Saturday, January 28, 2006

The mighty security apparatus

By: Youssef Sidhom

With the assault on its church on the evening of Wednesday 18 January, the village of al-Udeisat in Luxor, Upper Egypt joined a list of other Egyptian villages that had lived in age-old obscurity until some violent sectarian event moved them into the realm of international limelight. Shame indeed! Instead of gaining world renown on account of being the birthplace of a son or daughter who realise some unprecedented feat; or a site of a historic discovery, an ultra-modern facility, or a global event; these modest, hitherto unheard-of villages carved a place for themselves on the world scene as sites of ferocious violence. Mobs terrorised, injured, and murdered peaceful residents, looted their property and set it aflame, for no reason other than that these residents differed in their faith, and had the temerity to worship in small, modest churches which they built and the interior of which they renovated years later. The villages of Kafr Dimian east of the Delta, Girza in Giza, Beni-Walmes and Tahal-Aameda in Minya, Upper Egypt, have all claimed places on the world map of events throughout the last decade. Will other villages or hamlets, the names of which we never heard before, join them?

A look at the factors that led to the Udeisat attack highlights several problems, and raises the bitter question: Till when will such problems remain shelved, or placed on hold? How can the perpetrators of violence escape unquestioned and unpunished, either because the inadequacies of the security apparatus remain beyond accountability, or because of the so-called cosmetic and ineffectual “reconciliation sessions” in which the victims and attackers are brought together by the local councils for an official reconciliation following attacks.

The quasi-governmental al-Ahram Cairo daily termed the Udeisat church a ‘guest house’. This is a flagrant fallacy intended to establish the concept that the irregular worship held in the church since 1970, which was sometimes open for prayers and sometimes closed by the authorities, was illegal since the building had not been licensed as a church. It should be noted that the Udeisat church is no exception, but stands as one in a long line of churches the licensing of which was for decades placed on hold, despite arduous efforts by church officials to obtain licences. The issue exposes a morbid situation where the Constitution stipulates freedom of belief and equality between citizens regardless of their religion, while in fact the security authority grants or withholds rights of worship according to the whim of its chiefs, with ignominious bias towards one religious sector and against the other.

A series of presidential decrees was issued since February 1998, the last of which was last December, to phase out the legislative restrictions on church building, restoration and renovation. Local and security authorities however, especially in Upper Egypt, are unable to grasp that the real implication of these decrees is to establish equality between Egyptians. Instead, they hold on to their dominion over the fate of churches, those in charge of them, and their congregations. Udeisat is a case in point; no sooner had Holy Mass been conducted in the church following restorations—which, according to the last presidential decree, may be conducted once the local authorities are “informed” of them—than the district security chief dropped in. He raged at the priest for resuming religious services and left in anger, threatening that the matter will not be overlooked. So, instead of propagating among the population a culture of acceptance of the other, as implied by the presidential decrees, the security authorities—secure in their immunity to questioning or accountability—propagated an entirely different message. They made it clear that presidential decrees meant nothing to them; they were the powers that be.

Such behaviour on the part of the security authorities encouraged the fanatics in the village, who could not accept that a Christian would ever be equal to a Muslim, to conduct their infamous raid on the church. These security officials should thus be brought to account, since their attitude led the mob to understand that heinous acts against Christians would go unpunished. Other details beg explanations. Why was there no security presence whatsoever at the site of the Udeisat church following the wrathful visit of the security official? It could not have escaped the authorities that the general mood, especially between the Muslim fanatics, had become strained. And who had access to cut the electric current off the district of the church, thus facilitating its attack by the mob under the cover of the dark? Unless all the above issues are investigated transparently and candidly, similar events are sure to recur.

I do not regret my call to dedicate 2006 to the cause of national reconciliation, and am not going back on my effort to promote pro-activity between Muslims and Copts as an antidote to their mutual alienation and antagonism. But it should be very clear that the Udeisat attack is no mere antagonism; it is an act of outlawed hooliganism run wild, and should be accounted for before the law. Infringements on equality and public order cannot be forgiven, and this should in no way be confused with reconciliation.


At 1:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Islam is in crisis and cannot reform itself. I don’t know what choices we have other than proclaim the good news to Muslim masses. Christ has saved humanity including Muslims, and Grace is available to them if they open their heart to God. I don’t trust that Muslims can get out of their blindness with the grace of God.
Muslims divide humanity into two kinds - believers or Muslims called by the Quran "the best of nations raised up to rule over all others" Surah III, 110, and "kufr" or infidels defined by the Quran as "the vilest of animals" Surah VIII, 55. Christians and Jews, while not pagans, remain infidels, "may Allah destroy them" Surah IX 30. See LONDON BOMBINGS at:
The world is divided by Muslims into the House of Islam where Muslims prevail and the House of War where infidels prevail. Between the two abodes of mankind perpetual war called jihad reigns as the natural condition or relationship. All Muslims are called to jihad as a moral mandate to subdue the House of War and establish the universal rule of Islam, khilafah. All Muslim society everywhere is contained in the "umma", the universal brotherhood of Muslims. In the early centuries following Muhammad the umma was led by the "khalif", the Commander of the Faithful, as the successor of Muhammad, in whom all matters of religion and state were combined. Islam, then as now, sees no distinction between the religion and the state.
Islam has no notion of inalienable natural or human rights such as envisioned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Moreover, Islam does not acknowledge civil rights, i. e. rights which inure to people by virtue of their membership in a political state. The only rights possessed by Muslims and dhimmi are religious rights recognized in the Quran and codified in the Sheria. In this scheme of things, the despised dhimmi fare badly, for they are excluded from the umma and remain subordinated to it in law as well as in practice. Muslims are even forbidden to befriend dhimmi Surah V, 51. By rough analogy the status of dhimmi may be likened to that of the Negroes in the South during the worst days of Jim Crow. [6]

At 3:10 PM , Blogger Egypeter said...

It's a sad and bleak reality that you expose eemc. Coptic status as "dhimmi" is explicity commanded in the Quran! Their holy book commands these things of them. It's hard to imagine a book that actually commands one to subjugate, subdue adn smite at the neck of their enemies. When you compare that to what Jesus says about LOVING your enemy and turning the other cheek. Christians are at an inheritantly different position than our muslim countrymen. So the only way for Egypt to govern is with a strict enforcement of the sepearation of religion and state. This, at all costs, has to occur in Egypt. Egypt needs to see a return of liberal, secular and civil parties. Regligious based parties will only further divide us while secular parties, for the advancement of ALL Egyptians and the state of Egypt, can serve to unite us. Regardless, none of this will be achieved without much prayer...God bless.

At 11:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Muslims of Egypt are as bad as Muslims in other country: Ths is true and is not with the intension of hurting the feeling of our Egyptians countrymen/women.........

Michael the Syrian (Patriarch of Antioch from 1166-1199) chronicled the two devastating jihad attacks (1144 and 1146 C.E.) by the Seljuk Turks, which included the mass murder of non-combatants, as follows:

“The Turks entered with their swords and blades drawn, drinking the blood of the old and the young, the men and the women, the priests and the deacons, the hermits and the monks, the nuns, the virgins, the infants at the breast, the betrothed men and the women to whom they were betrothed! …Ah! what a bitter tale! The city of Abgar, the friend of Christ, was trampled underfoot because of our iniquity: the priests were massacred, the deacons immolated, the subdeacons crushed, the temples pillaged, the altars overturned! Alas! what a calamity! Fathers denied their children; the mother forgot her affection for her little ones! While the sword was devouring and everyone was fleeing to the mountaintop, some gathered their children, like a hen her chicks, and waited to die together by the sword or else to be led off together into captivity! Some aged priests, who were carrying the relics of the martyrs, seeing this raging destruction, recited the words of the prophet: “I will endure the Lord’s wrath, because I have sinned against Him and angered Him.”8 And they did not take flight, nor did they cease praying until the sword rendered them mute. Then they were found at the same spot, their blood spilled all around them….”

“The Turks descended from the citadel upon those who had remained in the churches or in other places, whether because of old age, or as a result of some other infirmity, and they tortured them, showing no pity. Those who had escaped from being suffocated or trampled [in the crush] and had left the city with the Franks were surrounded by the Turks, who rained down upon them a hail of arrows which cruelly pierced them through.
O cloud of wrath and day without mercy! In which the scourge of violent wrath once again struck the unfortunate Edessenians. O night of death, morning of hell, day of perdition! which arose against the citizens of that excellent city. Alas, my brethren! Who could recount or hear without tears how the mother and the infant that she carried in her arms were pierced through by the same arrow, without anyone to lift them up or to remove the arrow! And soon, [as they lay] in that state, the hooves of the horses of those who were pursuing them pounded them furiously! That whole night they had been pierced by arrows, and at daybreak, which was for them even darker, they were struck by the swords and the lances!... And then the earth shivered with horror at the massacre that took place: like the sickle on the stalks of grain, or like fire among wood chips, the sword carried off the Christians. The corpses of priests, deacons, monks, noblemen and the poor were abandoned pell-mell. Yet, although their death was cruel, they nevertheless did not have as much to suffer as those who remained alive; for when the latter fell in the midst of the fire and the wrath of the Turks, [those barbarians] stripped them of their clothing and of their footwear. Striking them with rods, they forced them – men and women, naked and with their hands tied behind their backs – to run with the horses; those perverts pierced the belly of anyone who grew faint and fell to the ground, and left him to die along the road. And so they became the prey of wild beasts, and then they expired, or else the food of birds of prey, in which case they were tortured. The air was poisoned with the stench of the corpses; Assyria was filled with captives.” 22

At 8:57 AM , Anonymous raif said...

It seems that even the Copts who usually take a soft attitude towards fanatic islamists, are getting fed up and angry at the barabarism of such fanatics.

In this article, Mr. Sidhom is using stronger words than he usually does,and this is good. We are all for national unity, and so on, but enough is enough. Copts are peacful, but they are not cowards. We may forgive once and twice, but it is our right, indeed duty, to stand up to gangs and hooligans who are attacking our brothers and sisters and killing them.

I hope that Mr. Sidhom will continue taking this strong attitude towards the injustice and barbarism that are facing Copts. He has the strong support of not only Copts, but also honest Moslems.

At 6:42 PM , Blogger Egypeter said...

That is a devestating description of what jihad inflicts among peaceful God-fearing people. It angers and shakes me to the core! I was in Istanbul this past summer and saw what the Turks did to Constantinople and similar stories abound. Just know that all those who perished, God knows how many, are martyrs in the name of Christ and that they hold a special place with him in heaven. It is the only way to find solace in these heathen and barbaric attacks on our brothers and sisters.
I also agree that you can't keep asking the Copts to turn the other cheek time and time again. Eventually there is a time when enough is surely enough...I agree with Raif. God bless his people and those who suffer in His name.

At 9:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spiritual warning to Christians:
There are spiritual clouds of darkness circling our world today. It is driven by lies, deception and most of all hatred. It involves Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and many other faiths. Behind these wars is the devil who hates mankind. So I appeal to you to pray and to be vigilant.
When you see attacks on Christians, think of the spirit behind it, Satan. When you see hate words by any member of any faith group, it is the same spirit of Satan. Satan has poisoned the mind of many to take dominion on many people.
Be at guard and pray for EVERYONE, especially the MUSLIM Fanatics.

From our history, we knew of devout and fanatical Jew (just like Muslim fanatics of today) called Saul who hated the Name of Christ and felt that Christians have left the true faith of the ONE eternal God. Saul had little regard for human life, so he went on killing many Christians with such zealous and devotion to the Eternal One God of Israel. However, Christ God was looking for him.
Before Saul reached Damascus, a light from heaven flashed around him and he dropped to the ground. Jesus appeared and spoke to Saul at that point. Our Lord asked Saul why he was persecuting Him. Jesus Christ is one with His bride the church. Whenever someone rises up against her, Christ takes personal offense to it just as a loving husband would take offense if someone violated his wife.

While Saul prayed, Jesus visited a disciple named Ananias to prepare him for the task of restoring Saul’s sight. Ananias walked closely with the Lord. He knew Jesus’ voice and responded to His command. However, Ananias boldly approached the throne of grace with his concern. Jesus reassured him with His plans for Saul. Ananias obeyed.

Upon his arrival, Ananias wasted no time in identifying the One who sent him as the same Jesus whom Saul had encountered on the road to Damascus. When he laid his hand on Saul, two things happened. First, “something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes” restoring his physical sight. The movement was from darkness to light and serves as a wonderful analogy of Saul’s spiritual transformation. Then, he received the Holy Spirit clarifying his spiritual sight. Ananias immediately baptized Saul thus identifying him as a follower of Jesus. His encounter with Christ changed Saul the persecutor into Paul the preacher.
Muslim fanatics and many of the Western liberals despise Christianity because they never knew God.

18 , ¶ If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 , If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 , Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. Mt. 10.24 • Lk. 6.40 • Joh. 13.16 If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21 , But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
22 , If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin. 23 , He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
Be at peace, Christ has established an everlasting kingdom; so let us pray for the salvation of our Fanatics friends and enemies.

At 4:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't see so many hate filled people in my life, Jesus would would be ashamed of you and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

At 6:06 PM , Blogger Egypeter said...

Anon - Get a clue friend!

Everything that is said here is a fact. Do you live in Egypt as a Christian...I doubt it.

So until you experience what Egyptian Christians have gone through for 1400 years under muslim rule please refrain from accusing Copts of "hate."

If you've ever met a Copt you would know that "hate" is the furthest thing from the truth.

God Bless and Peace.

At 3:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world famous female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was torn to pieces with glass fragments by a hysterical Christian mob led by a Christian minister named Peter, in a church, in 415.

At 11:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above post is correct, but that was !!!!!!1600 yeras ago!!!
a 1600 years later, Muslims behaving as if they are still living in an ancient time.
Personally, I totally disagree with these Cartoons, but the reaction to it in the Islamic world proved to the West that Muslims are violent people. Islam can not and would not confront its history, so the secular Europeans would do that for them.

At 12:47 AM , Anonymous Muslim said...

Revelation 21

21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

At 8:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are God’s judgment on those who refused His grace. Their actions will put them outside of God’s grace and love. The love of God which they rejected will be their condemnation. When we are alive, we have a CHOICE, but when we reject the love of God, then we have judged ourselves.
Muslim, If you have more question, please feel free contacting my at my address.
Peace and love to you

At 4:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

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