Sunday, February 05, 2006

Scandal: The Egyptian Ruling Party Incites Violence Against Copts in Luxor

According to Al Ahaly Egyptian newspaper :

Secular tension between Copts and Muslims in the village of Udayssat, Luxor, Egypt, has continued this week as a result of the distribution of a new leaflet,- widely circulated-, which caused the security forces to enforce their presence, inside and outside the village.

Copy of the leaflet distributed in Udayssat threatening Copts to "demolish the church or else...."

This new leaflet includes a warning "To whom it may concern" meaning the Copts, saying that if they want to live in peace and be allowed to stay in the village, they have to "Demolish the church where they pray within few days, or else………" According to a report made by the security officials who are trying to find the source of the leaflet, there is now a state of increased tension between the Muslims and Copts.

On the other hand, there has been an important meeting of the leaders of the National Democratic Party (NPD) of Luxor, held inside the village of Udayssat, and attended by over a 1000 Muslim youths. This meeting was called for by Abel Aziz El Udayssi, the local administrator of the party, Mamdouh Hassan Saad, member of the Egyptian parliament , and other party leaders such as Mohamed El Malawany, Mohamed Abel Zaher, and Nasr Herzallah the secretary of the party's political committee.


In this meeting, the participants stressed their call for the national unity between Copts and Muslims but, at the same time, they used loud speakers to declare their refusal to accept the existence of the church, insisting that the Copts should not be allowed to pray in it, or even try to do any necessary repairs to the building.

Due to the increased tension that surrounded the meeting, it was decided by the security forces to end it, and delegated the leaders of the National Party to conduct talks with the "Nassara" ( a derogatory expression that refers to Christians) to reach an agreement. However, these leaders have confirmed that they will not change their demands regarding their demands of demolishing the church and to prevent the Copts from pray there. They asked the Copts to accept these conditions, and demanded the release of the Muslim suspects involved in the riots who were arrested after two Copts were killed during the last events.

On his part, Sha'ban Abdou, the head of the municipal authority of the village asked the committee delegated to conduct talks with Christians to claim that the church is nothing but a guest house that has no electric meter and to falsify that the church is stealing electricity and water supply!
24 people were detained as suspects of murder, arson and torching the church building and a taxi cab (plate number 3348 Luxor) during the recent wave of violence.

In its former issue, Al Ahaly newspaper published a report supported by photos that confirmed the participation of the local National Democratic Party leaders in inciting the secular troubles, and urging young Muslims to attack the church to prevent Copts from praying and celebrating the feast of Epiphany. As a result, about 700 Muslims attacked the church and attempted to demolish it.

11 Comments:

At 1:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is off topic, and though I am not a moderator -- so I can't post -- I feel this is a very important message for Copts. It is a terrible sin that most Egyptian women are subjected to FGM. It would be good if the Copts took a firm stand against it. Egypt has a severe problem with FGM. It is a barbaric practise that is unnecessary and degrading to women. Why would Egyptian men think that women are permiscuous, when the truth is that that problem predominantely lies with men and not women? So why mutilate your women? It is not fair or right. And why are the women so silent about this? Some statistics state that over 90% of Egyptian women are subjected to FGM. This includes Coptic women as well.

Women are not objects. They are human beings. It is disrespectful to do these things to them. There is no honor in it at all.

Here is what UNICEF has to say.

Despite Signs of Hope, 3 Million Girls Still Subjected to Practice Annually

UNICEF Press release

NEW YORK, 6 February 2006 - UNICEF today applauded the women and men who are working together to end the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and to respect the right of girls to grow to womanhood without harm to their bodies.

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa and in Egypt and Sudan a social movement is unfolding to end FGM/C, one of the most persistent, pervasive and silently endured human rights violations. Over the last six years, thousands of villages in West Africa have joined together in public pledging ceremonies to abandon FGM/C, bringing greater hopes of ending the practice globally within a single generation.

“We stand at a pivotal moment in history as we work toward a truly positive collective change,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said Monday, the fourth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation. “The most effective approaches to this issue have been found not by punishing perpetrators but through encouraging and supporting healthy choices.”

There is still a long way to go toward ending FGM/C. Every year, three million girls in 28 countries on the African continent are subjected to the practice, as are thousands of girls in immigrant communities in Europe, North America and Australia. Globally, between 100 and 140 million girls and women have been cut or mutilated.

Most girls are cut between infancy and their 14th birthday. Many communities still hold firmly to the age-old tradition, which though not always stated outright is considered a prerequisite for marriage.

Veneman said ending this discriminatory and dangerous practice is essential to the success of the Millennium Development Goals on improving maternal health, promoting gender equality and reducing child mortality.

UNICEF is working with partners who have identified several critical elements necessary for mass abandonment of the practice. These include using a non-coercive and non-judgmental approach; raising awareness in the community about the harmfulness of the practice; encouraging public declarations of the collective commitment to abandonment; and spreading the abandonment message within communities.

UNICEF is supporting programmes to end FGM/C in 18 countries and conducting initial activities in four. They use a variety of approaches:

In Senegal, largely thanks to the work of TOSTAN, a non-governmental organization that focuses on educating communities about human rights and human dignity, tens of thousands of people have declared their abandonment of the practice.

In Egypt, the FGM-Free Village Model project brings together government and UN partners to encourage villages in the southern region to make public declarations against FGM/C. UNICEF works with individuals who have renounced FGM/C and are willing to speak out and persuade others in the community to do the same.

In Sudan, religious leaders are using their authority to affirm that FGM/C is a violation of spiritual and theological principles. On Monday, government officials, the National Council for Child Welfare and UN agencies will hold a commemorative event that will include an exhibition, religious and secular songs on abandonment of FGM/C and children's performances. The exhibition will include images of girls who died of FGM/C.

While communities are making choices to abandon FGM/C, governments and non-governmental organizations have been instrumental in the movement to end the practice. The Maputo Protocol, a regional legal instrument which explicitly prohibits and condemns FGM/C, was ratified by 15 African countries and entered into force in November 2005. A month later, 100 African parliamentarians adopted the groundbreaking “Dakar Declaration,” which underscores the importance of community involvement as well as legislative change in ending FGM/C.

A regional conference on FGM/C will be held in Mali later this month, where discussions will centre on using legislation to enforce the Maputo Protocol resolutions. The practice of FGM/C also will be addressed in the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children, to be published in October 2006.

“We know what has to be done to abandon this harmful practice,” said Veneman. “Strong support from governments encouraging communities and individuals to make the healthiest choices possible for girls will save lives and greatly benefit families and communities.”

****

UNICEF published two reports on FGM/C in December 2005 which are downloadable: Innocenti Digest no 12: "Changing a Harmful Social convention: Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting http://www.unicef-icdc.org/publications/ (Arabic, French, Spanish and Italian) and "Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting: A Statistical Consideration" (English only) http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_29994.html




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HREA - www.hrea.org

Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is an international non-governmental organisation that supports human rights learning; the training of activists and professionals; the development of educational materials and programming; and community-building through on-line technologies.

 
At 4:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This may be an issue in parts of Upper Egypt but I find it hard to believe that this includes Copts as well.

This is something that has nothing to do with Christian values...do you have any proof or documentation that this is occuring within the Coptic community in Egypt?

 
At 4:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

FGM is a common practice in rural areas and in upper Egypt. It's related to the common practices rather than religious convictions. I heard many Coptic clergymen speaking against FGM.

 
At 5:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a terrible terrible disease!

I hope the Coptic community, whether in Lower OR Upper Egypt, stops any form of this practice as it is backwards and evil!

1 Corinthians 3:16
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

 
At 6:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the stats coming out of the U.N. on FGM of Egyptian females are quite high. As mentioned before, over 90%. The lowest I have heard is 85%. Egypt is considered to have the highest numbers of victims of FGM, even higher than other countries where you would think the practise would be more prolific. Some Copts have told me that Coptic Christians do practise this. And yes, while I have heard that one Coptic clergyman has spoken against it, I wonder if the others have.

It is a terrible practise and you are right, it goes completely against the scriptures. It was invented by men who wanted to keep their women from roaming, but as I said before, the problem with promiscuity lies primarily with men and not women. But self control is quite possible with either gender and for those who live a godly life.

You don't need FGM to keep your women pure. They are fine enough without it. But I think more women and men in Egypt should speak out against it.

 
At 10:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point and an important issue. I hope that Women of Egypt voice their concern loudly. However, Women are being ‘pushed behind’ by a culture that could not develop enough jobs to sustain the employment of its male population. Friends, please remember that our people are poor and that our problems seem to be overwhelming.
God bless Egyptian women who sustained their families over their hardship and to Egyptian young woman who are the happiest and most joyful of all women.
Egyptian people, God blesses you all.
eemc2203@yahoo.com

 
At 8:36 AM , Blogger xavier said...

So what will the Copt do? Can they even hit the intruders on the heads? Or will the Copts allow those intruders to commit sacrilege against the church. At what point do you say enough and fight back?

 
At 5:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

?

 
At 6:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

free speech?

 
At 9:41 PM , Anonymous raif said...

Xavier

To answer your question, Copts should say enough is enough NOW. Copts must fight back NOW.

Copts have always lived a life of peace and tolerance. They have always avoided confrontations, and have always run away from fights, but the time has come for this to change. Of course, they must never be the agressors who start any violence. This goes against their beliefs. However, to defend your family, your church, your friends,yourself or your principls, is completely justified. As a matter of fact it is not only justified, it is your duty.

 
At 10:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is true that the women are pushed behind because of the men. That is why more Copts in the US and other countries need to speak up for the rights of minorities in Egypt, as they are the ones who suffer the most. It is hard for those in Egypt to speak out, but Copts in other countries can and should.

 

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