Saturday, February 25, 2006

Deterioration of Egypt archaeological sites deplored.

Egypt's Historical Sites Are Threatened.

Archaeologists and officials meeting in Cairo on Wednesday deployed the deterioration of the country's ancient sites, which they attributed both to government agencies and to private individuals. The assault, they said, runs from illegal construction activities to farming. Zahi Hawass, director general of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, said that there were 6,000 such cases in 2003 but gave no more recent figures. The governor of Cairo, Abdel Azim Wazir, said "certain government agencies degrade archaeological sites ... as happened with the higher education ministry and [Cairo's] Taz Palace, which it has turned into a depot for books and old desks". For his part, Hawass said that as many of 90 percent of the caretakers of sites allow improper activities in exchange for bribes. In another example, he said "residents of the village of Gourna have built mosques atop an archaeological site to stop us from tearing down the village and relocating them". Hawass said that part of the problem is that the current law does not allow the antiquities council to intervene in matters involving buildings under the aegis of the ministry for religious endowments, or waqf. However, he said that a bill drafted by the ministry of culture would amend the current law, adding stiffer penalties of up to life in prison for offenses and allowing sites less than 100 years old to be protected.

Can Islamic practice coexist with other world religions?

By Sean Mathews, Daily O'Collegian (Oklahoma State U.)

STILLWATER, Okla. -- In September 2005, the small country of Denmark published a series of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed, one showing him with a bomb-shaped turban.
Now, half a year later, the incident has turned into an international crisis. Riots are sweeping across the Middle East, and there is no end in sight.

The cartoonists have gone into hiding, fearing for their lives. Radical clerics, inciting the incident, have offered bounties for their deaths.
The argument is that in Islam, it is blasphemous to portray the prophet Muhammad in any form.

In the hall of the U.S. Supreme Court hangs a statue depicting the prophet Mohammed. In one hand he holds a sword, and in the other, the Quran.

For more than a thousand years, the image of Mohammed has been portrayed in paintings and sculptures. This was predominant even in the Islamic Ottoman empire of 1500 A.D.
So why now is there such fury over the current portrayal of Mohammed? It would almost seem convenient given the "Western incursion" into many Middle Eastern countries.
Islamic fundamentalism is a phrase often used, and is one that is synonymous with hate and fear.

With the fervor created by the cartoons, an important question has risen: Can Islam peacefully coexist with the Western world?

Dr. Tawfik Hamid was once a terrorist. A member of the "Egyptian" terrorist group "Jama'a Islamiya", Hamid was ready to give his life to kill "the infidels." Jama'a Islamiya is also the same organization that produced Al Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Hamid, on the Fox News show "Day Side," said that the teachings of Jesus Christ were what changed his views on terrorism. Startling though is how Hamid says that in today's world, Islam is taught as a religion of destruction.

The problem might very well be having Islam, a religion where there is no separation of church and state, pitted against the Western world, where individuals share freedom of thought, expression and press.

The two are not made to coexist, and it is becoming ever more evident.
In many Western countries, especially Europe, Islam is trying to force governments to cater to its separate demands.

The BBC in Britain has reported that many European Muslims wish to follow a separate set of laws that fit with their religious affiliation.

In a significant incident, Burger Kings in Europe have changed ice cream lids because a Muslim man claimed the design resembled the Arabic inscription for Allah, and branded it sacrilegious. He then threatened a "Jihad."

It seems "Jihad" has put fear into many, as riots are turning deadly in the Middle East.
According to Hamid's personal web page, "The current understanding of the word 'Jihad' among many, if not most, Muslims is sadly to attack people of other religions and invade their lands to expand the Khelafa, or the Islamic controlled Empire."
These are chilling words coming from a man who has been one of Islam's most zealous followers.
Even more unsettling is that, according to the current teachings in Islam, infidels are any of those who do not follow Islam.

This makes a large portion of the world possibly susceptible to extremist Islamic beliefs; 9/11, Spain and London being the most extreme outcomes of these views.
With so much unrest in the Middle East, one must question the lack of riots or protests within the Muslim population of the United States.

Can it be that the United States breeds a different form of Islam, one that has assimilated to the United States' government and culture?
A large decision is at hand. Is the right to freedom of press greater than the Islamic right to religious sanctity?

Islam does not control Denmark or any other country, though many argue it is the religion's goal as prescribed in the Quran.
Why should any country suit Islam's needs when they surely would not do the same for any other religion?

What started as an attempt to express freedom of press has spiraled out of hand.
The cartoons have been a cry for the world to recognize, if not bow down to the Muslim world.
If the Western world apologizes for the cartoons and continues to change laws (and ice cream lids) to appease Islam, Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists will have won.

As for the former terrorist Hamid, who is still a Muslim, he says simply, "I am a Muslim by birth, Christian by spirit, Jewish by heart, but above all I am a human being."
This is a statement all religions can abide by.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Nigeria: Muslims burn Christians alive

By J. Grant Swank,
Feb 24, 2006

Cartoons. Then blood. Sticks. Then blood. Machetes. Then blood. Iron bars. Then blood. Torches. Then blood.
Muslims torched church buildings. Christians were beaten into the ground by Allah devotees.
St. Rita’s Catholic Church’s priest and domestic staff were burnt to death in their living quarters. A husband, wife, and six children were burnt alive when Islamic killers torched their house.

A tire was wrapped around a believer. Muslims doused his body and the tire with petrol. The fire was lit.
Corpses were laid in stacks at the Madiuguri hospital.

Muslims robbed Christian homes. Islamics violently attacked a prominent Christian family in Jos, capital of Plateau State.
Muslim youth drew their swords, stabbing the driver of an automobile. Then they turned on a pregnant Christian and seven others.

For more....

Related articles:

Nigerian Muslims burn Christian churches; 15 killed
WORLD: Fifteen killed in rampage by Nigerian Muslims
Nigerian Christians in revenge attacks

Australian Islam warning

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has defended Treasurer Peter Costello's criticism of extreme elements in the Muslim community, saying he holds similar beliefs.He refused to buckle to calls from sections of the Islamic community for Mr Costello to be censured because "what he said was fundamentally accurate".

In a speech to the Sydney Institute on Thursday night, Mr Costello said people who believed in Islamic sharia law should co-exist with Australian law or leave.
He warned that if people had strong objections to Australian values "don't come".
"He's not trying to stir up hostilities with Islamic people any more than I was when I made some comments three days before the Cronulla riots," Mr Howard said.

The Prime Minister had expressed concerns about the treatment of women by some in the Islamic community and said extreme sections of that community, and its "rejection of the fundamentals of our society", posed a problem.
"I thought both those statements were perfectly acceptable," Mr Howard said.
However, Muslim community leaders were outraged.
Islamic Friendship Association president Keysar Trad accused Mr Costello of "stirring up Islamophobia".
Lebanese Moslem Association spokesman Abdul Hamid El Ayoubi said Mr Costello's beliefs were "baseless, irresponsible and reek of racism" while Victorian Multicultural Commission chairman George Lekakis said he was "propagating fear".
But the Treasurer found supporters as he walked through Sydney airport yesterday before a flight to Melbourne. New Australian Willy Gutierrez stopped Mr Costello to shake his hand.
"I want him to be the next Prime Minister," he said.
Sydney businessman Tony Clark and his driver Wally Attia congratulated Mr Costello on the controversial speech. "We were listening to them talking about it [on the radio] on the way here in the car," Mr Clark said.
"Wally is an immigrant who came here and leant the language.
"We agreed with Mr Costello."
While Federal Labor and Queensland Premier Peter Beattie laid the boot into Mr Costello for being "divisive", he found a supporter in Premier Morris Iemma, whose Labor electorate of Lakemba has a large Muslim community.
He said Mr Costello's proposal should apply to people in Australia on long-term visas as well as those applying for citizenship.

German court convicts man for insulting Islam

German court convicts man for insulting Islam

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - A German court on Thursday convicted a businessman of insulting Islam by printing the word "Koran" on toilet paper and offering it to mosques.

The 61-year-old man, identified only as Manfred van H., was given a one-year jail sentence, suspended for five years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, a district court in the western German town of Luedinghausen ruled.

Manfred van H. printed out sheets of toilet paper bearing the word "Koran" shortly after a group of Muslims carried out a series of bomb attacks in London in July 2005. He sent the paper to German television stations, magazines and some 15 mosques.

Prosecutors said that in an accompanying letter Manfred van H. called Islam's holy book a "cookbook for terrorists."

He also offered his toilet paper for sale on the Internet at a price of 4 euros ($4.76) per roll, saying the proceeds would go toward a "memorial to all the victims of Islamic terrorism."
The maximum sentence for insulting religious beliefs under the German criminal code is three years in prison.

Kosovo Bishop Warns Not to Hand Jihadists a Victory

By Sherrie Gossett

A leading Serbian Orthodox bishop, visiting the U.S. on a mission of "peace and understanding," has warned the international community against granting independence to Kosovo, saying such a move would hand a victory to radical Muslims and their jihadist supporters.

Kosovo's independence from Serbia would also mean "a virtual sentence of extinction" for minority Serbs in the province, according to Dr. Artemije Radosavljevic, the bishop of the Serbian cities of Raska and Prizren.

He met with Cybercast News Service during a recent 20-day tour of the U.S. to discuss the fate of the troubled province, which is formally known as Kosovo and Metohija. This month, international talks are set to begin regarding Kosovo's final status.

Kosovo, which is part of the sovereign country of Serbia and Montenegro, has been a U.N. protectorate since North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces bombed Yugoslavia between March and May of 1999 to compel the Serb-dominated government of Slobodan Milosovic to withdraw its forces from Kosovo.

The NATO bombings were launched in response to an alleged genocide being conducted against Kosovar Albanians by the Serbs. But when the bombing campaign ended, ethnic cleansing allegedly took place with Albanians, who are predominantly Muslim, targeting Christian Serbs and other minorities such as Turks, Roma (gypsies), Ashkali and Muslim Slavs.

The violence, including rape, murder, torture and the burning of villages, was witnessed and documented in hundreds of pages of United Nations (U.N.), NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) documents.

"Detaching Kosovo from democratic Serbia would mean a virtual sentence of extinction for my people in the province -- the larger part of my diocese -- who continue to face unremitting violence from jihad terrorist and criminal elements that dominate the Albanian Muslim leadership," Dr. Artemije said.

The ethnic cleansing that followed the NATO campaign has prompted an exodus of approximately 240,000 Serbs and minorities from the region.

For more....

Related Article: Has Kosovo been liberated or turned into a terrorism-breeding ground by the US?

Islamic Radicalisation in Syria.

"The danger is the influence of Salafism and Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia"

For centuries, the traditional sound of Islam coming from the northern Syrian town of Aleppo, has been the rhythmical chanting of the word "Allah", as men young and old rock back and forth in a small room in the back of a house.
Beating their drums, chanting faster and faster, the men hope to achieve a trance that will bring them closer to God in the traditions of the mystical or Sufi Islam.
The musical capital of the Arab world in many ways, Aleppo's song and dance have been heavily influenced by Sufism.
But today, it is mostly a very austere call to prayer that can be heard around the city as a growing number of women adopt the full Islamic cover, hiding their hands and faces behind back cloth.
Religion is making a comeback in Syria, where people feel the state's socialist and pan-Arab ideologies have failed for the last four decades.

"We have a phenomenon of radicalisation taking place in schools and university," said Salam Kawakibi, a political analyst in Aleppo.
Mr Kawakibi said he was shocked when he was recently asked to get out of a city cab because the driver could smell he had a bottle of arak, a local aniseed sprit, with him; alcohol is banned by Islam.
"The danger is the influence of Salafism and Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia, because all the Syrians who work there, come back with new practices which they impose on their families and entourage," Mr Kawakibi said.
Co-opting Islam
After ruthlessly crushing a Muslim Brotherhood rebellion in 1982, the Syrian government has found it is unable to contain the rise of religion.
So instead, the authorities have decided to go with the trend and co-opt the symbols of Islam.
"After the clashes of 1980, the state tried to create an official Islam. They encouraged the building of mosques and the creation of religious schools. They think it is a way to control society," Mr Kawakibi said.
"Before, government officials started their speeches with secular phrases, now they start with 'Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim'," the Arabic for, "In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful".
Syria's staunchly secular Baath party encouraged people to go to the mosque in order to keep them away from politics.
For more:

Christian Churches in Iraq Subjected to Synchronized Terrorism

By: Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli

Christians in Iraq and perhaps Christians elsewhere in the Arab countries are beginning to feel the pressures of raging Islamist groups which show no tolerance for all those other religions.

As the Assyrian International New Agency has reported: "On the streets, in the city, they [Muslims] always throw the same accusations at us: 'infidels of the cross.' Even with Muslims with whom we are on good terms, we always feel the weight of this condemnation."

Ashur Yelda (50 year), a teacher in Kirkuk, said: "I am afraid to go out on the street because I am Christian.

For more.....

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Attacks on Copts Expose Egypt's Secular Paradox

Click here for a PDF version of this article

Tensions Between Muslims, Christians Grow Violent in Time of More Openness

By Daniel Williams
Washington Post Foreign Service, Thursday, February 23, 2006; Page A10

ODAYSSAT, Egypt -- Christians called the flat-top mud and brick building in this little farming community a guest house. But inside, big crucifixes adorned an altar chamber separated from two dozen rows of pews by a wooden screen. A baptismal font was hidden in a side room. Pictures of a resurrected Jesus, saints and patriarchs gazed from the walls.

For 35 years, the congregation and priests labeled the place a guest house to avoid restrictions on church construction in Egypt. But on Jan. 17, a police official, tipped off that the Christians were trying to have the building officially recognized, stopped by to inspect.

"This is not a guest house," he said with surprise. "It's a church."

According to residents and officials who described the incident, the monks, priests and worshipers answered, in effect: That's right. What of it?

The next day, a mob of Muslim rioters invaded the neighborhood, set fires to palm trees and stables and tried to burn down the building. Only a frantic defense by the Christians and heavy smoke from the flaming trees kept the mob at bay. Police officers who had already surrounded the building stood idly by. One Christian man was killed by a blow to the head with a hoe.

The sectarian battle was one of a series that have recently pitted the minority Coptic Christians, an ancient community in Egypt, against the majority Muslims. Repeated instances of violence have brought to light a persistent paradox of Egyptian life: Although officially a secular state, Egypt is in many ways an Islamic entity in which non-Muslims are accommodated but not exactly on an equal footing. The constitution specifies Islam as Egypt's official religion; Copts make up less than 10 percent of the country's population.

If the tensions are not new, the willingness of the Copts of Odayssat to stand up is. In part, their reaction to the police inspection exemplifies an increasingly common byproduct of Egypt's two-year-long wave of openness and dissent. Such ferment is putting the quarter-century leadership of President Hosni Mubarak to a test at a time when he is also under pressure from the United States to democratize.

About 30,000 people live in Odayssat, 8,000 of whom are Christians. The town contains the typical features of hundreds of Nile Valley farm communities: ramshackle, bare brick-and-wattle houses clustered around dirt alleys; and donkeys and cows in close quarters with farmers who cultivate fields of sugar cane and grain.

A recent Mass at Odayssat's Virgin Mary Church resembled an updated version of Christian worship as carried out under the thumb of a Roman emperor's centurions. Riot police in black kept sullen guard outside the church, whose facade was newly decorated with portraits of Mary. Inside, women in black sat and stood to the right side of the central aisle, men to the left. Squirming boys clustered at the feet of priests celebrating the rite in Coptic, a language descended from an ancient Egyptian tongue and Greek. Incense tickled the nose.

What happened now is little in comparison to the past, when the fathers of our church were tortured," said a priest who delivered the homily.

After Mass, a group of Coptic men gathered in a nearby house. They recounted their version of the January melee. Word had circulated about an official announcement pledging to shed the cover of guest house and declare Virgin Mary an open church. On Jan. 17, a police official, Mohammed Nour, visited and made his discovery, residents and government officials said. He told the Christians they would be "held accountable" for the conversion of the building.
On Jan. 18, the Copts held Mass between 4 and 7 a.m. Riot police ringed the half-acre grounds.

As worshipers left the church, police told them to lock themselves in their houses. At 8:30, power to the neighborhood was cut.

"Suddenly, a crowd appeared, and they're shouting, 'God is great!' " recalled Mansef Ayad, an elementary school teacher. God is great, a common Islamic exclamation, is also a characteristic cry of Islamic holy warriors, or jihadis.

"The jihadis came from the fields and began to burn palm trees. They threw gas bombs on houses. We knew if they reached the church, it was done for. The roof is wood," Ayad said.

Christian men emerged to block alleys and the most vulnerable side of the church, which abuts a field. They threw stones at the attackers. But it was the smoke that eventually, after two hours, halted the assault. "I think of it as divine intervention," said a priest from nearby Dabaya known as Father Basilios.

Sabah Shahad, a relative of the slain Christian man, Kamal Shaker Meglaa, said Meglaa was not part of the battle but was simply returning to his house near the church. Shahad said two men attacked Meglaa and hit him repeatedly with a hoe, cracking his skull. They also broke the legs of livestock and set the animals aflame. "They did this because we are Christian," said Shahad, who is a cement porter at a construction site.

The unrest drew the attention of human rights groups as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, which is officially outlawed in Egypt but is on a campaign to persuade Egyptians of all stripes that the group's growing political power is not a threat.

"People should be able to worship freely, without having to wait endlessly for licenses to be issued," Essam Erian, a top member of the Brotherhood, told reporters in Cairo. He faulted the government, the Christians for opening a church without a license and the Muslims for resorting to violence.

The Odayssat conflict capped a period of Muslim-Christian flare-ups, some of which resulted from perceived insults felt by both sides.

In December 2004, Christians in Cairo protested an allegedly forced conversion of the wife of a Coptic priest to Islam. The woman turned out to have converted willingly, but the government ordered her returned to the Coptic community. More than 50 people were injured in battles with police.

That same month, dozens of Muslims attacked a church in the hamlet of Damshwai Hashim, about 150 miles south of Cairo. Word had spread that a private home was used for public prayer, in effect making it a church. Police trying to break up Muslim-Christian clashes shot dead Mohammed Mohsen Qassem, a student.

In October, Muslims in the ancient port city of Alexandria marched on St. George's Church to protest distribution of a DVD of a play performed by Copts two years ago. The play, "I Was Blind, but Now I Can See," depicted a Christian convert to Islam who is threatened with death by Muslim militants. In the protest, three Muslims in Alexandria died at the hands of police, and rioters burned down three liquor stores -- alcohol is forbidden to Muslims but not to Christians. Islamic and Coptic leaders tried to soothe emotions. Bishop Armia told Egypt's official news agency, MENA, that "Copts would never tolerate anyone insulting Islam."

"There's rising sensitivity over religious issues these days," said Mohamed Sayed Said, deputy director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a state-run research center. "It's starting to scar the national psyche. People are starting to worry about it."

"There is a growing tendency toward religious intolerance in Egypt," said Hafez Abu Saeda, who heads the independent Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.

The government has made some liberalizing gestures. Two years ago, it declared the Coptic Christmas an official holiday. Last year, the Copts were permitted to operate a satellite television station. Finally, last fall, Mubarak slightly loosened regulations governing church construction, allowing renovations to be carried out with permission of local governors instead of by presidential decree. But Mubarak gave no indication of what to do about de facto churches that suddenly demand recognition like the one in Odayssat.

Odayssat's Copts accuse Ali Odaysi, a landowner and member of Egypt's upper house of parliament, of organizing the riot. He said he did nothing of the sort, but said the Christians were wrong to worship clandestinely.

Odaysi met a reporter in a gas station he owns. An entourage of men in sunglasses sat around the room and provided nodding assent to whatever he said.

"This was just a little conflict between two groups of people. We've lived in harmony for hundreds of years. Look. Two Copts work at this gas station here," he said.

"If there's a dispute at all, it's whether there's a church or a guest house. If it's a church, why perform Mass in secret? There must be something else wrong. Any place in the world must have a permit to build a church or any other building. We must all abide by the law," he continued.

"Anyway, a Christian is Christian. We Muslims worship in any mosque, why can't they worship in some other church? There's another church, an Anglican one not far away. Why can't they worship there?"

Police in Luxor declined to comment on the riot. The governor of the surrounding province, Samir Farag, confirmed details of the Odayssat feud but played it down. He oscillated between calling it "just a dispute over land" and "the work of fanatics." He said 23 Muslim rioters were under arrest and that the case against them is being handled by a state prosecutor in Cairo -- an indication, he said, of concern.

"We all get along here," Farag said.

Video reports form Al Ayat, Giza

Coptic Christians in the village of Ezbet Wassef, Al Ayat, Giza are afraid to leave their homes fearing a Muslim attack (courtesy of Copts United)
Egyptian authorities attempt to cover up the crimes of the Muslim mob:
Click here to watch Hala Al Masry's live rerport from Ezbet Wassef ( reporting in Arabic)
You will see footage of Coptic Christian villagers who are unable to leave their homes fearing attacks by the Muslim mob.
Egyptian police arrested 5 Copts and accused them of buring their own houses!!! in an attempt to cover up the criminal attack on Christians by the Muslim mob.
You can also click here to watch an interview with Mr. Magdy Ayad, a Coptic resident of the village talking about the events. Egyptian police arrested his brother, uncle and his uncle's wife while being under siege in their own houses.

Sequence of events

On 2/19, while some Coptic youth were working on cleaning the church, they were attacked by Muslim mob marching from neighboring villages of "Mansheit Abu Abbas, Meit Al Qaed, The Saudi Village and the village of Girza" . The Muslim mob were chanting slogans calling for Jihad against the infidels in addition to insults against Christians and their faith such as: (There is no god but Allah and Christians are the enemies of Allah)
Upon arriving at the church, the mob tried to set it on fire by throwing flammable materials on it Parts of the church was burned, the houses of the following Copts were also set on fire:
1-Sami Naguib Moawad
2-Awadalla Yacoub
3-Adly Abdelsaid
4-Kamal Abdelsaid
The Egyptian authorities tried to frame the house owners for the crime and accused them of burring their own homes!!!

- Upon arriving to the village, security forces stayed over Mr. Muhammad Moursi, the person who instigated the attack on the church and whose sons bear the responsibility for inciting the crowd and throwing flammable bottles on the Coptic owned homes

Representatives from the Al Kalema center, a human rights organization decried the bias of the Egyptian authorities that are protecting and befriending the criminal instead of arresting him!
Asekd about the nature of relationship they had with the criminal, a security officer replied: " "Like friends", as for the Copts " We are dealing with them with a sharp edged razor" said the police officer
Representatives from Al Kalema center also visited the Al Ayat police precinct and asked whether Mr. Muhammad Moursi and his sons were to be summoned for interrogation and the response was negative

It is worthy to note that Copts make up the majority of the Ezbet Wassef Ghali village (1200 out of 2000), and the biggest mosque in the village was donated by a Coptic Christian ( Mr. Wassef Ghali, who is related to Mr. Boutrous Ghali, the former UN Secretary), the Muslim mob returned the favor by burning the Coptic owned homes and attempted to burn the only church in the village!

Egyptian politics boils down to Mubarak and the Islamists

The Evil of Two Lessers
Egyptian politics boils down to Mubarak and the Islamists.

by Paul Marshall*

The Weekly Standard
02/27/2006, Volume 011, Issue 23

THE SHOCKWAVES OF HAMAS'S ELECTORAL victory were felt keenly by everyone in the Middle East, not just the Israelis. In fact, few people watched the Palestinian election returns with more hope, trepidation, or calculation than the Egyptians.

Hamas was established in 1936 as an offshoot of Egypt's own major opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's oldest Islamist organization. Founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, the Brotherhood remains a central source of radicalism throughout Sunni Islam. In recent decades it has forsworn violence within Egypt, but the Brotherhood still advocates the killing of Israelis in Israel and Americans in Iraq and proclaims that it wants a new caliphate. On December 22, its head, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, echoed Iranian president Ahmadinejad, claiming that "Western democracy has attacked everyone who does not share the vision of the sons of Zion as far as the myth of the Holocaust is concerned."

The Brotherhood scored its own notable successes in Egypt's December parliamentary elections. To avoid provoking stronger government repression, it contested less than a third of the seats and still ended up winning 88 out of 454 seats. It was quite a triumph given that some of the Brotherhood's activists were killed during the campaign while others were arrested or otherwise harassed. Furthermore, since Egyptian law forbids religious parties, Brotherhood candidates could not run under a common party banner. Many observers believe the organization could have achieved a much larger victory in a more open election.

The Brotherhood's success reflects Egyptian society's increased Islamization, fueled by workers returning from stints in the Gulf and increased Saudi funding, including support for the Al-Azhar university system and other central Sunni institutions. To be sure, Egypt retains its own distinct patterns. In the south, Bob Marley is remarkably popular, and jokes proliferate--one of the latest: "What's Egypt's major export? Jokes." But that usually reliable indicator of Islamization, the number of burka-enshrouded women, has increased noticeably in Cairo, Alexandria, and other cities.

Islamists have sought to allay growing fear in Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian community, the largest religious minority in the Middle East, but the Brotherhood's election slogan, "Islam is the solution," stokes those concerns, especially in view of Hamas's victory. In addition, the Copts are still reeling after thousands of angry Muslims in October mobbed St. George Church in Alexandria, leading to four deaths, following accusations that the church had put on a blasphemous play two years before. Their fears have multiplied as Islamists use the Danish Jyllands-Posten cartoons as an excuse to attack not only Westerners but also Middle Eastern Christians. Meanwhile, the Hamas-led Bethlehem Council has called for the reinstatement of a jizya tax upon non-Muslims, while, back in Egypt, Mohamed Habib, the first deputy of the Brotherhood's supreme guide, averred that "Islamic Rule" means "that non-Muslims can have no authority over Muslims."

Egypt's liberals, such as Hisham Kassem, head of the new daily Al Masry al Youm, think the Brotherhood's apparent strength may be misleading, since it faces little competition. Hosni Mubarak's regime has for decades choked off the media and human rights organizations and strictly controlled civil society--thus prohibiting any grassroots organizations from challenging Mubarak or the Brotherhood for political influence. Ayman Nour, the second leading vote-getter in the September presidential election, was sentenced in December to five years of hard labor on what most observers believe are trumped-up charges of forging signatures on his Ghad (Tomorrow) party's application for legal recognition. This event prompted the United States to suspend trade talks with Egypt.

The Islamists have been resilient. In the '80s and '90s, brutal repression by state security destroyed the Brotherhood's violent splinters Gamaat Islamiya and Islamic Jihad. This prompted Gamaat's "spiritual leader" Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman to move to New Jersey, where he led the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, while Jihad's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who also fled Egypt, went on to help found al Qaeda. But the main organization has held to nonviolence, kept its head down, and patiently organized through Egypt's professional associations and networks of mosques. The Brotherhood has also, it is said, intimidated and even infiltrated Mubarak's police, who tread lightly when it comes to mosques.

Since the rest of Egypt's opposition could maintain no such network, Mubarak has effectively ensured that the short-term choice, for America and Egyptians, is him or the Islamists.
Essam el-Erian, the Brotherhood's main conduit to Western media, is affable and gregarious as he seeks to allay fears of an Islamist state but declines to answer concrete questions. Two subjects get a rise out of him. One is the role of Islamic law, sharia, which he told me last month "is none of America's business," even though, if enforced by a Brotherhood government, it would amount to a state-coerced caste system of religion, sect, and gender. The other is support for civil society in Egypt, which "America absolutely should not do." El-Erian's response reveals the Brotherhood's fear of robust alternatives to both it and the regime. This is something for U.S. policymakers to keep in mind.
President Bush has said that elections are only "the beginnings of democracy," but they need not even be that. Without security, a free press, free debate, a robust opinion-shaping civil society, parties that have been able to organize and mature, and, not least, a range of choices for the electorate--none of which Egypt has--elections can prove hollow.

But Egypt has far more advantages than the Palestinian territories. It has breathing space, with six years until its next presidential election. And it has a talented but hitherto smothered population that could, if given the chance, contribute mightily to the growth of free institutions.
* Paul Marshall, who was recently in Egypt, is senior fellow at Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom and the editor of, most recently, Radical Islam's Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Shari'a Law (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005).

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Egypt orders domestic bird cull

The economic impact of bird flu can be devastating.

The Egyptian government has ordered the slaughter of all poultry kept in homes, as part of efforts to stop the spread of bird flu in the country.
A ban on the movement of poultry between governorates is in place. Measures already announced include a ban on the import of live birds.
Cases of the of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus have been reported in at least 15 governorates.
Officials say there have been no human cases of the disease.
The government has called on Egyptians to stay calm, and not to dispose of slaughtered or dead birds in the roads, irrigation canals or the Nile River.
Correspondents say the sudden arrival and spread of the disease over the past few days has caused widespread panic among Egyptians.
Economic crisis
The UN has reported that the economic effects of bird flu in Egypt could be devastating.
Demand for chickens has collapsed. The poultry industry provides work for between 2.5 million and 3 million Egyptians, the UN says.
Talib Murad Ali, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation's regional officer for animal health, told the Reuters agency that countries like Egypt would be particularly hard hit economically.
For more :

Freedom of worship in Islamic countries: Muslims attack Copts in Giza

The Islamic paranoia against churches in Egypt continues:

Muslims attacked Copts in the village of Ezbet Wasef, Ayat, Giza province in an attempt to set fire to the only church in the village for allegations that the church where 1200 Copts worship was built without a presidential decree.

The homes of the following Copts were set on fire by the Muslim mob:
1-Sami Naguib Moawad
2-Awadalla Yacoub
3-Adly Abdelsaid
4-Kamal Abdelsaid

Gamalat Naguib Moawad, a Coptic young woman was beaten severly by Muslims upon attempting to put off the fire, she was taken to Al Ayat general hospital for treatment

Security forces sealed off the village and arrested 27 people including 5 Coptic victims!!!
While the construction of mosques in the country is unrestricted, construction of churches requires government authorization and sometimes the government itself blocks the building of churches in areas where thousands of Copts are in desperate need of a place of worship. Similar attacks against Christians in many provinces throughout Egypt have been frequent in recent years.

More details will follow

Monday, February 20, 2006

Indian Muslim official offers $10 million for beheading

NEW DELHI, Feb. 19 (UPI) : An Indian official is offering $10.4 million to anyone who beheads one of the Danish cartoonists behind the Prophet Mohammed caricatures.

Yaqoob Qureshi, minister of minority welfare in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, made the offer during a rally in Meerut, northeast of New Delhi. Protesters then burnt an effigy of a cartoonist and some Danish flags, the Sunday Times of London reported.

A Pakistani cleric has also offered a $1 million reward to anyone who kills one of the cartoonists

Violent protests against the cartoons spread Saturday to Nigeria, where demonstrators in the northern states of Borno and Katsina set fire to 11 churches, the newspaper said.

'The day is coming when British Muslims form a state within a state'

By Alasdair Palmer

For the past two weeks, Patrick Sookhdeo has been canvassing the opinions of Muslim clerics in Britain on the row over the cartoons featuring images of Mohammed that were first published in Denmark and then reprinted in several other European countries.

"They think they have won the debate," he says with a sigh. "They believe that the British Government has capitulated to them, because it feared the consequences if it did not.

"The cartoons, you see, have not been published in this country, and the Government has been very critical of those countries in which they were published. To many of the Islamic clerics, that's a clear victory.

"It's confirmation of what they believe to be a familiar pattern: if spokesmen for British Muslims threaten what they call 'adverse consequences' - violence to the rest of us - then the British Government will cave in. I think it is a very dangerous precedent."

"It is already starting to happen - and unless the Government changes the way it treats the so-called leaders of the Islamic community, it will continue."

For someone with such strong and uncompromising views, Dr Sookhdeo is a surprisingly gentle and easy-going man. He speaks with authority on Islam, as it was his first faith: he was brought up as a Muslim in Guyana, the only English colony in South America, and attended a madrassa there.

"But Islamic instruction was very different in the 1950s, when I was at school," he says. "There was no talk of suicide bombing or indeed of violence of any kind. Islam was very peaceful."

Dr Sookhdeo's family emigrated to England when he was 10. In his early twenties, when he was at university, he converted to Christianity. "I had simply seen it as the white man's religion, the religion of the colonialists and the oppressors - in a very similar way, in fact, to the way that many Muslims see Christianity today.

" Leaving Islam was not easy. According to the literal interpretation of the Koran, the punishment for apostasy is death - and it actually is punished by death in some Middle Eastern states. "It wasn't quite like that here," he says, "although it was traumatic in some ways."

Dr Sookhdeo continued to study Islam, doing a PhD at London University on the religion. He is currently director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity.

For more

For more.....

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Muslims attack two churches in Pakistan

AFP Photo: Flames raise from a church set on fire by a mob in Sukkur
All these criminals needed was a rumor to go nuts and burn down churches!

Hundreds of angry Muslims ransacked two churches in southern Pakistan before setting them on fire after allegations that a Christian had desecrated the Koran, police and officials said.

The protesters ransacked two churches in the city of Sukkur, about 480 kilometers (300 miles) north of the provincial capital Karachi, Sindh provincial government spokesman Salahuddin Haider told AFP.

"They partly set the two churches on fire," Sukkur district police chief Aftab Halipoto told AFP by telephone, adding that a school at one of the churches had been damaged.

The trouble erupted after accusations that the Christian had thrown pages of the Muslim holy book in a dustbin, Haider said. Initial reports suggested a teenaged boy had been involved in the incident.
Protesters blocked roads by burning tires, the spokesman said, adding that paramilitary troops had been called out to restore order.
"The situation is tense but under control," he said.

Police arrested 50 people including the Christian, identified as Irfan Gill, Halipoto said.
The crowd tried to attack the local police station, insisting that the accused be handed over to them, but officers dispersed them without incident, he added.

Police indicated the Christian man may have desecrated the Koran in a bid to frame his father-in-law for blasphemy, a crime which carries the death penalty in Pakistan.

An inquiry has been launched into the matter, and government officials in Sukkur appealed for calm. Security was stepped up at Christian places of worship across Sindh province.

Cartoon Jihad Erupts in Nigeria

More violence and killing in Nigeria, where mobs of enraged Muslims attacked Christians and burned 15 churches in a three hour rampage:

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian Muslims protesting caricatures of the "Islam's" Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches on Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet in the whirlwind of Muslim anger over the drawings.It was the first major protest to erupt over the issue in Africa’s most populous nation.

An Associated Press reporter saw mobs of Muslim protesters swarm through the city center with machetes, sticks and iron rods. One group threw a tire around a man, poured gas on him and setting him ablaze. ...Thousands of rioters burned 15 churches in Maiduguri in a three-hour rampage before troops and police reinforcements restored order, Nigerian police spokesman Haz Iwendi said.

Security forces arrested dozens of people, Iwendi said.

Chima Ezeoke, a Christian Maiduguri resident, said protesters attacked and looted shops owned by minority Christians, most of them with origins in the country’s south.“Most of the dead were Christians beaten to death on the streets by the rioters,” Ezeoke said. Witnesses said three children and a priest were among those killed.

Full story: Cartoon Protests Leave 15 Dead in Nigeria