Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Maged Riad,The Pope's spokesman sides with the government against his own people?

By Magdi Khalil

On 14 November 2005 , just two days before the Coptic conference (held in Washington), I was contacted by Al-Ahram's "The major official newspaper in Egypt" correspondent in Washington, Mr. Khaled Daoud, and gave him an interview about the conference. The conference was held on the 16 November, and I was surprised to read a news story, bearing the name of Khaled Daoud, entitled "The expatriate churches condemn the Coptic conference held in Washington". When I asked Mr. Daoud, he told me that he had not written that news story, knew nothing about its source, and that the actual piece he had written, and which included the interview I gave him, had not been published.

That same day I was a guest on al-Jazeera's program Ma Waraa el Khabar (Behind the News) that was discussing the Washington conference, and I mentioned that Al-Ahram newspaper has published a news story that was allegedly released by the church, but in fact no one had conferred with the church, and that the story bore the name of a correspondent who, in fact, did not write the story. I think that the government, wishing to avoid a scandal, opted to issue an authentic statement this time, and contacted Maged Riad for that purpose.

On November 18, 2005, Mr. Riad issued a statement entitled "a Declaration of Solidarity", where he rejected and condemned any attempt to involve outside parties or states in Egypt's affairs, stating that the resolution of Coptic problems should come from within the country, adding "we reject the dubious practices of a group that has certain objectives and that does not take into consideration the best interests of the people of Egypt. We call on those groups to stop the damage they are doing to the country".

It goes without saying that Riad's statement also expressed "deep appreciation to the leadership of President Hosni Mubarak". It seems that Khaled Daoud was instructed to disparage the conference, so he implanted a series of lies in an article that was published in Al-Ahram on the 26th of November 2005. He attacked the conference, and described me as the prince (Amir) of the extremist group in Washington, falsely claiming that the Copts have asked Washington to eliminate US aid to Egypt, and that a few conference members attempted to assault him.

I will now turn to Mr. Riad, who introduced himself in the statement mentioned above, and during his visit to Cairo, as a spokesperson of Pope Shenouda, giving the false impression that he had the Pope's approval and blessing for the above quoted statement and visit to Egypt. But, in fact, the Pope does not interfere in the political actions of expatriate Copts, preferring to keep a neutral position, and only ministering to the spiritual and religious needs of his congregation. It is possible that in choosing Maged Riad as a spokesperson, the Pope was honoring the memory of his father – the late Fayez Riad, and his grandfather – the late Reverend Ibrahim Luka; but there are radical differences between the grandson and his father or grandfather

Mr. Riad was a guest on an Egyptian TV show, talking to Abdel Latif Al-Menyawi, where he openly accused the Washington conference's participants of treason. In an interview with the weekly magazine Rose El-Youssef, he said that he prevented two senators from attending the conference. In another interview with Al-Ahram, he asserted that there is no Coptic persecution in Egypt, just exaggerated accounts, that these are typical problems that many people around the world experience, and he prefers to deal with them within Egypt.

In each of those interviews, he emphasized the services he has provided in America for the Egyptian government such as creating a branch for the National Bank, assisting Al-Ahram newspaper, and other issues that were handled by his office in New York on behalf of the Egyptian government.

Maged Riad's discourse is clearly in harmony with the misleading discourse of the Egyptian government as regards Coptic issues

If His Holiness Pope Shenouda gave you, Mr. Riad, the authorization to speak for him as a legal advisor in matters concerning the congregations in the United States, did he also authorize you to discuss the political facets of the Coptic cause?
Did he authorize you to speak for him within Egypt?
Did he authorize you to speak for the benefit of the Egyptian government as regards the situation of the Coptic community, or in other words, did he tell you to reiterate the lies of the Egyptian government as regards the Coptic situation?
Did he ask you to turn down those who are trying to support the Coptic people, telling them that the Egyptian government is taking positive measures, and that their support is not needed?
Did the Pope ask you to accuse the Copts who have attended the conference of treason, and issue a statement during the conference accusing the participants of damaging the country's reputation and provoking outsiders against Egypt? What is the real nature and boundaries of your role?
Do you side with the Copts, or with the government that persecutes them?
On which side are you: with or against your people? Do you deserve the trust granted by His Holiness?
Did you consider that your actions are causing grief to the souls of your father and grandfather, as you appear to defend the case of the oppressors who have victimized your people? And, speaking of treason, who is actually betraying the people's trust, the one who speaks on their defense, or the one who speaks on defense of the government?


At 8:02 PM , Blogger Egypeter said...

Hey wait a second...this news is APALLING!!

What's happening here? Why is Maged Riad speaking against Copts in general and expatriate Copts in specific??!

It really really frustrates me that the Copts cannot unite their voice. This is the only way to be heard, if we unite our voice.

What are his intentions/motives? How can the OFFICIAL SPOKESMAN of H.H. Pope Shenouda sound like a government official?????

I don't understand. If anyone knows the answer please respond.

At 9:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Church CANNOT engage itself with politics, because the Church is the eternal body of Christ. Don’t foul yourself, The POPE cannot and would not ask any one or any institutions to support the Church even under the most sever persecutions. The Goal of the Church is to transform us into an eternal kingdom. So even if our earthly lives suffer under external force, we believe that it not vanish without the will of God. We belong to different world to an eternal kingdom that is built and designed by God.

Now to a different topic, what shall we do to help our brothers and sisters who suffer harsh treatments? We help them, we support them, and we pray, yes pray for them. We are spiritual entity NOT an ethnic, or cultural one. God is watching over His people, and NO ONE can hurt them without His permission.

I am glade that our Pope is wise. Please pray for him too.


At 10:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


STOP thinking that we can not have a political church. that kind of thinking brought this virus into Egypt 1400 years ago.


At 12:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can have a coptic political party, but it is not the Church. I don't want an Immam or priest to be my represetitive, I want secular and professional person. I don’t want a Bishop PRESIDENAT or a Muslim clerk.

As for the Copts, our problem is much deeper than what you think. Our people DON'T participate in voting, becasue we are UNeducated when it come to democracy and human values. The sad things that people like you don't want to believe that we and the Muslims are the same people when it COMES to traits and personality and even in ethics. We are the SAME, and we are not Westerner as some think.
Only when we deal with the Muslims with love and kidness as Christ would have done, then we will get Christ protection and grace.
We are not a NATION or a unique ethince GROUP; we are Egyptians as are our Muslim countrymen.
LET US HUMBLE OURSELVES BECAUSE WISE IS THE MAN WHO KNOWS HIM/HERSELF. We lived with our Muslim friends and fellows for 1400 years. Yes we went through very dark moment in our history, but Christ and His Church still here despite Islamic pressure on our ancestors. We survived NOT because we were good, but because of the Grace of Christ in our people. The problem with Islam is spiritual and its solution is spiritual. The naïve people of our time want to fight Darkness and its forces with weapons and airplanes, because many lost their spiritual eyes. We need to pray and pray and pray not to attack Muslims or to insult them, but to win them with us to God and To Christ who is their God as is our God. God loves them as much as He loves YOU. Our God is not a tribal God, not the God of Christian or Muslim, He is the God of the universe. When people believe in small God, they got angry when He is mucked. When people believe in small God, they got angry when His church is attacked,, as if their security is only in this Church.
Trust in God and walk in life with big heart and take into yourself all insults with humility knowing that the One with You is bigger than the one in this World. And if in doubt, look inside yourself and learn how much you insulted the same God with our actions, and behaviors.
Our parents were humble and they trusted God that is why we are so blessed by being persecuted for His name sake. Many of us don’t deserve the blessings of persecution.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven.
"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of
evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they
persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Remember the word that I said to you, 'Servants are not greater than their master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me

In Christ and with love

At 12:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God?


"If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?"

Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God's will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.

1 Peter 4:12-19
this is our faith, just in case we forget.

At 11:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my experience, and in history, the Coptic clerical leadership cannot be trusted. Coptic popes, bishops, and priests have betrayed their people many times.

I agree with eemc that the Church is not a political body. The problem with Copts is that the depend on church leaders for political leadership. This dangerous mistake has nearly cost them their existence.

The Copts need political leadership. At the same time, we need to DISCONNECT the Pope and his representatives from government contact and political functions.

At 1:00 PM , Blogger Egypeter said...

eemc -

What you write is very true. You are a good Christian man who puts his faith in the bible and in Christ. This is something that we should all do as Christians...absolutely.

With that said:

We, as Copts, need to do a better job of standing up for ourselves. If we do not then there will be no future for us in our own homeland. I agree with the anonymous poster after you who said that there needs to be, actually HAS TO BE Coptic political leadership inside Egypt. And it MUST be totally independant of the Church and the Pope. Because if it's not independent of the Church you get people like this Maged Riad guy, the speaker of the Pope, nonetheless, trying to appease government officials and not looking out for Copt's interest. Now, I'm not calling for picking up arms or anything violent I am simply saying that the Copts have to stand up for their rights and the rights of future Coptic generations to survive and prosper.

You also said:

"We are not a NATION or a unique ethince GROUP; we are Egyptians as are our Muslim countrymen.

True, we are all Egyptians. But to say that we are not a different Ethnic group is historically incorrect. The Copts of Egypt ARE a TOTALLY different ethnic group from the Arabs that invaded Egypt in the 7th century. Two totally and completely different races with different languages, religion, cultures, etc. If you are talking about 21st century homogenized Egypt, the average muslim on the street may be a mix of Coptic and Arab blood (if a convert to Islam) or may be completely Arab. Copts do not have a drop of Arab blood in their veins. Egyptian Muslims may very well have Coptic blood but, NOT the other way around.

So anyway, Copts must stand up for themselves and participate politically. This is not against Christianity because Christ, himself, said render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's and unto God what is God's. We need STRONG SECULAR POLITICAL LEADERSHIP.

Take care, God bless and Peace!

At 9:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with both of you. The Copts needs a political representative that is\not connected to the Church. However, the Copts were traps in their history by the Arabs when they choose their Patriarch to be their leaders. It was NOT the choice of the Copts but it was the choice of the Muslim rulers (yes rulers) to control the Church and the people. It is up to us to separate the Church from ruling our social life. But the Church participated in dismantling the laymen participation for fear that they will create sectarian division. So let us blame our selves (our Church) FIRST, before attack any Muslim.

As for Peter, I would say all Egyptians are Copts. Again, we are NOT a unique ethnic group; the vast majority of Egyptians are ex-Christians. There are few who have naïve idea that they are descendant of Mohamed or that they are Arabs, but that was never proven in a culture that is not known for its critical thinking skills.
In one word, the root all of all problems is us; the COPTS. The sooner we learn that, the faster we can help our people in Egypt.

At 12:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice site!
» » »

At 1:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

God helps those that help themselves- I'm not surprised to read the bashing of Maged Riad or the Pope- Egyptians whether Copt or Muslim continue to back stab and betray eachother- and be doormats to the rest of ther world. It need to start with Unity-If a Kingdom is divided against itself it cannot stand, we have not been able to make a stand in Egypt so we decide to try to cut off our people from U.S. Aid- look ath the Jewish people they get U.S. aid- they use it to protect and benefit the nation of Israel. The approach should be to see account where and how the money is being spent or to appropriate some to the Copt church not try to cut it off...absolutely pathetic!

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