Copts demonstrate in Alexandria.
Following the attacks on three Coptic churches in Alexandria on Friday, which resulted in the death of one Copt, and serious injury to others, a burial service was held today in “The Saints” church for Mr. Noshi Atalla Garas, the Copt who died after being stabbed by a knife carrying Moslem.
Tens of thousands of sad, angry Copts from Alexandria as well as other parts of Egypt gathered inside and outside the church. They carried loud speakers, wooden crosses, and large banners. Thousands started shouting“ Our souls and blood for the cross”, “Mubarek, Mubarek, where are you?”, “when will the persecution of the Copts stop?”,”We shall never leave Egypt, except for heaven”. One particular banner said” Minister of Health, is there a disease called madness of killing Copts?” This is in reference to the explanation given by government officials the murderer is “psychologically disturbed”. When the coffin carrying the body of the deseased came out of the church, many men and women started crying, while the bells of all of Alexandria’s churches started ringing the tune of “Maryr” and people started singing sad hymns, instead of shouting slogans. This was followed by huge demonstrations in the area around the church expressing frustration and anger of thousands of Copts towards Mubarek, Islamic terrorism, and failure of the government to protect Copts. The demonstrations were peaceful and no injuries were reported.
Church attacks spark anger.
Egypt's Coptic Christians have protested in the city of Alexandria to demand greater protection following knife attacks at three churches.
Hundreds rallied with banners reading: "Stop the persecution of Copts."
One person was killed and several others injured in the attacks during Friday Mass.
The interior ministry said the assaults had been carried out by one "deranged" man but earlier police reports talked of three simultaneous attacks.
Christians make up 10% of the Egyptian population and have complained of harassment and discrimination.
Egypt's opposition Muslim Brotherhood endorsed the Christians' protest, calling the incident very sad news.
The interior ministry named the assailant as Mahmoud Salah-Eddin Abdel-Raziq, 25, and said he was "psychologically disturbed".
It said the man attacked two churches and was arrested as he tried to enter a third.
But police told the AP news agency that three men had been detained in simultaneous incidents and that an attempt to attack a fourth church had been foiled.
The ministry said five people had been injured, the police as many as 16.
About 600 Copts protested outside one of the churches attacked - Saints Church - holding banners with slogans such as "Until when?" and "Hosni Mubarak, where are you?" referring to the nation's president.
One woman worshipper, Nadia Lofti, said: "We cannot enter their mosques and kill them, yet they can come to our churches and kill us. Where are the police and the government?"
Some Copts argue that previous attacks on them have gone unpunished or have drawn light sentences.
Witnesses said the churches only had one guard each on Friday.
A doctor told AP that one policeman refused to fire on an attacker, saying he did not have orders.
Knife attacks on Egypt churches.
One person has been killed and at least 12 others injured by knife-wielding attackers at three churches in northern Egypt, police have said.
The attacks happened in Coptic churches in the city of Alexandria.
The simultaneous incidents took place during Friday Mass. Police say they have the three men in custody.
Witnesses said clashes erupted between Christians and Muslims outside the churches, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Hundreds of Christians had gathered outside the churches in protest at the attacks, the agency said.
According to police reports, two people armed with knives attacked three churches. A third man was prevented from entering another church by security guards.
The identity of the attackers is not known.
An employee at one of the churches told the AFP news agency that people inside the church had fought back with sticks, but that the attacker had tried to escape through an underground passage.
Moslem Brothers Leader: "To Hell With Egypt."
The Egyptian publication, Rose El Yousif, published an interview with the Moslem Brothers (MB) leader Mohamed Mahdy Akef. The interview is reported by Saeed Shoeyeb, and in it, Mr. Akef talked about the ideas of MB, and faced questions regarding the position of his organization on different political and social issues.
The interview is reported in Arabic.
Excerpts from the interview:
-Regarding the last presidential election: “ Our stand was vague. Some said that this stand is very clever. Others said it is not clear. Others said that I am a religion man and should not work in politics. I am with all of these”.
-Answering the question”To whom did the MB vote?”, he said ”it did not vote”
-Question ”You (meaning MB) exaggerate your power?”. Answer” Yes. We are not a majority, but we are organized and people think that we are a “big thing”.
-Question”is it the right of the majority (of citizens) to force its will on the minority?”
Answer”This is democracy”
Question”Does democracy deny the rights of minorities?”.
Question” Is it my right, if I am a minority to refuse applying “Shariya” (religious rules of Islam)?
Answer”No, it is not your right. You cannot refuse the law of the state”.
Question” A just law should agree with different attitudes. What you think of as a fair law can be unfair for others”
Answer” Fairness is absolute. It does not depend on points of view.”
-Mr. Akef” According to Shariya, the Ameer (Leader of MB) is the one to establish the rules. He is the only one to do this even if he is a drunk person and a womanizer”
-“We (MB) want to reform life in an Islamic way, starting from educating the individual, the family, and the society, to the economy, and the media”
-When asked about the MB’s plan for the Egyptian economy, he said ”I know the program, but I am not telling you”
-“There is no such thing as Moslems occupying other Moslem lands. When Turks were in Egypt (during the Ottoman control), this was not occupation(because Turks are Moslems). I wish the Moslems of Malaysia come and govern Egypt” Here, the reporter, Mr. Shoeyeb, objected ”I do not agree with you. I accept only to be governed by an Egyptian”. Mr. Akef’s reply was” Toz Fee Misr (an Egyptian expression means To Hell with Egypt). To hell with the ancestors of Egypt. To hell with whoever lives in Egypt”
For the full interview (in Arabic), please click on the title.
Egypt frees hundreds of Islamic militants.
Egypt has released about 900 members of the militant group Gamaa Islamiya, the interior ministry has said.
It said the releases took place over the last 10 days and one of the founders of the group, Najeh Ibrahim, was among those freed.
Gamaa Islamiya was once Egypt's largest militant group. It mounted attacks on tourists and Christians in the 1990s.
But the group declared a ceasefire in 1999 and some of its imprisoned leaders went on to renounce violence.
The BBC's Heba Saleh in Cairo said the group had been largely crushed by the security forces before it declared its truce.
Attacks blamed on Gamaa Islamiya included the November 1997 assault at Luxor which killed 58 people, most of them foreign tourists.
The authorities released hundreds of members in 2003.
Copts attacked in Quena under Police watch
Local Muslim extremists gathered and chanted "There is no god but Allah and Christians are the enemies of Allah." The extremists beganthrowing fire balls on the association building and Christian owned homes when rumors spread that Copts were turning the association building into achurch.Fore more, please click here
A mosque under the Acropolis ?
The Greeks are debating the establishment of a mosque somewhere in their capital.A new round of debate on the topic opened this week, with Greek lawmakers discussing whether to reinstate a former mosque in the Athens tourist district of Monastiraki, currently used as a folk art museum. "Building a mosque in Peania could take 2 to 3 years ... but the Monastiraki [building] is ready to go," said pro-opposition Ta Nea daily, which broke the story on March 28. A lively debate has begun, with both proponents and detractors noting that the proposed site in Monastiraki, built in 1759 during the Ottoman occupation of Greece, is a stone's throw away from the Greek Orthodox Church cathedral in the city center. "I have no objection to a mosque in Monastiraki as long as Turkey gives the keys of Haghia Sophia to the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate," countered conservative MP Stelios Papathemelis, referring to the iconic church of the old Byzantine capital of Constantinople (Istanbul) that was turned into a mosque when the Ottoman Turks captured the city in 1453. The government insists that no decision has been taken on the issue.
Fatwa: Statues are "un-Islamic".
CAIRO: A fatwa issued by Egypt’s top religious authority which forbids the display of statues has art-lovers fearing it could be used by Islamic extremists as an excuse to destroy Egypt’s historical heritage.
Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country’s top Islamic jurist, issued the religious edict which declared as un-Islamic the exhibition of statues in homes, basing the decision on texts in the hadith (sayings of the prophet).
Intellectuals and artists argue that the decree represents a setback for art—a mainstay of the multi-billion-dollar tourist industry—and would deal a blow to the country’s fledgling sculpture business.
The fatwa did not specifically mention statues in museums or public places, but it condemned sculptors and their work.
Still, many fear the edict could prod Islamic fundamentalists to attack Egypt’s thousands of ancient and pharaonic statues on show at tourist sites across the country.
“We don’t rule out that someone will enter the Karnak temple in Luxor or any other pharaonic temple and blow it up on the basis of the fatwa,” Gamal al-Ghitani, editor of the literary Akhbar al-Adab magazine, told AFP.
Gomaa had pointed to a passage from the hadith that stated: “Sculptors would be tormented most on Judgment Day,” saying the text left no doubt that sculpting was “sinful” and using statues for decorating homes forbidden.
Gomaa’s ruling overturned a fatwa issued more than 100 years ago by then moderate and highly respected mufti Mohammed Abdu, permitting the private display of statues after the practice had been condemned as a pagan custom.
Abdu’s fatwa had “closed the issue, as it ruled that statues and pictures are not haram (forbidden under Islam) except idols used for worship,” Ghitani pointed out.
Novelist Ezzat al-Qamhawi said Gomaa’s ruling would “return Muslims to the dark ages.”
Movie director Daud Abdul Sayed said the fatwa “simply ignored the spiritual evolvement of Muslims since the arrival of Islam . . . Clearly, it was natural that they forbid statues under early Islam because people worshipped them.
“But are there Muslims worshipping statues nearly 15 centuries later?” he asked.
The notion sounds “ridiculous,” Yussef Zidan, director of the manuscript museum at the prestigious Bibliotheca Alexandrina, told AFP.
“Why would anyone even bring up the issue (of the statues) in a country where there are more than 10 state-owned institutions that teach sculpting and more than 20 others that teach the history of art?”
Ghitani added: “It’s time for those placing impediments between Islam and innovation to get out of our lives.”
The wave of criticisms against the fatwa has put clerics on a collision course with intellectuals and artists, who say that such edicts only reinforce claims— particularly in the West—that Islam is against progress.
"No Peace Between West & Islam Until Islamic Caliphate is Re-established"
In the aftermath of the controversy over the cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, the Internet edition of the Norwegian daily Dagbladet interviewed Kurdish Iraqi Islamist Mullah Krekar. In it, Krekar expounded his views on relations between Islam and the West. Krekar, whose real name is Najm Al-Din Faraj Ahmad, came to Norway as a refugee in 1991, where he established the Islamist Ansar Al-Islam organization. He is currently slated for deportation from Norway.
In this interview, Mr. Krekar expressed his views about the place of Islam in modern world, and in Europe in particular. Some of these views are :
"No Peace Between West & Islam Until Islamic Caliphate is Re-established"
"Bin Laden & Al-Zawahiri are Good People"
"Look at the development of the population in Europe, where the number of Muslims increases like mosquitoes. Each Western woman in the E.U. produces, on average, 1.4 children. Each Muslim woman in these same countries produces 3.5 children. By 2050, 30% of the European population will be Muslim..."
"In Denmark they published cartoons, but the result was only to encourage people to rally behind Islam. I and all Muslims are proof [of this]. They have not managed to change us. It is we who will change them."
"Muslims who go to Afghanistan and Iraq to fight, that is an honor. It is an honor in itself if it violates the laws here in Europe."
For the full interview, please click on the title.