Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Egyptian Regime Encourages Persecution of Coptic Christians

By: Magdi Khalil

On February 10, 2002, the news agencies reported attacks on Copts in a village in the Al-Minia province. Copts' homes, cars, and churches were burned, and 10 Copts were hurt. I would like to analyze the reasons why this scenario of attacks on Copts has been repeated time and again, from the Al-Khanka incident of 1972 to the most recent occurrence. "

1- Lack of a clear penal policy:
In self-respecting societies, there is no dialogue or compromise whatsoever with a criminal who commits an act punishable by law. Yet in Egypt. the real criminal ends up going free, and the ones brought to trial are youths against whom the judge has no evidence whatsoever. All this, when everyone knows who really committed the crimes -not one of whom, for some unknown reason, is brought to trial or punished."

2-Equal treatment for attacker and attacked:
Since President Sadat's espousal of the accursed policy of equalizing [the attacker with the attacked] - which developed into claims about [clashes between] 'extremists from both sides,' our lives became a nightmare. By what logic, law, or religion is the attacker compared to the attacked? After every brutal attack on the Copts come arrests of groups from both sides; this show ends in the victim relinquishing his rights.This means that the state is not neutral, and it encourages crime against the Copts."

3-Rewarding the aggressor:
Everytime, the state rewards the extremists for their crimes instead of punishing them. Thus, the extremists manage to impose their will. In the village of Al-Timsahiya, in the Assyut district, when the [Muslim] mob went wild because of the height of a church, it was agreed to make the mosque's minaret higher so that it would be taller than the church. In exchange for rebuilding the church [destroyed by a Muslim mob] in the recent attack, the housing minister launched a fundraising campaign for the construction of a mosque."

"Why should they [the Muslim mob] refrain from running wild if it ends in the burning of Christian homes and churches, while at the same time they accomplish their goal [building a mosque]?" "I should note that I am not opposed to making mosques taller. As far as I'm concerned, they can reach the sky. What worries me is that this is done in surrender to the will of the extremists, and constitutes an improper reward for the aggressor."

4- Oppressive, arbitrary laws:
Clearly, the laws for establishing Christian houses of worship in Egypt are oppressive and unconstitutional. Because of this injustice, the Christians have paid dearly, in blood and property, for attempts to establish houses of worship."

5-Government behavior that fosters extremism:
When the government destroys a four-story church in Shubra Al-Khayma - which angered President Mubarak, who ordered it rebuilt at state expense although more than a year had passed since the incident; when, a few months ago, that same government destroys the walls and foundations of the Al-'Ubur Church; when the government prevents the Church of the Virgin in Al-Zeytoun from being made higher on the pretext that it would interfere with air traffic - although the church is quite far from the airport (!); when it builds a mosque in the middle of the road in Al-'Abbasiya so that it faces the cathedral; when the government thinks with this kind of mentality - what signals does it send to the [Muslim] mob?"

6- The Embracing Show:
The Egyptian government maintains that the Copts should be satisfied and thank God for gestures that are a great honor for them. What is the matter with this Coptic greed?! Isn't it enough for them when the sheikhs embrace the priests in front of the television cameras?. After all this, they whine about the burning of a few houses, the destruction of a church, and a few people wounded or murdered when a church is opened or rebuilt?! We [i.e. Muslim Egyptians] have a philosophy according to which we burn the Copts' homes and churches and then apologize to their clerics.. Be grateful to Allah that we do not annihilate you!"

7- Interest in image, disregard of essence:
All that interests the Egyptian regime is its image abroad; the facts on the ground are a secondary issue. To this end, the regime recruits businessmen to take out advertisements in leading American and European newspapers on various occasions, to say that all is well. It launches delegations at the expense of the Egyptian foreign ministry and with funds from the Coptic taxpayer to say that everything is just fine and we have come to establish a cultural dialogue!! They deny the known facts and disseminate words of deceit. Unfortunately for them, since September 11 these methods are of limited effect."

8- The renovation and rebuilding tax:
For every attempt to build or rebuild a church, Copts must pay in lives and property, even though they have building permits. In July 2000, Coptic citizen Fakhri 'Iyad paid with his life for his attempt to build a church in the village of Sol in Al-Fayyoum district. The same thing happened in August 2000, at the Qasr Rashwan Church in Al-Fayyoum. The church was attacked, then seven (Coptic) homes were attacked. Four people were wounded. Thus, while a church is being renovated, some Coptic homes are burned in exchange, or people pay with their lives."

9- Recurring rituals:
Special rituals have begun to emerge in all attacks on Copts. One of these is incitement against the 'infidel Copts' from the mosques' loudspeakers. Likewise, the security apparatuses are soft on the aggressors, and collaborate with them. Furthermore, telephone lines are cut so that no calls for help are possible. An additional ritual is blaming the Christians for provoking the Muslims - [as if] it were they who started the attacks. By God, how can a church bell calling people to prayer every week constitute provocation of Muslims? Is the mere existence of the Copt also a provocation?"

10-Conclusion:
I read that an American commentator wrote that during the Sadat era, an understanding was formed between Egypt and Saudi Arabia regarding the elimination of the Christian presence - primarily Egypt's Copts - in the Middle East. This understanding expanded after Sadat's death. Sadat himself is quoted as saying [he intended] to make the Copts bootblacks and beggars."

"So, Saudi Arabia provided financial backing for religious radicalism in Egypt. Unfortunately, three decades later. Egypt has become the largest exporter of extremist sheikhs. The Saudi funds helped paint Egyptian life in the colors of religious extremism."

"In conclusion, I will say openly that the state is mistaken, and everyone in Egypt is mistaken, if they think that encouraging the majority to persecute the minority will lead to the submission of the Copts. This behavior will lead to collective suicide, and the destruction of Egypt."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Images of the Coptic demonstration in front of the UN in NY



Click to view the pictures:

Image 1 Image 2 Image 3 Image4 Image 5

Image 6 Image 7 Image 8 Image 9 Image 10

Image 11 Image 12 Image 13 Image 14 Image 15

Image 16 Image 17 Image 18 Image 19 Image 20

Image 21 Image 22 Image 23 Image24 Image 25

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Egyptian Government Detains A Progressive Muslim Writer

Mr. Nabeel Abdul Kareem is in detention for his progressive views !
According to Copts United , Security Forces in Alexandria city (Egypt) has detained Mr. Abdul Kareem, a writer- on October 26, 2005 at the Bab-Sharqi Police Station for his writings published on different web sites (including www.Copts-united.com) Mr. Abul Kareem was then transferred to one of the detention centers on November 2, 2005

Copts United deplored these repressive measures that contradict the Egyptian constitution and in particular Article 40, which calls for freedom of expression. Copts United asked for the immediate release of Mr. Abdul Kareem.
Many Copts along with moderate Muslims accuse the Egyptian government of causing the rift between Muslims and Christians in Egypt by adopting repressive and discriminatory practices against Coptic Christians. Mr. Abdul Kareem is among a number of proactive Muslim writers known for their calls to end discrimination against Copts in Egypt

Monday, October 31, 2005

Images from the demonstration in Paris

Coptic and Human Rights organizations in Europe planned a succesful demonstration in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Paris on Monday 10/31/2005 . These are some of the images ( with thanks to M.E.C.A)

Please don't forget to join the Coptic demonstration planned in NY city, on November 3, 2005 at 12:00 noon in front of the UN

Click on the image to enlarge





Letter from the Bishop of Sydney to The Ambassador of Egypt

18 Babah 1722 AM (Coptic calendar))
Friday 28 th October 2005
Our Ref: B.D.02.039.04.05

Bishop’s Office

His Excellence, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Canberra;

Best regards and prayers for your continuous success in all issues.

We would like to congratulate you on the occasion of Ramadan fasting, asking the Lord God to accept all our prayers, grant His grace to the whole world, edified in peace and unity between all His people, world wide.

Your Excellence; when you hosted me in Canberra on 26th July 2005 celebrating the July Revolution, we noticed that you are an understanding, eloquent, calm, and a beloved person by all. Our relationship became strong, and on this basis we both are partners in weaving the one nation of Egypt, with its two wings. This nation which has a special love in our hearts, never waived by time or distance, or any other obstacle presented by the enemy of good, whether divisions or persecution, or sorrowful incidents which take place from time to time.

In recognition of this strong relationship, and on behalf of the Coptic Orthodox congregation in Australia and North East Asia, we would like to mention some points, which are recently bothering us:

1- The late incidents in Moharram Bek, Alexandria resulted in dangerous issues, the most important of which is the division between the children of the one nation.

It would have better been dealt with in a modern objective manner. Who is the beneficiate of this incident? Why would the Egyptian media remember something, which happened two years ago? Why especially at that time? Why didn’t the Egyptian media highlight what was hurting to one of the two wings of the nation (the Coptic Christians), as in the T.V. series of ‘The Time of Flowers’ (which is against the doctrine of the Holy Bible), the movie ‘I love Cinema’ (belittling the worship and Church), the series ‘A Girl From Shoubra’ (humiliating the Christian Religion as a whole)? This is not something new for the Egyptian media, as we can never forget what was released by ‘Al Nabaa’ (The News) Newspaper, which led to a calamity.

Would the Alexandria incidents lead some of our brethren from the other wing of the one nation, to ask H.H. Pope Shenouda III Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark in Egypt and the whole world, to offer an apology? The aim of the Church’s play was to enlighten our congregation, and to confirm their faith. Do we blame the Church for such an action? In addition, His Holiness and the Melli Council had reviewed this play, and they issued a report stating that there was nothing wrong with the play. What is really astonishing is that the Egyptian media totally ignored that report.

Do we have the right to ask an apology from Sheikh Al Azhar, if one of the mosques’ Sheikhs insulted the Coptic Christian brethren in Egypt (which happens frequently in some mosques in Egypt during the Friday sermon; I personally heard them during one of my visits to Egypt, saying that we are infidels)? Is it believable that the Alexandria incident would lead to the allowance of shedding H.H. Pope Shenouda’s blood, which was clearly stated in one of the Egyptian newspapers? Is it one of Islam’s teachings that one of its groups would destroy the neighbouring areas in the proximity of the place of the incident? Isn’t this considered unfair for those people whose possessions were destroyed?

Your Excellence the Ambassador: All these questions are flowing in the minds of the educated people, and those who have sincere love for their country. The issue is deeper.

We would honestly like to thank President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak for his quick reaction with Alexandria incidents, yet we have to investigate the matter in depth, objectivity and common sense. The huge amount of Egyptian media, whether articles, T.V. series, movies and many other media arms is in real need to an accurate investigation, carried by responsible officials in the country, reaching the level of modern thinking and caring for others, carried on an understanding, logic criticism, clearance and wise attitude.

We would also add that some of the Egyptian writers, play a big role in this situation, for example, Dr. Emara mentioned many times in his articles that the Holy Bible is not authentic, that Christians are infidels, and that there is no other religion but Islam. This issue also needs an understanding approach from the responsible officials.

The Alexandrian incidents were not demonstrations of thousands of Muslims without planning. If anyone is following these events, he would notice that there people planning a well organized destructive demonstration, there are people providing financial support, and there are people carrying these missions. The discovery of these realties is a real threat to the security of Egypt

The Investigation & Security Departments in modern countries discover the incidents before they takes place, then it becomes ‘Proactive’ and not ‘Active’. It also organizes a vision, a strategy and a plan to face such incidents, which threaten the peace of any country and destroy its civilization.

We need an investigation in the Alexandrian incidents, to discover the causes, so that such incidents never happen again. It is enough what was spent of time, effort and finance to fix such irresponsible actions. The time, effort and finance would have been rather spent in the development and upraising of Egypt, our beloved country.

2- Your Excellence, there is another important issue: What is the status of the Copts on the political and social map in their country Egypt?

- The nominations to the ruling National party, include only 2 Coptic Christians out of 444 Coptic and Muslim nominations. One of the two Copts Maher Khella, nominated for Ghorbal area in Muharram Bek in Alexandriawithdrew because of the late incidents. If we have a look at the statistics, we find that the percentage of one Coptic nominee in a total of 444 Coptic and Muslim nominees is a ratio of 0.225%. Our question is: What is the reason? Aren’t we the people about whom the President said: The Copts are one of the two wings of the one nation? H.H. Pope Shenouda III also said: Egyptis a nation which lives inside us, not a nation in which we live.

Your Excellence the Ambassador, the freedom of doctrine and opinion, the respect of others, living in peace and carrying out real democracy are basis for modern countries. In Australia
, we live in a society consisting of 200 nationalities; they all live in peace, love their country and do their best for its development. Our beloved country Egypt has only one nationality; which is the Coptic Nationality, as the word ‘Copt’ comes from the word ‘Egyptous’, which means in old Egyptian history “Egyptian”.

Your Excellence the Ambassador, we thank you for your love, we ask you to send a copy of this letter to President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Egyptian Minister of Information, the Egyptian Minister of Education and Sheikh Al Azhar.

Again, we wish full progress and success in your great mission, asking Your Excellence whenever you receive a response from any of the responsible officials in Egypt, if you could kindly send it to us, just to clarify the issue for the 70,000 (seventy thousand) Coptic Christians living in Australia, and the Coptic Christian families living in North East Asia, they are all very upset because of the latest incidents, especially the declaration of the shedding of His Holiness’ blood.

Your Excellence, we are the children of the martyrs, we do not fear death. Emperor Diocletian killed one million Coptic Christians in the third century (particularly in the year 284 AD), yet the Coptic Christians are still existing in Egypt and the whole world.

What had happened is inappropriate; it presents an unacceptable image of Egypt our beloved country.

May the Lord preserve Your Excellence for us, and for Egypt our beloved country.

The Faithful,Bishop Daniel

With the Grace of God

Bishop of Sydney And Affiliated Regions, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, China and Malaysia.

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

(Source: Copts United)