Saturday, December 26, 2009

Egyptian Regime Interfering in Swiss Internal Affairs

The behavior of the current Egyptian regime is effectively a continuation of Arab practices during their occupation of Egypt in the past 1430 years. The regime lead by Mr. Mubarak for almost 28 years could be described as anti-democratic, discriminatory and oppressive for all Egyptians. Furthermore, from a Coptic perspective, the Mubarak years could be known as the persecution regime within the last century. The same Egyptian-Arab regime is working hard to show a different face to Western governments and people.

For the last several years, the Egyptian regime has been criticizing Copts in the Diaspora for their activity in bringing to light Coptic suffering under a regime governing in the twenty-first century with a seventh-century mentality. Over the years, Egyptian leaders invited Coptic activists to work inside the country to resolve Coptic problems. Meanwhile, in all those years the same government did nothing to resolve even one minor issue related to Copts.

The Egyptian regime as well as all Arab and Muslim leaders consider anyone with different beliefs or thoughts living under their authority, infidels or at the very least, antagonistic to them. In spite of the fact that the Copts are the original and authentic Egyptians they are treated as aliens without any rights.

The Coptic religion inside Egypt is defamed daily by government media directly or indirectly. Meanwhile, the same regime has recently authored a request presented to the United Nations to prosecute religious defamation. The Western democratic countries where citizens abide in religious freedom seconded this proposal by the Egyptian regime without making a basic inquiry into the record of the Egyptian regime regarding defamation of religion within Egypt .

On various occasions, the Egyptian regime considered any critic of its interior action and treatment against Copts as interference in its internal affairs and disrespectful of its sovereignty, in spite of the fact that those criticism were delivered by human rights organizations and never by governments.

A few days after the result of the Swiss’ referendum of banning the construction of minarets (not mosques), the Arab and Muslim leaders began a hysterical announcement and action against the Swiss people and their free will to decide whatever they believe in their own country. Gaddafi, who has been ruling Libya for almost 40 years, stated that “Christians in Arab-Muslim countries would pay for the result of the Swiss referendum”. The Egyptian Parliament (Al shury) labeled the result of the same referendum as an instigation of hate reminiscent of the Nazis.

I wonder if the 440 members of the Egyptian parliament know anything about democracy in general and the referendum system in particular! Furthermore, this leads me to wonder if the Egyptian parliamentary election process is genuine, or rather just part of a comedy to serve the regime. Moreover, are these members really representing those who elected them?

The Egyptian parliamentary members who voted a few months ago to massacre more than 600,000 pigs, leaving almost 2,000,000 persons without work and income, damaging part of the country’s economics, and generating a lot of waste in the country’s streets, is now interfering in the internal affairs of another sovereign state.

The survival of Arab aggression to take over the West by hiding behind a world religion has been going on for more than 1400 years. Arab leaders know they cannot win a military war. Therefore, to achieve their goals they use the West’s weakest points, democracy and respect for others. Such respect for others, known as political correctness, is shifting to meet only Arab aims.

In fact, when the parliament of a country condemns an action made in another state, it sounds like a declaration of war. The president of the Egyptian parliament, Mr. Safwat Al Sharef, declared on December 15, 2009 as per Al Masry Al Youm (Egyptian Newspaper), that, “the result of the referendum was like a strike against more than 1.7 billion Muslims around the world and was against the basic international law and freedom of religion.”

I am curious at the amount of courage it takes for the president of the Egyptian parliament to talk about freedom of religion when in Egypt there is no freedom at all. More than 18 million citizens cannot live in peace in there own homeland. What about destroying churches and arresting people in their own homes just because they are praying? What about kidnapping girls and women as part of a state plan to force Islamization of the country. Furthermore, what about the freedom of religion for those Muslims that decides to convert to Christianity or any other religion?

Mr. President of the parliament, are you giving the West a lesson in morality and freedom of religion or are you trying to instigate the Muslim world against one of the civil nations on our planet?

Why are the Egyptian government and parliament alarmed about a referendum that took place in a country 3,000 miles away when they do not first try to resolve problems at home? Furthermore, the announcement made by the same parliament stating they seek to work with political forces inside Switzerland in order to alter the referendum result is not acceptable, and the Western governments must take a stand against it.

It is a great opportunity for the Western community to stand against such abuse from those who are using our great democracy to harm us. It is time that our European leaders have to correct the real meaning of political correctness.

Dottore Architetto Ashraf Ramelah

Forced Islamization of Christian Girls Supported By Egyptian State

Forced Islamization of Christian Girls Supported By Egyptian State

|mary abdelmassih

Forced Islamization of Christian Girls Supported By Egyptian State

Cairo (AINA) -- The phenomenon of abduction, rape and forced Islamization of Christian girls in Egypt was shown for the first time on the Christian TV channel "Life TV", which broadcasts from outside Egypt and has nearly 60 million Arab-speaking viewers in Egypt and around the world.

The testimonies of the victims and their families came as a shock to many, including Egyptian Christians, since this issue is taboo for the Egyptian media, "Our role is to expose those behind those crimes," said Rasheed El Maghreby, the program's moderator.

The program was aired in mid-November 2009, and interviewed Mr. Magdi Khalil, an authority on Coptic affairs who has made a complete field study on forced Islamization of Christian minors in Egypt. Mr Khalil explained that this phenomenon in its present form is nearly 40 years old, and most of these conversion crimes, with a few isolated exceptions, are carried out by organized Islamization gangs or "Islamization Mafia", a termed coined by him, which are fully funded by the state and supported by State Security.

"Those highly organized gangs carry out systematic planning," says Khalil. "Besides violent forced abductions, other devious means include allurement, deception, psychological pressure, financial temptation, emotional relationships ending in rape and photographs taken to blackmail the victims into conversion, and spreading fear in the hearts of their families. They turn the minor into a broken, humble, and submissive person who drifts along a road which would have been impossible for her to take under normal circumstances or in an atmosphere of family or legal protection, and of her own free will."

The TV program aired three cases of victims throwing light on the complete disadvantage of the affected families in front of the "Islamization mafia", in view of the complete lack of support, if not collusion, of the authorities.

Ingy Adel, now 16, was abducted at the age of 12 on her way to school by being anaesthetized and bundled into a car. "I was taken into a room by a man called Sultan, who tied my hands behind my back and raped me," said Ingy. Four men followed Sultan in raping her, "I felt as each one of them raped me, that I was their enemy. They have beaten me ferociously." She said that for a whole month she was given drugs and raped, "more than 50 men raped me." After two months and only through the efforts of her father she was found and brought back home. When they reported the crime to the State Security she was beaten by the officer to change her testimony and say that she ran away from her family with her own free will. "Until today they have done nothing about it and will not do anything, because I am a Christian," sobs Ingy (see testimony).

Another victim was Amal Zaki from Mahalla el-Kubra. "I received a phone call at work, informing me that my father was taken ill and lies in hospital and wishes to see me urgently. A work colleague with a Burka offered to accompany me. Outside was a car full of sheikhs, and when I refused to get in, I was pushed inside the car, and woke up in a dark room in Dar el Eftah [Al-Azhar affiliated Islamic Legislation Authority]. I knew that I was married to a certain Ahmed Ramadan, the cousin of my Burqa colleague. He tied me to the bed, after three hours I was taken to hospital suffering with haemorrhage." Amal's father continued the story: "I went to State Security and they assured me that they will get her back, but they were just fooling me; they knew all along were my daughter was. When I reported Ahmad Ramadan to the police, he said in the police report that State Security told him to marry Amal, take her to Cairo for conversion to Islam, and after 9 days, they told him to di!
vorce her. He presented documents to support his claims" Amal was returned 9 months later after her father paid a ransom to her abductors. Although she never went to Al-Azhar to convert to Islam, she still got a conversion certificate.

Another incident was described by a villager who said that his daughter, who was less than 16-years-old, was abducted as she went to the nearby grocery store. When he reported the matter to the police, he was told he was causing 'sectarian strife.' He said: "I asked to see my daughter just for 10 minutes, but they refused. I was detained at the police station until the officer received a phone call that my daughter was taken away." He said that the police forced him to leave the village. "My daughter returned to the village 3 days after I left. They have taken my home by force and now my daughter lives in it with her Muslim husband (see testimony).

"This is thuggery. As long as it is for the benefit of Islam, all authorities join together as if it is an 'armed invasion.' Sharia over the law and Islam over the nation," said Khalil.

The latest fraud mentioned on the TV program is that Muslim gangs who dress as Coptic priests, offer a car lift to Christian girls and then abduct them. "The Coptic Church has warned its congregation against letting any unknown person dressed as a priest into their homes or accepting a lift," said Khalil.

Several international organizations have criticized Egypt regarding forced Islamization of minors, among which is the International Religious Freedom report from 2005 to 2009, the Helsinki Commission Report of November 9th, 2006, Human Rights Watch Report of November 12th, 2007, and on November 10th, 2009, Christian Solidarity International issued a report quoting 25 cases of forced Islamization of minors.

H.H. Pope Shenouda protested as far back as December 17th, 1976, during a conference held in Alexandria, saying: "There is a practice to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror to Muslim husbands." He demanded that the abducted girls be returned to their families.

Sheikh Fawzy al-Zafzaf, former head of the Azhar committee for inter-religious dialogue told Al-Destoor Newspaper on November 17th, 2009, that he did not deny the existence of cases of abduction and forced Islamization of Coptic girls in Egypt. He called on the government to intervene to stop such acts by imposing just penalties on people who commit them.

Pope Shenouda warned during a lecture on March 17, 2004 that he received thousands of letters of abduction of Christian girls through certain Islamic store chains which lure them away by being told they won a prize and have to go to an upper floor in the building to collect it.

"Christian activists who work in cases of abductions and forced Islamization have a good idea about who the organizations, State Security officers and businessmen supporting the Islamization gangs," he explained.

According to Ms. Rasha Nour, chief of Egypt4Christ, which specializes in abductions of minors, funding for Islamization comes from a financial network of dozens of companies, charities, and banks such as Bank of Islamic Solidarity, Faisal Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, and Islamic Relief Organization, as well as numerous companies created through money-laundering operations, and which are supervised by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Explaining the difficulty in tackling this issue by human rights organizations, Khalil said "Unfortunately no one can discuss this issue, not the Egyptian Family Minister Mosheera Khattab or any research institute, as they would be told 'this issue belongs to the State Security which manages the Coptic Portfolio the way they like." He sees no prospects of any improvement on the Coptic portfolio before it is taken away from State Security and handled as a political issue.

Khalil accused the Egyptian State, with its executive, legislative and judicial authorities of being an accomplice.

The role of the State Security is evident and vital in all abduction cases "They know where the girls are, and withhold information from their families."

Despite the existence of laws in Egypt setting the minimum age of conversion to Islam at 21, as well as legally forbidding marriage of a girl younger than 18 without the consent of her parent or guardian, "we still find fatwas (religious edicts) being issued to justify those criminal acts," says Khalil.

The Chairman of the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, Sheikh Abdulah Mogawer, talking to Al-Arabya-net justified the marriage of two underage Christian girls (15 and 17 when abducted) by saying that they accept Islamization at the age of 16 . "According to Sharia, the main criteria for marriage to be valid is for the girl to reach puberty and is not tied to a specific age. Aisha married [consummated] the Prophet at the age of 9. Some girls might reach puberty at 14 or 15 years old, depending on her physical growth," said Mogawer.

"In spite of international and local condemnation, still nothing is being done about this by the State. It is a big shame on the Egyptian government to be an accomplice to these crimes against humanity," commented Khalil .

By Mary Abdelmassih

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Holy Virgin Mary appears in Egypt

The Holy Virgin Mary appears in Egypt
Morris Sadek
21 December 2009 in Featured Blogumnist, Morris Sadek
The Holy Virgin Mary has been appearing at St Mary’s Orthodox church in Al-Warraq, Cairo since October 12, attracting thousands and thousands of Christians and Muslims.
The Bishop of Giza, Anba Theodosius, announces that the Holy Virgin has appeared in a transfiguration at the Church named after her in Warraq al-Hadar, Giza, in the early hours of Friday, December 11, 2009, at 1:00 am. The Holy Virgin appeared in her full height in luminous robes, above the middle dome of the church, in a pure white dress and a royal blue belt. She had a crown on her head, above which appeared the cross on top of the dome. The crosses on top of the church’s domes and towers glowed brightly with light. The Holy Virgin moved between the domes and on to the top of the church gate between its two twin towers. The local residents all saw her.
The apparition lasted from 1:00 am until 4:00 am on Friday, and was registered by cameras and cell phones. Some 3,000 people from the neighborhood, surrounding areas, and passers-by gathered in the street in front of the church to see the apparition.
Since Friday, the huge crowds gathered in the vicinity of the church have been seeing luminous white pigeons soaring above the church during various times of the night, as well as a star, which emerges suddenly in the heavens, travels some 200 meters across the sky, then disappears. The huge crowds gathered around the church do not cease singing hymns and praises for the Holy Virgin.
I personally find no reason to be skeptical about the idea of the Holy Virgin Mary appearing on the domes of her church during the blessed Nativity Fast, especially at this time. Her appearance as such has been confirmed by the Church in the past (e.g. her appearance at Zeitoun, Shoubra and Assiut).
The video footage, coming as it does from a camera phone, isn’t the best of quality, but it is clear enough in my opinion–and in the opinion of the commentators, who, by the way, are not Christian, and who do in fact briefly note and proceed to reply to some obvious typical objections to the footage. The display at 4:50-4:54 shows that the illumined figure is, contrary to the illumined crosses, not attached to the church’s structure. As is clearer to the eye witnesses, the light of the illumined figure differs remarkably from the dull yellow light of the crosses–it is a mixture of a bright blue and white light (the blue light presumably corresponding to her blue attire); eye-witnesses have furthermore noted that it does not retain a fixed position.
The Mother of Jesus was appearing for tens of thousands to see in the land of the pyramids at a Coptic church constructed to commemorate the area in Egypt where she had come with Joseph and Jesus when they all fled from Herod. Starting in April, 1968, her apparitions of light changed the lives of thousands. Her appearances in Zeitun were astounding. She was seen by more than a million people. The apparitions were broadcast by Egyptian TV, photographed by hundreds of professional photographers and personally witnessed by Egyptian President Abdul Nasser.
Her first visit was on the night of April 2, 1968. Two Muslim watchmen at a garage saw a woman walking the roof of the church across the street. Afraid she was going to jump, they ran out shouting at her not to take her life, summoning a crowd below. The priest of the chapel was the first to believe it was an apparition. The longest single appearance was on April 30, 1968, when the vision remained from 2:45 am until 5 am. The nightly apparition attracted vast crowds of both Copts and Muslims, and was declared a genuine miracle by the Coptic Church.
On the eve of Tuesday, March 25, 1986 (Baramhat 16, 1702 am), the Holy Virgin Mary started Her apparitions in the church of Saint Demiana, the martyr in Papadouplo, in the Shoubra quarter of Cairo. The church of Saint Demiana in Papadouplo is a very small and poor Coptic Orthodox church and the surrounding “streets” are very narrow (about 4 meters wide). On this day, our Lady appeared beside the two towers of the church of Saint Demiana and was first seen by people living in the houses overlooking the church’s towers; Her light shone in their houses and they saw Her in Her full body surrounded by a halo of light over the left (western) dome of the church. This apparition was repeated several times, then the news spread and people from all sects and religions came to see the apparitions. The very narrow streets surrounding the church became overcrowded with thousands of night vigils praying and singing doxologies, liturgies and hymns to the Mother of True Light for whole nights.
Also, in 2000, an apparition of the Virgin Mary had been spotted in the small Egyptian town of Assiut. Outside the church, hopeful pilgrims each night chanted “Come Mary, Come,” or “Your Light is on the Cross,” hoping to beseech the Virgin Mary to appear between the two towers of the church, as she had done the previous nights, they say.
It is believed by Christians in Egypt, that the Virgin Mary appears in times of crisis and unrest in order to support them at the time of adversity. She appeared at the Zeitun Church in 1968, the year after a setback of 67 , and these days, when Copts face Islamic persecution from the Egyptian regime and their follow Muslims, she has appeared again.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Egyptian Christian women forced to marry, convert to Islam, reports say


Coptic Christian women in Egypt are being forced to marry and convert to Islam and that oppression is part of a larger pattern of persecution against Christians facilitated by the Egyptian government, according to two recent reports.

“Cases of abduction, forced conversion and marriage are usually accompanied by acts of violence which include rape, beatings, deprivation of food and other forms of physical and mental abuse,” said a new assessment by Christian Solidarity International and the Coptic Foundation for Human Rights.

At the same time, the 2009 U.S. State Department report on international religious freedom noted the Egyptian government fails to prosecute crimes against Copts and even has taken a hand in destroying church property and, in one case, a government official reportedly raped a woman who had converted from Islam to Christianity.

About 90 percent of the Egyptian population is Sunni Muslim, and the rest primarily identify themselves as Coptic Christians, according to the Human Rights Watch report “Prohibited Identities: State Interference with Religious Freedom.” Copts typically are underprivileged and experience discrimination.

Egyptian sex traffickers entice Coptic Christian women from low-income families by promising an escape from poverty, then force the women into Muslim “marriages” or outright slavery, according to the CSI/CFHR report.

“Such abuse remains covered in a cloak of silence and tacit acceptance, even though it is against the constitutional affirmations of civil rights,” the report said.

Once a Coptic girl is coerced into marriage and Islamic conversion, her family will not take her back, and if she leaves her “husband,” she is considered a “disgrace” to her family, the report said. In addition, the Coptic Orthodox Church excommunicates female members who wed Muslim men, the State Department said.

Since Islam is the “religion of state” in Egypt, conversion to Islam is easy, while returning to Christianity is unacceptable, the HRW report said. The Civil Status Department, which issues national identity cards, sometimes refuses to give Coptic women a new card identifying her as Christian since it is considered apostasy for a Coptic woman to leave Islam, even to return to her religion of origin.

Egyptian law requires every citizen to have an identity card for purposes such as voting, employment and education.

Most of the cases of Coptic women being coerced into marriage are not reported and “observers, including human rights groups, find it extremely difficult to determine whether compulsion was used, as most cases involve a female Copt who converts to Islam when she marries a Muslim male,” the State Department report said.

In two examples of coerced conversion, CSI/CFHR reported Nov. 10:

– An Egyptian woman was raped and beaten since she would not have sex with the man she was forced to marry. The Coptic cross on her wrist was later removed with acid.

– Another woman was forced to marry a Muslim lawyer and work for him in “slave-like conditions” for five years.

John Eibner, CSI’s chief executive officer, urged President Obama in a letter to combat the trafficking of Christian women and girls in Egypt and to make sure the U.S. makes this issue a priority in its relations with Egypt.

“Trafficking of Christian women in Egypt is not a new phenomenon…. But this problem has now reached boiling point within Egypt’s Coptic community, which views it as symptomatic of a much broader pattern of religious persecution,” Eibner said in his letter.
Cindy Ortiz is an intern with the Washington bureau of Baptist Press.

Rev. Majed EL Shafie former moslem from Egypt?

Rev. Majed El Shafie
Founder: OneFreeWorld International


Tel: 416 436 6528 416 436 6528

Born in Cairo , Egypt into a prominent Moslem family of Lawyers and Following in the footsteps of his father and uncles, he too chose to become a lawyer.

Through the witness of his best friend, Tamir, he experienced the love of Christ and made the decision to give his life and service to the LORD.

He began the mission to bring the Christian community all the same legal rights as the Moslem community in Egypt . He began a ministry which in just 2 years grew to 24,000 Christians. The Egyptian Government did not tolerate this and Majed wound up in the torture section of the Abu Zaabel prison in Cairo .

During this time in prison, Majed underwent severe torture for 7 days in the underground prison, everything from shaving his head and putting his head and hot and cold water, hanging upside down, being burned with cigarettes and the miracle of the attack dogs silenced to being crucified on the last 2 and a half days with a mixture of salt and lemon to anoint his wounds. All this is because of his new faith in our LORD.

He eventually escaped and on a whirlwind journey fled to Israel where he was jailed for over a year because they weren't sure what to do in this circumstance. Legally he could not stay in Israel but if they sent him back to Egypt he would be executed.

Through the intervention of Amnesty International & the United Nations Majed was released from prison and became a free man in Jerusalem , Israel .

Since, he has relocated to Toronto , ON where he has actively started his own ministry and is now the President of One Free World International.

One Free World International is a human rights organization designed to Bring Glory and Honor to our LORD by defending the persecuted Christians World Wide, to serve the community of Believers and make a difference in their lives. By the Glory of God, One Free World International currently has 2 established branches, Toronto & Washington DC, and a third branch beginning in Florida the end of June 2004. One Free World International will be having its first conference 4-6 November 2004 hosted at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship.

One Free World International is also developing relationships with Christians in various Moslem Countries.

It has also been successful in building bridges with members in the Canadian Parliament and the American Congress to help educate the community about the impact of the Islamic world and persecution of fellow Brother's & Sister's.

Along with that he also has a Christian Arabic Radio Program, River of Love reaching the Middle East and North Africa . In the past four months 731 Moslems have committed their lives to the LORD. He has started a second Arabic radio program called Encourage Iraq to help encourage the Iraqi people in this time of unrest and to introduce them to the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

Majed has visited and spoken in over 200 churches and congregations in the past year both in Canada and the United States . He has also been interviewed by several magazines, television and Radio both Christian and secular.

Majed's Passion is to help the persecuted Christian around the world and be their voice when their voice is not heard.

The story of Majed is not only a story of violence and persecution but rather a story of Glory and Victory. It's a story about fighting the darkness by the light of Christ.

Its proof that you can hurt the body but no one can hurt your spirit.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Complaints of Bias Can Go Both Ways in Egypt

Friday, 18 December 2009

On a side street in the far northeast Cairo suburb of Ain Shams, the door of a five-story former underwear factory is padlocked.

This is, or was supposed to be, the St. Mary and Anba Abraam Coptic Christian Church. The police closed it Nov. 24, 2008, when Muslims rioted against its consecration. Since then local Copts have had to commute to distant churches or worship in hiding at one another’s homes.

While Muslim leaders criticized the Nov. 29 vote in Switzerland that banned construction of minarets, the distinctive spires on mosques that are used for the call to prayer, they don’t support Christians who want to build churches in some Islamic countries. Restrictions in Egypt have exacerbated sectarian violence and discrimination, say Copts, a 2,000-year-old denomination that comprises about 10 percent of the population.

The day after the Swiss vote, Ali Gomaa, one of Egypt’s top Muslim clerics, called the decision “an attempt to insult the feelings of the Muslim community in and outside of Switzerland.”

Copts quickly said that neither he nor any other Islamic leader mentioned the Christian situation in Egypt.

“Without the merest attempt to put our house in order, are we in any position to taunt others to put theirs?” Youssef Sidhom, editor in chief of the Cairo-based Egyptian Coptic weekly newspaper El-Watani, said by telephon. “They should be ashamed.”

The contrast between criticism of the Swiss and silence about local parallels isn’t limited to Egypt. Censure of Switzerland, where about 5 percent of the population is Muslim, was widespread in Islamic countries where Christians face restrictions on practicing their faith.

“The decision of the Swiss people stood to be interpreted as xenophobic, prejudiced, discriminative and against the universal human rights values,” said the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which represents 57 Muslim-majority nations.

Members include Saudi Arabia, where non-Muslims are arrested for worshiping privately; Maldives, the Indian Ocean atoll where citizenship is reserved for Muslims; Libya, which limits churches to one per denomination in cities; and Iran, where conversion from Islam is punished by death, according to a 2009 U.S. State Department report on religious freedom.

“The Copts are a minority. Why do they need more churches?” Harbi Muhammed Ali, a cafe owner in Ain Shams, said in an interview. “There are other churches around. If you have one car, do you need two?”

As for Switzerland, “the West is always preaching human rights,” he said. “It’s their problem.”

Requests for interviews with officials of the government and at the state-controlled Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the country’s largest institution of Islamic learning, went unanswered.

And requests for interviews at the Islamic conference’s Geneva office, which issued the criticism of the Swiss ban, were rejected because officials were too busy, said a person who answered the telephone there.

In Egypt, local officials oversee permits for church construction and renovation, which must receive endorsement from Muslims in the neighborhood and final approval from President Hosni Mubarak.

“Church and human rights leaders complain that many local officials intentionally delay the permit process,” the U.S. State Department report said. “As a result, congregations have experienced lengthy delays, years in many cases, while waiting for new building permits.”

Ain Shams is a sprawling district of narrow lanes and multistory housing with a majority Muslim population. The rioting there began after Copts renovated the factory and said Mass, Muslim and Christian residents said. Rioters carried a banner that read “No to the church,” chanted “There is no god but God” and threw stones at the police who kept them at bay.

Today, only a wrought-iron cross design on the locked front door marks the place as a church.

Just down the street, Muslim residents constructed a lime green Mosque of Light at the same time that the Copts were modifying their building.

“Of course, they closed us down, but the mosque is open,” said Hossama Sedik, 30, a Coptic day laborer.

There are about 40 Coptic churches in Egyptian cities and scores more in towns and villages, especially in southern Egypt, along with even larger numbers of clandestine prayer houses, said Bishop Thomas, a Coptic priest who operates a retreat outside Cairo.

In October, Muslims hurled stones at Christian workers in Al-Badraman, a village south of the city, because they were going to raise the steeple and add a bell at a church, according to press reports. In 2007, riots erupted in Behma, another southern village, after word spread that Copts were going to build a church without a permit. About 27 Christian-owned houses and shops were torched.

Parallel to these incidents are clashes over such issues as conversion and alleged harassment of Muslim girls by Copts, and Coptic girls by Muslims. “It’s a challenge to hold onto the concept of love and peace,” said Thomas, 52.

After he founded his retreat 10 years ago, Muslims set up four small mosques, complete with minarets, just outside the four corners of the rectangular enclosure. “They make a point that if we are here, the Muslims must be, too,” he said.

Even so, he joined Muslims in denouncing the Swiss ban. “If I want freedom to build in Egypt, I must also want it in Switzerland,” he said.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Egyptian Government Policy of Forced Collective Deportation of Christians

By Mary Abdelmassih

Egypt has witnessed recently an unprecedented upsurge in sectarian violence directed against the indigenous Christian citizens. Whatever sparked the explosive incidents, whether it was rumor or fact about an 'honour crime' committed by a Christian male, renovation of an old dilapidated church, a Christian praying with relatives within his own four walls, or even an ordinary fight between two parties; one Muslim and one Christian, results in collective Muslim mob punishment of all the Christians in the region; affecting their homes, businesses, property and even their lives.

Forced deportation of Christians from their villages after Muslim violence against them is also on the increase. Deportation of Copts took place twice in the last five months following sectarian violence, in the village of Meet Barbary, in Meet Ghamr last July and in Kom Ahmar, Farshout on November 21.. The plight of those affected by the forced evictions is great, having to leave behind all what they own,and start anew somewhere strange, without any form of government compensation or aid in relocation. In all incidents they were prevented from ever being repatriated back to their homes.

"Throught history, we have never seen citizens being deported by force from their towns and villages, 'by order and under the eyes of the authorities', as what has happened in the Egyptian villages of Higaza in Qena, Kafr Saad, Minia el.Qamh in Sharkia , Meet Barbary in Meet Ghamr, Dakahlia Province, and lately again in Qena in the village of Kom Ahmar, near Farshout." said Dr. Naguib Gobrail, President of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights (EUHRO)

Collective evacuation of Copts took place on November 21, 2009 in the village of Kom Ahmar after Muslim mobs looted and burnt 80% of the Coptic-owned businesses in the town of Farshout and neighbouring villages, provoked by a rumour that the Copt Guirgis Baroumi allegedly sexually abused a 12-year-old Muslim girl . which is presently still under investigation ,

The security agencies has put pressure on Bishop Kirollos of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Nag Hammadi to accept deportation of one hundred and sixty-three children, women and men from the Christian inhabitants of the village of Kom Ahmar, home town of the accused Guirgis Baroumi to neighboring provinces. "These families were forced to leave behind their homes, land, jobs, schools and to accept deportation. Although some of them tried to refuse displacement, however, the pressures were stronger than them and they were deported to the monastery of St. Bidaba in Farshout while others went to stay with relatives, in Qena and Sohag," said activist Rafaat Samir, EURO representation in the province.

"These solutions came from the security authorities and under the pretext of protecting Christians from confirmed information they have of forthcoming attacks on them by the Muslims. After their departure Muslims plundered and burnt their homes, their livestock and crops."

Karim Guirgis and his cousin Latif Girgis refused to evacuate their home in Kom Ahmar. When their house was attacked by Muslim mobs and his door broken down through the use of fire arms, a police car came, arrested both Copts and charged them with possession of an 'unliscenced' pistol. Although the public prosecutor released them on bail, the State Security authorities detained them under the pretext of (security reasons), and deported the first to the Burg al-Arab the other to Wadi al-Natrun detention camps, "Their families have no news about their fate until now," said Bishop Kirollos.

"None of the Kom Ahmar inhabitants have returned to their village. I contacted the security authorities, but was informed that the officials have to think it over." Bishop Kirollos told. Coptic News Bulletin on December 2, "A Muslim family wanted to bring back just one Coptic family,who were their neighbours, but i refused, either they all return, or none at all."

"The security forces evicted us in the middle of the night, we only had what we had on," one deportee from Kom Ahmar told Coptic News Bulletin."We had to seek refuge with our relatives in Sohag, We don't know our fate yet. I am a teacher and I don't know whether I will I lose my job. my home, and everything I toiled for all my life." He said that his family have been separated from each other, each seeking refuge with different relatives in other provinces.

"It never happened in any country in the world that collective punishment is inflicted upon hundreds or thousands of Copts, due to an abuse committed by just one individual against a Muslim, resulting in destruction, looting and stealing of Coptic funds," said Gobrial. "In my opinion, this only reflects the writings of senior Muslims writers advocating the permissibility of transgression against Coptic blood and their money."

On how this policy of collective deportations was introduced in Egypt, Ezzat Andrawes of the Encyclopaedia of Coptic History explains that according to religious tribal rulings if an individual commits a wrong, his tribe or sect is annihilated by death or annihilated morally through exile, eviction and expropriation of their land and property,

"The Egypt Government implements the tribal expulsion plan for the benefit of Muslims; while it deports and exiles Christians from their homes and their land, we have never heard that Muslims have been evicted because they killed a Christian, or a single Muslim punished for that, even by imprisonment. We have dozens of incidents, the most important example is the village of Kosheh, in which Muslims slaughtered 21 Copts and the government did not displace the Muslims living there." comments Andrawes.

"The Government invents a scenario for the implementation of its displacement policy, says Andrawes. "It always starts by making Muslims fabricating an incident to provoke an altercation with the Copts .. and the story always ends by displacing the Copts and cleansing the area of Christians. The Egyptian government prefers the Islamic religious tribal ruling, which not only deports them, but also seizes their land and property.":.

On November 22, in a joint communiqué issued by fourteen Egyptian human rights organizations and lawyers called on President Mubarak to immediately intervene to save the Copts from the wrath of the mob. It also strongly condemned the evacuation of the Copts from Kom Ahmar by the security forces, in violation of the provisions of the Egyptian Constitution which stipulates in Article 50 and 51 "No citizen may be prohibited from residing or be forced to reside in a specific area except in the circumstances set out in the law."

Many Copts believe that the increase in the deportation of Copts whenever there is a sedation is an pre-planned policy of the government to weaken the Copts economically and break down their congregations especially in Upper Egypt ,which is where the majority of the 12-15,000,000 Christians live.

The Copts evicted from Kom Ahmar, appealed to President Mubarak, the Prime Minister and Interior Minister and all human rights organizations worlwide to support their request to be repatriated back to their homes.

Suppression of Christian religious minorities in Egypt

Christians of Egypt, also known as Copts, have been living under discrimination, oppression and persecution for almost 1430 years.

The world is now beginning to hear and know about Copts and their problems, thanks to the immigration opportunity from Egypt to civilized Western countries initiated a half century ago, but moreover, thanks to technological advances in communications.

In spite of today’s new era of communication and Western freedoms, Copts face another threat called political correctness, which began almost at the same time, a half century ago.

The original purpose of political correctness was for respecting others and fighting discrimination and oppression. Political interest shifted that purpose to fit certain interests, but overall to shut down freedom. In the last few years, freedom of speech and other forms of freedom of expression were challenged by political correctness with the intention to discourage and suppress citizens from expressing ideas, frustrations or complaints about obvious issues.

Political correctness can be seen when changing the names of facts, for example, terrorists are called “Fedayeen” or fighters for their rights. Also, Christian symbols became offensive. Christian greetings have to be changed to something that does not indicate Christian events. Almost everything in today’s life is treated in the political correct manner. I would not be surprised to see in a few years all church-goers labeled republican (right) and politically incorrect. Personally, I feel this is a new form of oppression and discrimination.

As a Copt, I can say that Copts have been living under political correctness for more than 1400 years. In fact, Copts were unable to keep their own language and forced to speak the language of those who occupied their country. Copts could not pray in their own place of worship, if not following certain direction given by occupant leaders (see Hamayony decree and Al Omrania).

The Western world is refusing to sit back, think and decide the right thing because of this brainwashing that has taken place for decades in our society and our schools. For me it is very simple to look at Egyptian history and relate it to the future of the West. Westerners, on the other hand, are unable to do that for one obvious reason, namely, political correctness.

The majority of you well know that women in the West suffer discrimination in various ways. Because women do not hold the power in each culture and society as men do, they are the part of humanity that tends to suffer in silence their discrimination and oppression. As a human right’s organization, I am asking each and every one of you to stand up and speak up for women’s rights, dignity, and equality of life.

Coptic women, as well, need your help without political correctness. Things need to be spelled out loud and clear. Coptic women and girls are targeted for a specific plan of forced Islamization in Egypt . In actuality, abducting a woman and child is one of the most horrible crimes of civilized society and is met by stern punishment.

In Egypt , on the other hand, the opposite of morality is occurring. I would like to emphasize that I am not comparing Egypt with any Western or civil country. Any crime committed against a Coptic woman is treated without morality, conscience and legal deterrence. It is an outrage to receive reports of such facts from a country that was once considered the cradle of humanity.

I cannot consider the aggression against Coptic women and girls merely random acts, due to the following facts:

- Its happening exclusively to Coptic women and girls.

- In a moment of desperation 33 years ago, the Coptic Pope publicly denounced forced conversion of Coptic women and girls. Coptic Pope Shenuda III, in one of his weekly meetings on or around December 17th 1976, in a conference held in Alexandria , said “there is pressure being practiced to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror to Muslim husbands”, furthermore, he demanded the return of those abducted girls to their families.

Now, after 33 years, we can say that the abduction of Coptic women is not just a passing phenomenon but is part of a widespread plan aimed to clean the Middle East of Christians. I could also whisper to all of you that the same plan is in effect in the West, but in different ways and with different methods. The Western legal system is clearly the only element keeping this phenomenon inactive.

On the other hand, and in a country like Egypt , the regime has a direct responsibility over everything that has happened and is happening to any Copt or Coptic person. I could simply say that if the state is unwilling to protect its citizens then the state is complicit and effectively perpetrators against the Copts.

Many Westerners think of Copts as simply a minority in Egypt . However, Copts are the real Egyptians who were forced to speak Arabic. Copts have the complete right to be protected by those governing them or through the international body. I am not referring to Copts in terms of their religion but in terms of their heritage.

Considering the politically correct environment that we live in, many of you here today may consider what I have said as an exaggeration and even label me. Fighting to alleviate oppression, discrimination and persecution is worth any label given, if only one or two of you can realize that in a part of our planet in the second millennium there are governments acting in the same barbaric way of 1400 years ago. According to any Western definition, the state is to generate law and order for safety and security for its citizens accordingly. Such is an understanding between the citizenry and the government that provides protection for citizens from inside (law enforcement) and from outside (military).

In examining what happened only in Mubarak’s era, it’s effortless to point out that no single kidnapper was brought to justice, in spite of the gravity of the crime and its frequency.

The real numbers of girls is unknown officially for various reasons. One of the reasons is the cooperation between Egyptian law enforcement and the kidnappers. Coptic families decide to hide the shameful issue with their silence. Others do not talk due to threats from law enforcement.

Local researchers indicate that there is cooperation between the Saudi and Egyptian authorities for funding and establishing a price for each case based on the economic cultural level of a girl’s family.

The abductions are carried out by different methods, starting with friendships between Coptic girls and others during school activities, targeting the girl, spraying her with drugs, then transporting her to another place to be raped. In this last one, the girl gets raped from a gang, becomes pregnant and is forced to convert and marry.

Reacting to this marriage/conversion incident the Egyptian government labels it a “love story.” Once the case reaches the media, those living in the West accept this version. But the question must be asked, why are only Coptic girls falling in love with Muslim men and why are no Muslim girls finding Christian husbands? The saddest issue is that the consequences of those actions are devastating psychologically to the majority of girls because they are in their teenage years.

In spite of the great physical and psychological affect on most girls, the prospect of their future in a life under these new circumstances is horrible because there are serious differences between the relationships of the Coptic family and the Arab family.

Finally, and due to time constraints, I will end by quoting some of the examples of instigation throughout the Egyptian media, schools, universities, and mosques as well as in the streets:

- The endless number of “fatwa” edicts that provoke against Copts. Such “fatwas” range from considering Copts infidels to be killed, subjected to all kinds of injustice. Some “fatwas” encourage kidnapping Coptic daughters and others. In spite of the “fatwas” being a clear instigation to violent and criminal acts, the Egyptian government does nothing to prevent them.

- Sheikh Abdel Haleem Mahmood, the former Imam of Al-Azhar wrote in his book "Believing in Allah" saying, "Christians are like a malignant and contagious disease. Muslims should be unjust to them; they should despise them, treat them roughly and boycott them to force them to convert to Islam".

- Sheikh Muhamed Metwaly El-Shaarawy wrote in Al-Ahram newspaper on 9/2/1992 saying, "Having sex with female POW's bestows honor on her since the master does to her what he does to his wife.” He also was complaining along with his group when Serbs raped Bosnian women. Personally, I condemn the actions of Serbs, but I wonder why the Sheikh never said anything to protect Coptic women. Perhaps, according to this, Coptic women and girls do not deserve this respect.

- The Imam of the mosque of the Juristic Society in Assiut repeated publicly and for many years in his Friday sermons that, "Christian women are loot for every Muslim."

- In some Mosques you could hear imams saying, "Raping Christian women are permissible to oblige them to convert to Islam."

- Another example is the edict issued by Sheikh Gad-El Haq, the former Imam of Al-Azhar, in answering a question regarding the marriage of a Muslim woman to a Christian man. To answer that question, the former Imam of Al-Azhar issued a “fatwa” edict based on thorough Islamic jurisprudential research which concluded that Jews and Christians are infidels. Therefore, a Muslim woman should not be given into marriage to a non-Muslim whether a Christian or a Jew or others, and the followers of both religions are considered infidels and polytheists.

- One of these edicts is the one issued by Al-Azhar Committee of Edicts in 1996 concerning the legality of marrying a Christian man to a Muslim woman, "This is forbidden since Islam is superior to all other religions. And children should follow the better religion of the parents according to the jurisprudential rule."

- Hisham Khalifa, attorney, wrote in Al-Ahram ( Cairo newspaper) on 9/16/1996 under "Legal Matters" column says, "an act that involves disbelief such as going to church." "Islam is unique amongst world beliefs being the only one that we can call a 'religion.' Also, Christianity as sent by God to Issa" (Jesus) -- Peace be upon him -- was lost after his death." (Hussein Moaness in (October magazine) on 15/3/1992.)

- Look at the venom propagated against non-Muslims by Zaghloul El-Naggar in his weekly article in Al-Ahram ( Cairo newspaper), "Infidels, polytheists and hypocrites, especially the people of the book who falsified their religion, and the Jews, those criminals who were the pivot of disbelief throughout history, as they are still today, and will be until the end of days. They represent the worst image of disbelief." (Al-Ahram 7/15/2002)

- Herewith, some statements from text books that students use to study in Assuit University (upper Egypt):

1. Christianity hallowed Jesus exactly as the Marxists did.

2. Christianity, just as Judaism, is an Egyptian Judaic concoction.

3. Christianity is based on Judaism and the latter is not a religion.

4. Christianity was inoculated with Paganism.

5. Christianity has turned into a Pagan religion.

6. Human fiddling around with Christianity changed it into a mixture of both Judaism and Paganism.

7. The Apostle Paul pretended to be a Christian to distort Christianity.

The following are some examples of what Egyptian (Christians and Muslims) learn in public schools:

1. A Muslim washes his hands before and after eating.
2. A Muslim walks quietly and with dignity.
3. Christians are the misguided.
4. The only religion accepted by Allah is Islam and no religion other than Islam satisfies Allah.

PS: Also, please visit:

For additional information

Dottore Architetto Ashraf Ramelah

If the Mufti wants to moderate Islam, he should start with himself

Morris Sadek
The title of Grand Mufti refers to the highest official of religious law in a Sunni Muslim country. The Grand Mufti issues legal opinions and edicts, fatwas, on interpretations of Islamic law for private clients or to assist judges in deciding cases. The collected opinions of the Grand Mufti serve as a valuable source of information on the practical application of Islamic law as opposed to its abstract formulation. The Grand Mufti’s fataawa (plural of “fatwa”) are not binding precedents in areas of civil laws regulating marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In criminal courts, the Grand Mufti’s recommendations are generally not binding either.

In the Ottoman Empire the Grand Mufti was a state official, and the Grand Mufti of Constantinople was the highest of these. The British retained the institution in some Muslim areas under their control and accorded the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem the highest political stature.

In countries such as Australia, where the office of Grand Mufti receives no official seal of government imprimatur, clerics can be elected to the position by one segment of the Islamic community in that country, and yet not be recognized by other Muslim communities in that country.

Egypt’s Mufti is a member of its senior government, which is one of the most oppressive in the world. The Swiss voted to ban the building of new minarets (mosque towers) but, otherwise, Muslims will continue enjoying their freedom of religion and worship. By contrast, the Egyptian security forces are destroying the churches and guarding the savage mobs while they loot Christians’ properties and torch their churches. Sheikh Ali Gomaa is a big hypocrite.

Egyptian Mufti Gomaa to attend Common Word with Christian leaders: issues famous fatwa, building churches, like building barns for dogs, cats, and pigs.

This is the Mufti Gomaa’s letter to the world before he attends the Common Word between You and US / Christian / Muslim chat at Georgetown University – promises of course to moderate Islam – aplenty – and how Egyptian Islam is tolerant.

“We have upheld the right of freedom of conscience.”

The Egyptian law allows no one to leave Islam – it is bound by Shari’a – what conscience could he be talking about?

“… and of freedom of expression within the bounds of common decency.”

Could converting to Christianity be outside of the bounds of common decency?

“We are committed to human liberty within the bounds of Islamic law.”

Forget it folks – no freedom of religion there!

“Yet, just as we recommit to reinforcing the values of moderation in our faith.”

Or … while we do our token bits round the edges – although …

“we look to the United States to assume its responsibility for the sake of a better relationship between the West and Islam.”

Hmm … how far does one have to bend over backwards?

Muslims can build mosques in the US, but look what the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and his council of Islamic jurists – had to say about building churches in his own country.

The original text is written and sealed by the authority of the higher Fatwa Council an authority headed by the Mufti – in Cairo:

Fatwa is documented by number 1809/year 2008

Full account here:

The interpretation of the council of Islamic Fatwa of Egypt also stated in its latest fatwa, that for a Muslim’s will [on death] or donations to go towards building a Church is a sin against God, just as if he left his inheritance towards building a Casino for gambling, or building a shed for pigs, cats or dogs. The fatwa against building a church explained that Christianity deviates from Monotheism because Jesus “is a slave of Allah … and Allah is one.” We can also draw from the fatwa that if a Muslim contributes in any way to the building of a church or synagogue then he/she is committing sin and would of course be like contributing to the building of casinos and barns for dogs, cats and pigs.

This has wider implications for the Egyptian authorities – whose Constitution is subject to Sharia law – with regards to giving Copts and others permission to build and repair churches [yes they need permission to repair a church] and places of worship. This fatwa has shocked many as it classified churches with nightclub, gambling casinos, and places for rearing pigs and dogs, which are considered ‘unclean’ animals according to Islam and Muslims.

Christians were angered and considered it a clear and explicit insult to all Christians. The renowned theologian Reverend Abdelmassih Bassit, Professor at the Coptic Orthodox Clerical Institute, called it “a shocking fatwa.”

Many Christians believe that this Fatwa has exposed the true stance of the religious authorities and the government towards churches, and the reason why it refrains from passing the long awaited bill on the “unified law for building places of worship,” which would put an end to all problems related to building and restoring places of worship. It is also believed that since Islam views church building as a sin, passing this bill would therefore be in conflict with Shari’a Law — which is the main source of legislation as stipulated in the Constitution — and this would be something that the government would avoid at all costs.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Open Letter to Coptic Pope

His Holiness Pope Shenuda III, Patriarch and Bishop’s President of the great Alexandria , I am certain that this open letter will meet various disappointments in the Coptic community. I am certain that you will understand that the only reason I write is my concern for the Coptic situation and your relationship to the Church as its leader. I believe that our Lord wanted you to guide his Church. Meanwhile this does not mean that everything you do meets his will.

For some time, I have been observing the Church leaders’ statements on various occasions, and I regret to admit that certain reports were against Copts, the Coptic Church, and overall, against Bible teaching.

In all these years, the reports issued by the Church leaders contradicted the facts about Copts and had the goal to help the regime in painting a nice picture for those outside the country so that it appeared without discrimination against the Copts in Egypt.

His Holiness; I can hear your voice whisper, “Son, the Church must say certain things for the sake of peace and to protect its sons.” The question that comes to mind is how many Copts were killed, or jailed? How many Copts lost their homes and businesses? How many Coptic girls continue to suffer as a result of being kidnapped? How many girls were forced to change their faith? Did the Church’s statements serve to save any Coptic life, home or business? Or more likely, just help Mubarak’s regime to attack the human rights of Copts?

His Holiness; The Lord teaches us to stand against the bad without fear, but now it seems that our Church is trying to please a dictatorial regime instead of standing beside its children. For more than 40 years our Church has been under clear attack. We have never heard any Church strong statement condemning any of those barbaric acts!

The sad reality is that all the years the Church covered up the regime’s acts of oppression and discrimination against Copts it served to discredit any Coptic human rights issues bringing the suffering of Copts to the international body.

All Copts need to hear straight forward answers from church leaders to the following questions:

- Are Copts living under a regime that oppresses and discriminates against them or is the information reported in various websites, local and international news media incorrect and the Coptic in the Diaspora trying with their false information to discredit the great democratic leader ruling the country for the last 28 years?

- Was the government action to massacre more than 600,000 pigs owned by Copts a plan to damage Coptic income and to force more than two millions Copts to go hungry or to change their faith? The massacre of those animals violated basic animal’s rights and basic humanity.

- Did the Church create a list of the kinds of food to be eaten that people have to follow? Christ gives us our freedom and no one can take it away. It is written, “Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth the man. Matt 15:11.

The statement issued at the time of the pig massacre indicating that Copts do not eat pork meat is an example of political correctness. The Copts have been subject to the political correctness method for more than 1400 years. Furthermore, to make such a statement goes against Christ’s teaching in the following scripture, which says, “Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' anything more is from the evil one.” Matt 5:37. However, we all know that David, Samson, and Solomon were all chosen of God and each made mistakes.

- When are we going to stand up and ask for our rights as Egyptian citizens and not as Christians living in Egypt ? It is both basic and elementary that a human being be treated with respect and treat others with respect.

My final concern is related to a strange comment made by Your Holiness when referring to the candidacy of a Copt for president in the upcoming presidential election. You said that it is not good that one from a minority group become president of a majority group.

I would like to mention something you have forgotten, that of the requirements for making a bid for president:

- The candidate must be Egyptian.

- Copts are Egyptian and they never minded being governed by the non-Coptic.

- The President has to be honest and care about his own country.

In the USA the president today is African-American and African-Americans are a minority in America . They are a smaller percentage of US population than the Coptic minority is in Egypt .

Dottore Architetto Ashraf Ramelah

All articles from march 2009 to november 2009

all articler from march 2009 to november2009
▼ November (31)
Religious Freedom Not a US Priority Toward Allies ...
Egyptian State Security Accused of Cover-up in Mus...
Swiss voters back ban on minarets
violent on christians in the village of Abou shus...
Political Correctness and Preaching Religion
Muslim Violence Ongoing in Egypt - Christians plea...
Two sentenced to die over Egypt sectarian killing
The oldest Christian community faces harsh new pre...
Complaint from an Egyptian Monk to Voice of the Co...
Egyptian Christian Man Attacked By Mob for Frequen...
Discrimination against coptic Christian employees ...
Italy: Mohammed called a 'paedophile' in TV spat
Freedom of Religion and Belief in Egypt
Pioneering Report on Disappearance, Forced Convers...
Army shooter's mosque run by Muslim Mafia
The Abduction and Islamization of Christian Women ...
Coptic Blogger in Egypt Threatens Hunger Strike
How Can People Be So Stupid?
Tragedy Strikes Fort Hood
Interview with Fr. Zakariah Botros- islam not reli...
European Court and the Crucifixes
Killing Americans and Copts in the name of Allah -...
Egyptian Security Arrests Several Christians for P...
Egyptian Political System and Copts
The Egyptian-Israeli Conflict
The Muslim World Needs Reform
Coptic Blogger in Egypt Pressured to Convert in Pr...
Cairo native speaks out against radical Muslims
The Totalitarians Among Us
Egyptian Christians Fear More Muslim Violence
All Articles from March TO october 2009
► October (41)
Yemeni Liberal Criticizes Appointment of Dalia Mog...
State Department Report on Human Rights 2009- EGYP...
Two Measures and Two Scales in the Arab World , st...
Church Renovation Prompts Muslim Mob Attack in Egy...
Minya Copts stage “protest fast” against church-bu...
intimate photos of muslim girl spark Riot Against ...
Assiut Muslims charged with damaging church buildi...
Clashes Erupt After Murder of Christian Man in Egy...
Egypt Muslims stone Coptic churches in sectarian c...
Is the Muslim Brotherhood a religious or political...
Toronto imam preaching 'hate instead of harmony'
How FBI traced Egyptian American Tarek Mehanna in ...
Cairo Governorate demolished a building belonging ...
American-Egyptian man arrested on terror charges
"Oh Allah give victory to Muslims; Oh Allah, defea...
Geert Wilders arrives in UK and explains his 'prob...
Coptic Family Forced to Surrender Woman Rescued in...
► September (23)
► August (35)
► July (34)
► June (35)
► May (41)
► April (25)
► March (22)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Religious Freedom Not a US Priority Toward Allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia

Written by International Christian Concern
25 November 2009

Washington -- A hearing was recently held on Religious Freedom in the Middle East which exposed the failure of the State Department and President Obama to address Human Rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

On November 18, Chairman, Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY), as well as other congress representatives, questioned the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Michael H. Posner, on the State of Political and Religious Freedom in the Middle East. It was evident that Egypt and Saudi Arabia, both close allies of the US, have not been pressured into compliance with international human rights laws.

Egypt, the world's number two recipient of American aid, having received roughly $1.3 billion per year in military compensation and more than $500 million per year in economic assistance since 1979, blatantly violates international human rights laws without penalty. The responsibility for the sudden surge of persecution against Coptic Christians, an explicit assault on religious freedom, is deliberately dismissed by the Egyptian government.

When Assistant Secretary Posner was asked if measures are being taken to ensure that Egypt is kept liable for its offenses, no strategic plan was presented. It was also concluded that America does not use its foreign assistance as leverage to demand that Egypt adhere to international human rights laws.

In the same way, Saudi Arabia, a government that denies recognition or protection of any religion other than Sunni Islam, and whose constitutional principles are founded on Sharia law, is not held accountable by the US for its human rights abuses.

When asked by Representative Ackerman if the US places any conditionality upon trade with Saudi Arabia or aid given to Egypt in regards to human rights offenses, Assistant Secretary Posner replied, "Has it been done? It's been done… in various ways and various places. Could it be done more? Yes. Should it be done more? Yes."

Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager of the Middle East, said, "Avoiding a strategic plan to address the fundamental democratic principles of religious freedom has not been a top priority of the US government toward Egypt for years.

The US is a light to democratic values, and must take the lead in promoting and exporting democratic principles to countries that violate human rights laws. We ask President Obama to develop a strategic plan by applying human rights sanctions on US assistance to Egypt and US dealings with Saudi Arabia, to nominate a Religious Freedom Ambassador, and to affirm human rights as a core objective of US foreign policy."

Egyptian State Security Accused of Cover-up in Muslim Riots

Egyptian State Security Accused of Cover-up in Muslim Riots

Cairo (AINA) -- In an effort to cover up the Muslim mob violence against the Copts which broke out last week in the town of Farshoot and neighboring villages (AINA 11-22-2009, 11-23-2009), and in view of the complete news blackout imposed by the Egyptian government, Egyptian State Security has intensified its pressure on the Coptic Church in Nag Hammadi and the victims of the violence into accepting extrajudicial reconciliation with the perpetrators, and opening their businesses without any compensation. Similar State Security scenarios have been experienced by Copts in all sectarian incidents in the past, in which they always come out as losers, having been forced to give up civil and criminal charges, while the criminals get away scot-free.

"There will be no reconciliation before full financial compensation has been paid to the Coptic victims, and the criminals are brought to justice, so that safety and security can be restored to the district," said Bishop Kirollos of the Nag Hammadi Diocese.

Free Copts reported that Bishop Kirollos has sent his grievance to President Mubarak, the Prime Minister , the People's Assembly and the Shura Council, asking for speedy financial compensation to the Coptic victims.

In solidarity with the affected businessmen, the remaining Farshoot Coptic merchants have closed their shops in protest.

It has been reported that orders were given to the police in Farshoot by Qena State Security not to issue police reports to the victims; instead, they have to travel 60 KM away to make their reports with the Attorney General in Qena. The authorities have not yet carried out estimates of the losses in spite of several demands made by the Church.

It is estimated that 10 pharmacies and 55 shops and businesses in Farshoot, Abu Shousha, Kom Ahmar and el-Aaraky were looted, vandalized and torched, with total losses exceeding 5 million Egyptian Pounds (1 million USD).

State Security has been putting pressure on the Church to convince the victims to open their stores, "despite the fact that they were told that the victims have no money to clean up and decorate their shops after being looted, vandalized and torched by Muslims, nor the money to buy stock," Bishop Kirollos told activist Wagih Yacoub of the Middle East Christian Association (MECA). "Having failed to make me bend to their pressure, State Security has tried putting pressure on the victims, but without success. I told them that no pharmacy or shop will be opened before the rights of my children in the Diocese are fully restored."

Having failed to get results from the Church, State Security has drawn in the help of the area's members of parliament. "They are trying to pacify the people by holding conferences, to make the matter 'go to sleep', so that they would escape paying any compensation to the victims," he commented. "But I am now sending a message to the parliament members: 'If you don't support the Christians, the Christians will boycott the coming elections.' Let them look for someone else to make them win."

People who were forced to attend those conferences said that they were told that having to close down their businesses "does not look good to the outside world, and would harm the reputation of Egypt on the international level."

One other pressure tactic often used successfully by the State Security to enforce its decisions on the Church is taking into custody innocent Copts and using them as "hostages" in what has come to be know as their "Let go and I will let go" policy.

"State Security has taken into custody fours Copts who were victims of the violence, they were told they would be detained until they forfeit their claims and sign a 'reconciliation' note, so as to make it appear as a case of personal differences between individuals," Bishop Kirollos told Free Copts.

A fact-finding commission of rights activists and journalists was refused entry on November 22, 2009 into the affected areas by State Security. "We were escorted to the Farshoot chief detective, Essam Ghanem, who cautioned us not to try to estimate the losses or take photos, and we were asked to leave town, otherwise charges will be brought against us," said activist Rafat Samir. "The pretext they gave us was that we are strangers to the town, and when we asked him who gave such orders, he said it was from a higher authority."

In an interview with Free Copts, Bishop Kirollos said "We gave the authorities the names of two of the perpetrators who are ex-convicts from Farshoot, they arrested then released them. They are the masterminds behind the latest attacks, and their presence presents a danger to us."

Commenting on the deportation of 35 Coptic families from the villages of Kom Ahmar and Ezbet Sherif, he said "State Security told me that they fear for their safety, so I told them why don't you protect them? If they wanted to protect them, they could have easily done that. State Security is mighty. However, after the families left, Muslims looted their homes and completely destroyed two of them."

Many Copts believe that the increase in the deportation of Copts whenever there is a Muslim-Christian incident, is an objective of the government to migrate Copts from Upper Egypt, where they constitute the largest congregations of Christians in Egypt.

The violence that took place in Farshoot and the neighboring villages on November 21, 2009, was prompted by a rumor that the Copt Guirgis Baroumi allegedly sexually abused a 12-year-old Muslim girl. Although the girl's family agreed with the Church to wait for the police investigations, a mob of nearly 3000 Muslims, mainly students from Al-Azhar Institute in Farshoot, incited by their Principal, went on a rampage of looting and burning Coptic-owned properties. "The family of the involved Muslim girl did not join in." Bishop Kirollos told Free Copts.

Coptic Organizations in the Diaspora issued a joint communiqué on November 25, 2009 condemning the attacks on Farshoot and the neighboring villages as well as the role of the State Security for failing to protect the Coptic citizens. The statement appealed to all human rights organizations in the world to join them in condemning the Egyptian government, and in protecting the Christians in Egypt from the war of systematic extermination waged against them, implementing the Wahhabi policy which is "against everything that is non-Muslim."

By Mary Abdelmassih

Swiss voters back ban on minarets

الجمعيه الوطنيه القبطيه الامريكيه

national american coptic assembly
Mr. Morris Sadek-ESQ President
visit&watch our website
Swiss voters back ban on minarets
There are only four minarets in Switzerland
15:48 GMT, Sunday, 29 November 2009 Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, official results show.
More than 57% of voters from 26 cantons - or provinces - voted in favour of the ban, Swiss news agency ATS reported.
The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People's Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.
Opponents say a ban would amount to discrimination and that the ballot has stirred hatred.
The BBC's Imogen Foulkes, in Bern, says the surprise result is very bad news for the Swiss government which had urged voters to reject a ban on minarets, fearing unrest among the Muslim community and damage to Switzerland' s relations with Islamic countries.
Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims and has just four minarets.
This will cause major problems because during this campaign in the last two weeks different mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland

Tamir Hadjipolu
Zurich's Association of Muslim Organisations

Minaret vote: Your views
Our correspondent says voters worried about rising immigration, and with it the rise of Islam, have ignored the government's advice.
Islam is the most widespread religion after Christianity in Switzerland, but it remains relatively hidden.
There are unofficial Muslim prayer rooms, and planning applications for new minarets are almost always refused.
Supporters of a ban claim that allowing minarets would represent the growth of an ideology and a legal system - Sharia law - which are incompatible with Swiss democracy.
But others say the referendum campaign incited hatred. On Thursday the Geneva mosque was vandalised for the third time during the campaign, according to local media.
Before the vote, Amnesty International warned that the ban would violate Switzerland' s obligations to freedom of religious expression.
'Political symbol'
The president of Zurich's Association of Muslim Organisations, Tamir Hadjipolu, told the BBC that if the ban was implemented, Switzerland' s Muslim community would live in fear.
"This will cause major problems because during this campaign in the last two weeks different mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland.
"So with the campaign... the Islamaphobia has increased very intensively. "
Sunday's referendum was held after the People's party collected 100,000 signatures from eligible voters within 18 months calling for a vote.
SVP member of parliament Ulrich Schluer said the referendum campaign had helped integration by encouraging debate. He rejected the charge of discrimination.
"Every Muslim is allowed to come together with other Muslims to have the religion together," he told the BBC.
"But a minaret is a political symbol. It is a symbol for introducing, step-by-step, Sharia rights also in Switzerland, parallel to the Swiss law which is a result of Swiss democracy. And this is the problem. It is nothing against Muslims."
To become law, a majority of canton voting districts must approve the referendum result, as well as a majority of voters.
In recent years many countries in Europe have been debating their relationship with Islam, and how best to integrate their Muslim populations.
France focused on the headscarf, while in Germany there was controversy over plans to build one of Europe's largest mosques in Cologne. http://news. 1/hi/world/ europe/8385069. stm

Monday, November 23, 2009

violent on christians in the village of Abou shusha , Egypt

New and urgent) Persecution of Christians of Egypt. Oppressive Bulletin 23/11: new sectarian terrorist incidents in the village of Abu Shusha - Abu _i Center in Upper Egypt. (Muslims Abu _i continue to destroy the stores and property of Christians and the Muslims in solidarity with their sisters فرشوط) in early Monday morning corresponding to 23/11/2009 extended the hands of organized terrorism to the village of Abu Shusha and away from the Nag Hammadi, 25 ... Read more hits in the north far from the recent events in فرشوط There is no justification to those criminal and terrorist acts intended to destroy the property of the Copts, the economy hit in the difficult economic conditions experienced by the country that promptly at two in the morning Vwjioa Copts of the village of Abu Shusha a fire number three shops after being stolen and destroyed just did not get anything from them useful and the two objects Avenue Omar Ibn Khattab St., from the commercial market downtown and firefighters did not attend only one hour after the communication, although it away from the scene, only 8 hits. A number of residents of the village of Abu _i Shehadlitin destroyed and replaced in the village Abu Shusha Abu _i of belonging to one of the Copts, in protest at the security against extradition to the girl's family to take revenge of it. Qena security bodies had received a communication by a number of compatriots in the village of Abu Shusha Shehadlitin burned and destroyed, shops, and engaging in sabotage of the village, for the Copts, confirming for their solidarity with the position of the girl's family to hand over the accused to take vengeance for them. The security services have stepped up their presence in Qena centers in Abu _i and فرشوط and secure their income, and Mforeighm and the use of a large number of security personnel from other provinces, in order to control security and calm the situation, where the local people are engaged in subversive"

Political Correctness and Preaching Religion

few days ago, during the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) meetings in Rome , Libyan president, Gaddafi shows us once again the Arab mentality and methods. The Libyan president, instead of spending time with other leaders discussing world hunger, gathered 200 young Italian women together to preach Islam to them. Gaddafi preached Islam to Christian women in the heart of Christianity.

I am wondering if the same Libyan dictator would allow any western president to preach Christianity in Libya ? Certainly, western leaders would never transform their political trips to any country into preaching about religion, if only for the reason that it’s not their duty. The only real question to ask is why would Gaddafi do this?

Gaddafi is a unique character in the world of Arab leaders. He was born in 1942, and during his early years, grew up with just his mother due to the divorce of his parents. At a young age he pastured camels in the Libyan desert . In 1969, after his completion of military study in Egypt , he led a coup against the Libyan king. For more than 40 years Gaddafi guided the country as its president!

In the beginning of his presidency, Gaddafi expelled the entire Jewish and Italian community, nationalizing their businesses and confiscating their money. He closed the majority of churches, and some churches became animal stalls.

In Rome , Gaddafi placed a deceptive and predatory classified ad using misleading information transmitted via some Italian media. As per Reuters, an Italian advertising agency placed an ad in Corriere della Sera newspaper stating the following:

"Seeking 500 attractive girls between 18 and 35 years old, at least 1.70 meters (5 foot, 7 inches)tall, well-dressed but not in mini-skirts or low cut dresses.”

The ad indicated that each girl would receive $90.00 and a Libyan gift! About 200 women showed up at the address indicated on the advertisement. Instead of a party, the girls found Imam Gaddafi preaching Islam; the gift was the Islamic Quran!

This is clear evidence to the West of how Arabs are trying to take advantage of our democracy. It’s a red flag to those who still believe in so-called political correctness, abstaining from our right to speak out against hypocrisy for fear of offending.

Would the same Gaddafi allow any Christian or member of another faith to preach in his country? Would the same Gaddafi who took advantage of the democracy in Italy where he could say and write whatever he likes have in his own country even 1% of the freedom that the Italian constitution allows? How does Mr. Gaddafi treat those who worship in faiths other than his own?

The West is under attack and no one cares, and the method is very simple; Arabs are not using traditional weapons because they know they would lose with that. Instead, they are using a very dangerous weapon built with oil money from the West. Arabs are using our original democracy and the implementation of political correctness, which tomorrow will become “shut your mouth.”

I do not ask you to agree with my writing, I am merely asking you to use your own mind and open your eyes and decide between democracy and political correctness. It is for you to choose between free will and dictatorship.

The only thing that I am asking is for you to decide soon. We are running out of time.

Dottore Architetto Ashraf Ramelah

Muslim Violence Ongoing in Egypt - Christians plead For Help

Muslim Violence Ongoing in Egypt -- Christians Plead For Help

Farshoot, Egypt (AINA) -- Since early morning on Saturday, November 21, the Upper Egyptian town of Farshoot, as well as the neighboring villages of Kom Ahmar, Shakiki and Ezbet Waziri, has been the scene of ongoing Muslim mob violence against Coptic Christian inhabitants. The mob looted, vandalized and burnt Coptic property, while Copts hid indoors fearing to venture out. Reuters Cairo reported that a witness said "chaos is overwhelming (in the city)."

The Violence is still going on. There are reports that seven Coptic women have been abducted.

Witnesses said that nearly 3000 angry Muslims have congregated since the early morning in front of the Police Headquarters in Farshoot, in an effort to kidnap Girgis Baroumi while being transported to court to renew his detainment, in order to kill him. Bishop Kirollos said it was agreed with the family of the Muslim girl Yousra to await the Court decision "but they did not wait for that."

Coptic priest Rev. Benjamin Noshi was driving his car when the mob stopped and assaulted him, fracturing his skull. He is currently in hospital.

By the evening most Coptic businesses were looted and burnt. "They are destroying the Coptic economy in these areas," says Wagih Yacoub of Middle Eadt Christian Association.

A witness said that some Coptic families were thrown out of their homes, which were occupied by Muslims.

Although security forces were deployed, they are not taking any action to stop the violence, they are stationed to protect the Farshoot police headquarters after the angry mob pelted it with stones before going in and attacking the officers. Chief Investigating Officer Essam Hany was injured along with others.

Witnesses said that the Police watched the mob but made no arrests and were just dispersing the mob from one street, only for them to appear in the next.

The violence was prompted by reports of sexual abuse of a girl by 21 year-old Copt Guirgis Baroumi, from Kom Ahmar, on Wednesday November 18, 2009. The 12-year-old Muslim girl has been identified as "Yousra." Girgis is detained by the police pending investigations and awaiting results of forensics. Many Copts believe that the rape incident is by Muslims to use it as a pretext to start violence against them.

In an interview with Free Copts, Bishop Kirollos said that the attacks were definitely preplanned and made use of the students from Al-Azhar Institute in Farshoot. He also pointed out to the failing role of the security forces, which disappeared without giving proper justifications, despite several demands by the church to put an end to these grave violations against Christians and their property.

He also added that even if the story of the indecent assault on the Muslim teenager was true, this was purely an individual incident and does not call for an attack on masses of peaceful Christians, who denounced this individual act which does not comply with Christian teachings. "So why the barbaric attacks by the mobs? and why have the security forces not stopped them?"

Talking to Coptic News Bulletin, the Bishop said that after being informed of the accusations of the rape on Wednesday, he has taken the frightened Copts of the villages of Kom Ahmar and Shedid out of the village to safety. "However, Coptic-owned businesses, pharmacies and cars in Farshoot and Ezbet Waziri are completely destroyed," he said.

Rev. Elisha, Pastor of St. Michaels Church in Farshoot described Saturday's violence as "similar to the Tartar Wars, they burnt down shops, pharmacies, broke down doors of homes and terrorized the inhabitants." Commenting on the alleged rape incident, he said that it is doubtful, besides prosecution did not allow anyone to meet with the accused Copt. "The Farshoot investigating officer told me that the Muslim girl was only sure that her attacker wore a black jacket -- nothing more."

"We have never been so frightened and humiliated as Christians in all our lives. The mob made wooden crosses and burnt them in the street," according to one witness. "Our religion, and our Lord were openly insulted."

As no one is venturing into the streets, none of the Coptic inhabitants contacted were able to confirm if there were any losses in human lives, or the number of injured.

Bishop Kirollos held an urgent meeting with all Coptic priests in the region, in view of the gravity of the situation. He gave instructions that no Sunday church services would be held on 11/22/09 fearing for the safety of the Christian congregations.

"If the International Human Rights Organizations around the world keep quiet about what is happening to the Copts in Egypt, then they are of no use, they just use slogans, nothing more," one witness lamented.

By Mary Abdelmassih

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two sentenced to die over Egypt sectarian killing

Written by Cynthia Johnston
The Washington Post
15 November 2009

Rami atef Khilla

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court sentenced two Christian men to death on Sunday for killing the Muslim husband of one of their female relatives who had converted to Islam against the wishes of her family, court sources said.

The brother and uncle of Mariam Atef Khilla were convicted of breaking into her Cairo home in 2008 and spraying gunfire on her family of three, killing her husband and hitting Khilla in her hand. The couple's baby daughter Nora was also wounded.

The death sentence will go to Egypt's state-appointed Grand Mufti for review, the sources said.

Khilla had converted to Islam three years earlier to marry her husband in defiance of her family, security sources said at the time. One source said the woman's brother had asked the couple to divorce so she could return to Christianity, but they had refused.

Christians account for up to 10 percent of Egypt's population and relations with the Muslim majority are usually harmonious. But disputes over land, religious buildings, inter-marriage and conversion sometimes lead to violence.

The killing came shortly after a Christian man was killed in sectarian clashes in central Egypt in which villagers fought each other with guns, bricks and sticks.

Egypt saw its worst Christian-Muslim clashes in decades in 1999 when 20 Christians were killed, 22 other people wounded and scores of shops destroyed in southern Egypt.

In 2006, a Muslim attacker stabbed a Coptic Christian man to death and wounded five others in the northern city of Alexandria, sparking clashes in which one Muslim was killed. Egypt says the attacker was mentally ill.

The oldest Christian community faces harsh new pressures

Michael Binyon, The Times

The first two months of the Coptic new year have been a sombre time for Egypt’s ancient Christian community. The new year fell on the inauspicious date of September 11. And a spate of attacks on this large and downtrodden community by Islamist extremists or villagers giving a religious pretext to petty quarrels have provoked accusations of officially tolerated discrimination and heightened fears that Islamists will be emboldened to undercut the laws that promise religious freedom and legal equality in Egypt.

Clashes broke out in Kafr al-Barbaqri, a Nile delta town, in July after a shopkeeper stabbed a teenager to death in a dispute over an empty soda bottle. The Christian grocer had refused to give the Muslim boy a partial refund, and in the ensuing argument the grocer struck the boy with a knife, leading to his death. Dozens of Muslims went on the rampage, setting fire to the grocer’s house and the one next door, leading to 30 arrests.

A month earlier 18 people were wounded in fighting in a village south of Cairo after a Coptic priest celebrated Mass in his home. In August two Copts were arrested “for security reasons” after reporting to the police that they had been attacked by a mob.

The incidents usually stem from petty quarrels in villages where prejudice against Copts has been growing as the influence of Islamist extremists has eaten away at former tolerance of this religious minority. Copts complain that the State frequently fails to protect their rights, and that some officials actively connive in discriminatory measures against them.

A wave of anti-Coptic feeling prompted the recent mass slaughter of pigs in Egypt, officially sanctioned to stop the spread of swine flu. Many Copts work as rubbish collectors in the big cities, and pigs are used to feed on discarded food and remains. The move appeared to be directed at the Copts while reinforcing the Muslim view of pigs as unclean.

Copts are the oldest and largest Christian community in the Middle East. Representing between 10 and 20 per cent of Egypt’s population of 80 million, they claim descent from the church brought to Alexandria by St Mark during the reign of the emperor Claudius, and call themselves the Church of St Mark. For centuries Copts formed the majority in Egypt, until the advent of Islam in 641, when most were forcibly converted or became Muslims to avoid heavy taxes imposed on them.

Egyptian Christianity was immensely important is settling the direction of the early Church. The pivotal Council of Nicea (AD325) was presided over by Pope Alexander of Alexandria, and took binding decisions on liturgy, Church authority and the date of Easter. Egyptian patriarchs also headed the next two main councils, Constantinople (381) and Ephesus (431).

Some 95 per cent of Egypt’s Christians today belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, with the rest divided between Catholic and Protestant churches that established themselves in the past century. The present patriarch is the 85-year-old Pope Shenouda III, who has led the Coptic Church since 1971.

He recently caused controversy when he plunged into politics by declaring on an Egyptian satellite station that he believed Gamal Mubarak, the son of President Mubarak, would be the perfect candidate to succeed his father. His remarks were seen as a way of currying favour with the man widely tipped to take over from his father soon. But they reflected Coptic fears of the growing Islamist influence in Egypt. Pope Shenouda said that, while he had good official relations with the country’s top Muslim leaders, there were “many tensions” today between Muslims and Copts.

He complained that neither Egypt’s parliament nor its local councils could resolve the conflicts, which led to further problems. His remarks were attacked by some Copts, aware of the growing row over the lack of democratic choice in the likely succession of the younger Mubarak. Some also questioned his right to speak on politics for all his community. Discrimination against Copts has varied over the centuries. They began to prosper, especially in the 19th century, and many were leaders in business and commerce. But their position deteriorated again after the overthrow of King Farouk and during the nationalist rule and socialist measures of President Nasser.

Many senior Copts have been waging a campaign to force the Government to ease the law that prevents them building new churches or even repairing existing ones without special presidential permission. An unofficial strike was staged by some on September 11, when they refused to leave their homes.

The Government recently agreed that repairs could be carried out with permission of the local authority. But it has largely failed to soften unofficial discrimination. However, permission was recently given for the community to open two private television channels, a considerable concession to their calls for more equal broadcasting time.

Muslims complain, however, that Western Christians, especially evangelical churches in America, have been using the Copts and the few Egyptian Protestant churches to proselytise among the Muslim majority.

The issue of changing religion is explosive, and there is widespread anger at attempts at proselytising and numerous instances of Muslims being killed who converted.

Western Christians are accused of using community programmes as a way of spreading Christianity. The Copts reject this, but acknowledge that resentment against Western, especially American, influence in Egypt is growing. In return, Copts claim that in some villages young Coptic girls are kidnapped and forcibly married to Muslims. They say appeals to the authorities to find missing Coptic girls are rarely followed up and that the strong penalties for abduction are not enforced.

This cycle of accusation and counter-accusation has fuelled the growing acrimony and mutual suspicion. As a result many Copts have emigrated, especially to America, where Egyptian Muslims accuse them of influencing Washington’s policy towards Egypt.

The Copts also complain of official barriers to advancement within the state. Copts are not allowed to join the army and few are accepted in government service.

Boutros Boutros Galli, the former UN Secretary General, is a Copt. But in Egypt he never rose higher than acting Foreign Minister. His brother Peter is currently one of only two Copts in government.