Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two Copts Gunned Down in Egypt After Easter Vigil

20 - April - 2009 / 7:10:40 pm
QENA, Egypt (AFP) --
Muslim gunmen shot dead two Coptic Christians as they left church after an Easter vigil in southern Egypt, in an apparent five-year-old vendetta, a security official said on Sunday.
A third Copt was wounded in the attack on Saturday night in Hagaza village, near the town of Qena, the official said, adding that police had identified the four assailants who fled.
"There is a vendetta between the family of the accused and the family of the victims. A member of the victims' family killed a relative of the accused in 2004," he said.
Vendettas between clans in southern Egypt often drag on for several years, at times with bloody results, despite the efforts of government-appointed mediators.
In 2002, gunmen killed 22 members of a rival clan to avenge the killing of a relative.
Copts account for an estimated six to 10 percent of Egypt's 80-million population. They complain of discrimination and have been the targets of sectarian killings and violence.
Copts and the Orthodox Christians this year marked Easter a week later than Western churches, Lebanon's Maronites and the Armenians.

Mubarak congratulates Israel on ind

Peres with Mubarak
Yedioth Internet
29 April2009
Egyptian president expresses 'expectation for return of Mideast peace process to path leading to an end to violence, bloodshed in a manner allowing establishment of an independent Palestinian state existing alongside Israel in peace and security'

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak congratulated Israel on its 61st anniversary of statehood Wednesday. In a letter of greeting sent to President Shimon Peres he wrote, "I am pleased to express my congratulations for Independence Day".
Mubarak added, "At this opportunity I would like to express anew my expectation for the return of the Middle East peace process to a path that will lead to an end to the violence and bloodshed, in a manner that will allow the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that will exist alongside Israel in peace and security."
Aside from the Egyptian president, Peres has received congratulations from Queen Elizabeth of England, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao, German President Horst Kohler, Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Irish President Mary McAleese, and more.
Medvedev expressed hope that Israel's relations with Russia would bring cooperation and peace to the Middle East.
The Chinese president wrote that his people appreciate the significant progress made by Israel in the construction of its nation, economy, technology, and culture through hard work and wisdom.
"I would be glad to work with you to strengthen the relationship between our countries for the benefit of the Chinese people and the people of Israel," Hu wrote.

Egypt orders slaughter of all pigs over swine flu

The Washington Post
29 April 2009
Egypt has no cases of swine flu in humans
CAIRO -- Egypt began slaughtering the roughly 300,000 pigs in the country Wednesday as a precautionary measure against the spread of swine flu even though no cases have been reported here yet, the Health Ministry said.
The move immediately provoked resistance from pig farmers. At one large pig farming center just north of Cairo, farmers refused to cooperate with Health Ministry workers who came to slaughter the animals and the workers left without carrying out the government order.
"It has been decided to immediately start slaughtering all the pigs in Egypt using the full capacity of the country's slaughterhouses," Health Minister Hatem el-Gabaly told reporters after a Cabinet meeting with President Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt's overwhelmingly Muslim population does not eat pork due to religious restrictions. But the animals are raised and consumed by the Christian minority, which some estimates put at 10 percent of the population.
Health Ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman estimated there were between 300,000-350,000 pigs in Egypt.
Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza told reporters that farmers would be allowed to sell the pork meat so there would be no need for compensation.
In 2008, following fears over diseases spread by animals, Mubarak ordered all pig and chicken farms moved out of population areas. But the order was never implemented.
Pigs can be found in many places around Muslim world, often raised by religious minorities who can eat pork. But they are banned entirely in some Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Libya.
In Jordan, the government decided Wednesday to shut down the country's five pig farms, involving 800 animals, for violating public health safety regulations.

Free Father Mattaos !

Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Christian Copts of California
P.O. Box 661336, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Date: April 29, 2009
For more information contact: Mounir Bishay
Phone: 310.641.3387 E-mail:
Free Father Mattaos !
Coptic (Egyptian Christian) priest is unjustly tried and imprisoned in Egypt.

Father Mattaos Wahba, is the priest of Archangel Michael Church at Kerdasa, Geza, Egypt. He is a pious man of God who encourages his congregation with Jesus’ message of loving one’s enemy, blessing those who curse you; doing good to those who hate you; and praying for those who despitefully use and persecute you. (Mathew 5:44
) Fr. Mattaos is a model Egyptian citizen that has not ever committed a crime or seen the inside of a prison other than in the context of ministering to inmates.
Recently Father Mattaos’ life abruptly changed overnight. He was arrested, charged and tried for aiding a young Muslim woman in getting an ID card that had falsified data indicating her religion as Christian rather than Muslim. The ID card was said to enable her to marry a Christian man and to flee the country. On October, 2008, the court found him guilty and sentenced him to 5 years at hard labor.
However, the facts dictate entirely a different story. The young woman, named Reham Abdel Aziz Rady, was born to a Muslim family. She converted to Christianity and underwent unbearable degrees of torturous harassments from her family and Egypt’s Secret Police. She was subsequently released from custody without an ID card. Such prevents her rightful privileges of citizenship. She cannot get employment, rent living quarter, apply for a passport; much less apply for a marriage license. Even, if she still possessed her old Muslim ID, it would prevent her from marrying a Christian. There is no legal way to change the religion of a Muslim in an ID card.
In 2004, a well-intentioned person attempted to help her. They allowed Reham to use an ID card belonging to a recently deceased young Christian woman of approximately the same age, named Mariam Nabil. Two years later, Reham, now called Mariam, and a Christian man fell in love and decided to marry. The couple contacted Fr. Mattaos to conduct the marriage ceremonies. The priest knew nothing of the false ID and Mariam’s former Muslim background. In good faith he conducted the ceremony and the newly wed couple fled the country.
On April 24, 2009, Mariam appeared with Brother Rasheed on the popular Arabic Al Hayat TV program “A Daring Question”. She testified,” Father Mattaos did not have any role in getting my ID card. I did not know him then, as this took place in 2004 and I got married in 2006.” Mariam added, “I have the right to have an ID card that reflects my true religious affiliation. The Egyptian government does not give Muslims who convert to Christianity a legal alternative to get these papers. Had I been a Christian who wanted to convert to Islam, I would have had all the help I needed. But, because I am leaving Islam they put hurdles in my way.”
Father Mattaos did not commit a crime. He does not deserve to be imprisoned. He is paying a price of Egypt’s present-day policy of denying religious freedom. Ironically, their policy is against the Egyptian constitution and standard human rights laws to which Egypt is a signatory. Make no mistake about it. Father Mattaos’ imprisonment is designed to send a message to Coptic Egyptian priests and Protestant pastors: The Egyptian government will deal harshly with any clergyman who is suspected in aiding Muslims converting to Christianity.
We call upon officials in the US State Department; Human Rights organizations; the global community of Christian believers; and all freedom loving people to join us in our outcry. We urge you to contact the Egyptian Embassy demanding the immediate release of Father Mattaos. Insist in strong tones that every Egyptian citizen be granted the basic human right to follow the religion of his/her choice.
3521 International Ct. NW Washington DC 20008
TEL: 202.895.5400

FAX: 202.244.4319

Thursday, 30 April 2009
Coptic Christian Priest Unjustly Tried And Imprisoned In Egypt

(RSD) -- Not all the facts were taken into account in a case last year where a Coptic priest was tried and sentenced to an Egyptian prison for his involvement in the falsification of an ID card indicating a young woman was Christian, rather than Muslim. Father Mattaos Wahba, the priest of Archangel Michael Church at Kerdasa, Geza, Egypt, was arrested, charged and tried for aiding a young Muslim woman in getting an ID card that had falsified data indicating her religion as Christian rather than Muslim. The State argued successfully that the ID card enabled the woman to marry a Christian man and flee the country. An Egyptian court found Fr Wahba guilty last October and sentenced him to five years of hard labor.However, the facts dictate entirely a different story, according to members of his church and Mounir Bishay of the Free Copts organization.According to a press release by Free Copts, "the young woman, named Reham Abdel Aziz Rady, was born to a Muslim family. She converted to Christianity and underwent unbearable degrees of torturous harassment from her family and Egypt's Secret Police. She was subsequently released from custody without an ID card. Such prevents her rightful privileges of citizenship. She cannot get employment, rent living quarter, apply for a passport; much less apply for a marriage license. Even, if she still possessed her old Muslim ID, it would prevent her from marrying a Christian. There is no legal way to change the religion of a Muslim in an ID card."That press release also noted that "In 2004, a well-intentioned person attempted to help her. They allowed Reham to use an ID card belonging to a recently deceased young Christian woman of approximately the same age, named Mariam Nabil. Two years later, Reham, now called Mariam, and a Christian man fell in love and decided to marry."The couple contacted Fr. Mattaos to conduct the marriage ceremonies, who knew nothing of the false ID and Mariam's former Muslim background. In good faith he conducted the ceremony and the newly wed couple fled the country, according to the Free Copt organization.More recently, this past April 24, 2009, Mariam appeared with Brother Rasheed on the popular Arabic Al Hayat TV program "A Daring Question," where she testified that "Father Mattaos did not have any role in getting my ID card. I did not know him then, as this took place in 2004 and I got married in 2006."Mariam added, "I have the right to have an ID card that reflects my true religious affiliation. The Egyptian government does not give Muslims who convert to Christianity a legal alternative to get these papers. Had I been a Christian who wanted to convert to Islam, I would have had all the help I needed. But, because I am leaving Islam they put hurdles in my way."According to Free Copts, "Father Mattaos did not commit a crime. He does not deserve to be imprisoned. He is paying a price of Egypt's present-day policy of denying religious freedom. Ironically, their policy is against the Egyptian constitution and standard human rights laws to which Egypt is a signatory. Make no mistake about it. Father Mattaos' imprisonment is designed to send a message to Coptic Egyptian priests and Protestant pastors: The Egyptian government will deal harshly with any clergyman who is suspected in aiding Muslims converting to Christianity."Church members describe Father Mattaos as "a pious man of God who encourages his congregation with Jesus' message of loving one's enemy, blessing those who curse you; doing good to those who hate you; and praying for those who spitefully use and persecute you. (Mathew 5:44) Father Mattaos is a model Egyptian citizen who has never committed a crime or seen the inside of a prison other than in the context of ministering to inmates.""We call upon officials in the US State Department; Human Rights organizations; the global community of Christian believers; and all freedom loving people to join us in our outcry," said Free Copts. "We urge you to contact the Egyptian Embassy demanding the immediate release of Father Mattaos. Insist in strong tones that every Egyptian citizen be granted the basic human right to follow the religion of his/her choice."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Are Copts Equal Citizens Under Sharea Law?

Voice of the Copts
26 April 2009
In the past few months Coptic activists in and out of Egypt have started to ask the Egyptian government to remove the identification of religion from the official national identification cards. They have also asked to have a law allowing construction of worshiping places.
These questions would be legitimate if the person asking was living in a civil state that respects human rights and freedom of religion, two fundamental elements that are missing in Egypt.
In my view the two aforementioned requests would not accomplish the goal that Copts are seeking even if the government were to approve them. However there are various reasons which prove my statement. My main argument comes from the Egyptian constitution.
Herewith is a description of how the Egyptian constitution became what is today.
Egypt is known for having one of the earliest administrative and legislative codes in history. Throughout Egyptian history it’s easy to note that several cultures and civilizations have influenced Egyptian law. The ancient civilization brought the most advanced form of governance and management. In fact Pharaohs used to appoint high-ranking government officials. Since the era of the third and fourth dynasties several codes were promulgated; some were related to limiting the working hours of peasants while others combated forced labor.
The Greeks took the reins of power after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 330 B.C. After his death, the Ptolemaic era began which was later overthrown by the Romans. Although Roman rule was bitter, Egyptians retained most of their respective traditions, rules, and norms until Christianity spread in the first half of the first century, with the church largely sharing in the sustainability of intrinsic habits and customs.
After the occupation of Arabs (651AD) the Muslim ruler began to use their own Islamic laws without any consideration of the original habits of the Egyptian people.
When Egypt became the capital of the Shi'ite Fatimid Caliphate (969-1171), governance and legislation developed. Furthermore, the city of Cairo became the capital of Egypt.
Throughout the era of the Ayubi state (1171-1250), the Citadel became the headquarters and the center of power. Duties involved creating laws as well as forging treaties with foreign countries.
In the Mamluk era (1250-1517) Sultan El-Zaher Bebars built the Court of Justice at Salah El-Deen El-Ayoubi Citadel to serve as the government premises. Its ulterior motives covered enforcement of laws, settling of disputes, and negotiations with nearby countries.
During the Ottoman era, (1517-1805) Islamic courts constituted the judicial system. Judges determined their verdicts directly based on Islamic jurisprudence (Sharia) as far as civil and criminal disputes were concerned. This continued in effect until the end of the 18th Century. Egypt had become the scene of crucial political and social development.
In 1795, almost six years after the French revolution, a major political uprising demanded rights, freedoms, and justice. It brought together national forces and popular leaderships in support of national demands for justice, equality and freedom. As a result of the mounting resistance against the Ottoman rulers, the Wali and Mamluks, Egypt was on the verge of a massive revolt.
When this occurred the Ulama took hold of a written document which outlined the individual - ruler relationship averting a tax hike without the consent of the people's representatives notably the dignitaries (the Ulama).
July 1952 marked a new black era of Egyptian life. The plan of destroying the country started in 1956 with a new Constitution. The event stipulated the formation of the National Assembly on 22 July 1957.
It was made up of 350 elected members and remained effective until 10 Feb. 1958, when the Egyptian-Syrian merger was forced and the 1956 Constitution was revoked.
The Provisional Constitution of the United Arab Republic was formed in March 1958 and a joint National Assembly was established. It’s members were appointed, 400 members from Egypt and 200 from Syria. It first met on 21 July 1960 and lasted to 22 June 1961.
On 28 September 1961 the merger was revoked. In March 1964 a supplementary provisional Constitution was declared, leading to a 350-elected member National Assembly. Half of these members were workers and farmers. In July 1961 socialist laws added 10 members appointed by the President of the Republic. This Assembly lasted from 26 March 1964 to 12 November 1968.
New elections were held on 20 Jan. 1969, and the Assembly was valid until 30 August 1971.
In 1971, Sadat took office after Nasser’s death. Sadat tried to show the western world that he was different than his predecessor Nasser by being open with the Western countries. Sadat freed those who Nasser had incarcerated with a goal to protect his power, also to demonstrate that he was a liberal to the western leaders.
After the 1973 war with Israel Sadat initiated a peace process with Israel; creating enemies in the Arab and Muslim world. This action disappointed those which he had freed earlier.
On May 22nd, 1980 Sadat made the worst amendment to the Egyptian Constitution by adding the following article and placing it as second article of the constitution:"Islam is the religion of the State and Arabic its official language. Islamic jurisprudence is the principle source of legislation."
After Sadat's assassination in 1981, Mubarak took over following the same foot steps of his previous predecessors.
Following this the Copts requested to remove the article on the identification card which indicates an individual's religion. If the government would agree to remove such an indication, my question would be did we resolve the problem?
There are a variety of laws resting in the government’s drawers without being applied. The question would be:
How would a government human resource officer act when given the decision to hire a candidate for an opening between one named Mohammed and another named George?
Who would be elected Hassan or Peter?
Religion is not indicated on the birth certificate or ID card in any civilized country. However in Egypt, if a 50 year old Christian decides to convert to Islam, the authority changes his religion on his birth certificate!
Voice of the Copts is joining the freedom lovers in Egypt and demanding the removal of the second article of the Egyptian constitution. Herewith, I would like to remind Mr. Mubarak of what he wrote to the Copts in his Easter greeting less than one week ago:
Few days ago, in a letter sent to Copts in the Diaspora, Mubarak indicates that “all citizens enjoy their civil rights and an individual's faith is a personnel matter; the country is for all.”
I wonder how a citizen could enjoy his civil rights and his personal faith when the constitution indicates the opposite.
Sources: Egyptian Constitution Egyptian HistoryVarious Encyclopedias

Popular Egyptian host exposes the severity of the Coptic situation

Friday, 24 April 2009
Popular Egyptian host exposes the severity of the Coptic situation
"People, we have a major problem on our hands"
Press on the site to watch TV program
A recent episode of the popular Egyptian TV program, “Cairo Today,” reveals how bad the situation has gotten for the Christian Copts of Egypt. The Muslim host, Amr Adib, a very famous TV personality, not just in Egypt but across the Arab world—not to mention vocal critic and nemesis of Fr. Zakaria Botros—in a very honest moment, expressed the severity of the situation.
Among other things, Adib confirmed that Coptic persecutions are more than what the media portrays, i.e., “sectarian conflicts”; that this is a “major problem” and society in its entirety needs to get involved; that this is not a superficial issue, but rather a deep-seated one, festering in the hearts; that weekly mosque sermons exacerbate the situation and lead directly to Coptic persecutions; and that media bosses warn TV hosts to stay clear of this topic.
Regarding this latter point, Amr is to be commended; for, whereas he, a (perhaps nominal) Muslim, spoke truthfully about this, some dhimmi Copts do the exact opposite when on the media.
Due to the importance of this episode, I deemed it relevant enough for translation, which follows (thanks to Victor and Reda for sending me the Cairo Today link).
By way of context, Adib began his tirade after discussing a recent residential quarrel, wherein Copts living in a building wanted the sole Muslim to leave, he refused, and eventually a quarrel erupted leaving the latter dead (for the record, the opposite is the norm). After reporting on this, Adib went on to say:
After this occurrence and during the Friday prayers [khutba], a large group of people [Muslims] came out of the mosque chanting “we will kill them” – and, by the way, this kind of thing happens very often in Alexandria, people erupt out of the mosque slandering and attacking Copts.

Of course, as usual, the same explanations were given—“this was a sectarian conflict, we Muslims and Copts are one people, one nation, we will stand next to each other, these are minor issues,” and so on and so forth.
Now, if you [the viewers, i.e., Egyptians] plan on continuing this way, we have a problem; I mean, if we in Egypt, continue dismissing these occurrences, then we have a major problem on our hands. However, if we want to take this seriously, and examine what’s really going on inside people, what the deal is, then that’s something else.
We’ve spoken about this issue a 100 times, and every time things smooth over; however, the time is nearing when things won’t pass over. I beg you, this is a very important matter; it’s not just about reconciling Gergis with Muhammad [i.e., reconciling any specific Christian to any specific Muslim]. What’s going on internally is something else; the schools, mosques, churches, media, and all of us must get involved—we must figure out what the deal is, what the trigger button is, what makes people go insane.
In other words, what would get an entire mosque to storm out screaming “they will die”? They have nothing to do with this; these mosque people were there to pray. Why are they involving themselves in a residential dispute?
On the other hand, our Christian brethren, what’s it to them that he was the only Muslim in the building, why did they want him to get out?
Anyway, this one passed – but what about the one before it, the one before that, the one that’s to come, and the one after that? What are you going to do?
If you plan on continuing this way, without seriously considering this issue, we have a major problem! I say this because I want to satisfy my conscience, for truly, I am daily torn to pieces when I hear of such things.
People, we are only kidding ourselves; there is a major problem; it must be treated; we must expose its roots. Postponing problems never fixes anything:
There’s a nation called America that is about to collapse. Why? Because it keeps postponing its economic problems until one day everything will come crashing down.This goes back to the days of Sadat—we kept postponing, minimizing the importance of these clashes, saying they’re minor; then movies would be made portraying Christians and Muslims as best friends. This talk is simply not true. There’s something going on inside Pope Shenouda; there’s something going on inside Sheikh al Azhar.
Open up your hearts and tell us what’s going on! They warn us in this job [media], telling us not to talk about this issue. However, I—because I love this country—have a feeling that what happened in Karmuz is not the last we’ve heard of this, and this isn’t good. Sure enough, only recently, Muslims gunned down two Copts as they were exiting church after Easter service.
I tell my Muslim brethren, guys, you’re the majority, you’re the ones who must hold off, be patient, lead by example. Our brethren the Copts, because they are the minority, have feelings of insecurity and fear.

Take any Copt to the side, away from the camera, and talk to him. He’ll tell you – “they don’t hire us, this happens to us, in the buses this occurs to us, in these areas they do this to us, we can’t build churches,” and so forth.
We’ve all memorized these complaints by heart; we all know what the Copts’ problems are….
People, we all know what’s going on, we need to openly discuss this, not postpone; it needs to be addressed seriously by all the relevant people to figure out how to solve this problem, how to reform the lessons in Muslim schools, in the Friday preaching in mosques.
Yesterday, I heard the khutba next door [Friday sermon], and the imam of the mosque was an animal; he was saying the worst things about Christians! And, of course, everyone sitting there was simply chanting la illah illa alla [There is no god but Allah, i.e., indicating assent].
I just wanted to go grab him by his throat! Who does he think he is? Does he know more than the prophet, or Abu Bakr, or Omar, or Amr? No, he’s a criminal; I just wanted to grab him by his throat, this man who is inciting the world to tear itself to pieces.

Little does Amr understand, but the sad fact is, yes, this imam knows as much as the aforementioned "pious" Muslims who usurped the Coptic nation and turned its people into subdued dhimmis—hence the festering problem, what is inside the hearts of Pope Shenouda and the Sheikh of Azhar: fear and hesitancy in the former, intolerance and a sense of superiority in the latter.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

why the greeting of Mubarak's Letter to Coptic Immigrants was sent only to the Copts in the Diaspora and why such a letter was never addressed copts

Mubarak's Letter to Coptic Immigrants
why the greeting of Mubarak's Letter to Coptic Immigrants was sent only to the Copts in the Diaspora and why such a letter was never addressed to the Copts in general including those living in Egypt.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Ashraf Ramleh - Copts Rights
The Eastern Christian and Orthodox Churches had their Easter this year on April 19, one week after the Easter of Catholic and Western Christians. The Copts of Egypt celebrated the resurrection of Jesus together with the other Eastern Churches. On this occasion the Egyptian president sent an Easter greeting letter to the Copts in the Diaspora. This letter was read by general consuls in Washington DC, London, and Kuwait. I wonder why that greeting was read only in those three capitals and not the other countries that have Coptic immigrants. Furthermore, I wonder why the greeting was sent only to the Copts in the Diaspora and why such a letter was never addressed to the Copts in general including those living in Egypt.
A few things got my attention while reading such a greeting that I would like to share with Voice of the Copts’ friends. Al Ahram, one of the government newspapers, dedicated its first page to the president’s letter. I would like to emphasize a few paragraphs. The first read’ ” أكد فيها أن أحدا لا يستطيع النيل من وحدة مسلمي مصر وأقباطها الذين يشكلون نسيجا واحدا لمجتمع مصري عريق ومتماسك يتمتع الجميع فيه بكامل حقوق المواطنة‏,‏ ويؤمنون بأن الدين لله والوطن للجميع‏.‏” The first sentence of the above paragraph high lighted that Copts and Muslims are part of one old and united society. I cannot understand why in the third millennium a president still uses the religion to classify the citizens of that state. My question would be what about other faiths, or what about those Egyptians who decide to be atheists? The second sentence indicates that all citizens enjoy their civil rights and an individual's faith is a personnel matter; the country is for all. This sentence confuses me more due to the various cases of negative information coming out of Egypt. Concerning that all Egyptians are enjoying their civil rights without any discrimination is a great attempt to hide the truth. For the sake of information I would like to indicate several instances of discrimination which occurred in the last few months in Egypt: - Certain Egyptian citizens were arrested due to praying without licenses. The arrested were citizens that were not a part of the State religion. These citizens need licenses to pray while others can pray without licenses; they are allowed to pray in middle of the street blocking traffic. - There are over eighteen million Egyptian citizens that do not have the right to access a high political ranking, diplomatic or educational. These Egyptian citizens are considered brainless by the regime from the day of their birth. - Citizens that are arrested have been kept in custody without reason; others are jailed for crimes not committed. Those who are not part of the religious majority are treated more harshly when it comes to sentencing.- Changing your faith is only appropriate when you are changing it to the religion of the majority. In the greeting to the Copts in the Diaspora the president showed his care concerning the unity and peace in Egypt. He increased his tone and promised that the law will be after anyone trying to destabilize the country! This last sentence needs to be deeply analyzed to understand what Mr. Mubarak's message is. I believe if Mr. Mubarak intends to make any radical changes in Egyptian society, it would have been better to address this message to all Egyptians living in Egypt. Since the president sent his message to Copts in the Diaspora his intention was different. Did Mr. Mubarak use the Coptic Easter to threaten Copts? Personally, I hope that my reading between the lines is wrong. Since I do not believe in political correctness, living almost all my life in countries that respect my human rights and beliefs, I must speak my feelings out loud. If the Easter greeting was a threat, we at Voice of the Copts are sending it back in first class mail. Otherwise, we are asking Mr. Mubarak to pronounce his care towards the Egyptian citizens in Egypt in order to gain better results. Dott. Arch. Ashraf RamelahPresident

MB Amends Party Platform; Final Text Rejects Copts and Women Nomination for Presidency

By Tareq Salah, Mounir Habib
Al-Masry Al-Youm learnt that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has amended the platform of its party. The final text would be announced in a month.Saad Al-Husseini, member of the MB Guidance Bureau and the parliamentary bloc, told the daily that the platform will be made public within a few months, without specifying a particular date. With regard to the points that caused controversy, especially with regard to the nomination of the Copts and women for the presidency, he said: “This is completely decided upon, and MB has not changed its point of view rejecting their nomination for the presidency.”�Al-Husseini added that an amendment has been introduced to the initial formation of the senior scholars authority and the nature of its work. It would include senior scholars of Al-Azhar, university professors and specialists.�“The authority will be responsible for electing Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh. Its opinion would be advisory with regard to religious and worldly matters. The Supreme Constitutional Court will have the right to consult the authority.”�The platform has a chapter called “Our Vision in changing the Constitution”. It proposes an alternative to the current “loose” constitution that should be immediately changed because it has many contradictions making it difficult to achieve justice and a dignified life for the Egyptians, he said.�Ammar Ali Hassan, specialized in the affairs of the Islamic movements, said MB did not announce its platform throughout the last period because it has concerns that it may cause a split among its members, especially after the first text was bitterly criticized.
MB benefits from the status quo because it is not a party or a company or a non-governmental organization that could be controlled or brought to account in accordance with the law.


Convert in Egypt Arrested for Marrying Christian

Couple goes into hiding as police place Islamic law over Egyptian penal code.
By Michael Larson
ISTANBUL, April 23 (Compass Direct News) – Christian convert Raheal Henen Mussa and her Coptic husband are hiding from police and her Muslim family for violating an article of Islamic law (sharia) that doesn’t exist in the Egyptian penal code.
Police arrested Mussa, 22, on April 13 for marrying Sarwat George Ryiad in a customary marriage (zawag al ‘urfi), an unregistered form of matrimony in Egypt made without witnesses. It has gained popularity among Egyptian youth but is not sanctioned by most Islamic scholars.
The two signed a marriage contract between themselves. Only Ryiad and their attorney have a copy. Police have not obtained a copy of the contract, but they used its existence as a pretext for arresting Mussa.
According to a strict interpretation of sharia, Muslim women are not permitted to marry non-Muslim men, although the opposite is allowed, and Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution stipulates that sharia is the basis for legislation.
The two have not committed a crime according to Egyptian law since they didn’t seek official marriage status, but police and Mussa’s family are pursuing them because they violated Islamic law, advocacy groups say.
“They have not violated the law, but the family and the police are applying their own unwritten law,” said Helmy Guirguis, president of the U.K. Coptic Association. “Islamic law interprets that if a Muslim girl marries a non-Muslim man, even on paper, they are breaking the law of God, not the law of man.”
The two could not get married in an official ceremony since Mussa is considered a Muslim by birth, and changing one’s religious status away from Islam is impossible in Egypt. A lawsuit is pending, however, for a Muslim-born man to change his status on his identity card.
Formerly known as Samr Mohamed Hansen, Mussa converted to Christianity three years ago, before marrying Ryiad. Police arrested her as she came home from her workplace at a Cairo salon. They identified her by the Coptic cross tattoo on her right arm – a common mark among Copts.
She was transferred to a station operated by the secret police, where she stayed until Sunday (April 19), when her family took her. While in their custody, her family completely burned off her cross tattoo, according to the U.K. Coptic Association.
Mussa escaped from them on Tuesday (April 21). She and her husband fled Cairo and are in hiding. If the two are caught, advocates fear, they could be forcibly separated, arrested and beaten, with Mussa being returned to her family.
Sharia influence in Egyptian law also means that Muslims have the right (hisbah) to file a lawsuit against someone who has violated the “rights of God.” This provision, advocates fear, means Mussa and Ryiad’s unsanctioned marriage could make them targets of Muslim extremists wishing to apply the full extent of this law.
The most famous example of hisbah’s application came in 1995, when Cairo University professor Nasr Abuh Zayd was declared an “infidel” and forcibly divorced from his wife for criticizing orthodox views of the Quran.
Ryiad and Mussa were not married in a Coptic ceremony, as many churches avoid marrying registered Muslims to non-Muslims for fear of being targeted by authorities and Islamic extremists.
“Nobody [in Egypt] can declare the marriage of a Coptic man to a Muslim girl,” attorney Naguib Gabriel told Compass. “It would be very dangerous to the life of a priest.”
Marriage Woes
Mussa and Ryiad’s case is the latest in a spurt of recent arrests and lawsuits against those who don’t adhere to the Islamic-influenced dictum that Muslim women may not marry non-Muslim men.
In October 2008, a Cairo court handed Father Metaos Wahba a five-year prison sentence for issuing a marriage certificate to a Christian man and a Muslim convert to Christianity. He stated that he did not know the woman’s papers stating her religion as “Christian” were a forgery.
Human rights groups have called on Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak to release Fr. Wahba, as Egypt is a signatory to the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which allows full religious freedom, including conversion.
Mussa’s jailing mirrored that of Christian convert Martha Samuel Makkar, 24, detained last December at a Cairo airport for attempting to flee the country with her husband. She was charged with carrying forged documents that listed her religion as Christian and incarcerated for a month.
A judge granted her bail but not before threatening to kill her for leaving Islam (see, “Judge Tells of Desire to Kill Christian,” Jan. 27).
Nadia Tawfiq, the lawyer in charge of Makkar’s chase, said many arrests and trials in Egypt result from laws that assign people social status according to the religion on their identity cards.
She said the best hope for change is a May 2 court hearing of Maher El-Gohary, a Muslim-born man who is fighting to have his Christian religion recognized on his official documents. If he succeeds, he would be the first person in the country to be granted that right.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Two Coptic Christians shot dead in Egypt as they celebrate Easter

Source: M&G
Apr 20, 2009

Four Muslim gunmen opened fire on a group of Coptic Christians as they were leaving church in the southern Egyptian governorate of Menya, killing two and wouding one, a security source told the German press agency dpa on Sunday. The incident took place on Saturday night as Coptic Christians were celebrating Easter in a church vigil. The source told dpa that the incident 'is a revenge case that dates back to a dispute in 2004, and is not based on sectarian or political reasons.' The source added that the attackers were identified and police were hunting them. Christians comprise about 10 per cent of Egypt's approximately 80 million people, with the rest mainly Sunni Muslims. Tensions periodically flare over perceived slights to each other's religion or land disputes.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sisters speak out in Egypt’s Brotherhood

Female members of Muslim Brotherhood to increase numbers in Egypt’s biggest opposition movement.
By Omayma Abdel-Latif - BEIRUT
In 2007, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood stated that its vision was based on “complete equality” between men and women while preserving their different social roles. The Brotherhood also stressed the need to empower women so they might acquire rights in the public sphere that do not conflict with society’s basic values.The statement also referred to the “dominating negative social view regarding women” and the need to change it by making society fully aware of women’s rights beyond the right to education, which is widely accepted in Egyptian society.
Two years after this stated vision of gender equality, however, and 85 years after schoolteacher Hassan al Banna founded the Brotherhood in Egypt in 1924, the current status and role of women in the Muslim Brotherhood’s organisational structure remains lacking.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s first women’s division, the Muslim Sisters Group, was created in 1932. Since then, women activists have been at the forefront of the social and political struggle of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt, which seeks to establish a democratic political system in the country with an Islamic frame of reference.
Women activists advocating for an Islamic political system through the Brotherhood believe that Islam brought justice to women. Their lack of equal rights presently, they insist, has to do more with the cultural, political and social realities in which their movement functions than with the movement itself.
Still, more and more female members of the Muslim Brotherhood are becoming restless about the lack of representation and are seeking ways to increase their numbers in senior positions in the movement itself and, in time, to participate more in the country’s politics. Primarily, these women want a formal consultative position in the Muslim Brotherhood hierarchy.
Fortunately for the Sisters, some of the leading figures in this group of Brotherhood women are daughters and wives of senior Brotherhood leaders.
The daughters of higher-ranking members like Khayrat al-Shater and Essam al-Erayan, for example, are active Sisters. The first of the Brotherhood’s female political candidates, Jihan al-Halafawi, is the wife of Ibrahim al-Zaafarani, a senior member of the Alexandria chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. Due to these connections, women are making their voices heard despite the lack of an institutionalised mechanism to consult women at the higher levels of power.
Furthermore, a growing number of men in the Brotherhood are now convinced that the current status of women inside the Muslim Brotherhood is a “weak point” that needs to be seriously addressed. The Brotherhood is routinely criticised for its position on women’s issues, especially since it presents itself as liberal with regard to politics yet is perceived as conservative when it comes to women’s issues. The majority of this pro-women group occupies mid-level positions in the movement and is calling for increased women’s leadership within the organisation, as well as a greater number of female Muslim Brotherhood candidates in national elections.
Many refer to this redefining of women’s roles within the movement as a “rebellion of the Sisters”. But members of the Brotherhood consider this call for greater women’s participation normal as the movement evolves over time to accommodate a dynamic constituency and changing political and social factors.
While these women activists have genuine grievances and demand change, they are not willing to sacrifice the movement’s unity and cohesion to obtain increased representation in the Muslim Brotherhood and among political candidates. Many of them strongly feel that it is only a matter of time before they gain these rights. Their institutional loyalties and belief that change is possible, albeit gradually, shape their call for action.
And their calls are being heard. In Egypt’s 2000 parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood nominated a female candidate, Jihan al-Halafawi, for the first time - mostly due to pressures exerted by many of the Sisters. Although the government eventually ensured her defeat (for being a Brotherhood candidate, not for gender reasons) by rigging the vote, harassing her supporters and arresting her husband and campaign manager, Al-Halafawi had a strong backing from the public. And while neither of the two women candidates (including Makarem al-Deeri in 2005) nominated by the Muslim Brotherhood have been elected thus far, their popularity and support still set an important precedent.
A conservative culture in the Brotherhood, coupled with an oppressive socio-political context - which the movement sometimes appears to mirror - is why women in the Brotherhood fail to acquire adequate representation reflective of their contribution to the movement’s political struggle.
Integrating women in the Brotherhood’s organisational structure will help alter the perception that it is as patriarchal and undemocratic as the regime it challenges. It will also give recognition to the central role played by women in the movement’s social and political struggles.
The question now is whether the emergence of a young generation of activists - men and women alike - will ultimately generate a new political force which could prove crucial to the Muslim Brotherhood as a whole, indirectly affecting the social and political culture in Egypt.
Omayma Abdel-Latif is a research and programme associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. This article was written for the Common Ground News Service and can be accessed at GCNews.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Egypt Church Issues First Conversion Certificate

Key move in former Muslim’s bid to legally convert comes as Islamist outcry peaks.
By Roger Elliot
ISTANBUL, April 14 (Compass Direct News) –

In a bold move, Egypt’s Coptic Church has issued its first-ever certificate of conversion to a former Muslim, supporting his petition to have his national identification card denote his Christian faith
Maher Ahmad El-Mo’otahssem Bellah El-Gohary’s request to legally convert is only the second case in Egypt of a Muslim-born citizen trying to change his religious affiliation to Christianity on identification documents. Lawyers presented the Coptic Church’s conversion certificate to a court clerk on Saturday (April 11).
“We know that the judge has seen the certificate, but we have no indication whether it is acceptable or not,” said Nabil Ghobreyal, one of three lawyers representing El-Gohary. “We will have to wait until May 2 to find out the final verdict.”
Reluctance to expose itself to possible retaliation from either the government or Islamic extremists has kept the Coptic Church from openly admitting to baptizing and welcoming converts until now.
There is indeed reason to fear reprisal.
“Intimidation from the Islamic lawyers is severe,” said El-Gohary in a recent interview. “They were chanting in the court, ‘No god but Allah,’ and they were threatening intensely.”
Despite efforts to maintain the secrecy of El-Gohary’s whereabouts, he has received written death threats on more than one occasion since appearing in court on April 4 to register an official statement.
Since the certificate was issued, some bloggers have used strong and abusive language to support Islamist lawyers Mustafa El-Alshak’a, Hamid Sadiq and Youssef El-Badri in their threats against El-Gohary’s lawyers and the priest that issued the certificate, Father Matthias Nasr Manqarious.
As the representative of a community already heavily persecuted, the Coptic Church is in a precarious position. Despite the risks, however, it endorsed the certificate issued by Fr. Manqarious. Bishop Marcos of Shubra El-Kheima declared that the church cannot turn down a fellow believer who is looking for acceptance into the Christian community.
Whether the conversion certificate will turn out to be the final piece of the puzzle that opens the door for El-Gohary to officially convert remains to be seen.
Gamal Eid of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, who represents Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy, the first Muslim-born Egyptian to request a legal conversion, is no stranger to the pitfalls of such a case.
“We support freedom of thought, but we believe also that the government and the court will try to stop this, because if the door is open there will be huge numbers following,” Eid said.
El-Gohary characterized the judge’s request for the document as laying the onus for legal conversion on the church, describing it as “an excuse to wiggle out of making a decision.”
His lawyer, Ghobreyal, said he hopes that Judge Hamdy Yasin will allow El-Gohary to change his religious status now that the certificate has been issued.
For El-Gohary, threats from Islamic fundamentalist elements are now the foremost issue.
“I do not leave the house – my life is in real danger and my daughter is in real danger,” said El-Gohary. “The pressure is too much. I am thinking seriously that I should leave Egypt.”
El-Gohary and his lawyers are now calling for protection from both national security forces and the international community.

In Egypt: A Case of Deliberate Discrimination in Universities

Watani International
12 April 2009
Not a single Copt among the 438 staff of gynecology and obstetrics departments in the faculties of medicine in Cairo, Alexandria, Tanta and Assiut Universities.
A question is occasionally raised: Why aren’t there Copts in the top positions of the Egyptian universities? What is the reality, and why?
Egypt boasts seventeen public universities owned and financed by the state. Each has a president and three or four vice presidents. Out of a total 71 in theses positions, there is not a single Copt. This is a fact.
But as the holders of these positions are typically chosen from the next leadership level, i.e. faculty deans and vice deans; it is worth considering whether Copts could get there but are blocked from the top echelons.
A detailed survey of published records has revealed that in the 274 faculties, which comprise these universities, only one has a Copt as a dean (the tiny Faculty of Archeology, Fayoum University). Out of a total of 673 vice-deans, there is one Copt (Faculty of Education, North Sinai branch of Suez University). That is another fact.
So much for the universities and faculties highest positions, but what about the next level of leadership - department chairpersons?We had to dive deep into the records and compile as much data as possible.
The following was discovered:- Cairo University: There are four Copts as department chairpersons out of the 148 whose data was available, at a ratio of 2.7%. That is about half the ratio of Coptic professors, which hovers around 5%.
- Ein-Shams University: There is one (possibly two) Copt(s) out of 109 chairpersons surveyed. The percentage of Coptic professors is about 7%.
- Alexandria University: There are seven (possibly nine) Copts out of 222, at a ratio between 3% and 4%. This is roughly comparable to the percentage of Copts among professors (the only case of its kind in Egypt’s universities).
In other words, in these three universities, which were all established before 1952, there are twelve to fifteen Coptic chairpersons among 479, at a ratio of 2.5% to 3.0%. In the universities of the Delta (Tanta, Mansoura and Zaqaziq) and of Helwan, there is not a single Copt among 283 chairpersons that could be surveyed. But someone would argue that such results might not be totally odd, given that Copts represent a small minority of the population in the Delta.
So, what about Upper Egypt, where Copts are mainly concentrated and could reach over a quarter of the populations in governorates like Minya or Assiut? This is what we found:
- Assiut University: There is not a single Copt as chairperson of its 109 departments. In a previously study, published in 2008, we have further found that whereas Copts currently represnt from 20% to 29% of the students in various faculties, they are less than 6% among the professors. What is more drastic is that their ratio falls to 1.7% among the next level of staff (associate professors, lecturers, etc), signaling the picture as it will prevail in a few years time.
- Minya University: There is not a single Copt among 120 chairpersons.
- South Valley University: Not a single Copt among 103 chairpersons.
- Fayoum University: There is one Copt among 90 chairpersons.
Hence, in the Upper Egypt universities combined, there is one Copt among 421.
If we consider the total of the eleven universities surveyed, we find 13 (possibly 16) Copts among 1183 chairpersons, at a global ratio below 1.5%
Should we add up the positions at all levels of leadership, up to the university presidents, for the group studied, we find 14 Copts (possibly 17) among 1921.
Notice that we haven’t considered Al-Azhar University, which has about half a million students in its 53 faculties (excluding the Islamic theology faculties), where non-Muslims aren’t even allowed to enroll.
Notice also this other bizarre phenomenon: Not a single Copt among the 438 staff of gynecology and obstetrics departments in the faculties of medicine in Cairo, Alexandria, Tanta and Assiut Universities (the only ones whose records could be studied). Some people complain that it is virtually impossible for a Copt to even earn the diploma in this branch - which is a prerequisite to practice the profession.***In conclusion, those who wonder why Copts are not present in the top posts in the universities do not realize the depth of the problem: No Copts as university presidents is perfectly normal, given their absence from positions of dean and vice-dean. This, in turn, is only expected given the rarity of Copts as department chairpersons. Even then, this rare species will soon be extinct in most universities thanks to the diminishing presence of Copts in teaching posts, especially in the ranks below professors. Distinguished Coptic students systematically find themselves downgraded in order not to qualify for teaching posts. Their complaints go unheeded, and it is usually difficult to argue each case. But the overall statistics speak loudly and highlight the issue unmistakably.
Naturally, a certain community (in this case the Copts) should be present in various segments and positions in a manner statistically commensurate with its proportion of the population – unless there are specific reasons not to. As the Copts are not known to be suddenly victims of an epidemic mental deficiency, nor to be generally alien to the pursuit of education (the opposite is true), one would expect them to be well represented in university teaching posts and, consequently, leadership posts.
But they are clearly not.The problem cannot be due to the “mere” entrenching of a cancerous culture of fanaticism amongst Egypt’s “highly educated elite,” but appears to be some kind of a broad-reaching policy of deliberate discrimination, aimed at uprooting the Copts almost entirely from public higher education. A policy that has been implemented slowly but surely, coupled with utter denial of any wrongdoing – to the point that many (including some fair-minded persons) do not realize the extent of the disaster.
To make matters worse, a new policy, to go into effect as of the fall classes of 2011, will make acceptance in all public universities conditional to successfully passing a personal interview. Various groups in the country have gone in uproar ever since the policy was announced, lamenting the end of the current system (in which students are accepted in faculties depending on the relevant grades obtained at the high-school exam). The current system may not be perfect, but at least it has the merit of being equitable. Under the new system, the door would become wide open for discrimination on the bases of religion, social status, wealth or nepotism. Yet, the government, seems adamant on going ahead with it, no matter what.
Where are these policies taking Egypt to?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Coptic Priest is Imprisoned for five years for Marrying a Muslim Girl to a Christian Man

Coptic Priest is Imprisoned for five years for Marrying a Muslim Girl to a Christian ManThis verdict against a priest is the first in the history of the Church and the first in the history of justice in Egypt, The verdict holds him guilty of marrying a Muslim girl to a Christian man. Criminal law specialists see it as a flagrant miscarriage of justice based on wrong conclusions reached by depending only on investigations carried out by a police officer. Human Rights activists see this verdict as an attack against Freedom of Religion which is guaranteed by Article 46 of the Egyptian Constitution and against the Human Rights declarations and treaties to which Egypt is a signatory. Freedom of Religion in Egypt is still a one-sided freedom,” Islam”, as no one dares to announce his conversion to Christianity, while the contrary is allowed and cheered. The attorney representing the priest, Dr. Naguib Gibraeel, President of the "Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization", has presented his appeal against this unjust verdict. Meanwhile, Father Metta’os is serving his sentence in a high security prison, while the newly weds have left the country for fear of death.On 12th October 2008, Giza criminal court, Cairo sentenced Fr. Metta’os Wahba, a Coptic priest to 5 years imprisonment with 'forced labour' for “forging official document”.Fr. Metta’os Wahba had earlier, conducted the marriage of a Christian man to a woman who converted from Islam. The priest believed, since he had no way of knowing that the documents presented to him were forged, that the girl was a Christian.The investigations claimed that the priest knew that the girl,” Riham”, is a Muslim girl and the documents he used to marry her to ,”Ayman”, are false and forged but still he announced them as a married couple. The verdict that sentenced the priest to five years imprisonment is wrong and depended only on the investigations executed by a police officer; which could be proven as false. It expressed the views of the one who made it but cannot be considered as a major clue; this is also a wrong application of the basics of trials in criminal courts, which requires the verdict to be built on truth and facts and not on suspicions or guesswork.The girl herself is the one who should be charged with forgery and not the priest as she is the one who is responsible for the documentation to have her ID issued by the government authorities. In addition, whether the girl is a Christian or a Muslim, as defined in many verdicts issued by the Court for Cassation, the Supreme Court in Egypt, the priest is not the official to prove if the documents are original or false. The priest executing marriage ceremonies is to check the identity cards of the couple, but he is not to investigate whether these documents are forged or not.Under Shari’s Law it is prohibited to leave Islam.The Egyptian government does not provide any legal means to convert from Islam nor legal procedure to adjust official document to bear the convert new Christian identity (in spite of Egypt is a signatory to Human Rights declarations and treaties).The whole christian population in the Middle East are appalled and do not see this as a criminal verdict but an attack on Christianity.New Life blog

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fire damages Coptic church in Ramallah

Ramallah – Ma’an –
A newly-built Coptic Christian church was severely damaged by fire in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday.Firefighters and police rushed to put out the blaze but were unable to prevent damage to the interior of the building. A depiction of Jesus was one of the only items to survive the fire.Palestinian police spokesperson Colonel Adnan Dhmeiri said that an initial investigation had ruled out arson. He said that the fire may have been caused by an employee who discarded a cigarette on the church grounds.The Coptic Patriarchate in Jerusalem refused to comment on the fire for lack of information, preferring to wait for results of the investigation.The Coptic Church in Ramallah is the first of its kind. Built recently, the interior of the facility had only been furnished a few days ago in preparation for an official inauguration.

Brotherhood Says No Women, No Copts To Be Egyptian President ...

Cairo, Egypt (AHN) -

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s strongest opposition group, said women and Copts are not qualified to run for president. The group’s position is to be officially part of their party platform, a Brotherhood source told All Headline News on Wednesday.
Controversy arose recently when views differed inside the group over the issue of women and Copts in political life.Scholars and intellectuals in the North African country have asked the group to modify their views, yet the group’s final decision refused to change from their previous stance.Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a Brotherhood member, said recently that the group received approval from a leading sheikh that it is okay for women and Copts to be president, but the group later disagreed with these views.“The news is true. We have decided on the issue and this is the group’s point of view,” Mohamed Badr, media officer for the group told AHN.
Women and Coptic issues have been impediments to the group’s party platform being accepted by Egyptians as a whole.Member opinions have swung back and forth on the issue amid strong objections from many Egyptian who argue that women and Copts must have the right to run for the presidency. They have added that Egyptians have the right to decide who is best.“Copts are Egyptians just like Muslims and it’s not up to the Brotherhood to give away positions and to give itself the authority of giving and taking. We refuse it,” Naguib Sawiris, the head of Orascom Telecom, one of the richest people in the world according to Forbes and a Copt, said at a press conference on Monday.
The group has repeatedly said that the party is civil in nature with an Islamic background. The Egyptian constitution forbids the formation of parties based on religious affiliation.Late President Gamal Abdel Nasser banned the group from any political activities after he accused them of allegedly trying to assassinate him in 1954.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sharia Law in Swat: Girl Gets flogged as Taliban Men

click and watch vedio
The Guardian UK has published this amateur video and article which I've copied below. Click here to see the actual video.
I have nothing useful to add. I get so angry that I cannot speak and hesitate to position myself against Obama's stance in favor of further action in the region. What is happening to women over there is war and torture--Needless to say, I oppose recognition of Sharia Law here at home (and abroad). I challenge anyone to provide a credible reason why I shouldn't.
From The Guardian UK:

A video showing a teenage girl being flogged by Taliban fighters has emerged from the Swat Valley in Pakistan, offering a shocking glimpse of militant brutality in the once-peaceful district, and a sign of Taliban influence spreading deeper into the country.
The two-minute video, shot using a mobile phone, shows a burka-clad woman face down on the ground. Two men hold her arms and feet while a third, a black-turbaned fighter with a flowing beard, whips her repeatedly.
"Please stop it," she begs, alternately whimpering or screaming in pain with each blow to the backside. "Either kill me or stop it now."
A crowd of men stands by, watching silently. Off camera a voice issues instructions. "Hold her legs tightly," he says as she squirms and yelps.
After 34 lashes the punishment stops and the wailing woman is led into a stone building, trailed by a Kalashnikov-carrying militant.
Reached by phone, Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan claimed responsibility for the flogging. "She came out of her house with another guy whowas not her husband, so we must punish her. There are boundaries you cannot cross," he said. He defended the Taliban's right to thrash women shoppers who were inappropriately dressed, saying it was permitted under Islamic law.
The Guardian received the video through Samar Minallah, a Pashtun documentary maker and anthropologist who lived in Swat for two years in the late 1990s. It has been passed between Swat residents by mobile phones.
Ms Minallah said the punishment had been inflicted within the last 10 days, following the signing of a controversial peace deal under which the provincial government ceded control of the valley's judicial system to the militants.
"This video is being widely circulated because the Taliban want people to see it. They want to give the message that this is taking place after the peace deal because this is something they ideologically believe in," she said.
Local sources including journalists and human rights workers, some of whom declined to be identified, confirmed the video was recent, although estimates of its timing varied between one and three weeks ago. The Taliban spokesman said it predated the peace deal.
Sher Muhammad Khan, an official in Swat with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said: "They have committed so many atrocities since the peace deal. They have taken entire control of the district. There is nobody to control them; they decide disputes according to their whims."
Since the 15 February deal, a hybrid of traditional and Islamic law has been operational in Mingora, the largest city in Swat district. The qazi courts, as they are known, are not operated by the Taliban but by a related political movement. They have a murky legal status because the changes have yet to be signed into law.
Floggings and other physical punishments have not been imposed in Mingora, where some residents have praised the system's efficiency. However, in outlying districts, where government writ has been entirely crushed, a crude form of gun justice prevails.
The woman in the video, named as Chaand and believed to be aged 17, was punished in Matta, a district further up the Swat Valley.
Minallah and other sources said the girl was punished on suspicion of having had an illicit relationship with a married man. She did not receive a trial. "The whole case is based on the suspicions of one neighbour," said Minallah.
The woman's brother is among the men pinning her down, she added. "It's symbolic that he does it with his own hands. It gives him honour in local society, that he has done it for the sake of religion."
The Swat Valley is controlled by Maulana Fazlullah, a charismatic preacher who initially gained popularity through radio broadcasts, then seized control through gun battles, suicide attacks and intimidation of the local population.
Since the peace deal, women have been beaten for shopping unaccompanied in Mingora's main market and dozens of girls' schools remain closed, many of them bombed.
Fazlullah has sworn loyalty to Baitullah Mehsud, the overall Taliban leader from South Waziristan who claimed responsibility for last Monday's eight-hour assault on a police centre in Lahore and has vowed to mount attacks in Washington.
On Wednesday a presumed American drone fired rockets at a compound controlled by his network, killing at least 14 people.
The effective surrender of government authority in Swat has caused great alarm across Pakistan and among western allies.Minallah said she feared Talibanisation would spread across Pakistan. "I have distributed this video because I feel people are in denial. They don't want to believe what is happening."

Egypt: Christian Doctors Run Hospital for Muslim Patients

Patients wait for their turns at Harpur Memorial Hospital in Egyptian Delta town of Menhouf

Edward Yeranian
Voice of America
7 April 2009
Tensions between Christians and Muslims in Egypt often make headlines, but the work of a group of Christian doctors paints a more upbeat picture of religious coexistence. The doctors run a hospital for mostly Muslim patients in Egypt's heartland - the Egyptian Delta town of Menhouf.
The afternoon call to prayer sounds in the predominantly Muslim Egyptian Delta town of Menhouf as doctors examine patients at the Harpur Memorial Hospital run by the Anglican diocese of North Africa.
Unlike most hospitals in Egypt, Harpur receives no money from the government and its mostly Christian staff of doctors donate their time to care for the hospital's primarily Muslim clientele.
It is a labor of love, says Dr. Samir Bakheet, a 62-year old gynecologist from Cairo, who runs the hospital:
He says most of his doctors are Christian, and that patients from across the region come because they trust the doctors and respect them. Our doctors, he says, have a strong faith and strong sense of purpose, which is to serve the sick. We are not here to make a profit, he insists.
The head nurse, Madame Hana'a, turns to a gruff looking old patient whom she calls Uncle Mahmoud, and asks how he is doing:
What brought you here, Uncle Mahmoud, she asks. His intestines have been bothering him, he says, and his whole body is weak. But, he adds, the doctors have done a good job of fixing me up.
Dr. Bakheet says 50,000 patients are treated at the hospital every year and a quarter of a million go through the doors, if their families are included. He says 90 to 95 percent of the patients are Muslim.
Anesthesiologist Dr. Michel Awad, who gave up a lucrative job in Cairo to come to Menhouf, says the work is rewarding and the hospital's founder, an Irish doctor named Frank Harpur, set an example for others to follow:
"Dr. Frank Harpur is an Irish doctor who came at the beginning of the 1890s. He used to go with a houseboat down the branches of the Nile to the Delta area," said Dr. Awad. "He used to get offshore and to see the patients, and then go back to Cairo."
Dr. Harpur was so successful, notes Michel Awad, that he is still remembered for eradicating a parasite which was plaguing the countryside:
"At the beginning, there were many farmers who suffered from parasites, notably one parasite called enclostoma, feeding on the blood of the farmers, so they were getting weak and unable to do much work," he said. "Dr. Harpur and his team brought the treatment for this parasite and they treated many patients, so by and by word spread in the country and the government adopted the same treatment."
Douglas Penman, a third-year medical student from Sheffield, England is working for a short period at the hospital and says what the doctors accomplish is impressive:
"The commitment to serve the Muslim population in Menhouf is quite impressive," he said. "They charge a lot less than the government hospitals and they work at a better standard. The sheer volume of people that they manage to get through, is quite impressive."
Children are a large part of the work at Harpur Hospital, and some are too shy to talk, but the doctors coax them, softly.
"What is your name?" asks Dr. Samir. "It is Malek Abdel Ghaffar", the young patient replies timidly. She says her eyes are bothering her and her mother says they are swollen.
Anglican Bishop Mouneer Anis, who oversees Harpur Hospital, says its work is especially meaningful to him, since he is also a medical doctor:
"The medical program is very near to my heart, because I myself am a medical doctor. I graduated in Cairo University medical school in 1974 and I worked in a hospital for 21 years before I became a bishop," he said.
He says the medical program is a way for him and other doctors to apply the Christian teaching of compassion for others:"Jesus, when he came to our earth, he went around doing good for all people, regardless of their religion, their gender, their economic status, and sometimes the church itself cannot do this," he said.
The Bishop compares his team's medical work to that of a Good Samaritan, who goes where organizations like churches cannot go.
ukcopts association

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Egypt: Muslims attack Christian-owned shops in Alexandria

Reuters5 April 2009 ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, April 5 (Reuters) -
Hundreds of Muslims pelted Christian-owned shops and a police station with stones in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria on Sunday after a Muslim man was killed, an eyewitness said.
A security source said the violence started after word of mouth reports a Muslim man, identified as Ahmed Abdel Razeq Gomaa, had been stabbed to death in the street by his Christian landlords.
Crowds of Muslims assembled near a mosque for funeral prayers for Gomaa chanting "They'll die, they'll die," in reference to the three Christian landlords, brothers Ayman, Atef and Farag Tagy, the witness said.
Police and security vehicles were positioned in the area.
Security sources said the Muslim man was the sole Muslim tenant in the building owned by the trio, and had been injured in an earlier fight with the brothers. One security source added that the three landlords had been detained over the death.
Christians account for up to 10 percent of Egypt's population. Relations with the Muslim majority are usually harmonious, but disputes over land, religious buildings or women sometimes lead to violence.
In 2006, there were three days of sectarian clashes in Alexandria after a Muslim stabbed a Coptic Christian to death. Authorities said the attacker was mentally ill. (Writing by Aziz El-Kaissouni; Editing by Jon Boyle)
uk copts association

Obamateurism of the Day-President Obama: What Is It That You Do Not Understand?

President Obama: What Is It That You Do Not Understand?
Right Side News

8 April 2009
Mr. President, “Change, Yes We Can,” was not about changing America to Socialism, Communism or Marxism and appeasement or softening your tone about the Taliban or Muslim extremists
At the G20 summit, President Obama once again repeated the same mantra, “The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations.” Apparently, the White House staff does not read my articles so President Obama continues to parrot the same mantra everywhere he goes.
Mr. President, you are either extremely naïve, (as we suspected you would be) you lack foreign policy experience, or you are extremely ignorant. You are not even a classic orator as many people have suggested you are, like JFK.
At best, I describe you as the greatest reader from a teleprompter. Without this device, you seem completely at a loss for words. Here I give our former president, George W. Bush credit; at least he spoke from the heart.
OK, let us get back to the situation in Iran. Mr. President, the Iranian people do not recognize the Islamic Republic as a country, but call these terrorists occupiers who must leave Iran or to be crushed decisively by hook or by crook. President Obama, what is it that you do not understand? Why is it so difficult for you to comprehend that the Islamic regime is a terrorist entity and the Iranian nation is fed up with them? Nothing less than an overthrow of this bloodthirsty regime is acceptable to millions of Iranians.
Since 1979, this illegitimate government of “Allah” has been waging a brutal war against the entire population of Iran who has been fighting for individual and religious freedom for many years. Millions of Iranians have been hanged, butchered or are dying in prison. We simply ask you stop appeasing the Islamists all over the world and given them legitimacy. That was not why your were elected.
Mr. President, Iranian people want you to stop appeasing the mullahs and are asking the world to file legal charges against the leaders of the Islamic Republic for wanton violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The charges would be for their crimes against humanity and genocidal actions against religious and political groups, for support of international terrorism, for demolition of religious sites and cemeteries, for rape, torture, and summary executions of prisoners of conscience, for forgery of documents, for acts of blackmail and fraud, and for much much more.
Mr. President, “Change, Yes We Can,” was not about changing America to Socialism, Communism or Marxism and appeasement or softening your tone about the Taliban or Muslim extremists. It was not about emptying out our treasury department and writing hot checks as though it belongs to you. Only a person who has no allegiance to the United States constitution would terrorize Americans with anti-American agendas, one after another, and create fear in the hearts of the American people. Did you know that the number one selling items in America are now guns and ammunition? Guns are selling like hotcakes, so fast that gunmakers cannot keep up. BUT WHY? Who said you could not stimulate the economy? Maybe you need to read for yourself.
President Obama’s plan undermines the most powerful motive for wealth production: incentive. It is the incentive that makes a person work hard to provide for his own and his family’s living, and secure his financial future. Society after society has tried and failed the economic solution of “spreading the wealth around.” It doesn’t work. All it does is to discourage the hard-working and rewards the sloth. It is suicidal to buy into that failed policy, and that’s exactly where President Obama aims to take us and this is a dangerous scheme with both houses on his side.
In his recent trip to London for G20 summit, President Obama was reaching out to shake the hand of King Abdullah, one of the leading men of terror in our current life. Saudi Arabia is a hub for terrorism. Seventeen terrorists out of nineteen terrorists on the 11 September 2001 attacks were from Saudi Arabia, supposedly our friend and ally. Here is the travesty, the most powerful man on earth bends over and bows deeply to Saudis’ King Abdullah, who is well known for his support of Wahhabi Islamism all over the world.
Mr. President, many Americans are still in shock by your action at the G20 summit. American Presidents do not bow to any monarchs from any country, period. Your appearance looked submissive, insulting to millions of Americans and treacherous at worst. Your naiveté is really making it difficult for Americans to like you. Even among your completely brainwashed fans and, should I dare to say, some media zombies like Keith Olbermann and Chris Mathew too!
And now, the Saudi King’s petrodollar, along with other 56 member nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference are pressuring the United Nations to pass a universal law prescribing imprisonment for criticizing Islam, an ideology of terror. The Cairo declaration states "that all rights are subject to Shari’a law, and makes Shari’a law the only source of reference for human rights."
Only a person who was not born in the United States would commit such a fatuous act. Only a person who considers himself a citizen of the world willfully attempts to demolish the greatest republic and democracy in the world, America, as fast as he can. Apparently, this president is familiar with Niccolò Machiavelli’s work:
“When seeking office, the aspirant must pretend to be what he is not. After seizing power, he should impose his agenda quickly and ruthlessly before his subjects realize what he is doing and have time to react.”
President Obama, making his first visit to a Muslim nation as president, declared Monday "The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical ... in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject."
Mr. President, first and foremost, you made a fool out of yourself again. Your ill-advised coziness with the Muslim nations will bring down our nation faster than any foreign enemy. America has never been at war with Islam. On the contrary, it is Islam that has waged a war with the infidels and wants to conquer the world. Below are some quotes from Islamists and academic or educational sources:
“Islam is a revolutionary doctrine and system that overturns governments. It seeks to overturn the whole universal social order...and establish its structure anew...Islam seeks the world. It is not satisfied by a piece of land but demands the whole universe...Islamic Jihad is at the same time offensive and defensive...The Islamic party does not hesitate to utilize the means of war to implement its goal.” (quoted by Yvonne Haddad, "Islamists and the Challenge of Pluralism," Washington, D.C.: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, 1995, p. 10.)BE
“Islam wants the whole earth and does not content itself with only a part thereof. It wants and requires the entire inhabited world. It does not want this in order that one nation dominates the earth and monopolizes its sources of wealth, after having taken them away from one or more other nations. No, Islam wants and requires the earth in order that the human race altogether can enjoy the concept and practical program of human happiness, by means of which Allah has honored Islam and put it above the other religions and laws. In order to realize this lofty desire, Islam wants to employ all forces and means that can be employed for bringing about a universal all-embracing revolution. It will spare no efforts for the achievement of this supreme objective. This far-reaching struggle that continuously exhausts all forces and this employment of all possible means are called jihad.” (quoted by Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam, Marcus Wiener Publishers, Princeton, N.J., p. 128.
Mr. President, if you have not been exposed to Islamic history, (I think you have) please allow me to enlighten you briefly. The Arabs who sallied out of the Arabian deserts did not fan out to the outside world with the Quran in one hand and flowers in the other, preaching love and peace from street corner to street corner, thereby capturing the hearts and minds of the people. Islam was forced upon every people at the point of the sword and the imposition of backbreaking jazyyeh (special taxes) levied on those who were spared death and allowed to retain their religious beliefs. In spite of paying heavy Jazyyeh, the non-Muslims were treated, at best, as second-class citizens in their own homelands.
Mr. President, fourteen hundred years of Islamic terrorism is far too long for any people, although the Jews hold the record for that misfortune. The Jews have at long last returned to their homeland (and you have turned your back on them) even though they are still encircled by the vicious Arab Islamists who would like nothing better than to drown every last one of them in the sea, very much similar to the way the Islamists forced our Zoroastrian people out of the country or the remaining few to the edges of inhospitable desert.
As I mentioned before the election, it is shortsighted and even dangerous to lose our cool in the face of present problems by placing our full trust in a charismatic inexperienced man who promises a great deal that he will certainly fail to deliver. Did anyone listen?
Mr. President, it appears you, as U.S. President, have a yearning to make friends with terrorist countries such as Syria and the Islamic Republic without any consideration of the savagery of their regimes against their people. On the other hand, I, as a citizen of America have an obligation to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
I am a recent "shareholder" in this magnificent "company" -- United States of America. The charter that lights the path of this country is the constitution. I vehemently disagree with those who are more than willing to violate the constitution and call it little more than a body of suggestions that can be disregarded when expedient. To me, the constitution is our nation's most sacred document. It is the document that binds its vastly diverse constituents as equal loyal members.
I strongly feel that you, Mr. President, and your supporters have not abided by the explicit provisions of the constitution. You are creating a constitutional stand off. For this reason, I am launching my protest and am demanding that the truth about your eligibility to be the president of this great nation be conclusively established before we witness the end of this republic, which deeply troubles me and millions of my fellow Americans.
The certificate on your website is, at this point in time, just a picture. It has never been verified by any government agency. The state of Hawaii has never verified it.
The 10/31/08 statement from the Hawaii Department of Health does not say anything about where Obama was born. (it does NOT establish that Obama is Natural Born Citizen.) The Certificate of Live Birth, or COLB (a COLB is a completely different document, one that can be registered much later than at the time of birth) is in the possession of the Hawaii Department of Public Health and is also SEALED.
President Obama, based on what has been disclosed thus far, and your refusal to show your natural born birth certificate or COLB, it is obvious that you are not a natural born U.S. citizen. We the people have the perfect right, and the ineludible duty, to be completely certain that the current President is a natural born U.S. citizen, for we the people are the ultimate guardians of the constitution.
According to your grandmother and siblings, you were born in Kenya, and perhaps are an Indonesian citizen. Hence, you would be ineligible to be our President and represent the policy of the United States. Perhaps it would be expedient to pay attention to one of the most erudite constitutional professors in this country, Alan Keyes, who says: Stop Obama or U.S. will cease to exist.
ukcopts association
Obamateurism of the Day
We covered this yesterday when it happened, but in my estimation, the worst amateur moment thus far in the Obama presidency came when the President of the United States executed a bow to a monarch so deep that he literally had to take a step back to balance himself. Not just any monarch, either, but one of the most repressive among those nations friendly to the US. Interestingly, this came just after Barack Obama met with another monarch, and the contrast between Barack Obama’s show of respect is striking. I put together this video to demonstrate it:

watch video
People criticized George Bush for holding hands with the Saudi king, but holding hands does not signify submission to another’s authority, and certainly not in the manner that Obama’s bow does here. Holding hands is a sign of friendship. And for those who believe that a bow is another sign of friendship, note that Obama didn’t execute a bow like this for the Queen of the UK, and the Saudi monarch doesn’t bother to reciprocate, either.
So what’s the protocol for heads of state? Anderson Cooper hinted at it in his coverage of Obama’s meeting with the British monarch:
When President and Mrs. Obama met the Queen tonight, there was a handshake, and both the President and the Queen both nodded respectfully to each other.
Was it a bow? Not quite. It was more of a, “I know you are a head of state and so am I. We are both heads of state together and this is what heads of state do when they meet other heads of state.” In other words they bow to each other without actually bowing.
Well, that certainly went out the door, didn’t it? And I’m certain that Obama’s fans will try to rationalize this, but my good friend Scott Johnson at Power Line notes that the DU had already put together a defense of Michelle Obama if she didn’t curtsy when meeting the Queen:
In fact, protocol dictates that she not do so.
Angier Biddle Duke, President Kennedy’s Chief of Protocol told this very poignant story…
Before the Kennedy’s first state visit to England, Jacqueline Kennedy asked Duke whether she should curtsy to the Queen. He told her no because she was the wife of the head of state and heads of state and their wives do not go around bowing and curtsying to one another.
Three years later, after her husband’s funeral, Mrs. Kennedy received guests in the White House family quarters. When Prince Philip greeted her, she curtsied to him. Duke was surprised because Mrs. Kennedy was a stickler for protocol and had a steel trap memory for such things. Noting his surprise, Mrs. Kennedy whispered to him:
“Angie, I’m no longer the wife of a head of state.”
Duke said he immediately left the room and wept.
So, don’t be surprised if Mrs. Obama does not curtsy to the Queen. Also don’t be surprised if she gets jumped all over for it - but she’ll be doing - or not doing - exactly what she’s supposed to.
Indeed. And President Obama shouldn’t have bowed to the Saudi monarch, either. No American President should ever make such an obsequious display to any monarch — ever.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Palestinians can learn from Jews

19 - March - 2009 /
During the past few weeks Canadians once more witnessed the mindset driving Arab and Palestinian politics.
The leadership of the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), in hurling public abuse at senior political leaders in Ottawa dropped its cultivated mask of responsibly serving its community, to display the streak of political ugliness carefully hidden from view.
Then the spectacle of the Israeli Apartheid Week on various university and college campuses across Canada disclosed how greatly infected are the organizers - Arab-Palestinian students and their supporters - with anti-Semitism.
In abusing federally elected leaders the CAF leadership inexcusably insulted the people of Canada .
Moreover, the intemperate conduct of the CAF leader - Khaled Mouammar is a Palestinian-Arab and Orthodox Christian - was indicative of the problem exacerbating Palestinian suffering, despite receiving much political, diplomatic and financial support from around the world.
Palestinians are an abused people, but they are not the only ones in a world where there has been much abuse of people lacking power to fend for themselves. Jews were an abused people, and the abuse directed at them eventually became the Holocaust.
But the lesson Jews have provided, especially for Palestinians, is that an abused people can turn their history around and succeed despite the odds ranged against them. What is most importantly needed - and this is the profound lesson provided by the Israelis - is equanimity of the mind in politics, sense of realism in a world riddled with irony and tragedy and an abiding faith in good people can do together in overcoming adversity.
Instead of learning from Jews - it would have been amply reciprocated - Palestinians, and Arabs in general, soaked up the racist ideology directed against Jews imported from Nazi Germany as it went down in flames in 1945.
The recent study, Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, by Matthias Kuntzel, a German historian, should be required reading on this subject.
The demonization of Jews and Israelis in the borrowed language of Nazi Germany discloses the extent to which Palestinians and their supporters, as Kuntzel details, are the carriers of revived anti-Semitism in our time.
History is a contested ground, yet there are incontestable historical facts that cannot be erased.
Palestinians as an abused people have been most abused by their Arab brethren. The list of such abuse - for instance, the massacre of Palestinians carried out by Bedouin soldiers of the late Jordanian King Hussein's army in September 1970 - is painfully long.
But the finger-pointing at Israelis for all of Palestinian suffering is the oldest canard of blaming Jews for the ills of non-Jews. This is anti-Semitism that has run as a swollen river - not a mere tributary - in Europe 's history reaching its apogee with Adolf Hitler at the helm of Nazi Germany.
The argument made that Arabs cannot be faulted with anti-Semitism since they are ethnically Semite is rubbish. Anti-Semitism is racial hatred directed exclusively at Jews by any people, though it originated in the bosom of Christian Europe with Martin Luther holding Jews responsible for the world's ills as far back as 1543.
An intemperate mind is fuel for violence, and combined with anti-Semitism it makes for predictable wreckage.
This mindset has imprisoned Palestinians as they repeatedly demonstrate unwillingness in learning from history, or from the wreckage of their own making.