Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bakri Begs. Britain Refuses.

The following article appeared on the web site

Hate preacher Omar Bakri fled to the hills yesterday after Britain rejected his plea to escape the war.
The Muslim cleric, who ran away from Britain last year, had tried to board a ship full of women and children but was turned away.
He scurried to the mountain town of Aley, above Beirut, yesterday after Israeli missiles fell two miles from his his luxury flat.
The fanatic — who hailed suicide bombers as “magnificent martyrs” but called for an Israeli-Hezbollah ceasefire yesterday — clearly had no intention of laying down his life.
From the safety of the town’s swish Highland Hotel, Bakri, 46, launched into his familiar rant against Britain and Tony Blair.

He later nodded at morning prayers at the local mosque as the imam urged all Muslims to fight to the death for Hezbollah. I confronted the former dole scrounger as he left and asked why he was not willing to be a Hezbollah martyr.
He replied nonsensically: “You will not force your views on me.”
Then he ranted: “What has this fight got to do with me? I am Lebanese. If you are British your Government treats you like a human being but if you are not British you are treated like an animal.”
Bakri, a father of six and grandfather of four, left his family in Britain living on dole handouts.
His bid at Beirut port on Thursday morning to get on any British vessel ferrying evacuees to Cyprus was blocked by officials.

Predictably, Bakri blasted Britain for not letting him in, even though he has only a Lebanese passport. He said: “The embassy told me we are not dealing with visit applications, only British citizens who want to get out on a ship.
“I said, ‘What about my children in the UK who are concerned about their father? I don’t care what you think about me’. But they wouldn’t listen because I’m not a British citizen any more.
“I left Britain of my own free will and have never been charged with any offence. This has happened because I support the Palestinians, Iraq and Lebanon. All Muslims should unite and call for a ceasefire — but Tony Blair doesn’t want that. He wants bombing.”

Bakri left his family last August and went to Lebanon after a Sun campaign to kick him out. Charles Clarke, then Home Secretary, revoked his indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
In March he boasted: “When I left England I bought a one-way ticket out. I never want to see it again.”
But he changed his tune as soon as the Hezbollah guerillas he supports sparked the Israeli attacks.
In 22 years in the UK, Bakri sponged £300,000 in benefits. He preached violence and called the 9/11 terrorists the Magnificent 19. His preachings are thought to have encouraged British suicide bombers Omar Sharif and Asif Hanif.

Friday, July 21, 2006

More Cases of Disappearance of Coptic Girls.

The web site of Copts-united, has posted news about the disappearance of two more Coptic girls, believed to be kidnapped or brainwashed to leave their families and disappear without any trace. So far, the security officials have not made any efforts to find the girls, which increased the suspicion that the security forces are helping the fanatic Moslems of Egypt to force Coptic girls into converting to Islam.

The first girl is called Domiana Makram Hanna, from the area of Yousif El Sadeek, El Fayoum., who disappeared on Friday, July 7, 2006 on her way to visit her uncle in a neighbouring village. The prime suspect in this case is a person with the name of Mohamed Al Sayed Zaki, a known fanatic Moslem who has a history of interfering with Domiana. It is said that the head of the local unit of Criminal Investigations, an officer with the name of Mohamed Thabet is deliberately obstructing the efforts to find the girl.

The second girl’s name is Mary Saad Mahfouz Shenouda, from Kalyoub. Mary disappeared on Sunday, June 25, 2006 after going out with a friend, and as she was waiting for the transport microbus to go home.

Mary’s brother, George Saad M. Shenouda said that he sent telegrams, and faxes to President Hosni Mubarak, the Interior Minister Habib El Adly, Prime minister Ahmed Nazeef and many other officials, and that he has never received a reply. He, and the rest of the family, are very worried that after 30 days of the kidnapping, Mary can be forced to convert to Islam. He states that both parents of Mary are in bad shape and their health has gone from bad to worse since the disappearance of their daughter.

For more details, in Arabic, please go to the web site

Fatwa Against Hezbollah.

One of Saudi Arabia's leading Wahhabi sheiks, Abdullah bin Jabreen has issued a strongly worded religious edict, or fatwa, declaring it unlawful to support, join or pray for Hezbollah, the Shiite militias lobbing missiles into northern Israel.

The day after Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers on July 12, Sheik Hamid al-Ali issued an informal statement titled "The Sharia position on what is going on." In it, the Kuwaiti based cleric condemned the imperial ambitions of Iran regarding Hezbollah's cross border raid.
The surprising move demonstrates that Sunni Muslim fundamentalists in the Middle East are deeply divided over whether Moslems should support Hezbollah, Iran's Shiite proxies in the war raging in Lebanon.

While the Gulf's ascetic Wahhabi sects, who are closer to the ethnic fighting between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, have opposed Hezbollah in its stand against Israel's forces, other Sunni fundamentalist groups, such as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, have pledged their solidarity. On Friday, the brothers will host a rally in support of Hezbollah at Cairo's most influential mosque, Al-Azhar.

The profound division between the most violent Muslim enemies of America and Israel may be one reason Arab capitals have not yet exploded in rage about Israel's bombardment of Lebanon. The White House has already pointed to Jordanian, Egyptian, and Saudi government condemnation of Hezbollah.

The latest Arab Israeli war presents a conundrum for many Sunni Jihadists. On the one hand, a chance to join in the resistance against the Jewish state presents a rare opportunity for zealots who revere the Palestinian Arab martyrs that have sacrificed their lives to kill Jewish civilians. But the main group doing the fighting, and instigating the war this time in Lebanon, are supported by the same Shiite state that supplies and funds the militias killing Sunni civilians in Iraq.
"I think that fatwas like Jebreen's are significant, because the division between Sunnis and Shia is more apparent than in the past," the director of the SITE Institute, a group that tracks the online Jihad community, Rita Katz, said yesterday. Mr. Jebreen retired two years ago from Saudi Arabia's government committee approving fatwas. Ms. Katz says he is considered one of the most respected and more mainstream Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia.

The division between Sunnis and Shiites goes back to the Koran. Mohammed's son in law, Ali, claimed that he had been chosen as his successor, and to this day Shiites believe that Ali held the true claim to the Caliphate. Sunnis believe the prophet made no such choice and recognize the line of Caliphs that began with Abu Bakr, the choice of the prophet's companions after his death.
One can pick up some of this history in Mr. Jebreen's fatwa. In it he refers to Shiite Hezbollah as "rafidhis," meaning rejecters. In his religious edict, Mr. Jebreen writes, "Our advice to the Sunnis is to denounce them and shun those who join them to show their hostility to Islam and to the Muslims."
"Three years ago, I have not been seeing chatter along such lines.This became more prevalent following [the dead Al Qaeda leader in Iraq] Zarqawi's declarations against Shia. Iraq has a lot to do with this," Ms. Katz said yesterday. A week before Zarqawi was killed in June, he gave a four hour sermon entitled, "Did you get the message of the Shiites," where Ms. Katz says he portrayed the Shiites as the enemies of Sunni Muslims.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Arab Regimes Back Israel's Attacks on Islamist Groups.

Israel has gotten a green light for its military response to the abduction of several of its soldiers from more than just the United States. Arab governments too have been notably silent as the crisis in the Middle East grows.

Far more surprising than U.S. statements of support for Israel's assault on Gaza and Lebanon are similar proclamations from Arab governments. Just before the Israeli cabinet gave Prime Minister Olmert the green light for more attacks, a spokesperson for the Saudi government called for Israeli restraint, but blamed the current conflict on Hezbollah's seizure of two Israeli soldiers. "There is a difference between legitimate resistance and miscalculated adventures," he stated.

The official for the Saudi Ministry of Information hit hard on Islamic resistance groups in Lebanon and Gaza. Those groups, he said, should "bear the consequences of the crisis they have created."Meanwhile, both King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Mubarak of Egypt warned that Hezbollah is dragging the Arab world into conflict through its misguided gambles and adventures. The majority of Arab regimes has been silent about Israel's new two-front war. Their foreign ministers to the Arab League will not meet to discuss the crisis until July 15, three days after the start of Israeli air attacks and time enough for Israel to completely destroy Lebanon's infrastructure.

Israeli attacks on Lebanon or Gaza are not something new; nor are prisoner exchanges between Hezbollah and Israel. To date, there have been three prisoner exchange deals between Israel and Hezbollah (July 1996, June 1998 and January 2004) and several prisoner swaps between Israel and the PLO. The most famous swap was in May 1985, when in exchange for three Israeli soldiers held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Israel released 1,150 Palestinian political prisoners. So why the overblown Israeli reaction to the capture of several Israeli soldiers, and the Arab silence this time?In a new strategy shift, the dependence of Palestinians and Lebanese on Arab regimes to confront and contain Israel politically and militarily has ended. Militant groups from Palestine to Iraq -- groups known in the Arab world as the Islamic Resistance and as "terrorists organizations" by Israel and many Western countries -- have been taking matters into their own hands.

Arab masses have long realized the powerlessness of their leaders to end the conflict in Iraq or alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians. People throughout the Middle East remember the failed mediation attempts by King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Mubarak of Egypt to lift the September 2002 siege on Yasir Arafat. Arafat remained a prisoner in his compound until few days before his death on November 11, 2004, when he was air-lifted to a military hospital in France only after French President Jacques Chirac intervened. At the same time, as Arab regimes' influence over organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah has waned, Israel has lost a kind of buffer zone. Unlike the PLO in the past, neither Hamas nor Hezbollah is dependent on Arab state support. Syria's influence over Hezbollah takes second place to that of Iran. Hence, the Israeli government is very concerned that any success achieved by Hamas or Hezbollah will open the way for more groups -- perhaps even Al Qaeda -- to fight Israel or terrorize Israelis.Arab regimes are very concerned as well. The aftershocks left by the elections in Gaza are still felt beneath the seats of monarchs and leaders stretching from Riyadh to Rabat. Many Arab rulers are threatened by democracy and the rise of Islamism in the region. In Gaza, they are challenged by a democratically elected Islamist government, Hamas. In Egypt, the challenge comes from the Islamic Brotherhood, and in Lebanon, from Hezbollah, commonly referred to as a "state within a state."Away from the sectarian violence that has plagued Iraq, Hamas (a Sunni organization) and Hezbollah (Shiite) have found themselves on the same front, fighting a battle for their survival. The survival of each is dependant on the other. Similarly, Arab regimes and Israel have forged an undeclared alliance to rid themselves of the growing menace in the region, "popular Islamist movements." Israel is doing the bombing and destruction, while Arab regimes quietly cheer on the sidelines.Today, on Al-Manar Television in Beirut, Hassan Nassrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, answered the Saudis and others and said, "As for the Arab rulers, I will not ask you about your history. Just a brief word, we are adventurers...We never bet on you, we always bet on God."

Did the Arab rulers bet on Israel? Did Hezbollah and Hamas miscalculate? The coming days should tell.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Coptic Church Is In Safe Hands.

The foundation of a new church in Egypt headed by Max Michel as the Archbishop of True Orthodox Christians was highlighted by the media in a manner which far out-weighted the magnitude of the issue. Some have accused the media of amplifying the issue to stir sectarianism. Such a claim is an exaggeration; there is no place here for the conspiracy theory usually recalled at times of crises. The media is entitled to cover events and present divergent outlooks. In fact, many of the social ills which have long ravaged our society remained buried under the surface until they were brought to light and investigated by the media. In such cases the media informs, promotes awareness, and protects public opinion from falling prey to fallacious concepts or attitudes.

As regards the issue of Max Michel’s church, it should be stressed—a priori—that the Coptic Orthodox Church is so deeply entrenched and firmly established in Egypt that there can be no serious threat to it. Its congregation and clergy should rest assured that there is no reason for confusion or fear. Churches are not commercial projects competing for customers. The Coptic Orthodox Church has a history which stretches 2000 years back, shelters Christian faith and guides millions of true believers who find comfort and peace in God. It is inconceivable that these millions could be easily tempted to join an upstart church. It can be further said that, besides the Church’s spiritual core, these millions form the shield which protects it.

The recent wave of fear and worry, and the call by some to defend the faith against an alien incoming church is uncalled for. It only serves to make heroes of the advocates of the new church project, and depict them as victims of persecution and oppression. Pope Shenouda III did well to hold a press conference to tackle the issue upon his arrival home from the US where he had been on a trip for medical treatment. The Pope’s words were confident, affirmative, calm and reassuring. In reply to worried questions, he said that the issue was too minor to be raised to the presidency, and that the US administration was neither behind nor supported this breakaway church. He challenged those who ordained Max Michel archbishop to prove he was affiliated with any of the Orthodox churches, whether the 15 Western Orthodox or the six Eastern churches.

Max Michel, the pope said, acknowledged the seven councils of Orthodox churches, while our Coptic Orthodox Church acknowledged only three. The Pope’s sensible statements assured millions that the Coptic Church is in safe hands and holds on to the true faith.The Pope further tackled an issue long placed on hold when he warned that Max Michel insisted on wearing garments similar to those of Coptic Orthodox archbishops, which may be dangerously misleading to simple folks. "We have long demanded that the formal clerical garments of the Coptic Orthodox Church should be registered and limited to the use of Coptic Orthodox clergy. President Mubarak promised to meet this demand and I do not know why nothing has yet been done about it". Registering clerical costumes is in fact one among many issues placed on hold—such as passing the unified personal status law for Christians. Shelved, these issues are time bombs ready to explode at any moment