Saturday, October 29, 2005

Statement from the Coptic Church in Alexandria

Official statement from the Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria:

"The church and its congregation announces that they do not accept any defemation of Islam nor belittling the religious convictions of our beloved Muslim brethren .

The Church announces that in case it is proven any of the participants in the stage play was at fault, they will be disciplined.

We are deeply saddened that brothers and sons were wounded and injured during these events.
The Church calls on the Attorney General to expedite the release of those arrested and were not indicted, in order to keep the social peace and provide happiness and joy to all on the occasion of the Eid celebrations.

The church would like to extend its congratulations to the Muslim brothers on the occasion of the month of Ramadan and the blessed Eid

General Deputy of the Patriarchate
Hegomen: Sharobeem Al Bakhomy"

A Call For Three Days of Prayer and Fasting


Bishop Serapion, the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California, and Hawaii has called for "Three Days of Prayer and Fasting " starting October 31 to November 2nd, 2005. The letter says :

As we follow the hardship, which the Church in Egypt is facing these days, we lift up our hearts to our Lord, Who told us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) With complete faith and trust in God’s promises, we place all our troubles in His Hand with confidence, knowing that He alone is capable of saving and protecting all His children and preserve the peace of His Church

Click here to read the entire letters in Arabic & English

Friday, October 28, 2005

Grand Imam of Al Azhar: Attacking the church was wrong

Sheikh Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar told "Al Masry Al Youm" Egyptian newspaper that he met with H. H. Pope Shenouda III in an attempt to contain the situation in Alexandria, and added "This incident is pre-planned, and certain groups are behind it attempting to cause sectarian tensions and violence" . Tantawi also affirmed" Attacking the church was wrong, it is everyone's duty to reaffirm that we are brethren living in the same country".

Criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood group, the Grand Imam said " I hope that the Muslim brotherhood group would stay out of it in order to avoid the deterioration of the situation"

Tantawi is known for his moderation and is constantly criticized by some Egyptian newspapers known for their incitement against the West and non-Muslims in general.

Demonstration in Cairo

Some Muslims are currently demonstrating outside St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Helipolis, Cairo chanting "Islam is the answer"

=====
Update: 6:22 PM Egypt time (12:22 PM EST)
The small number of people who gathered outside the church were dispersed

Tension in Alexandria

Fearing a recurrence of demonstrations around St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Moharam Bek, Alexandria, security forces are currently surrounding the church for protection against any possible attacks. Copts in the area are afraid they might be targeted today since many of their homes were marked with an (X) sign, some of them have already left the town out of fear.

The governor of Alexandria, Mr. Abdel-Salam Al Mahjoub tried to reassure citizens by touring the streets of Alexandria over the past couple of days and participated in removing the (X) signs by himself.
We will continue to monitor the situation throughout the day and keep you posted

Pray for peace in Alexandria today

Demonstration planned in Paris

Coptic and Human Rights organizations in Europe are planning a joint demonstration in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Paris on Monday 10/31/2005 at 4:30 PM to protest the ongoing injustices against Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Location:
PLACE DES ETATS-UNIS
Face à l'Ambassade d'Egypte
56 Avenue d'Iéna
75016 PARIS
Métro IENA

Time: Monday, October 31, 2005

Participating organizations:

- ACKA (Association des Chrétiens originaires de Kabylie et leurs Amis)
- ADH (Action Droits de l’Homme)
- AFEMO (Association Francophone d'Etudes du Moyen-Orient)
- Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights, Europe
- Copts United Zurich (Organisation internationale de défense des intérêts des Coptes)
- CSI International et CSI-France (Christian Solidarity International)
- TAMAZGHA (Organisation internationale de défense des intérêts des Imazighen)
- UK Copts Association (Association des Coptes du Royaume-Uni)

To contact organizers:

ASSOCIATION DES COPTES DE FRANCE
15 Rue Montmartre
75001 PARIS
coptefrance@yahoo.com
Tel 01 45 85 09 13

or

ASSOCIATION DES COPTES D’EUROPE
15 Avenue du Bel Air
75012 PARIS
copteseuro@wanadoo.fr
Tel 01 30 37 06 29

Thursday, October 27, 2005

H.H. Pope Shenouda III breaks down in tears

Addressing the recent problems that Coptic Christians are facing in Egypt and the escalating violence against them, H. H. Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic Patriarch broke down in tears last night (October 26, 2005) at St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt

As H.H. was saying: "In all difficulties that surround us, we (always) cast any problem before God and leave it in His hands, and tell Him: Your will be done,..if You want to solve the problem, let it be Your will, but if You want us to receive the blessings of carrying a cross......) then the Pope broke down in tears
Watch the film footage of H.H. (minutes 5:19 to 7:44 of the attached video)

Click here to download the video file
or

Click here




قداسة البابا الأنبا شنودة الثالث يبكي أثناء عظته الأسبوعية أمس
Click here to download the fileإضغط هنا للتحميل
كلنا خلفك يا قداسة البابا ، نردد معك لتكن مشيئة الله
مرنمين خلفك المزمور 52 ضد كل من افترى عليك وعلى الكنيسة وعلى الشعب القبطي قائلين
لماذا تفتخر بالشر ايها الجبار. رحمة الله هي كل يوم
لسانك يخترع مفاسد كموسى مسنونة يعمل بالغش
احببت الشر اكثر من الخير. الكذب اكثر من التكلم بالصدق. سلاه
احببت كل كلام مهلك ولسان غش
ايضا يهدمك الله الى الابد. يخطفك ويقلعك من مسكنك ويستأصلك من ارض الاحياء. سلاه
فيرى الصديقون ويخافون وعليه يضحكون
هوذا الانسان الذي لم يجعل الله حصنه بل اتكل على كثرة غناه واعتزّ بفساده
اما انا فمثل زيتونة خضراء في بيت الله. توكلت على رحمة الله الى الدهر والابد
احمدك الى الدهر لانك فعلت وانتظر اسمك فانه صالح قدام اتقيائك

Video of Mass Rioting, Destruction of Churches and Burning Bibles

International Christian Union and The American Coptic Association

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2005

Copts Release Video of Mass Rioting, Destruction of Churches and Bibles

UNION CITY, NJ: Fearing a repeat of the recent riots against the Coptic Church in Alexandria, which left four dead, over 80 wounded and seven churches defaced, the International Christian Union (ICU) and American Coptic Association (ACA) are calling on the U.S. Government and the United Nations to take immediate action to stop the bloodshed and destruction of churches.

Exclusive video footage released by the ICU/ACA today, reveals the destruction of the Assemblies of God Church for Evangelical Copts in Moharam Bek, on Friday, Oct. 21.

"We are receiving numerous reports that Fanatic Muslim groups are planning to surround the Alexandria churches again on Friday, Oct.28, and at the end of Ramadan on the following Tuesday, promising the death of Christians and the continued destruction of churches throughout Egypt," Dr. Monir Dawoud, president of the ICU/ACA, said.

Dawoud faults the security forces for encouraging violence by first "giving the green light to the mob," and then failing to control the resulting riots. "If the momentum of the riots is allowed to continue, the crowds will be impossible to contain," Dawoud said.

Over 5,000 Muslims demonstrated outside of the Alexandria Coptic Orthodox Church last Friday to protest the production of a drama staged at the church two years ago. The protestors say the play blasphemes Islam. According to recent statements by the Coptic Church, however, the play does not defame Islam

Copts and other minorities in Egypt are continually subjected to physical and verbal harassment by extremist Muslim groups. Yet we do not destroy their houses of worship or call for bloodshed," said Amgad Zakhari, one of the youth leaders with the ICU/ACA.

In addition to the protests, the Egyptian newspaper, El Fagr, published threats made by Muslim radicals against the Coptic Pope Shenouda III. According to this report, Muslim radicals publicly announced their threats through mosques in the outskirts of the city of Alexandria and were calling for the death of the Pope in revenge for an alleged insult to Islam's prophet.

The ICU and the ACA are planning a demonstration in front of the UN next week to protest the persecution of Christians in Egypt

Contact: Freedom Now Communications, SliwaNews@gmail.com

Australian Copts pray for peace in Alexandria


Media Release
27th October 2005
Coptic Orthodox Christian Church, Sydney Australia

Australian Copts pray for peace in Alexandria, Egypt where attacks have been directed at some of our churches there - we ask God to grant wisdom and support to the Egyptian Government to maintain peace in the region.

In light of these events His Grace Bishop Daniel, Bishop of the Diocese of Sydney & Affiliated Regions has declared a three day communal fast for the Coptic congregation in Sydney and Affiliated Regions on Wednesday 2nd, Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th of November 2005, accompanied by liturgies on each day.

His Grace was quoted saying:"our beloved children: the priests, all priesthood ranks and the congregation in the Diocese of Sydney and Affiliated Regions, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines and China: Peace and Grace be with you. I am quite sure that you all know the benefit of communal fasting; it brings upon us the Lord's mercies

This fasting will be for the peace and unity of our Coptic Orthodox Church. In our prayers during the fasting, we will also pray for the peace of the whole world and the unity of its nations."

For further information please contact any of the listed Sydney Coptic Media Officers:
Fr Gabriel Yassa: 0411 555195
Mr Peter Tadros, Secretary: 0411 344 771

Email: sydneycopticmedia@coptic.org.au
Website: http://www.coptic.org.au/

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Barbaric Hurricanes Hit Alexandria

In the last couple of days, the Egyptian city of Alexandria witnessed angry demonstrations organized by Muslims to protest a play they claimed insulted Islam.

During these demonstrations, a nun was stabbed in the back, and so was the man who rushed in her help. Meanwhile, a large number of Muslims attacked the church where they claimed the play was shown.

They tried breaking into the church after having thrown it with stones, which caused the destruction of its windows.

The play mentioned is not new. It took place in the church two years earlier and did not cause any problems at that time, since no one had heard of it at that time.

The latest tension started as the word spread that the play was being sold on CDs, which angered Muslims and caused them, as is always the case, to rely on violence.

The play, titled "I was blind and now I can see", tells the story of a Christian young man who converted to Islam and joined Islamic radical group, but who having realized his mistake and refused to kill Christian priests and burn churches as the group leaders told him, eventually decides to return to his original faith.

The oppressor asks the victim to apologize

As if not satisfied with their barbaric reaction, the Muslims went on to ask H.H. Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic Patriarch, to apologize. But the Pope refused and denied that the play includes any offense against religious symbols.

In a statement, H.H. declared that some groups are trying to initiate sectarian tension and harm Egypt’s national unity. The statement also mentioned that the play was shown for only one day two years ago within the church complex and not a single Muslim had attanded it.

Furthermore, it did not address religious symbols but rather religious extremism. The statement further noted that the play did not cause any tensions two years ago and that bringing up the topic nowadays aim at destroying Egypt’s national unity. The Coptic Pope’s statement wondered if it makes any sense to neglect the responsibility of the newspapers that initiate sectarian tensions and instead accuse Christians of the rumors spread by those newspapers that Islam was insulted. Finally, the statement blamed the demonstrators of surrounding the church, banging violently against its doors and shouting provocative statements , which scared those who were praying inside.

The Copts as the Elections' Scape Goat

On the other hand, the Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, denied any insluts on the CD against Islam and urged all Egyptians to ignore rumors, noting that some are trying to cause sectarian tensions and to claim that the relationships between Egypt’s Muslims and Christians are fragile in order to make personal benefits or electoral propaganda regardless of the country’s interests.

The situation had indubitably its effects on the electoral race in Alexandria, since the different candidates made sure to comment on it. Thus, in that respect, the Christian candidate Maher Khella told AFP (Agence France Presse) that the demonstrators burnt copies of the Holy Bible and added that this is totally unacceptable and we cannot even accept apologies for such acts.
Furthermore, he confirmed that he asked the (ruling) National Democratic Party to which he belongs to withdraw his candidacy documents to alleviate the tension.
Khella also stressed that the play that initiated the demonstrations did not include any offense towards Islam.

Meanwhile, an Alexandrian priest said the fearful Christians in the North of the country closed their shops and remained home following the violent demonstrations that took place outside the church. Father Yohanna Naseef told Reuters that the demonstrators destroyed many shops and burnt many cars that belonged to Christians. He also said the door of a small church in Moharram Bey’s neighborhood was destroyed. Father Yohanna further confirmed that the play entitles I was blind and now I can see was produced by a young men more than two years ago, and that some extremists have lately uploaded it to the internet. The Coptic priest also said that the play addressed and opposed extremism and fundamentalism and that it was based on the movie El Erhaby (The Terrorist) that was produced in the nineties, starring the famous Egyptian actor Adel Imam.

The reasons behind the attacks are known

If it were indeed true that the play pictured the return of the prodigal son to his home, after the radical Muslims urged him to burn churches and attack Christian priests, then those demonstrating Muslims have proved - by their barbaric reaction and their attack on the Coptic nun - that all what appeared in that play was not mere imagination of some amateurs but rather the truth reflected by the ugly teachings they receive in mosques.

In fact, those Muslims never needed such a play to attack or justify attacking Christians. Their attacks took place over the course of many years and are still taking place as part of an organized plan to force Christians out of their native countries. The radical Muslims will not relax as long as there is one Copt on the Coptic Land of Egypt. All the Islamic attacks to which Copts were and still are subject have no justification, except the hatred that inhabits their hearts and that they learn from their Islamic literature.

It’s about time for the free world to interfere

These aggressions on the lives of Egypt’s Christians and on their churches and stores, as well as harassing them, discriminating against them and kidnapping their daughters, became part of their daily sufferings. It’s about time for the UN and for the free nations of the world to put and end to these tragedies.

Two days ago, the Egyptian authorities arrested one hundred of those who encouraged the violence in front of the church, but what’s next? They will be released, and some maybe detained for a couple of months then released to continue their attacks.

We saw this happening numerous times before, one of which followed the massacre of El Kosheh where 21 Christians were murdered and not a single Muslim was punished.

Arresting a number of Muslim criminals is no longer satisfying. The entire Egyptian educational system needs to be changed. The sermons of the imams in mosques, where the hearts of the Muslims are fueled with hatred against the Copts and all non-Muslims , must be considered a crime punishable by law. And more important, Copts must be treated equal citizens, just like other Egyptians, all discriminatory laws against them must be abolished.

Until all this takes place, the Egyptian authorities must be denied any international aid. The billions of dollars that are offered to the Egyptian government from the pockets of the American tax-payers should not be given to the riminals but rather to the victim, or at least -for God sake, link these grants in billions each year that Egypt receives from the USA to the process of democracy and respect for human rights.

============

* Translation of an Arabic article titled "Barbaric Hurricanes Hit Alexandria"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A "Symbolic" Coptic demonstration in New York

A group of Copts will demonstrate in front of the Egyptian Consulate in New York on Wednesday, October 26th to protest the escalating events against Coptic Christians in Egypt.

The demonstration will take place from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM in front of the Consulate located at 1110 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022 (Second avenue & 59 Street)
Tel: (212)759-7122 / (212)759-7121 / (212)759-7120

According to organizers, Copts will also ask for an apology for the Islamic invasion and occupation of their land on the seventh century, and for the massacres that followed against their ancestors; specially those in the delta region in Egypt where Muslim occupiers massacred thousands of Coptic men and enslaved women and children who were later on sent to Baghdad, the then center of Islamic Caliphate . Muslims also owe Christians and Jews an apology for the curses included in the Quran and Hadiths of Muhammad in addition to insults on daily basis in Egypt through mosques loud speakers and in the national press and TV stations.

After forced conversions, here comes "Forced Fasting"

Muslims in Gheit El Enab, Alexandria ganged up against a Coptic young man and beat him up because they were offended by him eating a sandwich during the day on Ramadan!. Police forces rushed to the scene and arrested the Coptic individual along with some of those who attacked him. Non-Muslims are usually forced to ‘respect’ Ramadan and abstain from eating or drinking in public in order to avoid offending Muslims.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Muslim radicals threaten to kill Pope Shenouda III

H.H. Pope Shenouda III

EL FAGR Egyptian newspaper published threats made by Muslim radicals against the Pope of Alexandria. According to the newspaper, Muslim radicals publicly announced their threats through small mosques in the outskirts of the city of Alexandria and regarded the bloodshed of H.H. Pope Shenouda III as Halal (permissible) in revenge for what they considered an insult to Islam's prophet.
This is a copy of the front page of the newspaper

On the other hand, the "Mother of All Radicals" or the so called "Muslim Brotherhood" group has been giving out flyers inciting the Muslims to revenge the honor of their prophet

It is worthy to note that some European governments regard this group as moderate !!! hereunder is a copy of the flyer where you can see their slogan of moderation at the top; and in case these European governments want to know what it is , it's a (Quran between two swords)!! with their creed (Death for the sake of Allah is our utmost desire) and right below that a Quranic verse reading " Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to terrorize the enemies of Allah and your enemies” Quran 8:60