists on May 8 stormed and set ablaze the Virgin Mary Church in Cairo, shouting: “With our blood and soul, we will defend you, Islam.” They also burned down nearby homes occupied by Coptic families, killing a dozen people and wounding more than 200. 

• Muslim rioters in Qena demanded in April the ouster of a governor because he is Christian. 

• Muslim mobs in March torched another Cairo church and attacked Christian worshipers there. 

• Muslims in December bombed a church in Alexandria, killing 23.

An estimated 3,000 Muslims have joined in these attacks. They’ve done this while Egyptian troops and police did little or nothing to stop the violence. In a Pew Research poll taken after the allegedly pro-democracy riots in Tahrir Square, only a third of Egyptian adults said they think it’s important for Coptic Christians to practice their faith freely. Meanwhile, a whopping 89% of them say laws under a post-Mubarak government “should follow the values and principles of Islam.” And nearly two-thirds want laws to enforce Shariah — the barbaric legal code practiced in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan under the Taliban. 

In a separate survey last spring, Pew found that a startling 84% of Egyptians favor the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim faith. Clearly, Muslim hatred for Christians (as well as Jews) has not thawed with the “Arab Spring.” While there are some Facebook modernists mixed in with reformers, the vast majority of Egyptians are hardly Westernized Muslims yearning for our freedoms. These are Islamofascists yearning to be free of non-Muslims in their society. In fact, a pogrom against Copts may have begun in the absence of Mubarak’s protections. The bloodshed is well-documented in U.S. Embassy cables from Cairo. {Investor’s Business Daily – 28 May 2011}
  

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Muslims Surround Church in Egypt, Prevent Its Reopening

 

On the morning of May 19 two Coptic priests went to St. Mary and St. Abraham Church in Ain Shams and opened it together with some of the Coptic residents, but later in the day thousands of Muslims surrounded the church to protest its opening, hurled stones at the church building and the Copts, who responded by throwing stones. The army and the police stood there watching and did not intervene (video
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGDXgh2q0h0&feature=player_detailpage> ).

 

Unable to secure the church, the army and police closed it and arranged for a “reconciliation” meeting between the Coptic priest and the Salafi sheikhs. They also arrested eight Copts, one of them 13-years old, and three Muslims. They were all charged with rioting, violence and causing injury to citizens. Three Copts were also charged with having cartridges but no guns and one 15-year-old boy with possessing two knives. The 3 Muslims were charged with throwing stones at the army. Father Filopateer Gameel, one of the organizers of the Maspero sit-in, said that during a meeting with the Minister of Interior he was told he cannot choose the churches to be reopened because it was all “planned with the Salafis and the security authorities so that when we go, there will be no problems.” He confirmed the minister had himself suggested the names of the three churches to be reopened.

 

The “reconciliation” session was held in a tent by the Islamist imam Kerdassi, the main opponent of the reopening of the church, who also recently built a mosque facing the church. Next to the tent was another one hosting Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi sheikhs, among them the renowned Salafi sheikh Hassan and over 3000 guests all chanting “Islamic, Islamic.” The session lasted for 5-hour, and was attended by sheikhs, imams, priests, lawyers and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, in which the Muslims insisted the church was a factory and the Christians explained that it was a church, although it has no dome or bell, and has been used as a place for worship and has a consecrated alter.

 

The Coptic diocese bought the building, which used to be a clothes factory, in 2004 and used it for worship until November 22, 2008, when it was closed
by State Security after nearly 3000 Muslims surrounded the church, pelting it with stones and terrorizing thousands of parishioners inside. “The atmosphere of the meeting was belligerent,” said attorney Ashraf Edward, “and one of the sheikhs threatened us by saying that should the church be opened without their permission it would end up like the church in Soul which was demolished by Muslims.” He said the church was offered a larger place to relocate to away from the Muslim families as the imams said. “They presented us with a petition from the Muslim families against the opening of the church.”  The representative of the Ministry of Endowment suggested the church be closed until permission is granted for its opening from the relevant authorities, to which all sides agreed.  At the end of the session a joint statement was read by the Imam Kerdassi, which said “It was decided to close the place and no Christian prayers is to take place there until permission is granted. If there is permission then we should respect it and since there is no permit at present then all parties agreed to close the place permanently, no one to approach it and no one of us to harm it until the authorities have issued a ruling. We all have to love each other, so that Egypt would remain strong and secure as Allah wanted it to be.”

 

The Muslims demanded that should the church be reopened, it should be without cross and dome. Coptic attorney Dr. Ihab Ramzy said the army and the police did not participate in the “reconciliation” meeting. “This shows the government is ignoring the problem. Am I there to get the Salafis’ permission to open the church? If they say no, does this mean I should not open the church?”  “The joint statement linked the opening of the church with the consent of
the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,” said activist Mark Ebeid, “so the military council has to know that if the church is not opened, this means the dignity of the State has been lost in front of the Salafis. Everyone believes the government should have carried out its decision to open the church whatever the outcome. The big question now is will the government give us a written permission or not?” {By Mary Abdelmassih - www.aina.org}

 

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Egypt’s Other Extremists

While the Muslim Brotherhood gets all the ink, the Salafists go on a rampage!

 

Judging the likely trajectory of post-Mubarak Egypt requires assessing the depth of public support for Islamism, and usually this has meant assessing the strength and intentions of the Muslim Brotherhood. While the Brotherhood remains central, however, the country is also facing a frequently violent upsurge of Salafist versions of Islam. The groups can overlap, but the Brotherhood tends to stress an Islamic state and political organization, and its members have no prescribed mode of dress, apart from modesty: In this sense they are a modern movement. The Salafists are often distinguishable by full beards for men and full face covering for women, and they stress emulating the piety and practice of the first three generations of Muslims (Salaf means “predecessor” or “forefather”).

Strongly influenced by Wahhabi teachings, the Salafists have tended to follow local sheikhs rather than have a countrywide organization, and under Mubarak they were usually quiescent or else inclined to a violent extremism that led to rapid and severe repression by the regime’s efficient security apparatus. But many Salafists are now trying to take advantage of the widespread chaos in Egypt in order to impose their repressive version of Islam on their neighbors and ultimately on the country.

 

One Salafist target is Egypt’s Christians, the Copts, the largest non-Muslim minority in the Middle East. On March 20, in Qena, Salafists, including an off-duty policeman, accused a Copt named Ayman Mitri of renting an apartment to a prostitute, cut off one of his ears, mutilated his other ear, and slashed his neck. The attackers then informed the police that they had carried out the punishment required by Islamic law. As was usual under Mubarak, the police refrained from pressing charges and called for a “reconciliation” meeting between the religious communities. Also as under Mubarak, the authorities’ refusal to punish attacks on Christians has led to more attacks. On March 23, Salafists surrounded St. George’s church in Beni Ahmad and successfully demanded that a church expansion approved by the government be stopped. On March 27, they blockaded St. Mary’s church in Giza, saying it did not have a permit. After yet another “reconciliation” meeting between Copts and Muslims, services at the church were forbidden until it acquired a new permit.

 

On March 28, Salafists attacked a liquor store in Kasr El-Bassil owned by a Copt, destroyed other stores, and demanded that coffee shops be closed. One villager was killed and eight others injured. On April 5, hundreds occupied St. John the Beloved church in Kamadeer, stopping repairs after heavy rain, and told Copts that they were not allowed to pray there any more. After yet another “reconciliation,” Copts were told to build a church 200 meters away, one without a dome, cross, bell, or any other external feature marking it as a church. Beginning on April 15, over 10,000 demonstrators, mostly Salafists, protested in the southern province of Qena against the appointment of a new governor, Emad Mikhail, who is a Christian (the previous governor, Magdy Ayoub, was also Christian). Protesters blocked main roads, stopped buses to separate men and women passengers, and disrupted the main rail route in Upper Egypt for eight days. There were threats to bar Mikhail from the province and even to kill him.

 

Some protesters were concerned simply that the new governor, like so many others appointed throughout the country in recent years, had no experience and was being rewarded for previous service to the regime. But Salafist concerns soon dominated, with one speaker complaining, “A Copt won’t implement Islamic law,” and demonstrators chanting, “We will never be ruled by a Christian governor” and “Mikhail is an infidel pig.”  There were also declarations that Qena was an “Islamic Emirate.” Tensions ran so high that local Christians stayed inside and couldn’t celebrate Palm Sunday. The armed forces refused to intervene, and, although Egypt’s cabinet initially rejected calls for the governor’s resignation, on April 25, Prime Minister Essam Sheraf surrendered and said he would “freeze” the appointment for three months.

 

Salafists are also attacking other Muslims. On March 30, one killed a Muslim colleague for not praying at the requisite time. They also target Sufi mosques and shrines, because Salafists regard veneration of saints as heretical. Since Mubarak stepped down, dozens of shrines on the outskirts of Cairo have been burned or have simply disappeared, and there have been attacks throughout Alexandria and in Beheira and Monufiya. In turn, leaders of Sufi orders have threatened to attack those destroying shrines, especially the shrines belonging to the prophet’s family. Sheikh Gaber Kasem al-Kholy, the highest-ranking Sufi in Alexandria, declared in early April, “I don’t underestimate people’s fears concerning Salafists. Of course, Coptic Christians are a main target for those extremists, but we need to speak out about the suffering of the Sufi people.”

 

Egypt’s small Shiite community is another target. Shiite leader Mohamed al-Derini has denounced the attacks, and some Shiites believe that the Saudis also bear responsibility for the violence. During the demonstrations in Qena, some demonstrators waved Saudi flags. It is also rumored that the Saudis fund the Salafists, and this, coming on top of the Saudis’ support for Mubarak and their condemnations of Shiites, Sufis, and shrines, has increased tensions. On April 9, Shiites protested at the Saudi embassy in Cairo and waved banners denouncing Saudi fatwas that condemn Shiites and permit the demolition of shrines, as well as the kingdom’s rejection of calls to prosecute ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. One banner read: “You defended Mubarak, pushed Salafis to sow sedition, and pressed for not trying the tyrant.”  Some Salafists joined the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, and others have said they will enter politics—in many cases by supporting the Brotherhood. Often the two groups have been opposed to one another, with the Salafists accusing the Brotherhood of compromise, but in the March 19 constitutional referendum, Salafi clerics urged their followers to support the Brotherhood in campaigning for a “yes” vote.

 

Perhaps thinking that these more extreme Islamist currents make it appear relatively moderate, the Brother-hood condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden. Already before that, it had become more outspoken about its own desire for an Islamic state. On April 14, at a forum in Cairo, the Brotherhood’s deputy supreme guide, Mahmoud Ezzat, said his group wanted to establish an Islamic state when they achieved sufficient support through their Freedom and Justice party. At the same forum, another Brotherhood leader, Saad al-Husseiny, stated that they aimed to apply Islamic law and establish Islamic rule. On April 22, a senior spokesman, Sobhi Saleh, said the Brotherhood wished to apply “Islamic legislation.”  There is some ambiguity in these remarks, and, after an outcry from other parties, one leading Brotherhood figure, Hamdi Hassan, said the statements were nothing new and that reaction had been inflamed by inaccurate press reports. Ezzat filed a complaint with the attorney general, accusing the media of twisting his remarks.

 

These newer statements about Islam and law by senior leaders of the Brotherhood have alarmed democracy activists and many -others. In response, the Coptic Orthodox Church suspended its dialogue with the Brotherhood and dropped its plans to invite the group’s leaders to attend Easter celebrations. The state-run daily Rose Al-Youssef, meanwhile, under the headline “A state of terror follows Salafi threats,” reported Salafists’ warnings that they will attack women who do not wear the full face covering called the niqab, while schools have had high absence rates and have sometimes closed because of fears of sectarian violence. The combination of these Islamist currents poses a growing threat to a free Egypt.  On April 28, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom for the first time recommended to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Egypt be labeled a “Country of Particular Concern (CPC).” This designation refers, as commission chair Leonard Leo noted, to “the world’s worst religious freedom violators and human rights abusers.” He added, Severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government [of Egypt] have increased dramatically since the release of last year’s report, with violence, including murder, escalating against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities. Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice. Paul Marshall is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and coauthor, with Nina Shea, of the forthcoming Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide. {The Weekly Standard – 15 May 2011}

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The Persecution of Egypt’s Coptic Christians Continues

 

The Arab Spring has not been kind to Egypt’s Christian minority. Over the weekend, Muslims apparently incited by Islamist hardliners again terrorized Coptic Christians, in what is now a pattern of attacks against them and their churches. Possibly the Islamists are jockeying for political power in this transitional period, or even trying to immediately effect a religious cleansing similar to the one that has happened in Iraq. Copts, numbering about 10 million, constitute the largest Christian group and the largest religious minority in the Middle East. Their size will likely prevent an escalating persecution of them from going unnoticed for long in the West. Coptic Christians in the Imbaba district of Cairo report that on Saturday night they were assaulted by Muslims who looted and burned St. Mina’s Church and the Church of the Virgin Mary and attempted to burn St. Mary and St. Abanob Church. The press has reported that, according to the Copts, twelve people were killed. According to the Egyptian interior ministry, which habitually downplays or ignores attacks against Christians, possibly six victims were Christian and six were Muslim. More than a hundred people were injured, as Copts fought back with sticks and stones.

 

The latest attacks follow others earlier this year. In March, a Coptic church was torched in Soul, and on New Year’s Day a church in Alexandria was targeted with explosives. On Sunday and Monday, the Copts held large protests in Tahrir Square and outside the main Egyptian television station, demanding an investigation. Typically, these kinds of incidents result in a “reconciliation” session held by the state or its courts, in which the Christians are pressed to forgive their Muslim attackers, who then go free. The Assyrian International News Agency reported that “the Bishop of Giza, Anba Theodosius, said ‘These things are planned. We have no law or security, we are in a jungle. We are in a state of chaos. One rumor burns the whole area. Everyday we have a catastrophe.’ Addressing the Salafis he said ‘We will never leave our country.’”  The Copts believe that fundamentalist Salafi (also known as Wahhabi) Muslims were behind the attacks, which were apparently triggered by rumors that a Copt had abducted a woman who had allegedly converted to Islam. These rumors were in turn triggered by the airing of a broadcast from another woman, Camilia Shehata, the wife of a Coptic priest, who had also been rumored to have converted to Islam and then been abducted by Copts. In the broadcast, Shehata said that she remained a Christian and had never converted to Islam.

 

In this week’s issue of The Weekly Standard, my colleague Paul Marshall describes recent Salafi violence against Copts in Egypt, noting that the size, influence, goals, and activities of this extremist faction have drawn scant media attention. Like the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis want to see Egypt ruled under Islamic law, and some are using violence to bring that about. According to the English-language Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm, 50,000 Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood supporters held a joint rally in Giza over the weekend at which protesters chanted slogans of unity and support for Islamic law. At the rally, prominent Salafi preacher Safwat Hegazy proclaimed, “The United Arab States and the United Islamic States are inevitably coming. . . . And soon we will have one caliph to rule us all.” Violence against the Copts was denounced by some rally speakers. The recent attacks were also condemned by the Saudi monarchy, the sheikh of al-Azhar University, and the Muslim Brotherhood on its English-language site. Egypt’s government officials vowed quick justice for the perpetrators, though trials for massacres of Copts over the past ten years continue to languish or have ended inconclusively.

 

It has been observed that the American mainstream media does not get religion. Regarding the weekend atrocities in Egypt, the most egregious blindspot was probably displayed by the New York Times, which uncritically reported the Egyptian interior ministry’s press releases, appearing to blame equally the victimized Coptic minority and their attackers. Quoting unnamed people on the street, it advanced the economic-determinist theory that unemployment rather than ideology was the trigger: Times correspondent David D. Kirkpatrick wrote that “people on both sides said the fighting pitted one group of frustrated and underemployed young men from the neighborhood against another, along battle lines that had more to do with tribal allegiances than any religious or political ideas.”  Largely because of mounting violence against the Copts, and against other, smaller minorities, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended on April 28 that the State Department list Egypt as a “country of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act and adopt foreign policies to defend religious freedom there.   By Nina Shea

 

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Toll in Egypt church attack rises to 10St Mary church burning

 

Mobs set two churches on fire in western Cairo during clashes between Muslims and Christians triggered by rumors of an interfaith romance that left 10 dead in some of the worst sectarian violence since the ouster of the president in a popular uprising. Egypt’s prime minister canceled his visit to the Gulf on Sunday, and called for an emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss the violence, according to the state news agency. Saturday night’s clashes were sparked by rumors in the low-income neighborhood of Imbaba that a Christian woman married to a Muslim had been abducted and was being held in one of the churches against her will. The report, which was never confirmed, spurred a mob from the ultraconservative Salafi trend of Islam to march on the Saint Menas Church. Christians barricaded themselves inside and around the church and the demonstrations turned violent. Gunfire sounded across the neighborhood, and witnesses said people on rooftops fired into the crowd.

 

Muslims accused Christians of starting the shooting, and large crowds instigated by the local Salafi religious leaders converged on the area. They lobbed fire bombs at homes, shops and the church, setting its facade on fire. The crowd later attacked another nearby church, the Virgin Mary Church, and set it on fire in another part of the Imbaba neighborhood. The army and police tried to break up the crowd with tear gas, but failed to clear the streets for hours. Residents stormed a six-story building near the Saint Menas Church, also setting it on fire, claiming the Christians used it to shoot at Muslims. “They were shooting from the roof, and they killed Muslims,” said 18-year old Yehia Ramadan. “We won’t stand idly by.” On Sunday morning, flames were still shooting out of windows, and furniture was strewn along the sidewalks. The fires in the churches were eventually extinguished and the buildings were surrounded by the army. Residents say Christians were hiding inside. The attackers chanted “With our blood and soul, we defend you Islam.”

 

Egypt’s state news agency said six Muslims and three Christians were killed. The body of one Christian was found inside the church. The religion of a 10th victim was not clear. Hisham Sheiha, a Health Ministry official, told the news agency that 186 were injured, including 11 in critical condition from gunshot wounds. Interfaith relationships are taboo in Egypt, where the Muslim majority and sizable Christian minority are both largely conservative. Such relationships are often the source of deadly clashes between the faiths. If a Christian woman marries a Muslim, she is expelled from the church. A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a Christian man, according to state law. Because divorce is banned under the Coptic Church, with rare exceptions, some Christian women resort to conversion to Islam or another Christian denomination to get out of a marriage.

 

Ultraconservative Salafi Muslims have been protesting for almost a year over the alleged church abduction of a priest’s wife because, they claim, she converted to Islam to escape an unhappy marriage. Salafis have used the case of Camilla Shehata as a rallying point for their supporters and they accuse the police of collaborating with the church to reconvert her. On Saturday just before the violence in Imbaba, Shehata appeared on a Christian TV station broadcast from outside of Egypt sitting with her husband and child and asserting that she was still a Christian and had never converted. “Let the protesters leave the Church alone and turn their attention to Egypt’s future,” she said from an undisclosed location. Since the fall of Egypt’s authoritarian government in a popular uprising, the once quiescent Salafis have become more assertive in trying to spread their ultraconservative version of an Islamic way of life. Their protests have inflamed the already delicate state of religious relations in Egypt. The Coptic Christian minority makes up 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people and complains of widespread discrimination that they say relegates them to second-class citizen status. A Jan. 1 suicide bombing outside a Coptic church in the port city of Alexandria killed 21 people, setting off days of protests. Barely a week later, an off-duty policeman shot and killed a 71-year-old Christian man, and wounded his wife and four others.

 

In the deadliest violence since the February ouster of the president, 13 were killed in pitched street battles in March after Muslims torched a church, once again over rumors of a love affair between a Muslim woman and a Christian man. Islamic clerics denounced the violence, sounding alarm bells at the escalating tension during the transitional period. The head of al-Azhar said the prestigious Islamic institution condemns the violence. “These events do not benefit either Muslim or Copts,” Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Sheik of al-Azhar told the daily Al-Ahram. The country’s top cleric, Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, said the violence “was endangering Egypt’s security.”

 

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BBC News Coverage of the attack on Embab ChurchesBBC News coverage Embaba

 
 

The radicalisation of the population and infiltration of Radical Islam as well as not punishing the violence encouraged Salafis to attach Christians

 

 

Audio and Video Tuesday, 10 May 2011

 

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THE UNITED STATES DESIGNATES EGYPT FOR THE FIRST TIME AS A COUNTRY OF PARTICULAR CONCERN (CPC) BECAUSE OF ITS FAILURE TO PROTECT THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OF THE COPTS

 

COPTIC NATIONALISM welcomes the classification of Egypt as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its Annual Report that has been published today, 28 April 2011. Egypt has failed before the 25 January 2011 Revolution, and after it, in its national and international commitments to protect the natural rights of its Copts, who amount to over 10 million of its citizens.

 

In its Press Release (28 April 2011) the USCIRF explains what is a CPC and why Egypt has been designated for the first time a CPC:

CPCs are nations whose conduct marks them as the world’s worst religious freedom violators and human rights abusers…In the case of Egypt, instances of severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government have increased dramatically since the release of last year’s report, with violence, including murder, escalating against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities. Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice.  Consequently, USCIRF recommends CPC designation for Egypt.

The Report is not an activity in academia – it is a Report designed to help the US policy makers identify those countries that have the worst religious freedom record. Where non-economic policy options designed to bring about cessation of the particularly severe violations of religious freedom have reasonably been exhausted, an economic measure generally must be imposed, according to the US Department of State.

The Coptic Nationalists support the addition of Egypt to the list of CPCs. Since 1971 Copts have experienced a series of repeated violations of their religious liberty, and despite many deputations, and requests to the political leadership of Egypt – whether ex-presidents Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat and Muhammad Husni Mubarak, or its post-25 January Revolution government, represented in Muhammad Hussain Tantawi, Head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and Dr. Essam Sharaf, the Prime Minister – all have fallen on deaf ears. It is clear that these failed leaders have the interests of the Islamists first. The Coptic Nationalists regret that Egypt has joined notorious countries for their religious freedom record, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, Nigeria, Iran and Iraq. We have, together with many Moderate Muslims in Egypt, tried to avoid Egypt being added to such a list, and had hoped that Egypt’s political leadership would act on its own to improve the plight of the Copts, but, alas, no one heeded the message.

 

Now it is the time for Tantawi and Sharaf to act, and to act NOW.

 

 Leonard Leo, Chairman of USCIRF, in his Opening Remarks, talks about the three kinds of violations, or themes, that his Commission has observed in the 2011 Annual Report: When it comes to religious freedom, there are three main kinds of violations our Commission has observed and documented in this Report. First, there is state hostility toward religion, religious communities and/or religious leadership. Second, there is state sponsorship of extremist ideology and education. And third, there is state failure to prevent and punish religious freedom violations.

 

State hostility involves active persecution of dissenting religious believers. State sponsorship involves active promotion, including exportation, of radical ideas and propaganda against these or other believers. State failure involves neglecting to take action necessary to protect them against other citizens who threaten them because of their differing beliefs. Another word for a state’s failure to protect is impunity. It is impunity that especially concerns this Commission, because it receives the least attention at precisely the time that it is growing tremendously. Coptic Nationalism can cite plenty of examples to show that Egypt has failed miserably on the three  counts – the Egyptian State has shown hostility towards the Copts; sponsored extreme ideology and education; failed to prevent and punish religious freedom violations.

 

On Egypt, Leonard Leo says in his Opening Remarks: It is partly because of our concern about impunity that today, for the first time, we are recommending that Egypt be designated a CPC. We are acutely aware that the success of Egypt’s current political transition depends on its full respect for the rule of law, including respect for fundamental human rights, of which religious freedom is critical. According to our findings, the Egyptian government engaged in and tolerated religious freedom violations both before and after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11 of this year. In his waning months, religious freedom conditions were rapidly deteriorating, and since his departure, we’ve seen nothing to indicate that these conditions have improved.

 

This is especially true on the impunity front, where attacks on religious minorities, particularly Coptic Christians, but also disfavored Muslims, have risen. The severe level of violence and the failure to convict those responsible – including two of the three alleged perpetrators in last year’s Naga Hammadi murders – continued to foster a climate of impunity, making more violence likely. Despite the transitional government’s initial efforts to dismantle the repressive state security apparatus, Egypt’s state of emergency remains and laws and practices that discriminate continue to hinder religious freedom. Since February 11, military and security forces have allegedly used excessive force, including live ammunition, against Christian demonstrators and churches.

 

Then he advises the US government on how to pressurise Egypt to improve the Coptic situation: As part of a CPC designation, USCIRF recommends that the U.S. use some of the money it gives Egypt for military assistance to enhance physical protection for Copts and other religious minorities and their places of worship. The U.S government should also provide more aid to organizations promoting democracy and governance training, as well as for civil society groups promoting human rights and religious freedom reforms. These recommendations are particularly welcomed by Coptic Nationalism. We must not hide the fact that this is political pressure imposed on Egypt’s political leadership: it is meant to induce Egypt, which is considered a friend of the US, to abide by international standards in human rights, and to earn its position in the civilised international community. And the Copts cannot be blamed for seeking international intervention to improve their plight – the people who shoulder the blame, fairly and squarely, are Egypt’s failed political leadership, which could have protected the Copts’ natural rights and saved Egypt’s reputation, but have chosen not to. History will judge these politicians severely as miserable failures – but the present leadership has still some opportunity to reverse its previous policies, and save Egypt from the grasp of the Islamists and the Islamist ideology that threatens Egypt’s Copts and Moderate Muslims alike.

 

For more on this, go to: The Website of USCIRF  – http://www.uscirf.gov/home.html

USCIRF Press Release (28 April 2011)

http://www.uscirf.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3595

 Opening Remarks by the Chairman of USCIRF, Leonard Leo

http://www.uscirf.gov/images/opening%20remarks%202011%203.pdf

The USCIRF full Annual Report 2011

http://www.uscirf.gov/images/book%20with%20cover%20for%20web.pdf

Media coverage of the USCIRF Report by the end of 28 April 2011

“Panel blacklists Egypt for religious oppression” (Washignton Times) – “US board faults Egypt on religious freedom” (Agence France Presse) – “Türkiye dini özgürlüklerde izleme listesinde” (CNN Turkey) – “Country of concern” (World Magazine) – “Recurrent attacks on Copts has Egypt slated for US religious freedom blacklist” (Ahram Online) – “Egypt Named to US List of 14 Religious Freedom Violators” (Voice of America) – “Ai Cập có tên trong danh sách 14 nước vi phạm quyền tự do tôn giáo” (Voice of America Vietnam) – “Religious freedom report criticizes Egypt and Obama” (Deseret News)
“Despite own poor record, US faults Egypt on religious freedom” (Press TV)

ON COPTIC NATIONALISM Blog: http://copticliterature.wordpress.com/ 

 

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Copts call for million-man protest to protect cathedral from Salafis

 

 A number of Coptic movements announced on Monday that they would be organizing a million-man protest on Friday, to be named the “Million-man Protest to Protect the Cathedral.” The announcement came after thousands of Salafis organized a sit-in outside the Cathedral of St. Mark in Abbasseya on Friday. The protest, which reached all the way to the Papal Headquarters, was organized to demand the release of Kamilia Shehata, the priest’s wife who is thought to have converted to Islam but later held against her will by the Coptic Church. Other Coptic groups also called for protests on Wednesday inside the Cathedral in conjunction with the Pope’s weekly sermon. The organizers, however, decided against the timing so as not to prevent Christians from attending the sermon.

 Rami Kamel, a member of the Coptic group Maspero Youth Union (MYU), which is organizing the Friday protest, said that the aim is to protect and secure the cathedral, in anticipation of potential Salafi attacks. The MYU includes a group of Coptic activists who staged a sit-in outside the Egyptian Radio and Television Union building to protest the demolition of the Two Martyrs’ Church in Atfeeh Kamel said that, in light of the recurrent Salafi protests against the church, the existing security presence was no longer sufficient. The security forces only consist of around 50 soldiers and two armored vehicles, whereas the Salafis number in the thousands. Kamel went on to say that for this reason, the MYU decided to take on the responsibility of protecting the cathedral themselves on Friday. He said the group had sent a letter to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to inform it of the peaceful purpose behind the protest and to call on the military to provide security. He said that the Coptic youth spontaneously organized the protest due to the “Salafis’ slandering of the Church and Pope Shenouda III.” { Written by Almasry alyoum newspaper Tuesday, 03 May 2011}

  

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Muslims Protest At Church in Cairo

 

 

 Thousands of Muslim demonstrators gathered in front St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, vowing not to leave until they know the whereabouts of Coptic women, especially Camilia Shehata (AINA 7-23-2010)) who allegedly converted to Islam but are held against their will by the Coptic Orthodox Church in monasteries and churches. The sit-in was called for by the newly-founded Coalition for the Support of New Muslims. At the time of the Muslim demonstrations, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III was not present in his residence within the grounds of the Cathedral. The head of security at the Cathedral closed the gates and it was reported that Christians have been asked not to come to the Cathedral to avoid altercations with the protesting Muslims.

 

 The Cathedral was cordoned off by the military police and security forces. Cairo saw today three separate protests staged by Salafis against Pope Shenouda and the church, marching afterwards to the Coptic Cathedral in Abbasiya. The first demonstration was in front of El-Fatah mosque in Ramsis Square, the second in front of Al-Nour mosque Abbasiya Square, and the third came out of the Sharia Association mosque in Ramsis. The protesters demanded the resolution of the “ten demands”, which they called for last Sunday, during their protest in front of the el-Kayed Ibrahim mosque in Alexandria, mainly the “trial of Pope Shenouda”, ” the release of Camelia Shehata and Wafaa Constantine” and “inspection of monasteries and churches to look for Muslim women held by the church.”

 

The Muslims chanted “Islamic, Islamic, against your will, Islamic” in front of the Cathedral and “They abducted Wafaa Constantine, By Allah we will not be silent” and “With our souls and blood, we will defend Islam.” They held banners and photos of the alleged Muslim converts who were allegedly abducted by the church, as well as banners calling for an Islamic State (video of demonstration). At the time of their afternoon prayers, thousands of Muslims prayed with the organizers, who asked the demonstrators to turn their backs to the Cathedral. Islamic lawyer Mamdouh Ismail gave a speech in which he called for the realization of human rights and the rule of law, pointing out that this sit-in is not directed against the cathedral as a house of worship for Christians, whom he described as partners in the homeland. He also asked the Christians “to participate in the demonstrations demanding the appearance of Camelia.” In the same context, Khalid Al Harbi, director of the “Islamic Observatory against Proselytizing,” said “we will not go and we will not plead with anyone, but we will take our rights with our own hands.”

 

A difference of opinion emerged between the organizers of the protest about when to end the protest. Renowned Muslim Salafi leaders Dr. Yasser Borhamy, from Alexandria, sent a message to the protesters asking them to disperse, saying the reason behind the protest was to deliver a message and so that no sectarian strife should occur because of the Salafis, while others like Abu Yehia, who claims he was with Camelia when she converted to Islam, wanted to break into the Cathedral.

Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of human rights organization, told Voice of the Free Copts that although demonstrations are legal, the Salafi demonstrations aim at incitement to sectarian strife in Egypt. “They call for the release of Camilia Shehata, who said she was a Christian and will live and die as a Christian,” he said (Camelia Shehata confirms her Christian faith “>video of Camilia). “Also, the authority who can say if she converted to Islam is Al-Azhar and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar confirmed two weeks ago that Camilia never set foot there. Do they want a confrontation with the Copts? Do they want bloodshed just because these people are making illegal demands?”

 

Gabriel said that the Supreme Council of the armed forces should put an end to these demands and the insults to Pope Shenouda and the church as they did last week and on April 25 in Alexandria. He pointed out the disgrace of Egypt being designated a “country of particular concern” by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. He added that the armed forces have to protect the Copts from the Muslims, otherwise he will go to the International institutions to do so. Egypt receives $300 million from the U.S. every year to improve on human rights, “So where is this money?” Says Gabriel. “Do we take it to put it in our pockets? Where is this improvement?” He said that a Coptic conference will be held on May 8, to discuss the dire situation of the Copts after the January 25 Revolution. Islamic lawyer Ismail said after the sit-in was called off , that he has reached an agreement with the army to solve the issue of Camellia Shehata by bringing her out on one of the satellite channels to declare whether she converted to Islam or not , and in exchange the Salafis are to suspend until such time all their demonstrations and sit-ins.  {By Mary Abdelmassih}   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-WtO0YyDzQ&feature=player_embedded

  

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His Grace Bishop Suriel : Feast of the Resurrection 2011

 

Feast of the Resurrection 2011

His Grace Bishop Suriel  –  Bishop of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions –  The Resurrection: An Act of Christ’s Love and Care

 


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A Statement from the Union of Coptic Organizations in Europe

 

In view of the painful incidents that have happened to our people, the Christians in Egypt, the Copts, it was decided to sit in the European Parliament in a month’s time from now, to explain the latest attacks on the Copts especially after the January 25, 2011 revolution.  Such attacks are recorded by civil organizations and particularly “the organization of Egyptians against religious discrimination”,  that I attached to two letters to Field Marshal Mohammad Hussein Tantawy, Head of the Army Counsel.  As examples and by no means conclusive:

 – Slaughter of a Copt, the owner of a jewellery store by the name “Hemaya Samy” in Thabet Street, Assiut.
– Slaughter of Fr. Dawoud Botros, priest of Amir Tadros church, Shatb village, near Assiut.
– Burning down the homes of the Bahai in the village of El-Shourania in Souhag.
– Burning down and demolishing the church of Sool of Atfeeh.
– Burning down the home of the Copt “Ayman Anwar Demetry” of Kena and cutting off his ear.
– The attack on a Copt in Abu Al-Matameer city, province of Behera and burning down his store after accusing him (falsely) of having relations with a female neighbour. The matter was resolved after a reconciliation  meeting in which it was decided to  fine the family of the victim 100,000 Egyptian pounds and ordering him to leave the city!
– Slaughter of a Copt in Sugah by Salaphi (strict Muslim) groups and throwing his body from the  third floor of a building.
– The rise of a group of hoodlums terrorising the Copts in the villages of Al-Badraman and Nazlet Al-Badraman, at Deir Mouas, province of Minya, collecting taxes from them and seizing their lands.
– Preventing the Copts from praying in their church in the district of Embaba, Cairo.
– Attack on a Christian lady and burning down her home in Sadat city, province of Menoufia.
– Occupying the church of El-Matemeer village and forbidding the Christians to pray in it until after a traditional reconciliation meeting.
– Burning down the homes of the Bahai in the village of Al-Shouraniah, upper Egypt.
– Increase in number of thefts and plundering of Copts’ properties  and kidnapping of Coptic girls and women.
– Increase in the number of attacks by the “Salaphis” on the Copts, their cars and their stores in Abu Korkas, Minya, together with burning down of 12 homes , two cars, killing two Copts and injuring many.
 
 
We refuse to witness the submission of Egypt presented by the Higher Council of the Armed Forces and the Right Honourable the Prime Minister of Egypt to a group of extremists in the provinces of Egypt, specially in Kena.  Very recently, a Copt of military background was appointed as governor of Kena. In Kena for the first time and it will not be the last time, dangerous signs were raised that threaten the Egyptian constitution and stand against all Human Rights conventions.  These signs include “No reign of an infidel over Muslims, we want a civilian Muslim governor, there is no God but Allah, the Christian is an enemy of Allah.”

That confirms what we previously warned before and after the revolution against such irresponsible activities and the sorrowful incidents that started by cutting off the ear of a Copt, blocking the railway roads and preventing  the trains from running for five days. This was besides raising Saudi flags and signs declaring Kena as an Islamic emirate!  This is a beginning not an ending to what awaits our beloved Egypt from unprecedented dangers in its new history, particularly after the inaction of the new regime and the deliberate silence and continuous incitements against the Copts.
 
We were hoping that matters would not reach this horrible and hideous level, and we were also eager to share in building the new Egypt.  We actually made connections with certain development organizations to help to rescue our national economy in this sensitive period.  We travelled to Egypt and met with some responsible authorities, yet the winds went against the proper current. We have no choice but to deliver our complaints to the European Parliament and to the World Human Rights Organizations to explain to them the atrocities that go beyond limits for our people the Copts in Egypt.
 
Madhat Kelata,
President of the Union of Coptic Organizations in Europe
 
 cc. The Army counsel, The Right Honourable the Prime Minister of Egypt, World News Agents,  Egyptian Embassies abroad,  All Human Rights Organizations, Political Parties in Egypt.  {Ps. This statement is available in the Arabic, English, French, Dutch and German languages.  The European Parliament convened for the first time of its history on February 1, 2011, in Brussel}.

 

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Brotherhood leader: Preparing for an Islamic government

 

The role of the Muslim Brotherhood is to mobilize the nation to establish a way of life based on Islam, said its Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater. Speaking at a conference in Alexandria two days ago, Shater further said that the group is preparing to initiate an Islamic government to achieve progress based on Islamic principles, and that its objective is to establish an Islamic state and become world leaders.
 
Pointing out that no Sunni state currently has a regime with Islamic references, he urged Muslim scholars to contribute an workable, comprehensive, civilized Islamic model. Asked about the recent resignations of some Brotherhood leaders, Shater said, “If two Brotherhood members have left, a hundred join every day.” “If I myself violate the decisions of the group’s Shura Council, then I have to leave it, because the Brotherhood is not a group of individuals, it is a group based on institutions.”
 
He said the Brotherhood’s strength lies in its moral and organizational elements and the reliance on its Shura Council in all its affairs. He added that its principles cannot be changed for the sake of its new political party, the Freedom and Justice party, which will be one of its political tools. He revealed that a project is being examined to separate the party financially and administratively from the group. Declaring that the Brotherhood will become more open in the near future, he added that internal regulations will be amended as part of its development.
 
He said the group has taken a final decision not to participate in the presidential election, but that it has not yet decided on the percentage of parliamentary seats to contest, adding that media reports represent only the educated guesses of group members. Its Shura Council will decide, he added. Shater attributed contradictory statements by group leaders to the media crackdown on them in the past and the lack of proper communication between members, admitting that some do not know how to handle the media well. He also blamed the media for paying too much attention to certain members’ individual positions.
 
He said members should not express views different from those of the Brotherhood. Shater said the ousted regime used the most extreme form of repression against the group, which severely restricted its activities in the public sphere. He said that in 2000 alone, 9000 companies belonging to the Brotherhood were closed down, and an estimated 35,000 Brotherhood members were arrested during the Mubarak’s rule.

 

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2500 Bibles burned by US but Muslims kill and US Senate wants new law to protect Koran?

 

Lindsay Graham and his Dem buds want a new law to protect the Koran but the US burned 2500 Bibles and they didn’t say “boo.” Can you say HYPOCRISY? Can you say dhimmitude? Can you say Western Ruling Class and New World Order wants Christianity gone? Can you say “Lindsay, you JACKASS”? Try it. It feels REALLY GOOD!!
 
 
Today, Christian Broadcasting’s David Brody says “the Bibles were burned because the rules on the base say that all garbage is burned at the end of the day. But just asking here; if the U.S. Military seized a stack full of Korans, would they be burned? You think that might cause a little outrage in the Muslim world?”

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Freedom’s Painful Price

 

Before she was arrested, tortured, stripped and subjected to a “virginity exam” — all for her pro-democracy activities — Salwa al-Housiny Gouda admired the Egyptian Army. Her odyssey is a reminder that the Egyptian revolution that exhilarated so many around the world in January and February remains unfinished. The army is as much in charge as ever, and it has taken over from the police the task of torturing dissidents. President Hosni Mubarak is gone, but in some ways Mubarakism continues. Ms. Gouda, a 20-year-old hairdresser, is unmarried and strong-willed. She threw herself into the democracy movement early this year, sleeping in a tent on Tahrir Square, also known as Liberation Square, the movement’s epicenter. Like the other activists, she focused her rage initially on Mr. Mubarak and on the police, rather than the army. “I trusted the army,” she told me, and she and other protesters often chanted slogans like, “The army and the people are one.”

 

But that was an illusion. Never squeaky clean, the army has increasingly taken over the role of domestic security from the police and seems fed up with disorder. On March 9, it moved in to clear Tahrir Square, pulling down tents and detaining more than 190 demonstrators. Ms. Gouda was one of about 19 women arrested that day. Though the army has denied all such accusations, her testimony is confirmed by other detainees and by human rights groups. They say that the women were taken to the Egyptian Museum, a tourist landmark beside Tahrir Square, tied up or handcuffed to the gate outside it, and then slapped, beaten and subjected to electric shocks. “They didn’t give us a chance to speak,” Ms. Gouda said. “They used an electric prod whenever we tried to speak.”

 

The prisoners were later taken to the military prosecutor’s office, where the men were photographed as criminals beside a table full of clubs and Molotov cocktails supposedly confiscated from them. (In my experience, the people with such weapons in Egypt are usually plainclothes police officers.) The women were paraded before cameras and told that they faced charges of prostitution — leaving them terrified at the thought of the accusations being broadcast on state television. Ms. Gouda was extraordinarily strong in telling her story. But at one point she broke down in tears. “They know that the way they can harm a woman the most is by accusing her of prostitution,” she said. Later, the detainees were taken to a military prison. Ms. Gouda said that the women were strip-searched by a female guard, but — perhaps to add to the humiliation — the search was conducted in a room with doors and windows wide open. She said she did not know if anybody looked in.

 

Then the unmarried women were subjected to a forced “virginity exam,” conducted on a bed in a prison hallway, by a man. When the women pleaded to be examined by a woman instead, they were threatened with cattle prods, Ms. Gouda said. “I was shattered,” she recalled. “My whole body was shaking.” Her legs were covered with a blanket, but a half-dozen military men stood behind her as she was examined, Ms. Gouda said. “I was ready to be beaten,” she added. “But the worst moment was when I was stripped and examined.” Heba Morayef of Human Rights Watch said that such exams were not customary in prisons and that the point was to humiliate female activists. “In this context, they’re sexual assaults,” she noted — but added that the military is above the law.

 

Ms. Gouda and the other women were all released after a few days, and in the end none were actually charged with prostitution. But many male democracy activists have been sentenced to prison terms. A Cairo human rights lawyer, Ragia Omran, estimates that perhaps 1,000 Egyptians who have been arrested by the military since the protests began remain in detention today. Some have been sentenced to five years in prison after military trials lasting 30 minutes or less, without any right to choose their own lawyers, she said. Ms. Omran is accustomed to representing other detainees. But during a referendum on constitutional changes this month, she herself was seized by soldiers while observing the polls. By her account, she was roughed up, strip-searched, shouted at and detained for hours until her well-connected family and friends managed to get her released. All this is a huge letdown from the triumph when “people power” toppled President Mubarak. The lesson may be that revolution is not a moment but a process, a gritty contest of wills that unfolds painstakingly long after the celebrations have died and the television lights have dimmed. “The revolution isn’t over yet,” Ms. Omran told me. “Freedom isn’t for free” {New York Times – 27 March 2011Written by NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF}.
 

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Egypt women protesters forced to take “virginity tests”

 

A leading rights group says the Egyptian army arrested, tortured and forced women to take “virginity tests” during protests earlier this month. Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Cairo to investigate. It says at least 18 female protesters were arrested after army officers cleared Tahrir Square on 9 March. It says they were then beaten, given electric shocks and strip searched. The army denies the allegations.

 

‘Utterly unacceptable': A 20-year-old woman, Salwa Hosseini, told Amnesty she was forced to take off all her clothes by a female prison guard in a room with open doors and a window. She said that male soldiers looked in and took photographs of her while she was naked. The demonstrator said a man in a white coat later carried out a ‘virginity check’ on her and she was threatened with prostitution charges. “Forcing women to have ‘virginity tests’ is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women,” a spokesperson for Amnesty International said in a statement.

 

“Women and girls must be able to express their views on the future of Egypt without being detained, tortured, or subjected to profoundly degrading and discriminatory treatment.” Egypt’s military has been criticised by activists for detaining people involved in the mass protests and abusing them. The military denies using torture against civilians. Last week, the head of the military police told an Egyptian newspaper that video footage had been fabricated by individuals wanting to create divisions between the people and the armed forces. Human rights groups have also criticised Egypt’s new rulers for continuing to put civilians on trial before military courts. They say these have a track record of unfair trials and severely restrict the right to appeal. Reporting on the military in Egypt is difficult. A law passed in 1956 prevents writing about the army. { Written by BBC News –  24 March 2011}
 

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Egypt’s Copts Suffer More Attacks

 

Copts in Egypt are begging for Egyptian Armed Forces protection today after a Muslim mob of several thousand attacked their church in the village of Soul, about 30 kilometers from Cairo, last night. The Church of St. Mina and St. George was torched, and its clergy are unaccounted for. The fire department and security forces failed to respond to Coptic pleas for help during the arson attack. According to a report from the Washington-based Coptic American Friendship Association, the mob, chanting “Allahu Akbar,” pulled down the church’s cross and detonated a handful of gas cylinders inside the structure. The ensuing fire destroyed the church and all its contents, including the sacred relics of centuries-old saints. It is reported that a romantic relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman, which sharia forbids, and the refusal of the woman’s father to kill her to restore the community’s “honor,” aroused the Muslim ire. An account of this incident is here. (I also received a message from a Coptic friend that this week members of the Muslim Brotherhood, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” stormed a Christian school on Thabit Street in downtown Asyut and attempted to take it over. Egyptian security forces, including an army unit, intervened and routed out the Brotherhood members. The school had been built by Presbyterian missionaries in the early 1900s, and is now directed by Presbyterian Pastor Naji. Christian leaders from this southern area expressed a deepening sense of insecurity as the Muslim Brotherhood emerges from the underground.)

 

This incident follows separate brutal attacks by armed forces using heavy machine-gun fire against two monasteries, ostensibly for zoning problems, on February 23. Compass Direct, an American-based Christian news agency, reported that one monk and six church workers were shot and wounded when the Egyptian Army attacked the Coptic Orthodox Anba Bishoy Monastery in Wadi Al-Natroun, 110 kilometers north of Cairo, in order to destroy a wall monks had built to defend their property from raiders. On the same day, it reported that, in a similar incident, the army also attacked the Anba Makarious Al Sakandarie Monastery in Al Fayoum,
130 kilometers southwest of Cairo. Under an Egyptian law carried over from Ottoman times, state permission is required to build or repair church property and such permits are rarely issued. There are growing concerns that Egypt’s 10 million or so Coptic Christians are being targeted under the cloak of political chaos during these uncertain times. A friend reports that the local Egyptian police have abandoned their posts in the provinces and thus many churches no longer have armed guards protecting them as they did following the al-Qaeda-inspired church bombing of New Year’s Day in Alexandria. Egypt’s army is one of the largest recipients of U.S. military aid. {By Nina Shea — Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom}

 
 
 

 

 
 
 

 

 

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The Egyptian army attacked Anba Bishoy Monastery with live ammunition

Dear all

Please find hereunder videos’ regarding The Egyptian army attacked Anba Bishoy Monastery with live ammunition

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_V9dNpQ9O10

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeZ9nWsRZNo

 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4M7RBX32O3g

 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_HzNwuNwSk

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Muslims Abduct Coptic Christian Woman in Egypt

Muslims broke into the home of a Coptic family this afternoon and abducted their 18-year-old daughter Nesma Sarwat. The home belongs to the building contractor who built the controversial St. Mary and St. Michael church in Talbiya, within the Omraniya neighborhood of Giza. The abductors wrote messages on the home’s wall, the messages said “Islam is the solution” and “The Church has to be demolished.” The abductors also wrote the names of the other family members on the wall. Neighbors heard voices, but no one saw the abductors as the whole operation took less than ten minutes and blood was found on the stairs and in the flat, reported Coptic activist Mariam Ragy of Free Coptic Voice advocacy. “I believe writing the names of the rest of the family might mean that their turn is coming,” said the neighbor.  The Family of the abducted woman called the security forces to the scene.

 

St. Mary and St. Michael church was the scene on November 24, 2010 of severe clashes between State Security forces and Copts protesting over the closure of their church, during which the forces used tear gas and live ammunition against the protesters, resulting in the killing of three Copts, hundreds of injuries and the arrest of 176 Copts (AINA 11-27-2010); During the protests in Tahrir Square which, culminated in the ousting of President Mubarak, a period which witnessed the complete absence of the security forces from the streets, the congregation of St. Mary and St. Michael church was guarding the church, which was closed on November 24. On February 6, as soon as a few security officers came back on duty, they stormed the church and evicted the priest and the congregation who were keeping vigil there and holding services praying for peace in Egypt.

 

On September 15, 2010, an Islamic Jihadist Forum called Islamic Atahadi (Challenge) Network, which is said to be an affiliate of Al-Qaida, published on its website under the title “Images of the Church under construction in the Pyramids and how to demolish it.” The Forum showed photos of St. Mary and St. Michael church in Talbiya, which was still under construction, gave its members instructions on how to demolish the church by using sugar; “An easy and affordable way for the demolition of the church before its completion, no need for demonstrations, no need for the use of weapons or explosives, you only need to introduce certain quantities of sugar, yes normal sugar.” They went on to explain how to introduce reasonable quantities of sugar inside the forms prepared for pouring the columns, “because sugar affects concrete and cancels the chemical reaction which makes the sand and gravel hold together with the cement.” They advised in their step by step instructions that timing was very important in the process; the best time being immediately before pouring the roof.

 

Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Federation for Human Rights Organization, presented on February 10 a complaint to the Attorney-General on behalf of the people of the Omraniya area, against the Governor of Giza, and the former director of security in, Giza accusing them of being the cause of the murder of three of the Ormaniya Copts and causing sectarian strife.

 

On February 8 sectarian violence broke out in the hamlet of Elias Hanna, in Samalut, Minya province when some 80 Muslims attacked a number of Copts because they attempted to pray in a house belonging to the Diocese since 2007. The Muslim attack resulted in the injury of 5 Copts. Nearly 6000 Copts living in the hamlet of Elias Hanna and three other neighboring villages have no church.

 

On February 16 the Church of St. George in Rafah was torched, the walls of the church had writing saying “No to Christians in Muslim Land” (video).

Sectarian tensions broke out on February 17 when Muslims attacked Christians inside the church of Saint Georges in the village of El-Hathatah near Samalout, Minya. This was prompted by the church building a roof over the courtyard between the church and its community services building within the fenced church compound, in order to make more space for its congregation. Muslims surrounded the church and hurled stones. The armed forces were called but without response, prompting the Coptic youth to defend their church.

Mary Abdelmassih

 

 

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IHH : Freedom Flotilla II aid convoy would reach Gaza Strip by end of May

 

Muhammad Kaya, head of IHH’s branch office in the Gaza Strip, has affirmed that the second Freedom Flotilla aid convoy would reach Gaza Strip by end of May on the first anniversary of the first Freedom Flotilla massacre. He said during a meeting in Gaza with Palestinian minister of transport and communications Osama Al-Aisawi that the fleet would come from various European countries. The discussion tackled joint cooperation in the fields of transport and communications. Kaya said that the IHH sponsors around 9,000 orphans in Gaza in addition to supporting professional training centers in the Strip and would soon open a hospital in Beit Hanun. IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation is an Islamic Turkish NGO active in more than 100 countries. Established in 1992 and officially registered in Istanbul in 1995, İHH provides humanitarian relief in areas of war, earthquake, hunger, and conflict.

 

The İHH holds Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2004. Current president of the İHH is Fehmi Bülent Yıldırım. The İHH came to international attention in the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla raid of 31 May 2010. The İHH was owner and operator of three flotilla ships involved in the incident, including the MV Mavi Marmara, which served as the flagship of the convoy Freedom Flotilla I. Nine Turkish passengers, many of them members or volunteers for the İHH, aboard the Mavi Marmara were killed by Israeli forces in a raid that began when Israeli commandos boarded the vessel during its attempt to breach the blockade of Gaza last May.  {www.humanityvoice.net}

 

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Mubarak’s final hours: Desperate bids to stay

 

Hosni Mubarak was supposed to announce his resignation on Thursday. The Egyptian military expected it. The new head of his ruling party pleaded to him face-to-face to do it. But despite more than two weeks of massive demonstrations by protesters unmoved by lesser concessions, the president still didn’t get it.  Mubarak’s top aides and family – including his son Gamal, widely viewed as his intended successor – told him he could still ride out the turmoil. So the televised resignation speech the rest of Egypt had expected became a stubborn – and ultimately humiliating – effort to cling to power. It only enraged protesters. On Friday, the military moved decisively.

 

On Saturday, insiders in Egypt gave The Associated Press an initial picture of what happened in the hours before Egypt’s “unoustable” leader of nearly 30 years fell. Some of them spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. Their account portrayed Mubarak as unable, or unwilling, to grasp that nothing less than his immediate departure would save the country from the chaos generated by the protests that began Jan. 25. A senior government official said Mubarak lacked the political machinery that could give him sound advice about what was happening in the country. “He did not look beyond what Gamal was telling him, so he was isolated politically,” said the official. “Every incremental move (by Mubarak) was too little too late.”

 

The military, meanwhile, was becoming increasingly impatient with the failure of Mubarak and Omar Suleiman, his newly appointed vice president, to end the protests. The unrest spiraled out of control Thursday and Friday, with demonstrations, strikes, sit-ins and even gunbattles engulfing almost the entire nation. Insiders spoke of fighting among Cabinet ministers over how great a threat the demonstrators posed, and of deliberate attempts by close aides, including Gamal Mubarak, to conceal from the president the full extent of what was happening on the streets. The insiders who spoke to the AP include a senior Egyptian official, editors and journalists from state newspapers close to the regime who have spent years covering Mubarak’s presidency, retired army generals in contact with top active duty officers, senior members of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party and analysts familiar with the machinations of Mubarak’s inner circle.

 

Their account of the events of the past three weeks shows that the military became concerned soon after the protests began. They said it was the military that persuaded Mubarak to appoint Suleiman as vice president – the first since Mubarak took office in 1981 – and place him in charge of negotiations with opposition groups on a way out of the standoff. Suleiman failed on that score – on Tuesday he was reduced to threatening that a coup would replace the negotiations if no progress was made. Leaders of the protests vowed not to negotiate until Mubarak was gone, even after he said he would not seek another term in September and promised reforms to reduce poverty, end repressive emergency laws and make Egypt more democratic. By Thursday, nearly everyone had expected Mubarak to resign, including the military.

 

Hossam Badrawi, a stalwart of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, met with Mubarak on Thursday and later told reporters that he expected the Egyptian leader to “meet people’s demands” – read that stepping down – later the same day. After Mubarak did not, Badrawi, who had been named the party’s secretary general a few days earlier, resigned in protest, according to two party insiders. Meanwhile, the military’s highest executive body – The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – met without its chairman, commander-in-chief Mubarak, and issued a statement recognizing the “legitimate” rights of the protesters. They called the statement “Communique No. 1,” language that in the Arab world suggests a a coup was taking place.

 

Insiders said Mubarak’s address Thursday night was meant to be his resignation announcement. Instead, he made one last desperate attempt to stay in office after being encouraged to do so by close aides and especially by his family, long the subject of rumors of corruption, abuse of power and extensive wealth. One insider said Gamal, his banker-turned-politician son, rewrote the speech several times before the recording. It was aired at 11 p.m., several hours after state TV said Mubarak was about to address the nation. It showed brief footage of him meeting with Suleiman and his Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq.

 

The address was clearly prepared in a rush. It had rough cuts, and Mubarak was caught at least once acting like he was between takes, fixing his tie and looking away from the camera. Information Minister Anas al-Fiqqi was there at the studio alongside Gamal Mubarak, according to two of the insiders. State TV quoted him in the hours before the broadcast saying that Mubarak would not resign. On Saturday, al-Fiqqi announced his own resignation.

 

Mubarak said in the address that he was handing over most of his powers to Suleiman but again rejected calls for his resignation. He vowed to introduce genuine reforms, prosecute those behind the violence that left scores of protesters dead and offered his condolences to the victims’ families. He said he was hurting over calls for his removal and, in his defense, recounted his record in public service. He was not going anywhere until his term ended in September, he said. He had hoped that putting Suleiman in charge would end the protests and allow him to remain in office as a symbolic figure, a scenario that would have seen him make a dignified exit. The address betrayed what many Egyptians suspected for years – Mubarak was out of touch with the people.

 

Mubarak, said a senior Egyptian official, “tried to manage the crisis within the existing structures and norms. That was clearly too late. The incremental offers of reform also were clearly insufficient.” The insiders differ on whether Mubarak’s address that night was made with the consent of the military, whether it represented his last chance to take back control of the streets. Even if the military’s patience wasn’t exhausted by the speech, it ran out as the protests grew more intense.

 

On Friday, the military allowed protesters to gather outside Mubarak’s presidential palace in a Cairo suburb – but by that time Mubarak and his immediate family had already flown to another palace in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, 250 miles away. The soldiers also allowed protesters to besiege the TV and radio building in downtown Cairo. Two days earlier, the military stood by and watched as protesters laid siege to the prime minister’s office and parliament. Shafiq, the prime minister, could not work in his office and had to work out of the Civil Aviation Ministry close to Cairo’s airport.

 

By early afternoon, millions were out on the streets in Cairo, the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and a string of other major cities. The crowd outside his palace was rapidly growing. Only a few meters and four army tanks separated the protesters from the gate. Suleiman, Mubarak’s longtime confidant and a former intelligence chief, announced that Mubarak was stepping down. In a two-sentence statement to state television that took 49 seconds, Egypt’s history changed forever.  {The Washington Post Written by MAGGIE MICHAEL and HAMZA HENDAWI   – Saturday, 12 Feb 2011}

 
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Important – Congressional Bill for Coptic Community
 

 
Please see Elizabeth Hoffman’s email below.  The United States House of Representatives introduced today the attached legislation to provide for the establishment of a Special Envoy to promote religious freedom for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia.  This bill was introduced by Congressman Frank Wolf (10th District, Virginia).  He is the Chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (a subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee) which conducted a hearing last week on the New Year’s Eve bombing in Alexandria, Egypt.  He has been a champion of the Coptic people in the past. 
 
This is the first piece of legislation introduced in this session of Congress that is designed to help the Coptic community in Egypt.  To be effective, we must act in the tradition of the Copts and take a peaceful and lawful approach to ensuring this issue becomes a top priority in our foreign policy with Egypt.  As Elizabeth suggests below, she needs our help in raising awareness by having each you write to your Congressman to urge them to cosponsor this bill.  Attached is a form letter you should feel free to use when writing to your Congressman.  The contact information for your Congressman may be found at this website: http://www.house.gov/.  Simply type in your zip code in the upper left hand corner and your legislator’s name will appear with a link to their website.
 
As His Grace Bishop David noted in his remarks at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday:
St. Paul reminds us that we will struggle in this life, but our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against sin and the spiritual forces of evil.  Therefore, we battle not with violence, but donning the armor of God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Let us give voice to our Coptic family in Egypt whose voices have been silenced.  I encourage you to write to your Congressman urging them to co-sponsor this bill.  Please forward this to other Copts throughout the United States encouraging them to do the same.  A copy of this legislation along with a copy of the form letter will be posted at www.CopticLawyers.org.  Thank you.
 
Mark
 

Dear Colleague:

 I urge you to cosponsor bipartisan legislation I introduced this week which would require the administration to appoint a special envoy for religious minorities in the Near East and South and Central Asia. The situation for religious minorities in these regions is increasingly precarious.  Last October, at least 70 people were killed during a siege on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad making it the worst massacre of Iraqi Christians since 2003.  In Alexandria, Egypt, 23 people were killed by a suicide bomber while coming out of mass at St. Mark and St. Peter Coptic Church.  In Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries in which the United States has invested its treasure and the lives of countless brave young American soldiers, persecution of Christians runs rampant. 
 

Other religious minorities including the Ahmadis, Baha’is, Zoroastrians and Jews are under increasing pressure in the region.  Last May, militants in Pakistan attacked two Ahmadi mosques in Pakistan killing at least 80 people.  According to the Baha’i World News Service, some 335 Baha’is have been arrested in Iran on account of their religious beliefs.  According to the State Department’s 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, Zoroastrians living in Iran also face persecution.  Members of the Jewish faith also continue to experience discrimination and persecution throughout the region.  The Special Envoy for Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal has noted that Holocaust glorification “is especially virulent in the Middle East media.” 

In the wake of these devastating attacks on religious freedom it is clear that these minorities are facing a serious threat that must be addressed.  If the international community fails to speak out, the prospects for religious pluralism and tolerance in the region are bleak. 

I hope you will join me in supporting this critical initiative.  For additional information or to cosponsor this important legislation, please contact Elizabeth Hoffman in my office Elizabeth.Hoffman@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

 Frank R. Wolf

 Member of Congress

 

 
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She is wonderful but  I am not sure why did she forget our culture, and kept using the F words I am sorry,but the contents of the Video is very important  as she was making it clear to Americans what this Revelation is all about.
 

 

Egyptian Mona Eltahawy kicks Bill Maher’s ***
Wow!!  What a woman!! Anti-Arab/Muslim, pro-Israel Bill Maher gets his
comeuppance from Mona.
 

 

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Mubarak family fortune could reach $70bn, say experts   

     

Egyptian president has cash in British and Swiss banks plus UK and US property

 

President Hosni Mubarak’s family fortune could be as much as $70bn (£43.5bn) according to analysis by Middle East experts, with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and along expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast.

After 30 years as president and many more as a senior military official, Mubarak has had access to investment deals that have generated hundreds of millions of pounds in profits. Most of those gains have been taken offshore and deposited in secret bank accounts or invested in upmarket homes and hotels. According to a report last year in the Arabic newspaper Al Khabar, Mubarak has properties in Manhattan and exclusive Beverly Hills addresses on Rodeo Drive.

His sons, Gamal and Alaa, are also billionaires. A protest outside Gamal’s ostentatious home at 28 Wilton Place in Belgravia, central London, highlighted the family’s appetite for western trophy assets.

Amaney Jamal, a political science professor at Princeton University, said the estimate of $40bn-70bn was comparable with the vast wealth of leaders in other Gulf countries. “The business ventures from his military and government service accumulated to his personal wealth,” she told ABC news. “There was a lot of corruption in this regime and stifling of public resources for personal gain. “This is the pattern of other Middle Eastern dictators so their wealth will not be taken during a transition. These leaders plan on this.” Al Khabar said it understood the Mubaraks kept much of their wealth offshore in the Swiss bank UBS and the Bank of Scotland, part of Lloyds Banking Group, although this information could be at least 10 years old.

There are only sketchy details of exactly where the Mubaraks have generated their wealth and its final destination. Christopher Davidson, professor of Middle East politics at Durham University, said Mubarak, his wife, Suzanne, and two sons were able to accumulate wealth through a number of business partnerships with foreign investors and companies, dating back to when he was in the military and in a position to benefit from corporate corruption.

He said most Gulf states required foreigners give a local business partner a 51% stake in start-up ventures. In Egypt, the figure is commonly nearer 20%, but still gives politicians and close allies in the military a source of huge profits with no initial outlay and little risk. “Almost every project needs a sponsor and Mubarak was well-placed to take advantage of any deals on offer,” he said. “Much of his money is in Swiss bank accounts and London property. These are the favourites of Middle Eastern leaders and there is no reason to think Mubarak is any different. Gamal’s Wilton Place home is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.”

Al Khabar named a series of major western companies that, partnered with the Mubarak family, generated an estimated $15m a year in profits. Aladdin Elaasar, author of The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the Uncertain Future of Egypt in the Obama Age, said the Mubaraks own several residences in Egypt, some inherited from previous presidents and the monarchy, and others the president has commissioned. Hotels and land around the Sharm el-Sheikh tourist resort are also a source of Mubarak family wealth.

Guardian, London – 5 Feb 2011 – Written by Phillip Inman 

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Attacks in Iraq and Egypt

Written by Lord David Alton     
 

Christmas and the New Year were marked by two bloody and ominous attacks on Christian worshippers in Iraq and Egypt. On December 30th, in Baghdad, at least two Christians were killed and nine wounded in a string of six attacks on Christian homes. The areas targeted were predominantly Christian areas, and the homes attacked were specifically Christian homes. And, on new Year’s Eve, an even more lethal attack resulted in the massacre of over 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians in the ancient city of Alexandria.

The old year ended and the new one opened with bloodshed that tragically points to attempts to systematically annihilate the ancient churches of the Middle East.

The word “genocide” – not one which should ever be used lightly or for rhetorical effect – is the correct terminology when a campaign sets out to annihilate an ethnic, religious, racial  or national group.

A legal definition of genocide is found in the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Article 2 defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Consider that definition when assessing first the appalling situation in Iraq  – brought home to us by the 31st October attack against the Syrian Catholic Cathedral in Baghdad in which 58 were killed. At the time of the October attacks in Baghdad the perpetrators also threatened violence against Egypt’s Coptic Christian communities – a threat which came to pass on New Year’s Eve. They have vowed to eradicate Christian believers in the region. The international community may not yet be willing to recognise these events as part of a genocidal campaign but unless they wake up to the nature of these atrocities it  will only be a matter of time before the definitions catch up with the realities. No doubt hand wringing “statesmen” will then claim they had no idea how bad the situation had become.

 

The violence against Egypt’s Copts is hardly new but it has been intensifying – with barely a murmur of protest: The Alexandria attack sharply underlines the vulnerability of Egypt’s Christians. The bomb attack outside the al-Qidiseen church (“Church of the Two Saints”) took place as worshippers were leaving a midnight service to celebrate the New Year. It is said that if the Mass had ended two minutes earlier the number of fatalities would have been massive. According to the official figures at least 21 were killed and 79 were injured. 

 

The injured also include eight Muslims. The church and a nearby mosque suffered extensive damage from the blast: Initially the authorities believed a car bomb was used, but now they believe a suicide bomber was responsible. The attack prompted angry clashes between Christians and local Muslims during which the mosque opposite the church was further damaged. The police used tear gas to disperse the crowds. The al-Qidiseen church was one of three churches which were attacked in April 2006 by a man wielding a knife, killing one person and injuring 17 others.

The massacre has been widely denounced by political and religious leaders in Egypt, including the Grand Mufti and other Muslims. This is to be welcomed, but the Egyptian Government’s own role hardly stands up to scrutiny or examination.  It is alleged that the authorities withdrew their security officials from the vicinity of the church about an hour before the attacks took place.

These attacks are part of a worsening pattern, sanctioned by the authorities, which I have observed since the publication, in 1992, of my report for the Jubilee Campaign, on the discrimination faced by Egyptian Copts. Having also served as honorary President of The UK Coptic Association I have also seen regular reports of the worsening situation. It disturbs me greatly that there seems considerable global indifference to the escalating violence against the Copts.

Egypt’s Copts make up some 12 million from a population of 80 million Egyptians and they face major human rights violations and are being increasingly persecuted. It is hard to believe that this is happening to them in 21st Century Egypt, which prides itself on being a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.  The events in Alexandria find an echo in the drive-by massacre of churchgoers leaving midnight mass on Coptic Orthodox Christmas Eve on January 6, 2010, in  Nag Hammadi. Six Copts were killed and nine others were seriously injured.  Later, in Giza  on November 24, 2010, the State’s own forces opened fire on peaceful Coptic protesters, worshipping in St. Mary and St. Michael’s Church.

In between those two incidents there were attacks on churches, collective punishment of Copts, abduction and, in collusion with the State, there have been incidents of Coptic minors being forced to convert – an increasing phenomenon.  Increasing, too, have been demonstrations, which have been staged over fifteen consecutive weeks, by radical Islamists – demonstrations which have targeted the Coptic Church and its head, the saintly Pope Shenouda.

These demonstrations have been  fanned by radical Muslim clerics and the Egyptian media,  based on allegations that the church is  abducting Christian girls who converted to Islam  and locking them up in monasteries, and of stockpiling weapons in monasteries for later use against Muslims, espousing sectarian hatred and violence against the Copts. 

On November 18th the US Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that “This kind of rhetoric goes too far and stokes the fire of extremists looking for ammunition to justify violent acts against religious minorities”.   USCIRF has placed Egypt on its watch list for religious freedom that requires close monitoring due to the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom engaged in or tolerated by the government

The number of violations against the Copts for the year 2010 are not yet published, but, from January 2008 to January 2010, there were at least 52 incidents of sectarian violence or tension—about two incidents a month—which took place in 17 of Egypt’s 29 governorates.  The vast majority of such sectarian incidents were waged by Muslims against Copts, taking the form of “collective revenge”.  This springs from an irrational conviction that all Christians should be made to pay for any grievance caused by a random Christian, in no way related to the original cause of the complaint.

According to the US International Religious Freedom Report 2010 published on December 17, “The status of respect for religious freedom by the government remained poor, unchanged from the previous year.” The killings in Alexandria and Baghdad underline the urgency and gravity of the situation. – and the need for all of us to speak up for the persecuted ancient churches. A letter to the Egyptian and Iraqi Ambassadors in London, to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, and to your own local MP, urging them to demand protection and security for  the ancient churches might help to save lives and prevent the escalation of these traumatic events into the full scale genocide which threatens to unravel.

  

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Policeman kills Christian on Egypt train

 

A policeman shot dead a Christian on a train in Egypt Tuesday and wounded five other people, including the man’s wife, as tensions remain high after a New Year’s church bombing killed 21 people, the interior ministry said. The shooter’s motives were not immediately clear, but the ministry said at least four of the five people hurt were Coptic Christians.

And a Coptic bishop told AFP that the gunman, named by the ministry as Amer Ashur Abdel Zaher, had sought out Christians on board the train and shouted a Muslim slogan – Allahu Akbar (God is greatest) – as he opened fire.

The policeman, who was said to be on his way to work, boarded a stationary Cairo-bound train at Samalut, in the southern Minya province, and began shooting with his service weapon, the ministry said. He killed Fathi Said Ebeid, aged 71, and wounded his 61-year-old wife. Two of the others wounded were said to be in critical condition. The policeman, who was not in uniform, got off the train after the attack and tried to flee but was arrested inside the station.
He was being questioned by the authorities to find out if he carried out the attack for religious reasons. Bishop Morcos, who serves with the Coptic church in Samalut, said he had spoken to witnesses after the shooting. “This lunatic went up and down the coach looking for Christians,” the bishop recounted what he was told. “Seeing a group of girls and women who were not wearing the (Islamic) veil, he took them for Christians and fired, shouting Allahu Akbar”. Later, witnesses said hundreds of Copts rallied outside Salamut’s Good Shepherd hospital, where the wounded had been taken, and clashed with police, who fired tear gas at them.

The attack comes after the deadly New Year’s bombing in the northern city of Alexandria that drew international condemnation. No one has yet claimed responsibility for that attack, which came after threats to Egypt’s Copts from the Al-Qaeda-linked group in Iraq that claimed a deadly October 31 attack on a Baghdad cathedral. The group, the Islamic State of Iraq, said it would attack Copts if their church failed to release two women the group claimed were being held against their will after converting to Islam.

President Hosni Mubarak has blamed “foreign hands” as being behind the incident, and authorities said a suicide bomber was responsible. Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s mostly Muslim population of 80 million people, have been targets of sectarian attacks in the past and complain of discrimination. Egypt has been under tight security since the Alexandria bombing, and the measures were stepped up for Coptic Christmas Eve services on Thursday. The New Year’s Day bombing caused indignation around the world and prompted Pope Benedict XVI to express repeatedly his solidarity with the Copts and Christian across the Middle East. But his remarks – namely his call on world leaders to protect Egypt’s Copts — hit a raw nerve in Cairo where the foreign ministry on Tuesday announced it was recalling its Vatican envoy for consultations.

The action follows “new statements from the Vatican concerning Egypt which are considered by Egypt as unacceptable interference in its internal affairs,” the foreign ministry spokesman said. “Egypt will not allow any non-Egyptian faction to interfere in its internal affairs under any pretext,” the statement said. “The Coptic question is specifically an internal Egyptian affair”. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi quoted Vatican Foreign Minister Dominique Mamberti as saying during a meeting with the recalled ambassador that the church “completely shares the (Egyptian) government’s concern with ‘avoiding an escalation of clashes and religious tensions,’ and appreciates its efforts in this direction”.

A day after the Alexandria attack, the pope appealed for the “concrete and constant engagement of leaders of nations,” in what he termed a “difficult mission”. At his New Year’s Day mass, Benedict underscored that “humanity cannot display resignation in the face of negative forces of selfishness and violence, it cannot get accustomed to conflicts which claim victims and endanger the future of people”. Then on Monday the pope said the attack was “yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt … effective measures for the protection of religious minorities”.

 

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The Beauty of Islamic Sharia Law

 

For all our friends out there who do not mind if the Islamic Sharia Law is introduced to United Kingdom.  Here is the Great Compassionate Islamic Law at its best. Warning: The Video is disturbing and not recommended for children or the fainthearted. To watch, please click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkwIiQpRtX8

A girl is condemned in the Sudan of wearing pants in public. We are talking about pants not hot shorts. She is whipped and humiliated in public while the Police who apparently enjoy flogging her, laugh to the camera and quote the Quranic verse that says ” Let their torture be publicly witnessed by a group of faithful believers”.

So Again, this video is dedicated to those who are leading our country into submission to the Sharia Law. I wonder how long before we see this in our own streets unless we wake up and shake the dust from our eyes. This is not a distorted version, this is the original version of Islam as understood and applied by purly Islamic states. The diluted version offered to us here is only the bait. The real deal will follow when it is too late.  It is reported that this video was taken in December of 2010. Sadly youtube keeps removing this video from their site claiming that: “This video has been removed because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service.” !!  Warning: The Video is disturbing and not recommended for children or the fainthearted.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkwIiQpRtX8

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Egyptian Coptic Christians revolt over halted church-building

Written by Associated Press – The Guardian, London – 24 Nov 2010

  

One person dead and 30 injured in Cairo after hundreds smash cars and windows in protest at police decision

Hundreds of Christians smashed cars and windows and tried to assault a municipal building in Cairo today after police violently stopped the construction of a church, leaving one person dead. The person, who was a Christian, was shot in the thigh and died after arriving at a nearby hospital, according to Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency. Police clashed with Christians first at the church-construction site in the early hours of the morning and then several hours later when a mob of hundreds assaulted the local governor’s office.

Thirty people were injured in the clashes, and 93 were arrested. Two priests were summoned by the general prosecutor for interrogation. Coptic Christians make up about 15% of Egypt’s population of 80 million. They complain frequently of discrimination, though they generally live in peace with the Muslim majority with occasional flare-ups of tension and violence, especially over limits on church building. The government said that construction of the church had been ordered to halt because the building was not licensed to become a house of worship. “They had previously been ordered to cease construction due to violations of building safety code standards, and because they were attempting to illegally transform the building into a church for the conduct of religious services,” said a statement.

A Coptic priest overseeing the construction in the Omrania neighbourhood of Giza, Cairo’s twin city, said that 5,000 members of the security forces cordoned off the site at 3am while workers were working on the roof. “The security forces started the whole thing,” Mina Zarif, the priest of the nearby church of Mar Mena, said. “The workers became fed up and started throwing stones”. The government said protesters were blocking a major highway and had to be cleared. “Repeated police requests to cease the violence were ignored by the demonstrators, at which point security officials had no choice but to control and disperse the gathering through the use of tear gas,” the government said.

A few hours later, around 700 Christians, many bearing makeshift crosses, descended on the headquarters of the Giza governor where they were met by riot police armed with tear gas and rubber bullets. Governor General Sayyed Abdel Aziz told the official news agency that rioters had tried and failed to storm the building. After the demonstrations had been dispersed, 15 police trucks still surrounded the area around the church and there was heavy security in the neighbourhood. Zarif, one of the construction supervisors, admitted that the four-storey building was licensed as a community centre in 2009 rather than a house of worship. “What is the problem in bypassing an already unjust and flawed law? The church has been doing that all the time, turning service buildings into churches,” the priest said.

The Coptic community says authorities in Egypt are reluctant to approve permits to build churches, which they say they need to accommodate growing numbers of worshippers. One way to evade the rules is to obtain permits for Christian service centres, which they then turn to churches. Medhat Kalada, head of the Geneva-based United Copts organisation, said that the government has a “double-standard” with complicated procedures needed for the construction of the churches in comparison with the relative ease in building mosques. “The government is discriminating against Christians when it comes to building churches”, he said. The government insists that Christians enjoy the same rights as Muslims.

Human rights groups say attacks on Copts are on the rise, underscoring the government’s failure to address chronic sectarian strains in a society where religious radicalism is gaining ground. Last week, Muslims in southern Egypt set fire to 20 houses belonging to Christians following rumours that a Copt had an affair with a Muslim girl. Last year in Qena, also in the south, a Coptic man was accused of kidnapping and raping a 12-year-old Muslim girl. The alleged assault led to widespread protests by the Muslim community and increased tensions between the two religious groups, which culminated in the murder of six Copts and one Muslim security guard at a church on 6 January. {Egyptian Coptic Christians protest against a halt in the construction of a church in Giza. Photograph: Mohamed Omar/EPA}

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Police and Christians clash in Egypt over church

Written by BBC News – 24 Nov 2010

 

Police in Egypt have clashed with hundreds of Coptic Christians over the construction of a new church – Large protests from Egypt’s Christian community are rare

One protester was killed and dozens of people were injured as police fired tear gas and the Christians threw stones and petrol bombs. The Christians said they had permission to build the church, in Cairo’s Giza district, but officials said they did not have the proper permit. Protests on this scale are rare from Egypt’s Christians. They make up about 15% of the country’s 85 million population. There has been friction in the past between the majority Muslims and Christians, who complain they do not ha

 

ve the same freedom to build places of worship. The interior ministry said more than 100 people had been arrested.A ring of police surrounded the church in order to prevent construction of the church and security was tight in the Giza suburb. “People here feel very discriminated against. We can’t build the church – why are they stopping us?” said Samih Rashid. “Every street has a mosque, every church has a mosque next to it,” he told AFP news agency. Some reports said the builders were trying to convert a Christian social centre into a church without the proper permit – something the Christians denied. “When we noticed indications that it was turning into a church, we told the church authorities to halt construction because a church would require a different licence”, Giza governor Sayyed Abdel-Aziz was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

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 Egyptian Security Forces Storm Monastery, Assault Monks

AINA: On Tuesday, September 7, at 8 PM a 300-man security force, backed by a large number of cars and armored vehicles, attacked the monastery of St. Macarius of Alexandria in Wadi Rayan, Fayoum province, 150 KM south of Cairo. The monks in the monastery were assaulted with tear gas, batons and stones. Three monks were seriously wounded. {Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCmpMF8mSUA&feature=player_embedded}

The security forces prevented the delivery of limestone bricks to be used for the construction of cells for the monks within the grounds of the ancient Monastery. The forces also attempted to confiscate bricks already delivered but the monks sat on the bricks and refused to move.

 

The authorities claim that Wadi Rayan is a conservation area, while the monks say they are building cells within the grounds of the Monastery, which was built before the area was designated for conservation. Security forced surrounded the Monastery until 12 AM the following day, but withdrew “after seeing the insistence of monks to assert their rights,” said Father Boulos elMakkary, one of the 85 monks living in the monastery. “They left with the commander promising to be back soon.” Monk Mina elMakkary said the security forces surrounded the Monastery as “if we were terrorists. We are monks who left everything behind to come and worship God, and they come to attack unarmed monks.”

The monks believe that the government wants to prevent any construction on the premises to prevent any increase in the number of monks living there, “though cells for the monks are badly needed,” said Father Boulos. Presently 5-8 monks share one cell, when each should be living alone. Gerges Bouchra of Copts-United said the incident started when the head of the police in Fayoum was passing by in his car when he saw three trucks loaded with limestone bricks, which had been sent as a donation to the monastery. He protested and removed the registration plates from the trucks. Later he sent a force and took away the trucks with their cargo and drivers. “I told the officer-in-charge, Islam Moawad, that we understand our rights and that he was breaking the law as he had no warrant supporting his actions,” Father Boulos said. “Apparently this was not enough, so the forces came on Tuesday evening to confiscate what bricks we had offloaded.”

Father Boulos said the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency has built a big rest house for its staff with a swimming pool within the Monastery grounds, under the pretext of watching rare birds, but more likely “to watch us,” and the swimming pool is “just for conserving water” we were told. He added that two months ago the Agency had given permission to a private investor, Hany Zaky, to build a tourist attraction within the conservation area, 5 KM away from the Monastery, and he had stipulated that monks should not build there.

The Monastery of St. Macarius, also called the “Buried Monastery” as most of its cells are caves in the mountain, has been uninhabited for a long time due to desert conditions and being without electricity or water. Monks have, however, lived there from time to time until 1996, when they decided to remain there permanently and obtained permission from the Minister of Environment to live there.

 

Problems with the authorities started with the increase in the number of monks and the need for cells. Two years ago newly built cells were demolished on orders from the Environmental Affairs Agency. “We got fined 2 million Egyptian pounds for supplying the monastery with water, we went to court and won through reconciliation,” monk Mina said. “Police in Fayoum, State Security and the Agency collude against the Monastery and they do not give us any permits. They want us to get a Presidential decree from President Mobarak,” he added.

Father Boulos said that State Security might import Arabs to the area to get rid of them as they did in Abu Fana in the Minya province. “During a meeting with a top State Security one of our priests official in Fayoum was threatened and told the monastery might be destroyed, and people would be sent to the monastery to harm the monks”. Speaking on behalf of the monks, Father Boulos said that they are not afraid as they do not care about their lives. “We are ready for martyrdom. Maybe if we die now, the next generation can live in peace”.

 

By Mary Abd Elmassih http://www.aina.org/news/20100910051641.htm

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Christian Copts Living as Slaves to Muslims in Egyptian Village

 

 

AINA: Since the Christmas Eve Massacre on January 6,2010, when six Copts were killed and nine seriously injured by Muslims in a drive-by shooting outside a church in Nag Hammadi, the Coptic Patriarchate in Cairo has become a Mecca for oppressed Copts from all over Egypt. Nearly every Wednesday, when Coptic Pope Shenouda III gives his weekly sermon, Copts go to complain to the Pope and make known their grievances to other Copts who never come to hear about those cases due to media blackout. They hope to meet with human rights activists attending the sermon without fear of getting arrested by State Security for congregating under the prevailing emergency laws.

Coptic human rights activist Dr. Fawzy Hermina has called the large courtyard of the Patriarchate the “Coptic Hyde Park”. Last week a group of nearly 50 Coptic men from the village of Azeem in Samalout, Minya province, came to expose “slavery-related” practices against Copts by certain radical Muslim families in their village. They called on human rights organizations for support. They met with activists from Coptic NGOs and appeared on US-based Coptic human rights channel Hope-Sat, which promised support through their lawyers in Egypt. Bassem Shehata, 25, an IT graduate who attended the rally at the Patriarchate, said in an aired interview with Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub “We live in utter slavery. If Copts, some of whom are landowners, disobey orders of the big Muslim families, they are flogged”.

Bassem said that last year his 14-year-old brother Shenouda was tied by members of a Muslim family to a pole, beaten and tortured in front of his father just because the father did not lend them his tractor. “Each time my father begged for mercy for his child, he was also beaten.” He said despite the family feeling “broken inside” his father refused to report the incident, fearing reprisals from the Muslim family. Bassem said that young Christians work without pay on Muslim land. “I had to go because I was afraid they would harm my father”.

 

Protester Kamil Sami said “We came out in the open because we cannot take this injustice any longer.” He added they feel sorry for their families who have “inherited” the trait of giving up their rights. “We feel obliged to help our families to change the circumstances under which they are living”. Isaac Bebawy summarized the problem by saying the nearly 1000 Copts in the village of 3000 live in servitude to Muslim families, especially a large one called Al-Khawaimin, which includes the mayor, the village Shaikh, a large number of relatives and their friends. Copts are not allowed to sell their livestock on the market but have to sell it to Muslims in the village at a fraction of their fair price, and hire agricultural machinery only from village Muslims at the highest prices. “If Copts do not obey, they are subjected to harsh punishments,” he said. “These include threats of killings, abduction of girls, destruction of crops, burning of houses and beatings”.

Another protester, George Sidhom, said that Muslim often stop Christians from going to church services in the neighboring village. After presenting a complaint at the Ministry of Interior in Cairo and meeting with Pope Shenouda’s secretary, the group returned to their village where they were approached for a “reconciliation”. They presented their demands, which were published on Freecopts’ website, among which was freedom to sell their cattle, land and property to anyone, not to be prevented from going to the cattle market (they named a couple of people), not to have their land torched (they named two people), the freedom to hire agricultural machinery from any source, not to interfere with opening hours of Coptic small businesses, to stop subjecting Coptic school children and youth to harassment by Muslim families while moving about in the village or while going to religious services, pledging not to demand that Copts of any age go to work without pay (here they named 3 people and their families), and finally not to subject Copts of any age to harassment, threats or beating (they named 7 Muslims). They also wanted Security authorities present during reconciliation.

 

Muslim families refused their demands, especially selling cattle on the open market. “There were other freedom restricting conditions, surprisingly they wanted Copts not to walk together,” said Abdallah Bouchra to Freecopts. Besides these draconian conditions, Copts were threatened with more assaults after the Muslim Feast “Eid,” this week. “We know for sure that they will carry out their threats, since it is also certain that State Security colludes with them,” said Abdallah. “To see that nowadays Muslims force Coptic men to work for free, that farmers have to sell their livestock and property only to certain Muslims at a fraction of their price, or prevent people from taking buses to go and pray in another village is slavery”, commented Wagih Yacoub. “It is something that the whole world needs to know is happening in our day and age in Egypt”.

{By Mary Abdelmassih http://www.aina.org/news/20100907221803.htm}

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Coptic Church says Egypt police wiretapping confessions

The head of the Coptic Church in Egypt has warned followers that the police in the country are wiretapping their calls and said they should not confess sins over the phone, media reported Wednesday.

 

Current Font Size: Pope Shenouda III has said police listen in on calls and the confessor could end up “seeking absolution in prison”, according to Al-Masri Al-Youm paper. The remark was seen as they latest sign of a deterioration in relations between some state institutions and Egypt’s largest religious minority, the Christian Copts, who comprise some 10 per cent of the population. In one of several ongoing feuds, the church and the state argued over a recent Egyptian court ruling allowing Coptic Christians to remarry after divorce, something which is strictly forbidden under the church’s teaching. Also, over the last year, violent clashes have taken place in the country’s south between Muslims and Christians.

{Aug 18, 2010 – By Sapa-dpa – Photograph by: http://www.eda-egypt.org.uk}

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Muslim Cleric Calls for Jihad, Coptic Christians Attacked in Egypt

 

 

On August 13 Sheikh Tobah, Imam of the village of Shimi 170 KM south of Giza, called during Muslim Friday prayers for Jihad against Christians living there. As a result the Christian Copts living in the village were assaulted over two consecutive days. Eleven Copts were hospitalized and many Coptic youths were arrested.

 

The assaults begain a couple of hours after the Sheikhs incitement. An argument between Copt Maher Amin, who was washing his taxi, and Mohamed Ali Almstaui, a Muslim extremist from the village, escalated into violence as Mohamad assaulted Maher. The altercation was stopped by bystanders. However, after the evening break of Ramadan fast, Ahmad, the brother of the perpetrator Mohamad, who is reported to belong to an extremist organization, together with twenty other men, went to Maher’s family home, breaking down the door and assaulting him and his family with batons, including his old mother and his paralyzed sister, injuring them and breaking their furniture. Security forces came and took away the Christian victims and kept them at the station in spite of their wounds, to pressuree them into accepting “reconciliation” with their attackers. None of the Muslims were arrested.

Saad Gamal, Egyptian MP for Elsaff, phoned from Gaza, where he is on a visit, and gave orders to the police to force reconciliation on the Coptic parties. “I was against reconciliation, because I know that the culprits know that they can assault Copts, and in the end it will boil down to Copts giving up all their rights with the reconciliation sessions”, said Reverend Ezra Nageh of St. George’s Church in Elsaff. “I was told by the security authorities that for the sake of the Holy month of Ramadan, everyone ought to make peace”.

The next day, after the compulsory reconciliation between the Amin family and Almstaui family, a large number of Muslims were gathered by the Almstauis and attacked again the houses of the Copts, beaten the inhabitants, and went to the fields and assaulted the Copts there also. “Why should they not do that, when they are told that the MP will defend them”, said Rev. Ezra, adding the police have yet to issue a report about the incidents, because they were afraid of the MP. “So to whom should we go for help? MP Saad Gamal hates Christians, and President Mubarak pretends that he is not present or unaware of our plight”. Ghali Tawfik, one of the Coptic victims, said “We are forced into reconciliation and in less than 24 hours, we are assaulted again”. In an aired audio interview with activist Wagih Yacoub, Maher Amin said “they have humiliated us. We were beaten and we could not do anything about it. We are weak and helpless and have to accept reconciliation. They will next come to our homes and rape our women, and we will not be able to do anything about it”. Karam Bebawy, another Coptic victim, said the arrival of strangers to the village two weeks ago “with long beards and wearing short dresses like the Islamists” have a hand in poisoning the atmosphere in their village and inciting the Muslims against the Copts. He said that his Muslim neighbors have turned against him without reason since then.

 

Police today released the assaulted Copts who were detained on Friday and arrested three new Coptic youths in their twenties on charges of having some old cases against them. They were transferred to State Security. However, Rev. Ezra said that State Security is using the same old trick, which is detaining innocent Copts and fabricating crimes against them, to twist the arm of the church into accepting a forced reconciliation. The village mayor, Sheikh Saad contacted Rev. Ezra on August 14, regarding a second reconciliation, but he flatly refused. “They attack us today and force reconciliation on us. Are they waiting for us to be killed tomorrow and then they would think about the rule of law?” asked Reverend Ezra. {http://www.aina.org – maryabdelmasih@gmail.com}

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The Tragedy of Egypt’s Copts

 

By Tarek Heggy 

Continuing the analytical remarks on the feelings of unease that certain issues engender among the Copts Second, with regard to the widespread feeling among Copts that their representation in public life has shrunk considerably over the last few decades, this is borne out by official statistics. However, this should not be seen as a deliberate attempt by the regime to keep Copts out of public office. It should rather be seen as a negative phenomenon that grew insidiously over the years, unnoticed by successive governments and driven by its own dynamics, until it has reached its present unacceptable proportions. But whatever the reason, the fact remains that the Copts are marginalized in Egyptian public life, and this is asituation that merits serious study. I, for one, believe that the explanation of this phenomenon lies in the mentality our public officials have developed in recent years, which is characterized by a refusal to admit to the existence of problems, and an insistence on claiming that all is best in the best of all possible worlds. This mentality is rooted in another cultural specificity, namely a refusal to accept criticism and an inability to engage in self-criticism. To claim, as some do, that the situation is of the Copts’ own making, that they have become marginalized because they are too passive and too taken up in financial activities, is to put the cart before the horse. It is true that the Copts are passive and that they are involved in financial and economic activities, but that is a result not a cause – the result of having too many doors closed to them despite their undeniable abilities.

Although I am deeply convinced of the truth of the above analysis, I am also aware that it is incomplete. The same doors that are slammed in the face of highly qualified members of the Coptic community remain closed to many highly qualified members of the Egyptian society in general. The political game in Egypt today is open only to those willing to play by certain rules established over the last few decades; these rules are by their nature repellent to skilled professionals with any sense of pride, they are based on personal loyalty, nepotism and other mechanisms having nothing to do with professional abilities.

Third, with regard to the violent communal clashes which flare up from time to time, most recently in Koshh and, before that, in Khanka – to mention just two of the many violent confrontations to which our recent history bears witness -, these are the result of a number of factors, the most important of which are:
An official line that seems determined to play down the gravity of the situation, in the mistaken belief that admitting to the existence of such problem would be detrimental to Egypt’s reputation. In fact, Egypt’s reputation would be better served by confronting the problem head on, rather than pretending it doesn’t exist. The spread of a culture pattern characterized by ignoring problems, extolling achievements and singing our own praises.

A failure to make use of the many worthwhile efforts made to study and analyze the root causes of such incidents, such as the famous report put out by Dr. Gamal Oteify on the spate of communal clashes which broke out in the nineteen seventies. His findings and recommendations could have been put to good use, had it not been for a cultural propensity to dismiss the clashes as a minor problem instigated by external forces for the purpose of destabilizing Egypt.

The purpose here is not to accuse or blame anyone, but to present an objective and neutral study which aims, like the late Dr. Oteify’s report, at casting light on some elements of the problem. To accuse the government of persecuting the Copts would be both illogical and unwise. But it would equally be illogical and unwise to pretend that they have no legitimate grievances and that their situation is ideal.

Therefore, to accuse anyone who speaks of these matters of being an agent of parties hostile to Egypt, or of being involved in a plot against Egypt is simply a bad joke, an insult to the truth and an affront to reason; the style of riffraff, and a reflection of the style of the security services’ investigations department, which tends to abandon the heart of the matter and pursue marginal issues related to personalities, suspicions and conspiratorial thinking. This security-service mentality is one of the factors that contributed to the collapse of objectivity and rationality in our thinking, and that made this kind of thinking so far removed from objective and civilized modes of analysis, which are one of the achievements of human civilization; its time has passed.

Nonetheless, I was visited a few years ago by a person whose high-level position and job had direct bearing on the Coptic issue; he asked me why I was so enthusiastically involved in what I call in my writings “the Coptic issue”. I told him at the time that as an Egyptian, it was my obligation to do so, and this was also what made me support women’s issues in Egypt – because Egypt, which is sick today, will never get on the road to recovery so long as Copts and women do not take part in treating Egypt’s problems from a position of full and unimpaired citizenship. An oppressed person whose rights are denied cannot participate in pushing forward the broken wagon. I was sure that this visitor did not understand what I told him, because he had been trained to treat the Copts as a threat to Egypt, despite the fact that they are the original Egyptians.

At the time, I also told him: “If the Coptic issue is not discussed here, in Egypt, it will eventually be discussed abroad, and if we don’t recognize all the aspects of the problem, then the Copts abroad will take their cause from the stage of merely crying out that they are being oppressed, to the stage of calling it a human rights issue; then, many will pay attention to them on an international level, including important decision-makers”.

When I was young, I heard the Arab adage: “Most fires start from tiny sparks that people overlooked.” Today, we realize that most troubles result from their having been ignored when they were small. We demand from the world that they believe our claim of being above reproach in our treatment of non-Muslims and women, and we relish repeating this, while the world looks at our deeds and finds them to be totally contrary to what we say.

To return to the issue of the Copts in Egypt, I contend that the fact that most senior officials continue to ignore the Coptic issue will bring Egypt to crises which I can almost make out on the horizon. They are similar to the crises of others in the region – others who were prey to the temptation of ignoring some problems, and especially of ignoring the realities of today’s world, that is, the post-Cold War world.

This is a world in which the idea of sovereignty in its old sense, which had been stable for the many decades preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall, is no longer of any use to anyone. There are those who understand this new world, and there are those who are unable to understand and take in all the dimensions of this change… I can think of no better way to conclude than with the following story: In the course of a debate on the Coptic question, someone asked me what the needs and demands of the Copts were. I began with their second demand, and then moved on to the third, fourth and fifth. But what, he asked, is their first demand? I replied that what they needed above all was a “social embrace”, in the sense of being made to feel that there is a genuine desire to listen to them and hear their complaints and problems, in a spirit of brotherly love and sympathy based on the belief that they are equal partners in this land, not second-class citizens belonging to a minority that has to accept and bow to the will of the majority.

For a real and comprehensive solution to the Coptic question, we only need to look back at the time of Sa’d Zaghloul, who established an exemplary model of communal relations that can serve as a glorious point of departure for a contemporary project to lay this nagging problem to rest once and for all.  There are good reasons making Sa’d Zaghloul the beloved of the Copts, and we would do well to emulate the example he set so many years ago.

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Arrest Warrant Sought for Egyptian Muslim Cleric for ‘Hate

Speech’  

 

By Mary Abdelmassih (AINA): A Christian Coptic human rights group is seeking to initiate an international arrest warrant in the United Kingdom against the leading Muslim fundamentalist cleric Sheikh Yousef al-Badri for inciting Muslims to kill apostates from Islam in Egypt. Al-Badri, who is a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and is associated with the primary Islamic institute of al Azhar University, is reported to have stated “God has commanded us to kill those who leave Islam”.  

Although Christianity in Egypt is not illegal, it is under a common interpretation of Islamic law that conversion to another religion from Islam is punishable by death. Muslims, mainly fundamentalists, see no difference between apostasy and subversion; they fear that allowing conversion will ultimately undermine Islam. “We expected the Egyptian Prosecutor General to take legal action against al-Badri, but unfortunately in Egypt impunity for Muslims prevails at all levels when it comes to the rights of Christians,” said Dr. Ibrahim Habib, President of United Copts of Great Britain who will initiate the arrest warrant. “Incitement to kill is a crime under legal and ethical norms”.

Sheikh Yousef al-Badri has called on several occasions for the “spilling of the blood” of Muslims who convert to Christianity, causing them to live in hiding under the constant threat of vigilantism and death from fundamentalists. “Even if we are killed, the government will not convict our killers,” said Mohamad Hegazy, a renown apostate from Islam, whose face is familiar all over Egypt. In 2007, Mohamad Hegazy, a Muslim who converted to Christianity in 1998, was the first convert to sue the Egyptian government for rejecting his application to change his official documents to reflect his new Christian faith (AINA 2-27-2010).

This case sparked national uproar in Egypt, with al-Badri making a number of controversial statements, besides filing charges of inciting sectarian strife against Hegazy’s first lawyer, Mamdouh Nakhla, who had to withdraw from the case after receiving several death threats.

On August 25, 2007, Hegazy, who took the Christian name of Beshoy Boulos, was interviewed on Egyptian television together with Sheikh al-Badri, who openly called for Hegazy to receive the death penalty for leaving Islam because his new commitment to Christianity meant he had declared war on Islam, according the arrest warrant for al-Badri. The legal basis of the arrest warrant is that Sheikh al-Badri has engaged in “hate speech” which threatens coverts to Christianity in Egypt with death, in a society where individuals will act on these incitements, as well as denying the fundamental right to change religion from Islam to Christianity which is protected by international law. Also “hate speech” causes individuals subject to this vitriol to sustain severe mental suffering which comes under the crime of ‘torture’ as defined by the Criminal Justice Act 1988, rising to a breach of international law. The United Kingdom is, therefore, under obligation to bring violators of the International Covenant to justice.

The arrest warrant states that al-Badri has also been engaged in a number of other provocative acts, such as calling for ‘Muslims to declare Jihad’ against America, preaching against Abu Ziad who had to claim asylum in Europe, supporting suicide bombings and endorsing wife beatings. Hegazy is married to Katarina, a convert from Islam before meeting him, and has a 2-year old daughter named Mariam. He said he filed the lawsuit to set a precedent for other converts, and because he wants his child to be openly raised as a Christian.

In February 2008 Hegazy lost his case, with the court ruling that according to Sharia Law, a Muslim who converted to Christianity cannot legally change his religious status. The reasoning given behind this ruling was that ‘Islam is the final and most complete religion’ and since “monotheistic religions were sent by God in chronological order”, one cannot therefore convert to “an older religion”. Hegazy believes that even after the media stopped reporting on his case, he still remains a target – as all converts do – of Islamic militants. According to Compass Direct News, He was forced into hiding after extremists, unaware of his escape, surrounded his former house for several days and set fire to his neighbor’s residence, killing the female occupant.

The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), an affiliate of the American Center for Law and Justice, submitted an application in January 2010, to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights “seeking judgment against the Egyptian government for refusing to recognize the fact that Mr. Mohammed Bishoy Hegazy and his family members are Christians converted from Islam” (video).

Another victim of “hate speech” is Muslim-born Maher el-Gowhary who publicly converted to Christianity in 2008, after secretly being a Christian for over 35 years (AINA 9-26-2009). In August 2008, he filed the second lawsuit of a Muslim-born against the Egyptian Government to seek official recognition of his conversion. He lost the case on June 13, 2009. According to the Court ruling, the religious conversion of a Muslim is against Islamic law and poses a threat to the “Public Order” in Egypt.

The Fatwa (religious edict) issued by Sheikh Yousef al-Badri calling for the “shedding of his blood” caused Maher and his teenage daughter Dina, who also converted to Christianity, to live in hiding and be constantly on the run, fearing danger from reactionaries and advocates of the enforcement of Islamic apostasy death laws. “We live in constant fear ever since radical sheikhs have called for my blood to be shed because I left Islam. We are mostly afraid of the uneducated people on the street,” Maher said in an interview aired end July 2010 on ZDF German TV (video).

Maher escaped many attacks on his life, the last taking place on Sunday, July 5, 2010, when a Muslim fundamentalist tried to behead him in broad daylight. His daughter Dina also escaped an acid attack (AINA 4-17-2010). Commenting on the reason for the arrest warrant initiated by his group, Dr. Ibrahim Habib said that the Egyptian government must respect freedom of religion as a fundamental right. “Besides, criminals have to know that they are not immune from the legal systems in the West”.

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A special report on Egypt: Saving faith

   

Islam seems to be fading as a revolutionary force

EDWARD LANE, an English orientalist, published a classic account of Egyptian society in the 1830s. Impressed with  much else, he had this to say about religion in Egypt: “It is considered the highest honour among the Muslims to be religious; but the desire to appear so leads many into hypocrisy and pharisaical ostentation”.

The same observation might be made today. A generation ago it was rare to hear the Koran recited, except on formal occasions such as funerals or during the fasting month of Ramadan. Nowadays the word of God is a constant companion, wafting from taxi cabs and buses, barber’s shops and fast-food outlets, dental clinics and supermarkets. The call to prayer not only sounds five times daily from minarets but all the time from everywhere: millions of Egyptians have downloaded it as a ringtone for their mobile phones. Step into many shops at noon and you will be told to return after prayers. Call in to the main control room of Egyptian State Railways and you may find the chief operator similarly disengaged, as one panicked signalman did last year when a train stalled on the tracks. He was unable to prevent the next train from crashing into the first, killing 18 people and prompting the resignation of Egypt’s transport minister. 

Tune to one of 400 Arabic-language channels carried by Nilesat, a satellite owned by the Egyptian government, and the chances are you will come across a bearded sheikh, such as one who recently berated youths for knowing the names of more football players than of the prophet Muhammad’s companions. Millions of Egyptians thrilled by the World Cup clearly ignore such advice. But plenty observe it in spirit: a sample of 10-29-year-olds questioned in a national survey claimed they spent an average of 40 minutes on religious devotions every day. That makes 243 hours a year, or more than a full year in an average lifetime. And that leaves out other devotions, such as fasting in Ramadan, or the pilgrimages to Mecca which draw nearly 700,000 Egyptians a year.

What goes for Islam also goes for the Coptic Orthodox church, whose 7m or so Egyptian adherents make up the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Its services are packed and the number of novices in dozens of Coptic monasteries is at record levels. Well-funded by rich patrons, the Coptic church remains extremely conservative. Pope Shenouda III, its patriarch since 1971, makes the Catholic one look like Dr Phil, a TV psychologist. Not content to ban divorce, his church will not condone a second marriage for anyone who might actually have managed to get out of the first one.

Turning to higher things: The current generation of Egyptians is living through a full-scale religious revival. Scholars ascribe the trend to many causes. Some say the shock of defeat in the 1967 war prompted a return to older traditions. Others speculate that rapid population growth and rural migration overwhelmed the secular-minded urban elite of the 1960s. Yet others point to the return of Egyptian workers from rich Arab Gulf countries, having acquired their conservative mores. And there is the influence of world events, with the never-ending plight of the Palestinians, plus Western incursions into other Muslim lands, serving to reinforce attachment to a faith that is seen as under threat.

Some say that Egypt’s revived religiosity reflects not a return to old ways but a move to more modern ones. If more Egyptians read the Koran, perhaps it is because more are literate. Bible-reading and religious study similarly swept Europe when literacy first spread. If more Egyptian women don the veil, it is for temporal reasons as much as religious ones. Unlike their grandmothers, they travel on public transport to work or school. Headscarves keep hair clean, declare seriousness and modesty to pestering men and are a cheap way to make oneself look presentable. It is only natural that religiosity should extend to politics, particularly given Islamic traditions that, in the absence of a Muslim “church”, see defence of the faith as a duty of the state. The Muslim Brotherhood has promoted this notion since its founding in 1928. Under the severe repression of the Nasser years the movement splintered, fostering radical offshoots that helped seed the global jihadism of Al-Qaeda. Such developments were responsible for the assassination of Nasser’s successor, Anwar Sadat, in 1981, and for later terrorist attacks against tourists.

Brotherly influence: These, mercifully, have grown much rarer in Egypt in recent years. Mass arrests in the 1990s put thousands of extremists in jail, chased others offshore and convinced most Egyptian jihadist leaders to renounce violence. The mainstream Brotherhood has long since done so, espousing a gradual Islamisation of society and political pluralism, albeit within a hazily defined Islamic framework. It has never come close to power in Egypt, but exerts subtle influence through social work and has been a strong force in trade unions.
The Egyptian state, ostensibly secular, pretends to be a bulwark against the Brotherhood’s ambitions. It earns fat revenues from alcohol taxes and hotel casinos. Yet in other ways the government outbids the Brotherhood in championing Sunni orthodoxy. President Sadat amended the constitution to enshrine Islamic sharia as the “principal source” of legislation, which leaves matters suitably vague. Police hound Shias, Ahmadis and other “deviant” Muslim sects. The central government vets the qualifications and pays the salaries of most of the preachers in the country’s 75,000 mosques. Egypt’s president appoints the head of Al-Azhar, Cairo’s 1,000 year-old seat of Islamic learning, an institution that includes Egypt’s largest university, with 335,000 students, as well as a network of schools with nearly 2m more. By law, Al-Azhar has the right to censor books that touch on religion. It recently launched Azhari TV, a satellite channel promoting centrist, moderate Islam in a bid to stop the encroachment of Saudi-inspired fundamentalism.

The state has often seemed to prefer tokenism to real equality for Coptic Christians, who serve at many levels of government but remain starkly under-represented in the security establishment. The police have proven peculiarly inept at stemming sporadic but recurrent bouts of sectarian strife. Typically, such episodes end with burned churches, mass arrests and a government-imposed “reconciliation” that leaves Muslim antagonists unpunished. Such incidents often have their roots in petty local squabbles, but their tendency to take nasty sectarian turns has left Copts feeling vulnerable, making them cling even more tightly to their church. Some observers detect signs that the wave of religiosity which started in the 1970s may have crested. They note, for instance, that fashions in veils have switched from frumpy wimples in sombre shades to colourful headgear, often combined with make-up and tight jeans. Less plain to the eye is a shift in ideological fashions, away from activist and public kinds of Islamism to quieter and more private pursuits of faith. The symbols of commitment among today’s radical youth are no longer guns and beards but pious conduct and knowledge of scripture. The religious wave has certainly not passed and may still carry a lot in its wake. But in Egypt, at least, it no longer looks like a revolutionary force.

Written by Economist – 16 July 2010 – http://www.economist.com – In this special report: The long wait – America’s lieutenant – The best man always wins – A favoured spot-  Long-sighted – A slow learning curve  – No paradise – Saving faith
After Mubarak

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Calls grow for Burka ban in Britain as French outlaw Islamic ‘walking coffins’


Tory backbencher Philip Hollobone has called for a burka ban in Britain.

Britain faced growing calls to ban the burka today after French MPs voted overwhelmingly to outlaw full-face veils in public. Politicians in France united yesterday to ban Islamic veils that cover a woman’s face, which some described as ‘walking coffins’. Deputies in the country’s 557-seat lower house, the National Assembly, voted in favour of the ban by 335 votes to one.
Support for a ban in Britain has come from Tory backbencher Philip Hollobone and the UK Independence Party. Mr Hollobone has tabled a private members’ bill which would make it illegal for anyone to cover their face in public. The Kettering MP, who has previously likened full face veils to ‘going round with a paper bag over your head’, said: ‘It is unnatural for someone to cover their face and it not a religious requirement. ‘We are never going to have a fully integrated society if an increasing proportion of the population cover their faces’.

His Face Coverings (Regulation) Bill is the first of its kind in Britain, and is one of only 20 private members’ bills drawn in a ballot for the chance to make it into the statute books. The bill, which had its first reading in June, stands little chance of becoming law due to limited Parliamentary time and a lack of support from the main political parties. Mr Hollobone has insisted that his bill has widespread public support: ‘People feel that something should be done about burkas, but so many are afraid to speak out for fear of being labelled a racist.

‘Part of the British way of life is walking down the street, smiling at people and saying hello, whether you know them or not. You cannot have this everyday human interaction if you cover your face. ‘These people are saying that they don’t want to be part of our way of society. (United: Members of the French parliament voted 335-1 in favour of the burka ban). Far-Left groups such as the Communists joined president Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party in voting for it, although Socialists and Greens abstained. Communist MP Andre Gerin said yesterday: ‘Talking about liberty to defend the wearing of the full veil is totally cynical – for me, the full veil is a walking coffin, a muzzle. ‘The result follows months of heated debate during which immigration minister Eric Besson also described the burka as a ‘walking coffin’, while prime minister Francois Fillon accused wearers of ‘hijacking Islam’ and displaying a ‘dark sectarian image’.

Recent polls suggested that more than 80 per cent of French people wanted the burka banned, including some of the country’s five million Muslims. Under the terms of the bill, anyone caught wearing a burka, which covers the entire face and body with just a mesh screen for the eyes, or a niqab, which has a slit for the wearers’ eyes, will face a £117 fine. Men caught forcing a woman to wear a burka or a niqab will face a year in prison or a £25,000 fine. The garments are seen as undermining women’s rights and a threat to France’s secular status. The proposed legislation, which is colloquially referred to as the ‘anti-burka law’, is officially called ‘the bill to forbid concealing one’s face in public’. The draft bill backed by Mr Sarkozy’s government will now pass to the Senate upper house where it could be ratified in September to become law. But it could be shot down by the European Court of Human Rights and France’s constitutional watchdog, the Council of State, which has warned that the bill may be illegal because it does not allow freedom of expression.

This would be a humiliation for Mr Sarkozy, whose government has devoted much attention to a bill that only affects around 2,000 women in France. It could also dampen efforts in other European countries to outlaw veils. Belgium and Spain have begun the initial stages of burka bans. The main body representing French Muslims fears the ban will stigmatise the religion, which it says does not require women to cover their faces anyway. A French tycoon is setting up a fund to help Muslim women pay ‘burka fines’. Muslim businessman Rachid Nekkaz has pledged to sell property worth 1million euros to finance the fund. Written by Peter Allen – Daily Mail, London – 14 July 2010

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A Draft of the Past Remains on Tap in Egypt

The New York Times – Egypt’s Outpost of Tolerance

Like the city around it, the Cap d’Or’s better days are behind it. The bar was opened about 110 years ago by Greek residents.

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – These two women were veiled, true. They are religious, too, or at least as religious as their community expects them to be. But do not tell them they cannot stop into Sheik Ali’s bar and sit at a table and eat fried calamari and laugh over a glass of juice while surrounded by men drinking beer and whiskey. The women, Nelly Rafat, 52, and Magda El-Gindy, 52, are childhood friends who believe that while their religion prohibits alcohol, people are free to make their own choices

. That is not the typical view here these days. But they sit, eat and enjoy, guilt-free amid the smoke-filled ambience of a hole-in-the-wall bar. “If somebody else sitting here wants to drink, it’s none of my business”, Ms. Rafat said, as Ms. Gindy nodded in agreement. There is a lot of pressure out on the street, here and around Egypt, to at least appear pious. For women to wear a veil. For men to have a prayer bump, a dark callous in the middle of the forehead from bowing to the ground five times a day. And definitely, especially for women, to stay away from alcohol, and especially in a bar filled with men. “It’s not a Muslim tradition”, Muhammad Suleiman, 32, complained as he sat in a barbershop next door to the bar. “It should not be there. I don’t like it. It’s not our religion. I’d like it closed”. But that is not how everyone wants to live, not all the time, not even among people who agree to conform in appearance, like Ms. Rafat and Ms. Gindy.

Especially not here, in Alexandria, a city built to look out to the world, not in on itself. The arc of history has been unkind to Alexandria, taking it on a long slow slide from the center of global learning in ancient times to a rundown, crowded metropolis on the Mediterranean. But no matter how the conservative social forces of modern Egypt press in, Alexandria cannot fully turn its back on a past so different from the present, when diversity and tolerance eclipsed conformity and tradition. The old Alexandria, the city built by Alexander the Great, set aside cemeteries in the 19th century for all its citizens, with separate ones designated for Muslims, Jews, Christians and “free thinkers”. Those days are gone, but are still embedded in the collective memory, and desires, of many people who live here, even people who are too young to remember when the tailors were French or Greek, the cooks Italian, and the Jews a large, vibrant part of the city. “We grew up in the hands of foreigners”, said Francis Zarif, 33. “That’s why I like it here. The feeling is the kindness of people in the past, the humanity”.

There are pockets of Alexandria where residents have held on to, or are trying to restore, a sense of curiosity about the world, a tolerance for diversity and an acceptance of the other. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a public library, research and cultural center, is such a place, where visitors are encouraged to challenge and question each other and themselves in an effort to create a modern version of the ancient library here that was destroyed in 48 B.C. But so is this little bar, where tolerance and a nice cold Stella (the most popular Egyptian beer, not to be confused with the Belgian beer) are plentiful. Alcohol is fairly easy to come by in Egypt, sold in hotels and restaurants. But there are few neighborhood bars. “I come here for history, I come here for a light moment”, said an obstetrician-gynecologist as he sat sipping a beer and smoking a pipe. It was after 11 p.m. and he was relaxing, he said, “like in Europe”, as he waved at friends at other tables. But he would not give his name, because out there, he said “the religious current is strong”. “I’m a woman’s doctor, you know”, he said. “It’s not good if I come here”.

The bar is officially called Cap d’Or, and is described by the hand-stenciled words over the storefront as a “Touristic Restaurant”. It was opened about 110 years ago by Greek residents, before Egyptians reacted to decades of subjugation by foreign powers by forcing foreigners to leave and nationalizing private property. When the Greeks fled in 1951, Ali Abdel Razeq bought the bar for next to nothing, said his grandson, Mustafa, who now helps run it. Since then, it has been known as Sheik Ali’s, although Mr. Razeq held no such title, which can imply some religious credentials. He was a man who served alcohol and seafood, and liked betting on horse races. He may have acquired the nickname because he closed the bar on Friday, the Islamic day of prayer and rest. In the early years, Sheik Ali’s was a gathering spot for intellectuals and artists, actors and cultural leaders. Military men with stars on their shoulders shared beers with artists and professionals.

That is not so much the case anymore, though it still remains a place where people go who want a break from the demands of the community and to find like-minded friends. “This is a community center for the open-minded”, said Karim, 49, who also said he did not want to reveal his family name because outside of that community it is not considered so respectable to be in a bar. “The atmosphere is great; that’s why I keep coming back”, he said. He was seated with five other friends eating small plates of salad and seafood. The bar has 13 tables, each with a red-and-white tablecloth, and a cool, grayish marble bar long enough for about six to sit comfortably side by side. The old brass tap is still there, but has not worked in years. The walls are covered with photos of Sheik Ali posing next to racehorses and a few architectural flourishes that hark back to the faded glamour of the place. The gold-leaf letters CDB, for Cap d’Or Bar, are still on a mirror over the bar. Like the city around it, the bar’s better days are behind it, a fact that has done little to diminish the loyalty of the remaining long-timers. “Life outside these doors is difficult,” said Osama Tantawi, 40, an accountant who said he visited Sheik Ali’s the day he turned 21 and has been a regular ever since. “The advantage to coming here is it separates you from life out there”. As he spoke, his friend Dr. Mahmoud Sherif walked through the door. They had met at the bar about a year ago. “It makes me happy when I am in here”, Dr. Sherif said. He took a sip of scotch. And Mr. Tantawi ordered another beer.

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UK’s Muslim TV: Wives must not refuse sex with spouse

Britain’s leading Muslim TV channel was accused of encouraging “marital rape” and promoting other intolerant views of women in a report on extremism published today. The report by think tank Quillam says that the London-based Islam Channel broadcast comments saying that “the idea a woman cannot refuse her husband relations” was “not strange” and was instead part of “maintaining a strong marriage”. It says that the channel also broadcast advice that a wife should not leave her home without her husband’s permission and that a woman who wears perfume in public is a prostitute. The think tank, whic

h is calling for an investigation by broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, also accuses the channel of advertising talks by al Qaeda

-supporting preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who is alleged to have inspired failed Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and of giving a platform to other extremist Islamists.

The report, which was based on an analysis of broadcasts over three months, also states that Islam Channel’s programmes have undermined trust between community groups by airing hostile comments about non-Muslims and those who follow alternative versions of Islam. The channel’s website says that it aims “to present the Islamic viewpoint and values” and provide “authoritative and impartial Islamic information”. It aims to act as an “interface” between Muslims and non-Muslims and remove misconceptions about the religion. But Talal Rajab, the report’s author, said the programmes regularly promoted an “intolerant and out-of-date” form of Islam with unacceptable views. He said: “It is the most-watched Muslim TV channel in the UK. During the three-month period that we monitored its output, it repeatedly promoted bigoted and reactionary views towards women, non-Muslims and other Muslim sects. “Although the channel does not directly call for terrorist violence, it clearly helps to create an atmosphere in which religiously-sanctioned intolerance and even hatred might be seen as acceptable. “By promoting a single narrow version of Islam, Saudi Wahhabism, the Islam Channel is wasting an enormous opportunity to positively shape the nature of Islam in Britain.”

Among the comments highlighted by the report were those by a guest on the programme Muslimah Dilemma on whether a wife should always agree to sex with her husband. The guest said “it is a bit strange… to refuse relations. It would harm a marriage. The idea that a woman, even if married, can refuse relations with her husband because of individual choice’… is part of the Western culture, but not Islam.” There was concern about the religious advice programme IslamiQA, in which viewers were told “the majority of people in the hell will be women” because they are the cause of “calamities, hardship and suffering” in Western society. The same presenter tells viewers that if a woman wears perfume in public and it is smelt by a stranger “then she is declared a prostitute”. The privately funded Islam Channel, which launched in 2004, has already been found by Ofcom to have breached the broadcasting code on impartiality during elections, and for broadcasting an unbalanced programme about the ownership of Jerusalem.

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Coptic Pope Rejects Egyptian Court Ruling on Remarriage of Divorcees

The head of the Coptic Church in Egypt has rejected a court ruling that orders the church to allow divorced Copts to remarry in the church. In a press conference held on Tuesday June 8, Pope Shenouda, reading from the statement issued by the Holy Synod’s 91 Bishops including himself said “The Coptic Church respects the law, but does not accept rulings which are against the Bible and against its religious freedom which is guaranteed by the Constitution”. He went on to say “the recent ruling is not acceptable to our conscience, and we can not implement it”. He also said that marriage is a holy sacrament of a purely religious nature and not merely an “administrative act.” This statement came in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling which said that the duties of the church was administrative. He pointed out that the second marriage for divorcees is a religious issue, governed by the Bible.

Pope Shenouda added that Islamic Law (Sharia) says “judge between people of the Scripture according to what they believe in”, and this principle came in all personal status laws. He pointed out that many of the provisions of the Court of Cassation and the Supreme Constitutional Court stressed the principle of the application of Christian law on its followers.
In answer to fears expressed by Copts of the possibility of the Pope being imprisoned for not implementing the ruling, he confirmed that the Patriarch is not a public official and is therefore not bound by civil provisions. “The law of religious leaders is the Gospel and the Church Laws”, he said. During the press conference, he lashed out at the Media which, accused him and the Coptic Church of being “a State within a State” that disrespects court rulings, and misinterpreting facts about the Coptic Church forbidding its followers to marry for a second time. He explained that widowers and those who have obtained a divorce through the Church – according to the teachings of the Bible – and who are the “innocent partner” are issued a permit to re-marry, but not the “guilty partner”. He said that whoever gets a civil divorce is free to marry but not in the Coptic Church. “Let whoever wants to remarry to do it away from us. There are many ways and churches to marry in”, said Pope Shenuda III. “Whoever wants to remain within the church has to abide by its laws”.

Pope Shenouda further threatened to defrock any priest who allows a divorced Christian to remarry, except in cases where the divorce was on the grounds of adultery. Those that have remarried after divorce will not be allowed in Church. At present the Coptic Church does not allow re-marriage except in very limited circumstances of adultery and conversion to another faith. The Church maintains that these rules safeguard the Christian family. According to Bishop Bola of Tanta, who is in charge of divorce matters in the Coptic church, “there are just over 200 cases of divorce presented to his office every year “and not 20,000 or even 2,000,000 as some newspapers claimed”.

Azza Suleiman, director of the Center for Women’s Issues, said there are currently five million postponed divorce cases in Egypt, in addition to 13 million cases under consideration by the personal status courts. She added that a divorce occurs every six minutes in the country, and that 250 thousand women resort to the courts annually to obtain divorce. The Pope evaded answering a question presented by a reporter in the press conference on whether the court would dare order Al-Azhar to agree to a Muslim marrying a fifth wife and not only four, comparing it to the interference of the Court in the Bible teachings through its recent ruling. A draft of a unified personal status law for all sects of Christianity, which was signed by all churches in Egypt, was submitted to the People’s Assembly by Pope Shenouda nearly 25 years ago. All churches agreed that no divorce is permitted except for adultery. “This draft law must be locked away in some one’s drawer”, he laughed. It is seen by many that passing this law is the only way to put an end to such court verdicts.

When asked during the press conference whether he will appeal to President Mubarak to sort out this controversial court ruling, he said that he does not wish to embarrass him, in case he does not like to interfere with the judiciary. However, he said, that if the President knows that the church and the millions of Copts are not happy with this ruling, he might do something about it. He said that he does not yet know what is his next step. Ramsis El-Naggar, an attorney for the church, said that since the Administrative Court’s ruling cannot be appealed, he expects that the church will appeal the verdict in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court for an interpretation of Article 69 of the denominational regulations, which deals with the remarriage of divorcees. A sit-in is arranged for Wednesday June 9 in front of the St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo during the Pope’s weekly sermon to protest the court’s ruling and the interference of the judiciary in the affairs of the Coptic Church.

By Mary Abdelmassih

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Coptic Church Protests Egyptian Court Ruling on Marriage License

(AINA) – An Egyptian court issued a controversial ruling on Saturday, May 29, which deprived the head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church of the control over matters of divorce and marriage, giving the civil courts the authority to oversee affairs which the Church considers are in its core religious competencies. The Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling compels HH Pope Shenouda III, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, to give a license for marriage for the second time to a divorced Coptic man, rejecting Pope Shenouda’s appeal and upholding the ruling by a lower court. The Supreme Administrative Court, headed by Justice Mohammed Husseini, based its ruling on the “right to family formation is a constitutional right, which is above all other considerations.” It went on to say that although the court respects religious feelings, it has to govern in accordance with the law. The provision of the Supreme Administrative Court is final and no further appeals are possible.

The verdict comes on the heels a lawsuit filed by Hani Wasfi Naguib against Coptic Pope Shenouda, challenging the grounds on which the Church refused to grant him a license to marry again after his divorce from his first wife. An Administrative Court (first instance) had previously issued in 2009 a ruling in favor of the plaintiff Naguib, ruling that he was entitled to receive the Church’s license, but the Pope lodged an appeal against it before the Supreme Administrative Court. At that time, Pope Shenouda said that the ruling of the administrative court to oblige the Egyptian church to issue a license for a divorced man is non-binding. He added: “We are only bound by the teachings of the Holy Bible. We cannot go against our conscience and comply with a court ruling which is a civilian ruling and not ecclesiastical”.

In response to today’s ruling, Bishop Armiya, Secretary to Pope Shenouda, issued a statement stressing the respect of the Coptic Orthodox Church for the Egyptian judiciary and its rulings, but saying “there is no force on earth that can force the Church to violate the teachings of the Bible and Church laws, based on “What God has joined together let no man separate.” He added that Islamic law allows the Copts to resort to their own laws, and the state respects the freedom of religion. Bishop Armiya said that during the coming period the Church plans to take legal action to revoke the ruling, at the same time it will not allow a second marriage for anyone, whoever he may be. The ruling of the Supreme Administrative has angered Copts and several senior Coptic lawyers, who viewed the resolution as not serious and in violates the Constitution. Article VI of the Act 462 of 1955 confirms that the judicial rules in matters of personal status for non-Muslims has to be in accordance with their law. Lawyers view this Court provision “as contrary to our Christian religion”.

Attoney Nabil Gabriel believes that the Court must not interfere with the privacy of the church and its religious rituals. “Can the Court oblige the Al-Azhar Grand Imam to make prayers 6 times a day instead of 5? Why does the Court intervene in religious rituals of the Copts which stem from the Bible”. Gabriel explained that the Pope cannot follow provisions of the judiciary that are not consistent with Christian teachings. He anticipates that the provision will lead to a crisis with the Copts and clashes with the Church. He asked church officials to resort to the Constitutional Court to stop the ruling and block its implementation, because it opens the door for people who want to marry again, disregarding religious teachings. Coptic lawyer and activist Mamdooh Ramzi said Pope Shenouda does not need to comply with this ruling, as he is not a public servant. “Article 123 of the Penal Code does not apply to Pope Shenouda III for failing to implement this provision, because the text is clear: Each public employee who refrains from enforcing a judicial ruling would be imprisoned”.

Commenting on the ruling, Dr. Naguib Gobraeel, President of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights and legal adviser to the Coptic Church, said “the ruling is non-binding, because a license to marry lies within the core jurisdiction of the religious authority based on the Bible. There is no control or supervision on this purely religious aspect by any authority”. He went on to explain that a church marriage, which is one of the seven Sacraments of the Church is not like a civil marriage, which can be dissolved by any party if the second party breached his/her obligations”. Gobraeel also said that this ruling has erred in the application of the law, as it is not permissible for the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, Counselor Mohammad Husseini, to look into this case, as he had already ruled on this case once before when he was head of the administrative court. Gobraeel said he is going to appeal the ruling to the Board meeting of the Administrative Tribunal. “Church is for marriage and courts for divorce”, says Coptic lawyer Mamdouh Nakhla, who is also director of the Al-Kalema Center for human rights. He commented that the ruling is not binding to the church, which has a special marriage ritual which is different from other marriages and should be respected by the judiciary. Nakhla is determined to fight this ruling and prevent its implementation “because it is detrimental to our Christian faith and interferes in its core principles”.

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Killings of Egypt’s Christians Escalate In Ghastly Slaughter Nearly Ignored in the West

At 11:30 p.m. on January 6, the Orthodox Christmas for millions of Egyptian Christians, gunshots rang from a drive-by car, killing 7 parishioners exiting evening mass. The Naag Hamadi Church Massacre, as it became known, left 26 seriously injured in the small southern town. During the funerals, greater mayhem erupted. In surrounding towns and villages some 3,000 Muslims broke into Coptic properties, agricultural plots, and businesses, looting and setting fires to shops. Across the country churches were burned. It took Egypt’s police three days to show up and six weeks to arrest a single culprit. As it has become customary, the government described the attack as “an individual incident”, another dispute among villagers. The phrase has become so habitual in describing attacks on Christians over the past 40 years, it is used as a practical joke. In reality The Naag Hamadi Church Massacre was the latest spike in a 40-year-long campaign of killing and violence against of Egypt’s estimated 12 million Christians, known as Copts It’s a campaign that is all the more ghastly for the fact that it has been largely ignored by the world of elite opinion. Yet in the past 40 years, the numbers of victims has soared to well more than 20,000, if the count includes those killed, wounded, dispossessed, or otherwise harmed, according to human rights groups.

In that period, Copts started to flee Egypt, and at least 2 million, mostly members of the upper and middle classes, now reside abroad. Within Egypt, the Coptic community has continued to grow, but nowhere as rapidly as the Muslim communities, whose numbers have soared, in line with a birth rate that is far above that of the Copts. The word Copt refers to Egyptians whose ancestors embraced Christianity in the first century after Christ. It has its origins in ancient languages of Pharos to denote ‘’original Inhabitant’’ or simply ‘’Egyptian’’. Copts are part of the Eastern Orthodox Church that ranges widely from Ethiopia to Russia. In the Arab world however, they constitute the largest Christian minority.

In the 14 centuries since Muslim Arabs invaded Egypt, those who remained Copts were descendents of Egyptians who resisted conversion to Islam. Indeed they refer to themselves as the country’s founders and Egypt was a Coptic nation in the first seven centuries of Christianity. Since, they have suffered cycles of persecutions that ebb and flow as Muslim rulers succeed one another. By and large the Copts enjoyed a golden period of tolerance starting the1860s. It came to an abrupt end when a group of army officers, led by Colonel Gamal Abd Elnasser overthrew the monarchy and took power in 1952. Under the officers’ rule, but especially starting in the early 1970s, a systematic campaign, with evident government acquiescence, was set in motion to reduce Christians to second class citizens.

“Egypt has witnessed confessional tensions over the centuries involving attacks on Copts, but they were never as intense and widespread as they have been since the 1970s”, Moheb Zaki, a former managing director of the Ibn Khaldun Center, a nonprofit organization that supports democracy and civil rights in Egypt and the Middle East, told this reporter. Writing in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Mr. Zaki asserted that “the violence of the last few years is more like a purge, as waves of mob assaults have forced hundreds, sometimes thousands of Christian citizens to flee their homes. In each incident the police, despite frantic appeals, invariably arrive after the violence is over”. The Ibn Khaldun Center was founded by the Egyptian Human Rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who was jailed by the Mubarak regime and now is living in exile in America.

Copts have been eliminated from all senior positions in government administrations, the army, the police, the security services, and top echelons of the vast public sector. In the educational sector once largely endowed with Christian leadership, there are virtually no Christians left. Out of Egypt’s 17 government-owned and administered universities which have a total of 71 presidents and 274 vice presidential jobs, there is one Coptic Christian dean and one Christian Vice President. Egypt stands out for a number of reasons. It is, with 81 million citizens, the most populous Arab nation, the second largest recipient, after Israel, of American financial and military aid, and the intellectual leader of the Arabs. Since 1979 America has given Egypt well more than $ 60 billion and totally re-equipped its entire army with advanced weapons. In that same period, successive governments especially those of Anwar Sadat, who took power in 1970, and Hosni Mubarak, who acceded in 1981, refined a system of “Islamization” across the whole society that includes a calculated marginalization of Christians. Sadat referred to himself as “The Believer President,” coming to power with an extensive Islamist agenda. He welcomed the return from exile in Saudi Arabia of hundreds the banished Muslim Brotherhood leadership and released thousands of them from Egyptian jails. In those jails they fundamentalists were replaced with secularists, socialists and many Christian activists. Sadat cancelled Egypt’s secular constitution designating Sharia Islamic Law instead as the source of all legislation. By September 1981, after ten years of power, he had stripped the Coptic Pope, Shenouda III, leader of the Christian community, of all authority, banishing him to a desert monastery and ordered the arrest of some 125 Coptic clergy and lay activists along with hundreds of secular Muslims. Ironically, a month later, in October of 1981, militant Islamist army officers assassinated Sadat, as he reviewed a military parade. Hosni Mubarak, a former air force commander and Sadat’s vice president, stood next to him when he died along with 25 others on the reviewing stand.

Mr. Mubarak moved immediately to strike a deal with the Islamists in return for their subtle agreement to retain a dynastic rule for his family. The covenant turned over to Islamists control in media, education, and government administrations in return for allowing Mr. Mubarak’s rule to go on unchallenged, setting the stage for the Rais, as Egyptians call their leaders, to prepare for his son, Gamal, to succeed him. As part of the deal, this Rais agreed to feed Egypt’s Christians to the growing Islamic beast. In the Wall Street Journal article of Tuesday, Mr. Zaki related, among other things, that this year alone witnessed several attacks by roving bands of Muslims. In the run-up to Nagaa Hamadi, a mob of several tens of thousand Muslims gathered in the Mediterranean city of Marsa Matrough, after an imam exhorted them to cleanse it of “infidel Christians”. They went onto ten hours of rampage that burned or destroyed 18 Christian homes and 23 shops, as well as 16 cars, as 400 Copts barricaded themselves in their church, where they stayed for those hours, until the frenzy died out. Last year saw a dozen such attacks. Typically the police show up after the damage is done. The government-controlled press describes consistently individual incidents. Equally typically, the Egyptian government bans publication of the full scale of assaults on Christians, even in the single Coptic weekly that is allowed to publish.

As a result accurate statistics are slow to surface. But NGOs and Human Rights groups record dramatic heap of ruined lives, expropriated lands, and injured, wounded, homeless and killed. Weekly reports surface of kidnapped Christian girls, who are raped and – to save their honor – forced of convert to Islam and marry their rapists. The government only intervenes to prevent the girls from leaving their marriage or reverting back to Christianity. Altogether these attacks add up to around 10,000 since 1971. It is a narrative of persecution that keeps piling on. Higher and upper middle class Coptic Christians responded by immigrating in huge numbers. Today these immigrant Copts form a nascent Diaspora that is moving to political activism. It is estimated to number between 2 million to 3 million spread over Canada, Australia and the USA. My extended family and I are among those who are in America. But the bulk of ordinary Egyptian Christians, who number at least 12 million and possibly as many as 14 million, remain trapped in Egypt. The government does not permit census numbers to be released insisting in unofficial statements for well over two decades now, that Copts do not number more than 8 to 9 millions. {By Youssef Ibrahim, NY Sun}

http://www.nysun.com/foreign/coptic-christians-voicing-frustration-with-white/86971/

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Egyptian Convert from Islam Devastated

CAIRO, Egypt: An Egyptian convert to Christianity said he is devastated by a recent court decision to suspend a lawsuit he filed to change the religion on his identification card from Muslim to Christian. The First District of the Court of the State Council on April 27 suspended Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy’s case until the Constitutional Court rules on a challenge to Article 47, a section of the civil code that in theory allows Egyptians to change the religion listed on their ID card.

Hegazy, 27, said the suspension endangers his children’s welfare and will force them to lead a double life indefinitely – at home they will be taught to live in accordance with the Bible, and outside it they will be taught to live according to the Quran. If they ultimately decide to follow Jesus, Hegazy said, his children will be declared “apostates” and be persecuted the rest of their lives for “leaving Islam”. Hegazy, who has suffered severely after Egypt’s religious authorities declared him an apostate, including being imprisoned by State Security Investigations (SSI) several times, said he filed the case so his children would avoid the same fate. “I didn’t want them to have to go through the same harassment and persecution that I went through,” he said. “My daughter won’t be able to go to school without constantly fearing for her safety. She might even be killed simply because she is my daughter”.

Hegazy is arguably the most well-known Muslim convert to Christianity in Egypt. He rose to national prominence in August 2007 when he became the first Muslim convert in Egypt to sue for the right to change the religious status on his identification card to “Christian”. Hegazy said he became a Christian in 1998 after seeking God during a period of intense study of religion. In his final assessment, he said, he found that Islam was void of the love and forgiveness found in Christianity.  Not long after his conversion, Hegazy said, he was arrested by SSI agents who tortured him for three days. In 2001, the SSI arrested Hegazy for writing a book of poems critical of the agency, which has been accused of abusive practices to preserve the regime. In 2002, the SSI arrested Hegazy and held him for more than two months in a prison he compared to a “concentration camp”.

In addition to the government response to his conversion, Hegazy said his mother and father have attacked him repeatedly for becoming a Christian. “In the culture in Egypt, for a person to change his religion, it’s a big deal because it’s a question of honor and tradition,” Hegazy said. “My dad and my mom took it in a really bad way and would beat me”. Hegazy married another convert from Islam, Katarina, in 2005. Katarina also wants her ID changed but fears government reaction; there are numerous reports circulating among Egyptian Christians about female converts being arrested and tortured by the SSI or simply disappearing in Egypt’s prison system under Egypt’s Emergency Law. Renewed last week for another two years, the law grants the government broad powers of arbitrary incarceration that human rights groups have roundly criticized.

Delay Tactic: When Hegazy filed his suit in 2007, he and his wife were expecting their first child. Overnight, Egyptian media propelled him into the national limelight. And the persecution got much worse. Two religious scholars from Al-Azhar University, one of the leading voices of Islamic thought in the Middle East, publicly declared it was legal to kill Muslims that convert to Christianity. In one incident, extremists surrounded a home where Hegazy had once lived and stayed there for several days. In another incident, a group of men ransacked and set fire to Hegazy’s apartment while he was away. Throughout his legal proceedings, several of Hegazy’s attorney’s have dropped out of the case after receiving death threats, being sued or being arrested. On Jan. 28, 2009, a court ruled that Muslims were forbidden to convert to another religion and ordered Hegazy to pay the costs of hearing his case. He appealed. Hegazy lives in hiding. Unable to work, the former journalist is supported by friends and other Christians. Last month’s ruling will likely delay a decision in Hegazy’s case for several years and keep him and his family in limbo. “The court is using this decision as a way of delaying having to make an ultimate decision”, Hegazy said.

The couple’s first child, Mariam, is now 2 years old, and their second child, Yousef, is 3 months old. Because Hegazy and his wife are unable to change their ID to reflect their true faith, the government lists both of their children as Muslims. If they choose to become Christians, they will be considered apostates who, in accordance with longstanding interpretation of the guiding scriptures of Islam, must be killed by faithful Muslims. “It makes me feel like religion in Egypt isn’t something you can choose by your own free will; it’s something that you are forced to be, and nobody has a choice to choose what their religion is”, Hegazy said. “It bothers me a lot because my kids know they are being brought up as Christians in their home and their parents are Christians, but they can’t practice their religion outside the house”.

Inconsistent Rules: Every Egyptian citizen age 16 or older must carry a state-issued ID card that is required for opening a bank account, enrolling children in school and for starting a business, among other activities. Religious identity also determines to which civil or family court one is subject. Of primary importance to Hegazy is that the religion indicated on the ID card determines what religious education classes a child is required to take in school.

There is a stark contrast in Egypt between the treatment of Christians who want to change the religious affiliation on their ID card to Islam and Muslims who want to change their affiliation to Christianity. Generally speaking, because Muslims consider the preaching of Muhammad to be the last of three revelations from God to man, in practice “freedom of religion” in Egypt means only the freedom to convert to Islam. Article 47 of Egypt’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but the constitution also states that Islam is the official religion of Egypt. Article 2 of the constitution states that Islamic law, or sharia, is “the principle source of legislation” in Egypt. The difference between the treatment of converts to Christianity and converts to Islam is illustrated in the case of Samy Aziz Fahmy. The week before the court postponed Hegazy’s case, Fahmy, a Coptic Christian from Saayda village, changed his legal status to Islam. He received his ID card reflecting his new religion on the same day he applied for it – on the day he turned 18, the legal age for conversion. “I think it’s very weird and not fair that when Christians want to convert to Islam there’s no problem, their papers go through and there’s no discrimination against them,” Hegazy said. “But when Muslims want to convert to Christianity, all of the sudden it’s a big deal”. Hegazy is not alone in his legal battles. After he filed his case, other Muslim converts sought court action to change their IDs. Like Hegazy, most are in hiding of some sort. Hegazy’s lead attorney, Ashraf Edward, said he is working on several ID cases. He estimates there are more than 4 million converts to Christianity who want to change the religion listed on their ID, though the basis for that figure is unclear. “There are a lot of people who want to change their ID, but they’re afraid of turning it into a court case because they don’t want to be persecuted”, Edward said.

International Condemnation: Human rights groups and government agencies around the world have condemned Egypt for its record on religious freedom. In a report issued earlier this month, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom outlined Egypt’s problems with identification cards and the treatment of converts from Islam, taking note of Hegazy’s case. “The Egyptian government generally does not recognize conversions of Muslims to other religions,” the report states. “Egyptian courts also have refused to allow Muslims who convert to Christianity to change their identity cards to reflect their conversions. In the first such case, brought by Muhammad Hegazy, a lower court ruled in January 2008 that Muslims are forbidden from converting away from Islam based on principles of Islamic law. The court also stated that such conversion would constitute a disparagement of the official state religion and an enticement for other Muslims to convert. Hegazy, who has been subjected to death threats and is currently in hiding, has appealed the ruling”.

The report cited numerous other problem areas in regard to freedom of worship in Egypt, and the country remained on USCIRF’s Watch List for 2010. Egypt has been on the list since 2002. Among the changes USCIRF said are necessary in Egypt is how religion is reported on Egypt’s national ID card. The commission said Egypt must “ensure that every Egyptian is protected against discrimination in social, labor, and other rights by modifying the national identity card, either to omit mention of religious affiliation or make optional any mention of religious affiliation”.

By Delay Tactic: http://www.compassdirect.org/english/country/egypt/19474/

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Egyptian Christmas Eve Shooter Threatens Witnesses in Court

(AINA) – The Christmas Eve Massacre trial held before the Emergency State Security Court in Qena on May 17 listened for the first time after eight court sessions to the testimony of witnesses. The Massacre took place on 6 January 2010, the Coptic Orthodox Christmas Eve, when Muslims carried out a drive-by shooting of the congregation as it left midnight mass, killing 6 Copts and a Muslim, and the injuring 9 Copts. The shooting took place in three locations, one near the church, one 850 meters away and the other near the Monastery of Abu Daba, 1500 meters from the church. Two days later three Muslims, Hamam Elkamouni, Qurashi Abu Haggag and Hendawi Elsaid were arrested and charged with committing the massacre.

At the previous court session on May 16, defense lawyers, in a bid to further delay the trial, had requested to see all 19 witnesses, including Anba Kirollos, Bishop of the Nag Hammadi Dioceses, as well as the examinations of the intestines of two of the murdered Copts and the Muslim policeman who was coincidentally in their company, for evidence of narcotic and alcohol consumption. They also requested a medical examination of the two Muslim witnesses for narcotic or alcohol consummation. The court denied all their requests.

The court heard on May 17 the testimony of both Muslim witnesses, taxi driver Osama Abd Ellatif and his colleague Mohamed Ibrahim, in whose taxi three people were murdered by the Muslim killers near Abu Daba Monastery. Both witnesses corroborated police reports and confirmed that Elkamouni was the killer, using one weapon only. “As soon as the first witness, taxi driver Osama Abd Ellatif, identified himself to the court and confirmed that Elkamouni was the killer, Elkamouni went berserk in his cage,” Dr. Shafik Awad, attorney of the Nag Hamadi victims told renown Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub in an aired interview. “Elkamouni cursed the witness and threatened him by saying ‘let’s see whether later the government can help you, and how much money did you receive from the government for this testimony”? He stopped yelling only after the judge warned that he would be removed from court.

Both witnesses confirmed that Elkamouni stopped the taxi and asked driver Osama whether he had any Christians passengers. Osama refused to answer, but Elkamouni recognized the Copt Rafik Refaat, who runs a grocery shop in town. According to Osama’s testimony, Elkamouni immediately shot him dead, and when he argued with him about the fairness of his acts, Elkamouni threatened to also kill him if he did not keep quiet and shot several warning shots to the ground. Elkamouni went on to shoot the other two passengers, 18-years-old Coptic student Mina Helmy and the Muslim policeman, Ayman Hashem, who was mistaken for a Copt. Both witnesses confirmed seeing Elkamouni and Qurashi Abu Haggag but were not sure about the third man Hendawi Elsayed.

The Court heard on May 18 the third witness, Colonel Ahmad Hegazy, chief investigator at Nag Hamadi directorate, who carried out the investigation with of the three accused murderers. Hegazy confirmed that all three confessed to him during interviews that they had committed the crime. In his opinion the second and third of the men, Qurashi Abou Haggag and Hendawi Elsayed, could have prevented the main perpetrator Elkamouni from committing the crime, by refraining from accompanying him in all three crime scenes, but they were fully committed to collaborating with him. “They started together at 11:30 PM and killed two Copts,” Awad told activist Wagih Yacoub, “then went on to the second location and killed two other Copts, and finally to Abu Daba Monastery to kill the two Copts and the Muslim policeman”. Hegazy dismissed the link between the Christmas Eve Massacre and the alleged rape of the 12-years-old Muslim girl in Farshout by the Copt Guirgis Baroumi, as was falsely propagated by the Egyptian government and the media. He said that there is no family relationship or any incentive to make the killers commit the Nag Hammadi crime in retaliation for the Muslim girl. Hegazy was also the investigating officer of the Farshout case.

“During Colonel Hegazy’s testimony, Elkamouni was extremely angry and kept on threatening and cursing him,” Dr. Awad said. Dr. Awad expressed his concern that the Emergency State Security Court in Qena has not been recording the names of the lawyers representing the victims who were present during the last three sessions, which is against article 271 of the criminal regulations, to protect the rights of victims to be represented. “We do not want to start another clash with this court and ask for change of court, at the same time we cannot neglect the rights of the victims to be represented,” Awad said. “We want to make sure we get the appropriate conviction and compensation for the victims. We also refuse to be completely marginalized by the court,” he added. Lawyers for the victims presented a request to the court to this effect.

Mahmoud Abd Elsalam, the presiding judge at the Emergency State Security Court in Qena, was also presiding over the case of Guirgis Baroumi in Farshout. The defense team of Baroumi clashed several times with the court in Farshout, as they were prevented from seeing their client, and asked for a change of court. Although their request was denied, judge Abd Elsalam resigned on May 15 from overseeing the Farshout case due to “the court’s embarrassment caused by the defense team’s request to change the court.” Many observers believe the relationship between Coptic lawyers and judge Abd Elsalam has been strained since the clashes in Farshout. Awad said they are in agreement with the Prosecution, which is demanding the death penalty. In his opinion, the testimonies of the two Muslim witnesses, Osama Abd Ellatif and Mohamed Ibrahim, in addition to the “strong and very impressive testimony of Colonel Hegazy” should be enough for the death penalty for the perpetrators.

Cases adjudicated before State Security courts have no possibility of appeal and the rulings come in a form of a “decision” which is sent to the President of the Republic to be ratified, thereby becoming final. The trial has been adjourned to June 19 to hear the testimony of the Chief of Forensics regarding the weapons used in the killings. According to many who were present in the court, Elkamouni’s father vowed out loud during the court sessions that should his son be convicted, “this would mean the end of all Christians in Nag Hamadi”.

By Mary Abd Elmassih: http://www.aina.org/news/20100520012710.htm

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The Wall Street Journal: Egypt’s Persecuted Christians
Violence against Copts is on the rise and all but ignored by the state.

Cairo: A few weeks ago in the coastal city of Marsa Matrouh, an enraged mob of some 3,000 angry Muslims gathered after Friday prayers. After the mosque’s imam exhorted them to cleanse the city of its infidel Christians, called Copts, they went on a rampage. The toll was heavy: 18 homes, 23 shops and 16 cars were completely destroyed, while 400 Copts barricaded themselves in their church for 10 hours until the frenzy died out. This was only the latest of more than a dozen such attacks during the past year, including in the village of Kafr El-Barbary on June 26, the town of Farshout on Nov. 21, and the village of Shousha on Nov. 23. Then came Naag Hamady, where passengers in a drive-by car fired at random into Christians leaving a Coptic Christmas service on Jan. 6. The massacre killed seven and left 26 seriously wounded.

Although the Copts have long been the target of sporadic attacks, the violence of the last few years is more like a purge, as waves of mob assaults have forced hundreds, sometimes thousands of Christian citizens to flee their homes. In each incident the police, despite frantic appeals, invariably arrive after the violence is over. Later the injured are coerced by the special security police forces into accepting “reconciliation” with their attackers, in order to avoid the prosecution of the guilty. No Muslim to date has been convicted for any of these crimes. The state’s lack of regard for the Copts has encouraged anti-Christian feelings among many Muslims in all walks of life. Even Al-Azhar, the world’s preeminent Sunni Islamic institution, has contributed its share to this widespread hostility by publishing a pamphlet declaring the Bible a corrupted document and Christianity a pagan religion.

Al-Azhar’s textbook for its high-school students, called “Al Iqna’,” states that killing a Muslim is punishable by death, but if a Muslim kills a non-Muslim he is not subject to capital punishment since the superior cannot be punished for killing the inferior (p. 146). It also states that the blood money (compensation for manslaughter) rates for a woman is half that for a man, but for a Christian or Jew it is one third that of a Muslim (p. 187); and that there can be no stewardship (such as a superior in work) of a non-Muslim over a Muslim (p. 205). Thus the hundreds of thousands of Azhar schools, which are monitored by the state, indoctrinate and then discharge annually into Egyptian society hundreds of thousands of young Muslims with an ideology of intolerance, contempt and hatred toward Copts (and even more intensely toward Jews).

Egypt’s Christian Copts, about 12% of the population, have long been subject to customary and official discrimination. No church, for example, can be built or even repaired without a presidential decree. Copts are excluded from the intelligence and security services because they are deemed a security risk. This discrimination springs from a belief deeply grounded in the social psyche of the ruling elite and large sectors of the Muslim community that it is unreasonable in an Islamic society to expect strict equality between Muslims and the infidels.
In effect, the Copts today are treated as dhimmis-the age-old inferior status of Christian and Jewish minorities in Muslim lands. Dhimmi status is no longer legalized but continues to operate as a traditional social norm. Thus, for example, an individual offense by a dhimmi against a Muslim warrants retribution for the entire dhimmi community. Despite the long-standing suffering of the Copts, the Egyptian government cynically insists that there is no sectarian problem and brands as traitors those who draw international attention to the Copts’ plight. So far the United States and the rest of the Western democracies, despite repeated Coptic appeals, have done little besides calling upon the Egyptian regime to foster greater tolerance. But the dhimmi status of the Copts will not be changed by sweet persuasion. It will only change by persistent domestic struggle supported by vigorous international pressure. The Copts do not demand the tolerance of Muslims but equal rights with them.

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Minister warns of inbred Muslims

A government minister has warned that inbreeding among immigrants is causing a surge in birth defects – comments likely to spark a new row over the place of Muslims in British society. Phil Woolas, an environment minister, said the culture of arranged marriages between first cousins was the “elephant in the room”. Woolas, a former race relations minister, said: “If you have a child with your cousin the likelihood is there’ll be a genetic problem”. The minister, whose views were supported by medical experts this weekend, said: “The issue we need to debate is first cousin marriages, whereby a lot of arranged marriages are with first cousins, and that produces lots of genetic problems in terms of disability (in children)”. Woolas emphasised the practice did not extend to all Muslim communities but was confined mainly to families originating from rural Pakistan. However, up to half of all marriages within these communities are estimated to involve first cousins.

Medical research suggests that while British Pakistanis are responsible for 3% of all births, they account for one in three British children born with genetic illnesses. The minister’s comments come as Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, rejected calls to resign over claims that Islamic law should be introduced in Britain. “I’m not contemplating resignation”, he told friends. Williams insists his remarks were misinterpreted and that he was not advocating a parallel sharia jurisdiction for Muslims, but Lord Carey, his predecessor, warned acceptance of Muslim laws in Britain would be “disastrous”. The archbishop is believed to have received hate mail since he made his controversial comments but has rejected offers of round-the-clock police protection. Williams is set to clash with the government again this week by voicing opposition to plans to extend detention without charge for terrorist suspects to 42 days.

Woolas, who represents the ethnically mixed seat of Oldham East and Saddleworth, has previously warned that Muslim women who wear headscarves could provoke “fear and resentment”. Yesterday, he was similarly outspoken. “If you talk to any primary care worker they will tell you that levels of disability among the . . . Pakistani population are higher than the general population. And everybody knows it’s caused by first cousin marriage. “That’s a cultural thing rather than a religious thing. It is not illegal in this country. “The problem is that many of the parents themselves and many of the public spokespeople are themselves products of first cousin marriages. It’s very difficult for people to say ‘you can’t do that’ because it’s a very sensitive, human thing”. He added that the issue is not talked about. “The health authorities look into it. Most health workers and primary care trusts in areas like mine are very aware of it. But it’s a very sensitive issue. That’s why it’s not even a debate and people outside of these areas don’t really know it exists”.

Woolas was supported by Ann Cryer, Labour MP for Keighley, who called for the NHS to do more to warn parents of the dangers of inbreeding. “This is to do with a medieval culture where you keep wealth within the family”, she said. “If you go into a paediatric ward in Bradford or Keighley you will find more than half of the kids there are from the Asian community. Since Asians only represent 20%-30% of the population, you can see that they are over represented. “I have encountered cases of blindness and deafness. There was one poor girl who had to have an oxygen tank on her back and breathe from a hole in the front of her neck. “The parents were warned they should not have any more children. But when the husband returned again from Pakistan, within months they had another child with exactly the same condition”.

Dipesh Gadher, Christopher Morgan and Jonathan Oliver

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The Jihadists’ Deadly Path to Citizenship

America’s homeland security amnesia never ceases to amaze. In the aftermath of the botched Times Square terror attack over the weekend, Pakistani-born bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad’s U.S. citizenship status caused a bit of shock and awe. The Atlantic magazine writer Jeffrey Goldberg’s response was typical: “I am struck by the fact that he is a naturalized American citizen, not a recent or temporary visitor”. Well, wake up and smell the deadly deception. Shahzad’s path to American citizenship – he reportedly married an American woman, Huma Mian, in 2008 after spending a decade in the country on foreign student and employment visas – is a tried-and-true terror formula. Jihadists have been gaming the sham marriage racket with impunity for years. And immigration benefit fraud has provided invaluable cover and aid for U.S.-based Islamic plotters, including many other operatives planning attacks on New York City. As I’ve reported previously:

= El Sayyid A. Nosair wed Karen Ann Mills Sweeney to avoid deportation for overstaying his visa. He acquired U.S. citizenship, allowing him to remain in the country, and was later convicted for conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that claimed six lives.

= Ali Mohamed became an American citizen after marrying a woman he met on a plane trip from Egypt to New York. Recently divorced, Linda Lee Sanchez wed Mohamed in Reno, Nev., after a six-week “courtship.” Mohamed became a top aide to Osama bin Laden and was later convicted for his role in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Africa that killed 12 Americans and more than 200 others.

= Embassy bombing plotter Khalid Abu al Dahab obtained citizenship after marrying three different American women.

= Embassy bombing plotter Wadih el Hage, Osama bin Laden’s personal secretary, married April Ray in 1985 and became a naturalized citizen in 1989. Ray knew of her husband’s employment with bin Laden, but like many of these women in bogus marriages, she pleaded ignorance about the nature of her husband’s work. El Hage, she says, was a sweet man, and bin Laden “was a great boss”.

= Lebanon-born Chawki Youssef Hammoud, convicted in a Hezbollah cigarette-smuggling operation based out of Charlotte, N.C., married American citizen Jessica Fortune for a green card to remain in the country.

= Hammoud’s brother, Mohammed Hammoud, married three different American women. After arriving in the United States on a counterfeit visa, being ordered deported and filing an appeal, he wed Sabina Edwards to gain a green card. Federal immigration officials refused to award him legal status after this first marriage was deemed bogus in 1994. Undaunted, he married Jessica Wedel in May 1997 and, while still wed to her, paid Angela Tsioumas (already married to someone else, too) to marry him in Detroit. The Tsioumas union netted Mohammed Hammoud temporary legal residence to operate the terror cash scam. He was later convicted on 16 counts that included providing material support to Hezbollah.

= A total of eight Middle Eastern men who plotted to bomb New York landmarks in 1993 – Fadil Abdelgani, Amir Abdelgani, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, Tarig Elhassan, Abdo Mohammed Haggag, Fares Khallafalla, Mohammed Saleh, and Matarawy Mohammed Said Saleh – all obtained legal permanent residence by marrying American citizens.

A year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, homeland security officials cracked a massive illegal alien Middle Eastern marriage fraud ring in a sting dubbed “Operation Broken Vows”. Authorities were stunned by the scope of the operations, which stretched from Boston to South Carolina to California. But marriage fraud remains a treacherous path of least resistance. The waiting period for U.S. citizenship is cut by more than half for marriage visa beneficiaries. Sham marriage monitoring by backlogged homeland security investigators is practically nonexistent. As former federal immigration official Michael Cutler warned years ago: “Immigration benefit fraud is certainly one of the major ‘dots’ that was not connected prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and remains a ‘dot’ that is not really being addressed the way it needs to be in order to secure our nation against criminals and terrorists who understand how important it is for them to ‘game’ the system as a part of the embedding process”. Jihadists have knowingly and deliberately exploited our lax immigration and entrance policies to secure the rights and benefits of American citizenship while they plot mass murder – and we haven’t done a thing to stop them.

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com

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Who Can Mock This Church?

Maybe the Catholic Church should be turned upside down. Jesus wasn’t known for pontificating from palaces, covering up scandals, or issuing Paleolithic edicts on social issues. Does anyone think he would have protected clergymen who raped children? Yet if the top of the church has strayed from its roots, much of its base is still deeply inspiring. I came to Juba in the impoverished southern Sudan to write about Sudanese problems, not the Catholic Church’s. Yet once again, I am awed that so many of the selfless people serving the world’s neediest are lowly nuns and priests – notable not for the grandeur of their vestments but for the grandness of their compassion.

As I’ve noted before, there seem to be two Catholic Churches, the old boys’ club of the Vatican and the grass-roots network of humble priests, nuns and laity in places like Sudan. The Vatican certainly supports many charitable efforts, and some bishops and cardinals are exemplary, but overwhelmingly it’s at the grass roots that I find the great soul of the Catholic Church. The Vatican believes that this newspaper and other news organizations have been unfair and overzealous in excavating the church’s cover-ups. I see the opposite. Yet the church leaders are right about one thing: there is often a liberal and secular snobbishness toward the church as a whole – and that is unfair.

It may be easy at a New York cocktail party to sniff derisively at the church. But what about Father Michael Barton, a Catholic priest from Indianapolis? I met Father Michael in the remote village of Nyamlell, 150 miles from any paved road here in southern Sudan. He runs four schools for children who would otherwise go without an education, and his graduates score at the top of statewide examinations. Father Michael came to southern Sudan in 1978 and chatters fluently in Dinka and other local languages. To keep his schools alive, he persevered through civil war, imprisonment and beatings, and a smorgasbord of disease. “It’s very normal to have malaria,” he said. “Intestinal parasites – that’s just normal”.
Father Michael may be the worst-dressed priest I’ve ever seen – and the noblest.
Anybody scorn him? Anybody think he’s a self-righteous hypocrite?
On the contrary, he would make a great pope.

In the city of Juba, I met Cathy Arata, a nun from New Jersey who spent years working with battered women in Appalachia. Then she moved to El Salvador during the brutal civil war there, putting her life on the line to protect peasants. Two years ago, she came here on behalf of a terrific Catholic project called Solidarity with Southern Sudan. Sister Cathy and the others in the project have trained 600 schoolteachers. They are fighting hunger not with handouts but with help for villagers to improve agricultural techniques. They are also establishing a school for health workers, with a special focus on midwifery to reduce deaths in childbirth. At the hospital attached to that school, the surgeon is a nun from Italy. The other doctor is a 72-year-old nun from Rhode Island. Nuns rock. Sister Cathy would like to see more decentralization in the church, a greater role for women, and more emphasis on public service. She says she worries sometimes that if Jesus returned he would say, “Oh, they got it all wrong”! She would make a great pope, too.

There are so many more like them. There’s Father Mario Falconi, an Italian priest who refused to leave Rwanda during the genocide and bravely saved 3,000 people from being massacred. There’s Father Mario Benedetti, a 72-year-old Italian priest based in Congo who fled with his congregation when their town was attacked by a brutal militia. Now Father Mario lives side by side with his Congolese congregants in the squalor of a refugee camp in southern Sudan, struggling to get schooling for their children. It’s because of brave souls like these that I honor the Catholic Church. I understand why many Americans disdain a church whose leaders are linked to cover-ups and antediluvian stances on women, gays and condoms – but the Catholic Church is far larger than the Vatican. And unless we’re willing to endure beatings alongside Father Michael, unless we’re willing to stand up to warlords with Sister Cathy, we have no right to disparage them or their true church.

By-Nicholas D. Kristof – The New York Times

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The law in the hands of the judges

I am not about to tackle court rulings or to criticise them. The judicial authority warrants all due respect and reverence; and there are legal, well established routes to follow if one is to question or contest a ruling. I am just about to comment on a few rulings which appear revolutionary in concept but, even though they may give rise to comfortable public sentiment, they leave behind queries about their legal backing and their compliance with prevalent legislation. We are all familiar with the climate that governs the building of places of worship and, in case of churches, the oppressive security and political preconditions that have to be met before embarking on the construction procedures. We should not forget especially that no new church can ever be built unless a presidential decree licenses it before any building permit could be issued, a rule which does not apply to mosques; no licence apart from the building permits is needed to build a mosque. In case of already-existing churches; works of expansion, changes, fortification, maintenance, restorations and renovations pre-require procedures that range from merely informing the relevant authorities to obtaining numerous official approvals and building permits.

There can be no two opinions then that there does exist legislations to govern the construction of places of worship. On the ground, procedures are made as simple as possible for mosques and as arduous as can be for churches, which makes us call for a unified law for building places of worship in order to achieve equal and full citizenship rights for all Egyptians regardless of their religion. Yet no-one ever imagined that the answer to the existing inequality lay in the abolition of any regulations whatsoever where the construction of places of worship is concerned. Yet this was exactly what a Sharqiya court ruling issued late last month implied, which the papers touted under the title: “Places of worship need no building permits”.

The news item printed in the papers described the ruling as “significant”, and informed that the misdemeanours court of Awlad Saqr in the governorate of Sharqiya acquitted an engineer and a teacher of charges of building two mosques without obtaining building permits. The legal reasoning declared that “places of worship are sites of public benefit and need no permits; the administrative authorities should be aiding those who build or contribute towards building them. Land owners who donate land to build places of worship should not be held liable if these places are built without permits, since they are public utilities”.

If the Sharqiya court ruling is taken as a legal precedent that would apply to churches, it would make Copts supremely happy to be suddenly liberated from all the oppression they have to undergo to build or restore a church. But in fact, the court has flagrantly oversimplified the matter. It simply waved aside the full list of regulations, procedures, and practices that already govern the building of places of worship and surprised everyone by claiming that such places were public utilities that required no permits. Are places of worship public utilities? Are public utilities other than places of worship exempt from building permits? If the answer to both questions is “yes”, why do Copts have to suffer so severely just to obtain permit to restore a church or licence to build a new one? And why have we been striving-to no avail-for six years now for the passage of a unified law for places of worship?
Apart from all these questions, however, one major-and shocking-question begs an answer. Does the Sharqiya court ruling, no matter how liberal, conform to Egyptian legislation? Or is it some judicious exploitation of the legislation, taking places of worship and religious freedom beyond censure? It is self evident that instituting legislation is the role of the legislative authority, and that the judicial authority’s role is to apply the regulations stipulated by the legislative authority. In the Sharqiya court ruling, as well as in not a few other cases, rulings appear to lack an obvious backing of existing legislation. Which begs the question: Is the judiciary an authority of legislating or applying the law?

http://www.youtube.com/embed/mJYBryXeGek

 

  Please see Elizabeth Hoffman’s email below.  The United States House of Representatives introduced today the attached legislation to provide for the establishment of a Special Envoy to promote religious freedom for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia.  This bill was introduced by Congressman Frank Wolf (10th District, Virginia).  He is the Chairman of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (a subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee) which conducted a hearing last week on the New Year’s Eve bombing in Alexandria, Egypt.  He has been a champion of the Coptic people in the past. 
 
This is the first piece of legislation introduced in this session of Congress that is designed to help the Coptic community in Egypt.  To be effective, we must act in the tradition of the Copts and take a peaceful and lawful approach to ensuring this issue becomes a top priority in our foreign policy with Egypt.  As Elizabeth suggests below, she needs our help in raising awareness by having each you write to your Congressman to urge them to cosponsor this bill.  Attached is a form letter you should feel free to use when writing to your Congressman.  The contact information for your Congressman may be found at this website: http://www.house.gov/.  Simply type in your zip code in the upper left hand corner and your legislator’s name will appear with a link to their website.

  
As His Grace Bishop David noted in his remarks at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday:

 

St. Paul reminds us that we will struggle in this life, but our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against sin and the spiritual forces of evil.  Therefore, we battle not with violence, but donning the armor of God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Let us give voice to our Coptic family in Egypt whose voices have been silenced.  I encourage you to write to your Congressman urging them to co-sponsor this bill.  Please forward this to other Copts throughout the United States encouraging them to do the same.  A copy of this legislation along with a copy of the form letter will be posted at www.CopticLawyers.org.  Thank you.
  
Mark

  
Dear Colleague:

I urge you to cosponsor bipartisan legislation I introduced this week which would require the administration to appoint a special envoy for religious minorities in the Near East and South and Central Asia. The situation for religious minorities in these regions is increasingly precarious.  Last October, at least 70 people were killed during a siege on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad making it the worst massacre of Iraqi Christians since 2003.  In Alexandria, Egypt, 23 people were killed by a suicide bomber while coming out of mass at St. Mark and St. Peter Coptic Church.  In Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries in which the United States has invested its treasure and the lives of countless brave young American soldiers, persecution of Christians runs rampant. 
 
Other religious minorities including the Ahmadis, Baha’is, Zoroastrians and Jews are under increasing pressure in the region.  Last May, militants in Pakistan attacked two Ahmadi mosques in Pakistan killing at least 80 people.  According to the Baha’i World News Service, some 335 Baha’is have been arrested in Iran on account of their religious beliefs.  According to the State Department’s 2010 International Religious Freedom Report, Zoroastrians living in Iran also face persecution.  Members of the Jewish faith also continue to experience discrimination and persecution throughout the region.  The Special Envoy for Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal has noted that Holocaust glorification “is especially virulent in the Middle East media.”  In the wake of these devastating attacks on religious freedom it is clear that these minorities are facing a serious threat that must be addressed.  If the international community fails to speak out, the prospects for religious pluralism and tolerance in the region are bleak.  I hope you will join me in supporting this critical initiative.  For additional information or to cosponsor this important legislation, please contact Elizabeth Hoffman in my office Elizabeth.Hoffman@mail.house.gov 

Sincerely,

Frank R. Wolf

Member of Congress

 

59 Responses to “English”

  1. Linda Jam Says:

    its embarrassing that I have to go to media sources outside the US to get the real news. Yet reporting the news and doing something about the genocide against christians in the middle east are two different things. Why aren’t those who believe in freedom and human rights doing something to help our christian brothers and sisters? are we so cowardly to stand up to the Muslims? I realize the gov’t is protecting them but enough is enough. I can’t stand to look at them.

  2. freeapostate Says:

    Freedom of apostasy is guaranteed by the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, and yet several countries have laws against apostasy with penalties of imprisonment or death. The issue of crimes against humanity perpetrated against apostasy is rising as waring factions involving religion dominates world news.

    It is time for the UN to remember its charter and pressure countries that commit human rights violations against apostates to cease and desist. In an effort to improve awareness about these human rights violations and to solicit support for that cause, the following site provides further details:

    http://freedomofapostasy.wordpress.com/

  3. Don Laird Says:

    AN OPEN LETTER TO ENGLAND

    ( IN MEMORY OF ROBERT BERNARD KYLLO, CALGARY HIGHLANDER, 82ND AIRBORNE TROOPER)

    England and Europe….harvest time is here……. reap your crop.

    In Britain you are reaping the sorry crop you have sown, will you now ask us to, once again, cross oceans and spill our blood doing what you refuse to. Have you no shame?

    As Britons, as men, you stand idle and indifferent as your heritage, your culture, your history and your country are destroyed. You turn away as social engineers and sneering academia fill your children’s heads with poisonous propaganda, turning them into haters of their own people and lovers, nay, worshippers of the black hearted, murderous cancer of islam. The hands of welcome and generosity you extended to muslims have been spat on and bitten. Your sacred traditions, customs and observances including your places of worship have been attacked, mocked and defiled by your muslim guests and you turn away, indifferent. Even your very monarchy suffers threat and derision and you hang your heads and look away.

    Is there no humiliation to great for you to suffer, no smear on the historical and cultural fabric of your nation too injurious? Many of you served your country in the military, do you not recall when you raised your right hand and swore an oath of allegiance? Do you think that oath to be no more than a casual utterance to be cast aside at a moment’s convenience? Many of you are fathers and family men; do you not feel shame as you look into the eyes of your women and children knowing the depths of your ignorance and cowardice? Not even the agony and tortured screams of the most defenseless amongst you pricks your conscience. Those tender souls you stood with at the alter, ‘neath the gaze of God himself, tender souls you swore to protect with your very lives, now, suffering muslim threat, you shuffle away as your women, “uncovered meat” in muslim eyes, are raped and butchered .

    You allow yourselves to be herded as cattle at the whim and fancy of your muslim immigrant guests. The very soul of your once great nation is sold to the lowest bidder, to the lowest common denominator, to criminals and malcontents from third world countries around the world. You allow your entire lives to be destroyed at the hands of a corrupt bureaucracy, a treacherous clergy, a corrupt judiciary, terrorists and human garbage. I watch you from across the Atlantic…you sicken me.

    Now, as whimpering cowards, you Britons, trembling and whining, hiding behind the skirts of your women, shuffle quietly down the streets of your towns and cities ignoring the repeated assaults on the very foundation of your country and in so doing you squander our gift to you. The extent of your “revolt”, your outrage at the injurious actions of your muslim guests, is to crowd into pubs, miserable bloody drunken slobbering fools, slapping each other on the back and mumbling, slurring “Rule Britannia”. The extent of your fight against the cancer of islam are shaken fists and a couple of thrown rocks. Even your war dead; brave, honourable and noble men, who, in their death gave you freedom and whose sacrifice, whose sacred memory and priceless gift is spit upon and insulted by muslims, even this searing outrage fails to raise even the slightest indignation, even the slightest rebuke………still you stand, mute and motionless. Truly, you are beyond contempt.

    My name is Donald Laird and I am of Scottish descent. My ancestors can be traced back in North America to the landing at Plymouth Rock. My family has, through the past four centuries, poured sweat and spilled blood in the forging of a great nation, Canada. My family is closely tied to the United States of America. As the slogan says on the Peace Arch at Blaine, Washington State, the border crossing between Canada and the United States of America…we truly are “Children of a Common Mother”.

    Our nations, Canada and the United States of America, have a rich history of greatness, progress, sacrifice and service to others. I recall our nations, our fathers and grandfathers, crossed oceans to confront a murderous Austrian tyrant, a madman who had set fire to the world. They did not waver, they did not flinch, they stood with clenched fists and grit teeth and, suffering much, gave Europe and Britain her freedom. Even my family knows of that sufferance and sacrifice as the bones of my grandfather, a soldier with the Calgary Highlanders and the 82nd Airborne Regiment, lay at rest on your soil in the Henri-Chapelle American Military Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium.

    How then, can the children of the men and women who suffered so greatly under the boot heel of National Socialism, squander the gift we and their forefathers gave them? The gift that is not theirs to squander but to keep sacred, to be passed from generation to generation, to be treated with breathless reverence and to be jealously guarded. How can they turn a blind eye to the cancerous and corrosive political ideology of islam that threatens to, and has to a large degree, destroy our gift to them and make them slaves once again?

    Will you ask, once again, for the assistance of the children of North America? Will you petition my children, my sons and daughters, for their lives, for their blood, to wrest the British people from ‘neath the boot heel of islam? Will we answer the call from the children of Saxons, Anglos, Vikings, and the Norse? Will we remember our commonality and rush to your defense? Will we once again set sail and cross oceans to confront a scourge and a plague?………..or will we turn away, indifferent to your enslavement and your suffering?….will we resign you to your deserved fate as wretched miserable cowards??…..will we turn our collars up and walk away, the dying screams of the once proud nation of Britain ringing in our ears?

    Freedom is precious. Freedom is a gift. England, must you lose your freedom to understand its rarity and worth?

    These are difficult times we live in and to quote a song “There’s something lurking in the room with me I cannot see but I smell its stinking breath” The times ahead will be more difficult than you can imagine; blood will be shed, lives will be lost, funeral pyres lit and tears wept….such is the cost of freedom and its preservation. To do anything less is suicide as history does not speak kindly of those who ignore danger and threat and turn their backs on that which birthed and nourished them. I suppose you and you alone must decide where you stand and where you draw the line in the sand. You and you alone must decide the course of action, the extent of your resolve once that line is crossed.

    I am reminded of a line from the movie “Kingdom of Heaven”…it renders useless the arguments offered by those who, weak of will, follow the murderous direction of others and refuse to act on behalf of those in need. The King of Jerusalem, counseling a young knight on matters of conscience and courage of conviction, responds to one of his questions, he says, ” Even when those who move you be kings or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God you cannot say that I was told by others to do thus or that virtue was not convenient, this will not suffice”.

    So England my friend…..what is your convenience?…..what is the depth of your character?…..what is the breadth of your conviction?….. what does Britain and your ancestors mean to you?….What will be your legacy?…..What will your grandchildren say when they speak of you?…….During November’s winter whisper, on parade squares when silvered haired patriots and regiments assemble, when politicians with hand on heart speak…….will they speak of those who held the line or will they mumble, eyes cast aside, of those for whom courage failed, those who, when their country needed them, turned and ran? Will you honour the dying words of Lt Col. John McRae as he urged; “Take up our quarrel with the foe, to you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields”.

    England, are you so faint of heart, so timid that you would sell out your very country for a moment or two of peace? I myself think not……death comes to us all, each and every one….it makes no distinction. The grade is marked on your life and how you lived it. For many, they would say it is better to die on your feet than to live a life of compromise and quiet desperation on your knees and I, for one, am inclined to agree with them.

    In closing, I am reminded of the final paragraph from a Scottish legend, “The Devils Advocate”. I trust these few lines will not be the requiem mass, the epitaph of Western civilization. I trust these will not be the words that ring in your children’s ears as, with the tyrannical jackboot of islam on their necks, they suffer the murderous brutality of muslims and islam. The choice is yours.

    “Evil is among us because we have invited that evil. We suffered much but we brought upon our own sufferings. The Devil would have had no power over us but we gave him that power. We became bondsman because we willed it; we are in despair because we brought despair to our neighbours. We died because we acquiesced in death. We were silent when we should have spoken in behalf of our brothers. For a moments security we looked away when our neighbour was robbed. In behalf of a false peace we postponed a war with evil when we should have not been moved from our places. At every step we compromised, when we knew there is no compromise with hell. If the Devil is guilty we are not guiltless. In his condemnation we are included. In a judgment against him we are also judged. May God have mercy on our souls.”

    So what say you England, what say you?

    Just a couple of thoughts…..

    Sincerely,

    Don Laird.
    Royal Canadian Dragoons, 8th Canadian Hussars, 1985 – 1988
    Edson, Alberta, Canada

    EMAIL: acginc@telus.net

  4. Don Laird Says:

    I have tried to send a comment but it is too long….do you have an email contact?

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