Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Written by Gamal Scharoubim
30 June 2009

In the last few years there has been a lot of hues and cries by official Egypt about the Coptic activity in Diaspora. It is impossible to have a meaningful view of the current events of the Coptic society without at least a cursory review of the past history of our nation. This is why I have no choice but to start from the point of the Arab Invasion of Egypt and what transpired from this catastrophic event.
Egypt was the cradle of civilization.. From ancient times Egyptians strived to plumb the depths of knowledge in many fields and did achieve quite a remarkable progress in pursuing their endeavors. The monuments that they left behind them leave no doubt in any one’s mind about the excellence of their achievements and the strides of progress they accomplished.
When the Arabs invaded Egypt , they were basically primitive uncultured people who never experienced the feeling of success in any field other than pirating trade caravans. They were hungry people looking for some food to eat and some water to drink and Egypt in their mind had it all. A Nile of soft water that irrigated the fields of Egypt producing ample food not just for Egypt but for all the known world at the time. Egypt was the bread basket of the World and the Arabs saliva ran at the sight of the bounty of Egypt .
The Arabs had no education or culture. So they were not able to manage the conquered countries. They found it in their best interest to leave the management of the country to its people as long as they paid the Jizia and the Kharag and gave them a share of the bounty to feed on. Thus a unique system of occupation developed based on a symbiotic relation between the invader and the people of the land; as long as the invader got a share of the bounty of the land in addition to the ransom money in the form of Kharaj and Jizia, the people of the country were basically a country within the country. A degree of self government occurred. Indeed both Umar Ibn El-Khattab and Umar Ibn Abd El-Aziz issued directives to their prefects not to force every one to embrace Islam as long as they are paying the dues other wise they will have no one to pay the Jizia. This proves beyond doubt that the main purpose of invading countries was not to spread Islam but to plunder these lands and to collect a ransom. In simple terms it was an act of thuggery.
The relations between the invaders and the occupied remained a whimsical one. Sometimes hostile and sometimes reasonably peaceful co-existence. And the world got by with some sort on internal independence enjoyed by the occupied people. When things went to extremes there was a sort of passive resistance and sometimes an outright strike and civil disobedience in response to the harsh hostilities practiced by the conqueror. For example in the year 648 AD when the imposed Kharaj was overburdening to the farmers, they left the fields unattended and went to the hills to hide. As a result the World suffered the famine of 649 AD. Both the nation and the occupier suffered dearly as a result. We are told that Umar Ibn El-Khattab urged Amr Ibn El-Aas to send to Yathreb all he can because the famine was so bad. Amr told him that he is sending to him a caravan the first of it will be In Yathreb while its end will be still in Egypt . The Caliph response to this was; “If this means devastation for Egypt to save Yathreb so be it.” We are also told that – in his state of panic – Umar urged the ruler of Syria to send to Yathreb all that he can because the situation in Yathreb was so terrible and intolerable. Naturally after the Caliph experienced this form of punishment some rationale prevailed as a result of this and things returned to normalcy if we can call it that. However, the relation between the ruler and the ruled continued to swing from reasonable to the impossible across the ages.
One of the most important factors to consider in examining these relations is the fact that the economy in the occupied lands was based on individual abilities of professionalism and artisanship. There was no infra-structure per se as we witness to day in developed economies, there was no means to influence or control the economic activities of the markets or to skew them in one direction or the other. The absence of a central authority to interfere with the workings of the market place ensured the freedom of the markets which in turn protected the livelihood of the population.
The Copts had no qualms about learning foreign languages, while the Molsems abstained from learning any other language except the Arabic one. Their motive was that Arabic is the language of the Quran and that no “descendation” occurred in any of the foreign languages. As a consequence, the Copts spearheaded the path of progress dealing with other nations and engaged in trade with foreign countries while the Moslem tarried behind. As a result, a feeling of envy and jealousy grew among the ignorant majority against the success of the Coptic “minority” and was always a source of inflaming the relations between both. The Copts did not want to regress and the Moslems did not want to progress; this was the point of friction between the two segments of the society. Under the secular rule of the tutelage there was nothing that can change the status quo.
Then came the Moslem Brotherhood junta euphemistically called the Revolution. By that time a well developed economic system was in place composed of an industrial infra structure and a companion financial system that served the needs of the country. The government at that time nationalized all productive institutions and used the power of the state to control the economy in a total and absolute manner. The policy had a bias against the successful minority. This was the point of decline for all what the Christians worked for all their lives. It is very evident from all what the junta did that the target of its actions was to strangle the Coptic economy, to confiscate their property, to strip them from everything they earned over the years and to make sure that they will not be revived again. A series of confiscations - euphemistically called nationalizations – occurred and a new rule of performance was introduced; ability ain’t worth nothing without loyalty. Loyalty was defined by whether you are a Moslem or not. Of course many of those “nots” saw a very bleak future for them in the country unless they become Moslems. Their instincts of survival led them to leave their birth land and head to other lands where they can be free of all the hallucinations they were subjected to in the motherland. The Islamic rulers in their mother land cheered this emigration exodus as a welcome development to rid Egypt of the non-Moslems. However – and here is the irony – it turned out that loyalty without ability ain’t worth nothing at all. The skills drain led to a deterioration of the situation in Egypt and the public suffered the dire results of this foolish policy. The junta received an economy with a half a billion Sterling in foreign currency reserves, the parity of the Egyptian Pound was more than six Dollars to the E.P. Today we have a totally inverted parity of six E.P. to a Dollar. When inflation is factored in the Egyptian Pound today is worth one half of one percent of its value when the junta took over. This should sum up the results of the foolish policy adopted by the Junta.
The Copts abroad did not desert Egypt , they just emigrated and kept it on their minds. They thrived and became successful and the thought of what happened to those they left behind kept nudging them to champion their cause. I would be remiss if I did not pay homage here to the Late Dr. Shawky Karras who awakened the émigrés conscience to the need to organize and defend the Copts at home. Asserting their message and goal in response to the aggression inflicted on their kin at home they managed to exert their influence on the international community, something that irked the authorities at home. To contain this movement abroad and to blunt its activities and influence they resorted to put pressure on the Church to issue expressions of fraternity with their “Moslem Brothers” at home and to insinuate that the Coptic influence abroad is an extremist movement that neither appeal to the folks at home nor does it have their support. The game plan for the Islamists of Egypt is to ignore the Copts abroad and to brand them as a splinter group nothing else.
The game plan for the Copts abroad is to continue to push for their rights at home until the Government acknowledges their rights and their fair share in their birth land. The two sides are on a collision course right now. And indeed we should be. We should not be dissuaded by the acts of the government to forgo the rights of the Copts at home. And we should not allow the government to think that it can toy with the Church to serve their evil purposes at home. I would like to caution the Church here that the importance of the clergy that the government is counting on comes from the respect we have for them. The day they lose our respect is the day the government will dismiss them as nothing. When we call on the Church to stay out of politics, the church should heed our call because it is in their best interest. Look at what the history teaches us; in France the insistence of the Church to support the rulers against the people led to the French Revolution and the dechristianization of France . In Russia , the same issue resulted in the Bulshevik revolution. Egypt will be no exception to these realities. The suffering of the people in Egypt will result in a similar action that will destroy every sacred. Do not be the criminals who cause this to happen, because then you will not be worth a penny to any one. The childish concept that we should discuss our problem at home does not deserve any attention from any one. Why ? Look at Muhammad Naguib the fellow officer who shielded the Junta with his position and image was kidnapped from his home and arrested for some eleven years by the very people who used him to achieve the success of their movement. Is this a rebuttal enough for the naïve voices that urge us to dismiss the advantage of the freedom we have now in favor of a silly idea that we are all brothers. Gentlemen, brothers do not attack the churches of their brothers, they do not kidnap the daughters of their brothers and defile them. Let me tell right now; I have no need for brothers who commit these crimes and quite candidly, I do not think of the Moslem Brother Hoods as my brothers period. To be blunt about it, I see them as my enemies.
The fact is that with the increased success of the Diaspora Copts, they are wielding more influence on the International community to take the proper actions. This is disturbing to the government of Egypt . Instead of acting wisely they decided to follow the old foolish path of the past. They think that if they ignore the nascent realities in the global community they might get away with the wrong they are perpetrating. This will harden our position and our resistance to the disrespect for the law that is the rule in Egypt . It will stretch and embitter the fight which will not serve anyone. Gamal Scharoubim is an MBA in International Business and finance from the University of Chicago.


Monday, June 29, 2009

For Radical Islam, the End Begins

Monday, 29 June 2009

By Joshua Muravchik

Is history ending yet again?

Much as the hammers that leveled the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the end of the Cold War, so might the protests rocking Iran signal the death of radical Islam and the challenges it poses to the West.

No, that doesn't mean we'll be removing the metal detectors from our airports anytime soon. Al-Qaeda and its ilk, even diminished in strength, will retain the ability to stage terrorist strikes. But the danger brought home on Sept. 11, 2001, was always greater than the possibility of murderous attacks. It was the threat that a hostile ideology might come to dominate large swaths of the Muslim world.

Not all versions of this ideology -- variously called Islamism or radical Islam -- are violent. But at the core of even the peaceful ones, such as that espoused by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, is the idea that the Islamic world has been victimized by the West and must defend itself. Even before the United States invaded Iraq, stoking rage, polls in Muslim countries revealed support for Osama bin Laden and for al-Qaeda's aims, if not its methods. If such thinking were to triumph in major Muslim countries beyond Iran -- say, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- violent extremists would command vast new stores of personnel, explosives and funds.

This is precisely the nightmare scenario that is now receding. Even if the Iranian regime succeeds in suppressing the protests and imposes the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by force of bullets, mass arrests and hired thugs, it will have forfeited its legitimacy, which has always rested on an element of consent as well as coercion. Most Iranians revered Ayatollah Khomeini, but when his successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, declared the election results settled, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets, deriding his anointed candidate with chants of "Death to the dictator!"

"Even if they manage to hang on for a month or a couple of years, they've shed the blood of their people," says Egyptian publisher and columnist Hisham Kassem. "It's over."

The downfall or discrediting of the regime in Tehran would deal a body blow to global Islamism which, despite its deep intellectual roots, first achieved real influence politically with the Iranian revolution of 1979. And it would also represent just the most recent -- and most dramatic -- in a string of setbacks for radical Islam. Election outcomes over the past two years have completely undone the momentum that Islamists had achieved with their strong showing at the polls in Egypt in 2005 and Palestine in 2006.

This countertrend began in Morocco in 2007. The Justice and Development Party (PJD), a moderate Islamist group that had registered big gains five years before, was expected to win parliamentary elections. But it carried only 14 percent of the vote, finishing second to a conservative party aligned with the royal palace. And in municipal elections earlier this month, the PJD's vote sank to 7 percent.

Jordanians also went to the polls in 2007 and handed the Islamic Action Front "one of its worst election defeats since Jordan's monarchy restored parliament in 1989," as The Washington Post reported. The party won only six of the 22 seats it contested in the parliamentary vote -- a precipitous drop from the 17 seats it had held in the outgoing legislature.

Forged from diverse ethnic groups linked only by Islam, Pakistan would seem fertile soil for radical Islamism. Nonetheless, Islamist parties had not done well until 2002, when -- with military strongman Pervez Musharraf suppressing mainstream political forces -- Islamists won 11 percent of the popular vote and 63 seats in parliament. But in a vote last year, on a more level field, the Islamists' tally sank to 2 percent and six out of 270 elected seats. Moreover, they were turned out of power in the North West Frontier Province, previously their stronghold.

In April, Indonesian Islamist parties that had emerged four years earlier to capture 39 percent of the vote lost ground in parliamentary elections this time around, falling to below 30 percent. "You can't pray away a bad economy, unemployment, poverty and crime," one voter, a 45-year old shop assistant, told Agence France Press.

Then in May came parliamentary elections in Kuwait, where women had won the right to vote and hold office in 2005 but had never yet won office. Even though the Islamic Salafi Alliance issued a fatwa against voting for female candidates, four captured seats in parliament. Adding insult to injury for the Islamists, their representation fell from 21 seats to 11. "There is a new mindset here in Kuwait," the al-Jazeera network reported, "and it's definitely going to reverberate across the Gulf region."

Finally, Lebanon held a tense election earlier this month that many expected would result in the triumph of Hezbollah and its allies over the pro-Western March 14 coalition. Instead, the latter carried the popular vote and nailed down a commanding majority in parliament.

Of course, each election featured its own dynamics, reflecting local alignments and issues, but they all point in the same direction for radical Islam -- a direction reinforced by recent opinion polls in the Muslim world. Last year, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that from 2002 to 2008, the proportion of respondents saying that suicide bombing was sometimes or often justified dropped from 74 percent to 32 percent in Lebanon, from 33 percent to 5 percent in Pakistan, from 43 percent to 25 percent in Jordan and from 26 percent to 11 percent in Indonesia. As a food stand operator in Jakarta put it: "People are less supportive of terrorist attacks because we know what terrorism does, we're afraid of attacks."

Military and social developments in Iraq and Pakistan also seem to be bending to the same wind. Whatever the contribution of the U.S. military "surge" of 2007, the tide of battle shifted in Iraq when broad swaths of the Sunni community that had supported or participated in the resistance to U.S. occupation turned their guns against the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. And this year, the moderate government in Pakistan finally seems to have turned decisively against the Taliban. Although many critics believed that the central government lacked the will and the ability to subdue the radicals, it has suppressed them in the Swat region and is now carrying the battle into their Waziristan heartland.

What explains this broad reversal for the forces of Islamic extremism?

Clearly, citizens in Pakistan and Iraq were repelled by the brutality of the radicals, as have been many in such other Muslim countries as Jordan, Egypt and Indonesia, which have suffered domestic terrorism attacks. Nor has the Islamists' performance in power in Afghanistan, Sudan and Gaza won any admiration. The Internet and other communications technology is entangling the younger generation of Muslims more thoroughly with their Western counterparts than their elders, making appeals to turn away from the West ring hollow.

Others point to U.S. influence as well. As developments in Iran have unfolded over the past weeks, a minor Washington debate has emerged -- along partisan lines -- over whether President George W. Bush's tough policies blunted the force of the radicals, or whether President Obama's open hand has assuaged anti-American anger and inspired anti-regime forces. Both might be true. Or neither.

Regardless of the underlying causes, a defeated or merely discredited Islamic Republic of Iran could mark the beginning of the end of radical Islam. Until now, Iran has offered the only relatively successful example of Islamist rule, but the bloody events there are strengthening the momentum against radicalism and theocracy in the Muslim world. If the regime hangs on, it will depend increasingly on the militia and other security forces and less on its religious stature.

Of course, the fading of radicalism would not necessarily mean the disappearance of Islamic politics. The Egyptian intellectual Saad Edin Ibrahim noted in the Wall Street Journal last week that Islamist parties are being "cut down to size," and he hopes that they "evolve into Muslim democratic parties akin to the Christian Democrats in Europe."

That would be a result the West could live with.

jmuravc1@jhu.eduThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Joshua Muravchik is a Foreign Policy Institute fellow in the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the author of "The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi Calls to Shut Down Starbucks in the Arab and Islamic World,

Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi Calls to Shut Down Starbucks in the Arab and Islamic World, Saying: Their Logo is the Jewish Queen Esther

view this MEMRI TV clip, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2048.htm.

The Girl in the Starbucks Logo is Queen Esther... The Queen of the Jews"

Safwat Higazi: "Today, I would like to talk about the Starbucks coffee shop. Starbucks is to be found in Mecca, in Al-Madina, opposite the King Abdul Aziz Gate in Mecca, opposite the Al-Majid Gate in Al-Madina, as well as in Cairo. Starbucks is to be found everywhere, with this logo. This is the Starbucks logo.
"Has any of you ever wondered who this woman with a crown on her head is? Why do we boycott Starbucks? I will tell you, so you will know why you should boycott this company, and what this logo stands for. As I’ve already said, it is not enough to avoid entering this coffee shop. It is not enough to refrain from drinking this coffee. You must urge people never to go there, but none of you should even consider throwing a stone, breaking anything, or burning [the place] down.
"The girl in the Starbucks logo is Queen Esther. Do you know who Queen Esther was and what the crown on her head means? This is the crown of the Persian kingdom. This queen is the queen of the Jews. She is mentioned in the Torah, in the Book of Esther. The girl you see is Esther, the queen of the Jews in Persia." [...]
"The Crown You See Here [In the Starbucks Logo] is the Crown of the Kingdom of Xerxes"
"King [Xerxes] gave an order that the seven most beautiful girls in the kingdom be brought to him. So they held contests and auditions, and selected the seven most beautiful virgins, one of whom was the Jewish Esther, whose uncle, Mordechai - or actually, it was her cousin’s brother - was a villain.
"It was Mordechai who hatched this plot. Esther was one of the seven girls brought before King Xerxes in the palace. When Esther, who was very beautiful, was shown to King Xerxes, she captured his heart, and he chose her to be his queen. He placed a crown on her head, and the crown you see here [Higazi indicates the Starbucks logo] is the crown of the kingdom of Xerxes, and this is Esther, who became Queen of Persia, instead of Queen Vashti."[...]
"We Want Starbucks To Be Shut Down Throughout The Arab And Islamic World...It Is Inconceivable That In Mecca and Al-Madina, There Will Be a Picture of Queen Esther"
"Can you believe that in Mecca, Al-Madina, Cairo, Damascus, Kuwait, and all over the Islamic world there hangs the picture of beautiful Queen Esther, with a crown on her head, and we buy her products?
"We want Starbucks to be shut down throughout the Arab and Islamic world. We want it to be shut down in Mecca and in Al-Madina. I implore King Abdallah bin Abd Al-‘Aziz, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques: It is inconceivable that in Mecca and Al-Madina, there will be a picture of Queen Esther, the queen of the Jews."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fear of Massacre Grips Christian Village in Egypt; Crops Destroyed

AINA) --
Fears of an impending massacre has gripped the Christian Copts in the village of Ezbet Boshra, El Fashn, which was scene to Muslim mob attacks on Copts on Sunday (AINA 6-22-2009).
Egyptian State Security has placed only Coptic villagers under curfew since the Muslim assaults on Sunday. According to correspondent Mary Bassit of Copts United, The terrified villagers fear that being confined to their homes, while Muslims are free, might encourage Muslim fanatics to massacre them, especially with the bias of the security forces.
Lawyer Makkar Watany, who was detained with the 19 other Copts after Sunday's events, told Coptic News Bulletin on 6/23/09 that they were mistreated during police detention, with several Copts suffering broken limbs and wounds. "I was singled out as the police knew that I am a Coptic activist and have connections with the NGOs in Cairo. I was beaten by a junior office, in spite of being a lawyer." he said. "The other Coptic detainees told the police that they 'are ready to die as they have nothing more to lose.'"
Watany also expressed his fear of a massacre saying that the village presently finds itself in an uncanny situation. "There are approximately 1500 security policemen in a small village with 500 inhabitants, among which there are only 200 poor Coptic villagers. I refrain from even looking out of the window for fear of getting shot."
Human rights organizations and the media are prevented by security to enter Ezbet Boshra village; telephone and Internet lines are disconnected; cell phones are working sporadically.
On the popular El Mehwar' TV, the Governor of Beni Suef, Dr. Ezzat Abdulla bluntly said that "Christians need a permit before being allowed to pray to avoid friction." He stated in the interview that he is ready to give them (the Copts) another place far away to use for prayer. "The problem is that it starts with a place, then it is turned into a church; we have a role in the selection of a praying place which will not cause friction," he said. It is worth noting that the disputed Coptic Diocese building is near a mosque. The interviewer, Motaz El Demerdash, asked the Governor why Copts have to request permission to pray while Muslims do not; the governor did not answer. Mr. Demerdash commented that the only way to stop this escalating sectarian tension is by the enactment of a unified law for building places of worship.
Less than 24 hours after the Governor's TV interview, the director of the local council, overturned the aired Governor's promise of finding the Copts a nearby suitable praying place, not further than 800 meters from the previous one. He declared that there is no place available and that the Copts will have to pray in the nearby village's church. Watany said "This is completely unacceptable; it will have to be over our dead bodies." According to a previous interview with the village priest, Reverend Isaac Castor "the neighboring village's church is 3 miles away and extremely small, hardly accommodating its own congregation. We cannot pray in the street."
"What is heartbreaking is that the moment the local council director statement was announced, all Muslims were ecstatic and went out in the streets, dancing and chanting 'Come to Jihad' and the 'Cross is the enemy of God," said Watany who lives in the village, "with the security forces chanting along with them! The terrified Copts are confined to their homes, while Muslims are celebrating outside," he said.
Watany went on to say "After the sit-in of Bishop Estephanos of Beba El Fashn Diocese, clergy, NGOs and youth in St. Mary's Cathedral in El-Fashn on 6/22/09, a compromise was reached, between Bishop Estephanos and the State Security in Beni Suef, according to which, the 19 detained Copts would be released on condition of giving up praying in the disputed Church building, and Copts can find another faraway place instead to pray in. Banking on this agreement, we found a house belonging to a Coptic woman, and we acquired another nearby home, totaling 200 sq. meters. It was agreed with Bishop Estephanos during his meeting in Beni Suef that he would contact the State Security to arrange for the start of the conversion of the place we found. But now with the statement of the Director of the local council, nothing will materialize."
Although the prosecution dropped its charges against the village priest, Reverend Isaac Castor, he has been confined to his home with his toddlers and ten young children since Sunday, without any telephone or outside communication.
Free Copts reported that crops belonging to Copts were destroyed by the security on three consecutive days. "The crops used to be destroyed at night, now with the presence of the security forces, it is done in broad daylight," said Watany to Coptic news.
Today 'Sunshine' Organization of Human Rights said that State Security soldiers still continue with their assaults and intimidations against the Copts of Ezbet Boshra village, and that security destroyed on Tuesday 06/23/09 crops owned by Copts who are still under curfew. When asked by a Copt why they were doing this, one member of the security forces, said "We just feel like it, and we will take you one house at a time," according to Sunshine, which has been following the situation since its development. A complete file on the incidents with interviews accusing the State Security of complicity has been published by Copts United.
The Egyptian Union Human Rights Organization EUHRO issued today a press release demanding the intervention of the Minister of Interior, accuses him of failing to protect the Copts and their property. The Press Release went on to say that the Egyptian Government assumes full responsibility for the recent events by failing to enact the long overdue unified law for building places of worship and the present inequality between Muslims and Copts in the provision of places of worship. Dr. Naguib Gobraeel, President of EUHRO asked: If this is not Coptic persecution then what is?"
By Mary Abdelmassih


link to copts united archive http://www.copts-united.com/article.php?I=118&A=4368


By Adel Guindy *
This article surveys compulsory Arabic language curricula of the Egyptian education system. Extracts are presented and analyzed to show how these lessons are often infused with Islamic religious texts that emphasize Islam as the basis of all societal relations. All students, regardless of religion, are indoctrinated to uphold "obedience to God and His Prophet [Muhammad]."
Lessons promote that leadership positions should be held by "believers" only; that any ruler who "disobeys God and His Prophet" can be himself disobeyed; and that the believers should take a firm position against those who "do not submit to the orders of God and His Prophet." There is little mention of the constitution or laws. The article concludes that this government-endorsed curriculum is breeding intolerance and extremism among the new generations.
Egypt once prided itself on being a tolerant, diverse state. While nearly the entire Jewish, Armenian, and Greek communities left in the 1950s, Egypt is still home to the largest Christian minority in the Arab world. Its Coptic community accounts for some 10 percent of the total population of 80 million.[1] The state resisted the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to overthrow what it considered a secular order. After the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981, it also fought an Islamist insurgency. Yet, while fighting the Islamist terrorist groups (which were largely defeated in the mid-1990s), the government moved to co-opt much of their platform. State-owned media, for example, now proselytize Islam.[2] While adults can decline to read newspapers, the same is not true for students receiving compulsory state education. These students must not only read tracts intended to indoctrinate Islam but also regurgitate them by rote, demonstrate mastery for teachers, and pass mandatory exams. THE EVOLUTION OF EDUCATION IN EGYPTTraditionally, education in Egypt was the responsibility of individuals, families, and communities, but as already in 1836, Egypt’s ruler, Muhammad Ali Pasha (ruled 1805-1848), had created a department of education. His grandson, the Khedive Isma’il (ruled 1863-1879), transformed it into a ministry in 1869.[3] The ministry founded public schools and also occasionally subsidized schools built by the Coptic Church and foreign missionaries as well, even as it granted them autonomy with their curriculums. However, in 1955, three years after Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the monarchy, the government nationalized education. While President Anwar Sadat permitted private schools to operate after 1970, all schools had to teach the Ministry of Education’s curricula for the Arabic language, religion, history, and social studies. Today, even Egyptian students who pursue an international baccalaureate or a U.S. diploma in Egypt must pass state exams that are part of the Ministry of Education curricula in order to graduate.Initially, the state required only Muslims to attend religion classes and permitted non-Muslims to leave the room during lessons. Beginning in the 1990s, however, the Ministry of Education gradually introduced a religion curriculum for Christians. Christian students must leave the classroom and assemble around any Christian teacher who happens to be available during the religion class period.Though the state is supposed to remain neutral on religious affairs, by the late 1980s religious content had begun to penetrate Arabic language courses. Some education ministers, Hussein Kamel Bahaa Eddin, for example, sought to counter religious extremists inside educational institutions, but even as the Egyptian state fought the Islamist insurgency, it enabled Islam to infiltrate its educational curriculum, perhaps in order to appease the constituency that had supported the Islamists. By adopting more fundamentalist religious positions, the Egyptian state may have felt that it could compete with the Islamists’ attractiveness among those who perhaps found solace in conservative religious views and practice. Today, the Egyptian state curriculum’s Islamic orientation is clear. The history curriculum describes the Islamic invasion of Egypt as a “glorious” and “noble” event that liberated the people “from oppression” and “ignorance,” a slight to the indigenous Coptic population, which predates the Arab invasion. The Education Ministry also sponsors annual Koran memorization competitions,[4] and some schools have replaced the national anthem with Islamic chants. The Arabic language curriculum also indoctrinates pupils in Islam. The fall 2007 curriculum consisted of 126 separate Arabic language lessons for students from the second to the ninth grade, of which 52 lessons--more than 40 percent--are centered on Islamic texts. This reliance on religious texts is an ideological choice, not a necessity. Egyptian literature, like the English canon, is rich. Not only are there translations of ancient Egyptian texts such as the Book of the Dead, but modern Egypt has also produced such individuals as Naguib Mahfuz, the first Arab to win the Nobel Prize for literature; feminist physician Nawal al-Sa’adawi; and poet Naguib Surur. The American public would be outraged if 40 percent of English lessons were based on the Bible rather than on a much broader literature.Younger children in Egypt are not immune to religious indoctrination. The first grade text, for example, requires children to “read, learn, and rehearse” verses from the Koranic chapter al-Alaq. The texts do not segregate the linguistic lesson from religious sanctity. If students understand the grammar but do not accept their rhetorical value or teaching, they may fail, as the Egyptian education process continues to rely on rote learning at the expense of critical thinking. Questioning is discouraged if not punished, and failing Arabic class mandates repeating the entire year.This can play out in a number of ways. Anne, a seven-year-old Christian girl attending a language school in Cairo, complained to her mother that her teacher had rebuked her for failing to do her homework. The lesson, entitled “Sadiqi” (“My Friend”), directed the student to “read, learn, and memorize” the text of a hadith (narrative of Muhammad) reproduced from the canonical Sahih al-Bukhari, which read, “The Messenger of God, may God pray upon him and give him peace, said, ‘A woman was sent to hellfire (because of) a cat that she had tied up. It was not fed, nor was it allowed to eat the vermin of the earth.’” The mother told her daughter that it was a Muslim religious text, explained its underlying meaning, but ended up having to spend more time explaining the concept of hell. She helped her memorize the text. The next day, the child returned in tears again, because she had been rebuked for failing to initiate her recitation with, “The Messenger of God, may God pray upon him and give him peace, said...”

EXAMPLES OF THE CLASSIFICATION OF TEXTSThere are several religious themes in Egypt’s Arabic language text books. One is an emphasis on the belief that that Islam is the only source of virtue. Another is an insistence that Islam--rather than shared citizenship or humanistic values--is the basis of all societal relations. Accompanying this is an insistence that the Egyptian state’s main role is to protect and spread Islam and ensure the unity of the Islamic--rather than the Egyptian--nation. A third theme is compulsion of all students, regardless of religion, to abide by the commandments and prohibitions of Islam and to uphold “obedience to God and His Prophet [Muhammad].” The texts also impose on Christian pupils Islamic beliefs and doctrines that contradict Christian tenets, such as an endorsement of fatalism or the Islamic notion of martyrdom. The curriculum also imposes the Islamic religious view of Jerusalem without reference to the city’s importance to Christians or Jews. Likewise, it presents a sanitized historical narrative describing early Islamic invasions as “noble.”Arabic class texts also embody the ideology espoused by the defeated Islamist insurgents who, ironically, had sought to overturn the existing order. Lessons promote the idea that leadership positions should be held by believers only; that any ruler who “disobeys God and His Prophet” can be himself disobeyed; and that the believers should take a firm position against those who “do not submit to the orders of God and His Prophet.” There is little mention of the constitution, courts, or the primacy of Egyptian law.Motivation is more religious than pedagogical. The prefaces to the text books show, without exception, a vehement insistence that the Arabic language is special, based on its status as the language of the Koran. There is also no evidence that the level of student proficiency in Arabic after the introduction of religious content was better than before. Indeed, the Egyptian media often features or quotes education experts who say that Arabic proficiency has declined among younger generations.EXAMPLES OF INDOCTRINATION
Islam as the Only Source of Virtue
“My Environment Is Clean--Plant a Tree”Activities and training: Read, memorize, and learn (the following, in a colorful frame):God’s Messenger said, “Whenever a Muslim plants a tree or a plant, and then a bird, a person, or an animal eats from it, it shall be regarded as a charitable act by him.”
Comment: The lesson ignores that non-Muslims also engage in agriculture. In so doing, the curriculum may reinforce anti-Christian bigotry among those taught that Christians do not contribute to the country and its development, or that deeds of Christians may not be worthy even if good.
“Animals and Birds--The Vain Peacock”Activities and exercises. Read, memorize, and learn:The Messenger of God said: “No one will enter paradise if there was in his heart an atom’s weight of vanity.” (Recounted in [hadith collection of Abu al-Husayn] Muslim [bin al-Hajjaj Qushayri al-Nisapuri]).

Comment: Omission of Christians suggests that Christianity does not oppose vanity, even though disapproval of vanity transcends religions.
“Situations and Manners--On the Road”[10]One of the lesson’s objectives: Memorize the noble hadith.
Activities and exercises: Read, learn, and memorize:The Messenger of God was once asked about the “right” (duty, manners) of the road. He said, “Lowering your gaze, refraining from harming others, returning greetings, and guiding the lost.” (Recounted in [hadith collection of Muhammad bin Isma’il] al-Bukhari).
Comment: Road etiquette is a subject that transcends Islam. There is no need to insert religion into the discussion.
“Professions in the Olden Days--Professions and Industries in Pharaonic Egypt”[11]Lesson Objectives: 8) Quote a hadith that emphasizes the value of honesty.
Comment: The lesson is about the life of Egyptians centuries before Islam, so any hadith is extraneous. A more relevant text would have been the Papyrus of Ani (1240 B.C.) where it says: “Behold I have come to you (God), brought you truth, repelled falsehood for you... I have not done falsehood against men, I have not impoverished my associates, I have not caused pain, I have not made hungry, I have not stolen... I have not uttered lies. I am not a man of deceit… I have not increased nor diminished the measure.” (Chapter 125).
“Our Society--Work Proficiency”
A poem by Ahmad Shawqi.Information and enrichment activities:
· Go to the library and search for Koranic verses, noble hadiths, or poems that emphasize the value of work; record them to show to your classmates.
· Exercise 4: Mention the poetic verses that would conform to the following:
o The Messenger said: “God is pleased when someone does something and does it well.”
o The Most High said: “We leave not to waste the wage of him who does good works.” Koran, 18:30
o The Most High said: “And whosoever fears God, He will appoint for him a way out.” Koran, 65:2

Comment: While the lesson addresses “work proficiency,” the writers not only insert Islamic texts, but force the pupils to search for more examples from Islamic sources, rather than from a broader array of sources. When searching for a hadith, Christian students may become targets of more aggressive proselytism.
Islam as the Foundation of Individual Values and Societal Relations
“You and Your Friend--Friendship”Information and enrichment activities:
Among prominent quotations on the importance of friendship:God’s Messenger said, “Man’s religion is according to his friend’s religion. Everybody shall examine with whom he has friendship!”
Ali ibn Abi-Talib said, “Man is known by his friends.”
Exercises: 9): Write a noble hadith that shows the importance of friendship on a large poster and hang it in your class.
Comment: The lesson suggests that one must not befriend those of a different religion. This emphasizes the principle of al-wal’a wal-bar’a, in which Muslims are called upon to take for allies only those in alliance with God, “His Messenger,” and the community of the faithful, and to be hostile to others. Given the sectarian violence that Egypt suffers from, this is a very dangerous message to promote, and one which runs counter to the notion of citizenship and fraternity.

“Loving the Homeland--My Homeland, the Cradle of Heavenly Messages”Egypt has a distinguished position within the glorious Arab homeland. How many prophets have lived in it and how many great men have walked on its soil. God has mentioned it several times in the Koran…. On its land lived the prophet Enoch, and Abraham, the father of the prophets, passed through it; its king gave him as a gift the lady Hagar, whom he married. She bore from him Ishmael, the grandfather of the Arabs, from whom the Prophet is a descendent. In Egypt, lived Joseph, who took charge of agriculture and economy. He brought his father Jacob and his brothers to live with him, and the Koran describes their reception by him as the Most High says: “Enter you into Egypt, if God will, in security.” Koran, 12:99.On its land were born Moses and Aaron, who were sent to Pharaoh, the unjust ruler. On Mount Sinai, God spoke to Moses, and close by, the sea swallowed Pharaoh and his soldiers. God swore by the holy site and said, “By the fig and the olive and the Mount Sinai.” Koran, 95:1-2.In it also lived Jesus, the son of the pure lady Mary, the Virgin, and his call spread amongst its people and (both) suffered from the pagan Romans for the sake of their faith in God. Because of the position of Egypt among its sisters, the Messenger of God said, “You will soon conquer a land which is known as the land of al-Qirat (i.e. where coins are minted). So when you conquer it, treat its inhabitants well. For there lies upon you the responsibility because of blood-ties or relationships of marriage (with them).” Thus Egypt has been a servant to the religion of God and a protector to His prophets and a cradle of their calls and a resource of supporting His followers and soldiers.… And because God honored it with such a position, the Messenger drew attention to its role in preserving the Religion of God, spreading and protecting its teaching to the entire umma (Islamic nation), as he said, “If God allows you to conquer Egypt, take from it many soldiers, for these are the best soldiers of the Earth.” [Author’s translation]. Egypt’s people carried out that mission to the best of their ability, for in it stands the noble al-Azhar [grand mosque and leading seminary], the lighthouse of (religious) knowledge and the house of learned scholars (ulama), which has thousands of scholars and preachers. Its army rebuffed the aggressors and the greedy, and still protects till this day the lands of “Arabism” and Islam.
Comment: According to the lesson, the fundamental role of the Egyptian homeland is to be at the service of “God’s Religion” and to spread its teachings rather than be a state dedicated to the safety and prosperity of all its citizens. This lesson is particularly alarming as, at least rhetorically, it accepts the basic position of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated groups.
“Loving the Homeland--The Way to Strength and Success”Every nation aspires to achieve its objectives and to reach the highest degrees of strength and success. But it can only achieve that by uniting its ranks and unifying its word [i.e. opinion] to be according to one man’s heart. The following verses specifically invite the Islamic umma to do that.The Most High says: “And hold you fast to God’s bond, together, and do not scatter; remember God’s blessing upon you when you were enemies, and He brought your hearts together, so that by His blessing you became brothers. You were upon the brink of a pit of Fire, and He delivered you from it; even so God makes clear to you His signs; so haply you will be guided. Let there be one nation of you, calling to good, and bidding to honor, and forbidding dishonor; those are the prosperers.” Koran, 3: 103-104.Explanation: God--may He be exalted--orders us to adhere to the teachings of the religion [Islam] because it assembles the believers and ties them together with the bonds of love and brotherhood; and it orders them not to diverge from one another, as this will lead to weakness. God asks the believers to remember His blessing on them, just as He guided them to the faith that brought them together after disarray and united them after division, for such division leads to disobedience of God, which, in turn, is a cause for entering hell. They were close (to entering it), but God saved them from hell’s fire. Thus God shows the believers His verses (signs), such that they might be guided toward the straight path, and then orders them to the duty of calling (people) to God, and to command the good and prohibit the illicit, and these are the winners.

Practice (the explanations of the verses).
Comment: The “nation” talked about in the lesson is the umma, a community united by Islam, rather than through citizenship in Egypt.
“Responsibility Means Rights and Duties--Mary the Copt”What do we learn from this lesson? The story of Mary--Patience when under duress--the issues of national unity.Mary, daughter of Shamun, was born in a village in Upper Egypt, where she lived throughout her childhood before moving, as a teenager, along with her sister Sirin to the palace of al-Muqawqis, the Coptic [Byzantine] sovereign. There she heard about the emergence of a prophet in the Arabian Peninsula, and that he had announced the coming of a new religion. She was at the palace when Hatib ibn Balta’a, the envoy of the Prophet to al-Muqawqis, was carrying a message from the Prophet inviting him to enter Islam. Al-Muqawqis read the message and folded it with care and respect and turned to Talha asking him to talk about this Arabian prophet. As he did, al-Muqawqis thought carefully and dictated to his cleric his response: “I have read and understood your message and what you are calling for. I have sent you some gifts and two valuable female slaves and other gifts from the riches of Egypt. Peace to you.”Hatib returned to the Prophet with the gifts, Mary and her sister Sirin.... In Medina, the Prophet received the message and Egypt’s gift, and gave Sirin to his poet Hassan bin Thabit. Days went on, and Mary was very content in the company and care of the Prophet.Mary the Copt found in the Messenger a friend, a family, and a homeland, and God willed that she became pregnant with Ibrahim. [Details are given about the birth and later on the death in early childhood of Muhammad’s only son Ibrahim]. Then the Messenger joined the Supreme Companion (God), and after that Mary lived five more years devoted to worship, seldom seeing anybody but her sister Sirin. Mary died after that, and it is to her credit that she strengthened the relations between the Muslims and the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), and between Egypt and the Hijaz, and made the Prophet recommend her people, the Copts, to his nation (umma), saying “be good to the Copts, for in them there is a covenant (dhimma) and a ‘womb’ [blood] relation.”

Comment: Aside from questions regarding historical veracity, the message is that the national unity between Muslims and Copts in Egypt is based on the marriage of a Coptic slave consort to Muhammad. Copts may enjoy “good treatment,” not because they are equal citizens, but because Muhammad had recommended it. Egyptian students, indoctrinated by notions of Muslim supremacy, may conclude that the Copts are subordinate citizens unequal in law.
“Man and Future--Education for the Future”What do we learn in this lesson? 1- The position of Islam towards childhood and care for children…. 3- Why Ibn Abbas was called habr al-umma (the religious leader of the nation) and the Interpreter of the Koran.” 4- Hadith of the Messenger to Ibn Abbas.The lesson: Nations educate their children to face up to the future with its multiple probabilities. Islam was ahead [of other religions] in taking good care of the future of the child and caring for children. In this hadith, the Messenger teaches Abdallah Ibn Abbas some words. Ibn Abbas was but a young child, but he grasped these words and acted according to them, until he was called the “Pontiff (i.e. religious leader) of the Nation and the Interpreter of the Koran.”According to Abdallah ibn Abbas, he said, “I was behind the Prophet one day, and he said ‘Shall I not teach you words? Preserve God so that He can preserve you; preserve God and find Him in front of you, so if you ask, ask from God, and if you seek help, seek help from God; so if all creation united to benefit you with something, they would not benefit you if God had not written it for you, and if all of creation united to hurt you, they would not hurt you if God had not written it for you. The pens have been removed and the [ink on the] sheets has dried’” (recounted by [Abu Isa Muhammad ibn Isa al-Sulami] al-Tirmidhi).
Comments: The lesson conveys the value of childhood only through the eyes of Islam yet fails to mention and include texts from international conventions on child rights to which Egypt is a signatory. The text also imposes fatalism on children when many parents--Christians or those who are not religious Muslims--would rather teach children about how they might succeed through hard work.
“Life Is Relations and Bonds--The Compensation of Laborers”It is thanks to God’s compassion toward His followers that He conferred on them the blessings of love and kindness and made between them strong ties. The following verses show you that the Most High said, “And vie with one another, hastening to forgiveness from your Lord, and to a garden whose breadth is as the heavens and earth, prepared for the god-fearing who expend in prosperity and adversity in alms giving, and restrain their rage, and pardon the offenses of their fellowmen; and God loves the good-doers, who, when they commit an indecency or wrong themselves, remember God, and pray forgiveness for their sins--and who shall forgive sins but God?--and do not persevere in the things they did and that wittingly. Those--their recompense is forgiveness from their Lord, and gardens beneath which rivers flow, therein dwelling forever; and how excellent is the wage of those who labor!” Koran, 3:133-136.
Explanation. Lessons to be benefited from the verses. Exercises.
Comment: Teaching that paradise is the reward of good-doers who are pious “believers” (i.e. Muslims) is awkward for classmates who are not Muslim.
Everyone Is Bound by Islam
General Exercises on Unit 1[19]Refer to the Holy Koran and bring forth: 1-a) Ten noble verses that call for doing good and show the reward; 1-b) Memorize the noble verses and record them under the title of “best words in the domain of good doing”; 1-c) Write under each verse the name of the sura [verse] from which it was quoted, and the verse number;…. 4) Demonstrate your understanding of the noble verses studied in this lesson and how society’s progress is related to (religious) rectitude, etc.
Comment: Non-Muslims should not be bound by such purely religious injunctions.
“Social Behavior--Dealing with Rumors”What do we learn in this lesson? The importance of following the right course.The Holy Koran is God’s course on earth, and whoever follows it will find the right way and be saved, but whoever disobeys will be lost and will perish. Among its great guidance is that whatever we hear, as news or rumors, we must ascertain its truth, and we must obey God and His Messenger, and that we should reconcile the antagonists and resolve their disagreements amicably so that people live in peace.God the Most High says: “O believers, if an ungodly man comes to you with a tiding, make clear, lest you afflict a people unwittingly, and then repent of what you have done. And know that the Messenger of God is among you. If he obeyed you in much of the affair, you would suffer; but God has endeared to you belief, decking it fair in your hearts, and He has made detestable to you unbelief and ungodliness and disobedience. Those--they are the right-minded, by God’s favor and blessing; God is All-knowing, All-wise. If two parties of the believers fight, put things right between them; then, if one of them is insolent against the other, fight the insolent one till it reverts to God’s commandment. If it reverts, set things right between them equitably, and be just. Surely God loves the just. The believers indeed are brothers; so set things right between your two brothers, and fear God; haply so you will find mercy.” Koran, 49: 6-10.
Meanings and compositions
Explanation:O believers: know that the Messenger of God is in you and with you, guides and directs you, with the inspiration of God the Most High in whatever has mercy for you. Among God’s favor on you is that He guided you to belief and made it lovable in your hearts, and cleansed your hearts from that evil (disbelief [kufr], corruption, and disobedience) and made you among the guided faithful who reason things, submit to God, and are confident of His choice. This is a firm truth and a lawful basis that guarantees the safety of the society against disunity and diversion, as believers are all brethren, who are like one body; if one of its members complains, the others feel the pain. Thus the Koran directs us toward what to do in case disagreements occur.
Comment: Non-Muslim pupils in a compulsory class should not be forced to accept that “The Koran is God’s course on earth and whoever… disobeys it is lost and perishes.” Indeed, mandating that students accept this strikes at the heart of confessional freedom.
Imposing Islamic Interpretations on Non-Muslims
“Heroic Deeds--The Martyr”Objectives of the lesson: Become acquainted with the meaning of the word martyr--read the hadith correctly. Identify the signs of beauty of expression in the hadith--the martyr’s reward from God.Who is the martyr? This is what we learn from this noble hadith: According to Sa’id bin Zayd, the Messenger said: “He who is killed while guarding his property is a martyr; he who is killed while defending himself is a martyr; he who is killed defending his religion is a martyr, and he who dies protecting his family is (also) a martyr.” Reported by Sa’id ibn Zayd, related by al-Tirmidhi.God the Most High says in His Noble Book: “So let them fight in the way of God who sells the present life for the world to come; and whosoever fights in the way of God and is slain, or conquers, We shall bring him a mighty wage.” Koran 4:74; and “And say not of those slain in God’s way, ‘They are dead’; rather they are living, but you are not aware.” Koran, 2: 154.Discuss with your classmates the qualities of the one who defends the truth and struggles and lifts the slogan of “Victory or martyrdom for the sake of God.” How could we implant such qualities?Exercise: 2- Refer to this verse:God the Most High said, “Count not those who were slain in God’s way as dead, but rather living with their Lord, by Him provided.” Koran, 3: 169.
Comment: By highlighting the Muslim martyr who fights and dies for the sake of God, the lesson imposes the Islamic interpretation of martyrdom, which is at sharp odds with the traditional Christian understanding of the term. The lesson appears to glorify those who seek to fight for what they believe to be God’s will, a dangerous lesson to imbue with incitement to violence so prevalent in both mosque and media.
“Man and Future--He Creates Whatever He Wishes”What do we learn in this lesson? 1- The power of God, be praised, in the creation of the universe and determining its laws; 2- Man’s role in inhabiting the universe; 3- Verses from Sura al-Qasas.The lesson: God created man and prepared the universe for him to live in it… God, be praised, draws the attention of man to that this universe obeys the orders of God and follows His laws; He who is able to change these laws whenever He wills and however He wills, with nothing that could challenge His will, and it is man’s duty to strive for his future with faith in God’s choice for him. Let us read these verses.The Most High said: “Thy Lord creates whatsoever He will and He chooses; they have not the choice. Glory be to God! High be He exalted above that they associate! And thy Lord knows what their breasts conceal and what they publish. And He is God; there is no god but He. His is the praise in the former as in the latter; His too is the Judgment, and unto Him you shall be returned. Say: ‘What think you? If God should make the night unceasing over you, until the Day of Resurrection, what god other than God shall bring you illumination? Will you not hear? Say: ‘What think you? If God should make the day unceasing over you, until the Day of Resurrection, what god other than God shall bring you night to repose in? Will you not see? Of His mercy He has appointed for you night and day, for you to repose in and seek after His bounty, that haply you will be thankful.’ Upon the day when He shall call to them, and He shall say, ‘Where now are My associates whom you were asserting?’ And We shall draw out from every nation a witness, and say, ‘Produce your proof!’ Then will they know that Truth is God’s, and there shall go astray from them that they were forging.’” Koran, 28: 68-75.Explanation. Exercises: 1-a) What are God’s blessings stated in these verses? 1-b) Mention other blessings not mentioned in these verses. 1-c) What punishment awaits the associators in this world and eternity? 1-d) What reward for the believers in this world and eternity?… 5) Explain the stubbornness of the associators and disbelievers (kuffar) and their trials to blunt the evident facts in the universe about the unity of God.… 8) Write the following in two types of calligraphy: “God the most High said, ‘Glory to God, and far is He above the partners they ascribe (to Him).”

Comment: This compulsory theology lesson, depicts God as unbound in His actions by anything but His own will; a concept that contradicts the Christian belief. The lesson also emphasizes the dogma of predestination, which, again, contradicts Christian beliefs. The repeated references to the “associators” subtly attack the notion of the Trinity and could lead to harassment of non-Muslim students in the class.
Islam Trumps Fact
“Peace Is Man’s Hope--Oh, Quds! [Jerusalem]”Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is a blessed, sacred, and ancient city that God has blessed and to which his prophet Muhammad has traveled. Al-Quds is a “neighbor” of the al-Aqsa mosque, the first of the two points towards which prayer was directed (qibla), and the third sanctuary after the two noble sanctuaries (al-haramayn), to which people journey and to which the hearts of believers in God turn; for it is not just a mosque for prayers, but the basis of a conviction, and a symbol of sacredness, purity, blessing, and victory. Today, al-Quds bleeds, it moans loudly, and its calls for help to fill the horizon. History will never forgive Arabs and Muslims should they fail to save and liberate al-Quds.A poem by Harun Hashim Rashid.Meanings. First idea: Al-Quds is the “scent of history.” Second idea: Al-Quds is in pain. Third idea: A call to the great Islamic homeland. Fourth idea: Al-Quds is an Arab (city).
Comment: The lesson both excludes any mention of Jerusalem’s importance to Jews and Christians and politicizes the role of Jerusalem, especially when it talks of Muslims failing to “save and liberate” the city, even though Egypt is technically at peace with Israel.
“My Homeland, Glory, and History--Our Glories Between Past and Present”[24]Boasting is cherished by many peoples. We are proud of our Pharaonic past and the ancient Egyptians’ knowledge, art, and advancement. We are proud of our Arab past after the revelation of Islam since the Arab Islamic culture was a religious civilization and a scientific and literary civilization, as the noble conquests (futuhat) extended to China in the east and Andalusia in the west; to Persia in the north and Africa in the south.Meanings: The objective of the noble conquests was neither aggression nor transgression.

Comment: In contradiction with historical fact, wars waged to spread Islam and expand its empire are presented as noble and of which the purpose was neither aggression nor transgression.Encouraging Islamism
“Situations and Manners--Class Leader”[25]Activities and exercises: Read, rehearse, and learn:God the Most High said, “And those who answer their Lord, and perform the prayer, their affair being counsel between them, and they expend of that We have provided them, and who, when insolence visits them, do help themselves.” Koran, 42:38.
Comment: The lesson suggests that positions of leadership, even in a school setting, should be reserved for those who are (religious) Muslims. Indeed, it is not uncommon for teachers and administrators to pass over Christians with better grades in order to award honors to their Muslim peers.
“Our Society--Obeying Those in Authority, and Society’s Security”[26]Objectives of lesson: The pupil must be able to:
· Recite out loud the Koran verse and the noble hadith in a correct and expressive way.
· Show the meanings of the noble verse and the noble hadith.
· Experience some of the aspects of beauty.
What do we learn in this lesson?
· Obedience of God, obedience of His Messenger, and obedience of those in authority.
· Hurrying to perform one’s duties.
· Referring to the (religious) lawful sources.
Lesson body:Who is a “Person in Authority?” It is he who cares for (is in charge of) someone else. A father is in authority; the work manager is in authority, and anybody responsible for others is in authority. And obedience towards him is a duty except in what is forbidden by God, according to His saying: “O believers, obey God, and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. If you should quarrel on anything, refer it to God and the Messenger, if you believe in God and the Last Day; that is better, and fairer in the issue.” Koran, 4:59.The following noble hadith shows that such obedience is in what is beyond the disobedience of God: Related by Abdallah ibn Umar that the Prophet said: “A Muslim must listen and obey in whatever he likes or dislikes except if ordered to disobey (God), (in which case) no listening and no obedience.”Explanation: It is necessary to obey whoever is in authority except when his orders contradict the will of God [as interpreted by Muslim scholars].Exercises:
What if:a- The ruler disobeys the orders of God?11- Read the verse (Koran, 4:59) and answer the following:b- To whom should the ruler and the ruled subjects refer if they disagree about anything?12- Read the hadith and answer these questions:a- What is meant by disobedience?c- Islam supports the unity of the umma (nation) and its concordance on one opinion. Explain that in the light of your understanding of the noble hadith.
Comment: The lesson suggests ideas commensurate with the basic approach of a theocratic state that abides only by the Koran and Sunna (manner and deeds of Muhammad) rather than by a constitution, laws, or international conventions. The rules are clearly set for when to obey or disobey those in authority.
“My Health--Obedience to God Is a Duty”God, may He be exalted, calls upon all people to beware of Satan and to steer clear of his path, for it is the path of evil and corruption, as Satan is an enemy to man and carefully watches and entices him to corruption, with all the means at his disposal.The Most High has said: “O believers, wine and arrow-shuffling, idols and divining-arrows are an abomination, some of Satan’s work; so avoid it; haply so you will prosper. Satan only desires to precipitate enmity and hatred between you in regard to wine and arrow-shuffling, and to bar you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer. Will you then desist? And obey God and obey the Messenger, and beware; but if you turn your backs, then know that it is only for Our Messenger to deliver the Message Manifest.” Koran, 5:90-92.Objectives of the lesson: Pupils should be able to:· Recite the Koranic verses in a correct and expressive way… and to extract what the text leads to.
What do they learn?
· Satan is the enemy of man.
· Alcohol and gambling are among the corrupting influences.
· God forgives whomever He wills of all his sins, except joining partners (associates) with Him.
· Obedience to God is mandatory.
Meanings. Explanation. Signs of beauty:
· “O ye who have believed” is a call that shows God’s love of the believers.
· “Obey God and obey the Messenger”: an expression denoting the truthfulness of the Messenger and the necessity of obeying his orders.
Information and enrichment activities:
· When God prohibits something, it is only because this is for man’s good.
· Go to the computer room in the school and collect Koranic verses that denote whatever God, may He be exalted, has made illicit, and post it on the school’s wall magazine.
Comment: This offers a clear message about “obedience to God and His Messenger” as the basis of human relations--the founding ideas of a theocratic state. In addition, there are direct hints about the associators, which allow some teachers to mock Christian belief in the Trinity.
“Manners--Duty of the Group”[28]What do we learn in this lesson? Following God’s orders and avoiding his prohibitions.God has gifted Man with the blessing of his mind, to use it for distinguishing between what is useful and harmful, and to follow God’s orders and avoid his prohibitions… for liberty is not absolute but bound in such a way as not to deviate from God’s course and not to harm others.In this noble hadith, the Messenger deals with this issue: al-Nu’man bin Bishr related that the Prophet said: “There are people who do not transgress the limits (laws) of God the Highest, and there are others who do so. They are like two groups who boarded a ship; one of them settled on the upper deck, and the other on the lower deck of the ship. When the people of the lower deck needed water, they said, “Why should we cause trouble to the people of the upper deck when we can have plenty of water by making a hole in our deck.” Now, if the people of the upper deck do not prevent this group from such foolishness, all of them will perish; but if they stop them, they will be saved.” Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 3 [2313].Meanings. Explanation regarding those who obey God’s orders and avoid His prohibitions, and the group’s duty in taking firm action against others (who do not follow).Signs of beauty. Exercises: What is meant by God’s “limits/punishments” (hudud)? [There are five hudud in Islamic law, which can lead to stoning, amputation, crucifixion, or flagellation].
Comment: The lesson prioritizes obedience to God’s laws, according to Islam, as the major duty of community.
“Woman Is Half the Society--For Men What They Earn. For Women What They Earn”[29]By way of appreciation of woman’s position in society, Islam kept her dignity and preserved her identity and invited men to be fair to her by giving her the rights that God the Most High has ordained for her, such as dowry, inheritance, and good company. The following verses regulate the relationship between man and woman, and clarify the rights of each from the other, and show the right way to obtain God’s favor for His worshipers.The most High said, “O believers, consume not your goods between you in vanity, except there be trading, by your agreeing together. And kill not one another. Surely God is compassionate to you. But whosoever does that in transgression and wrongfully, him We shall certainly roast at a Fire; and that for God is an easy matter. If you avoid the heinous sins that are forbidden you, We will acquit you of your evil deeds, and admit you by the gate of honor. Do not covet that whereby God in bounty has preferred one of you above another. To the men a share from what they have earned, and to the women a share from what they have earned. And ask God of His bounty; God knows everything. To everyone We have appointed heirs of that which parents and kinsmen leave, and those with whom you have sworn compact. So give to them their share; God is witness over everything.” Koran, 4:29-33.Meanings of words and compositions. Explanation. Signs of beauty. Exercises.
Comment: Treatment and inequality of women in Islamic states is both controversial and relevant in Egyptian society. The lesson, however, imposes a view and does not allow students to raise openly concerns about Islamic law.
There is nothing wrong in principle with exposing Christian students to Islamic texts. However, Islamic indoctrination combined with the failure to mention Christian beliefs implies the inferiority of the latter. Non-Muslim students are subjected not only to a simple campaign of soft proselytizing but also to coercive pressures. Christian students are left with few options. If they argue their conscience, then they fail and may be accused--along with their families--of “deriding religions,” which under the Egyptian penal code is punishable by up to five years imprisonment.[30] They may also regurgitate by rote their teachers’ statements, in which case they are taught to engage in dissimulation and hypocrisy. Or, they may internalize in submission what is taught as consistent with their own dhimmitude (subjugated religious minority status).In discussions with some Coptic youth about the need to better integrate into the national community,[31] one high school student confessed that he “hated Islam and Muslims.” He felt deep guilt because of such sentiments but justified them by his being “besieged” by Islam at school, at home (due to the loudspeakers of the adjacent mosque), on television, and on the street. He would escape to church to “maintain sanity.” For some Coptic Christians who take refuge in the church and thus emphasize the primacy of sectarian identity in Egypt, there has even been an Islamization of thinking that manifests itself in concern for the appearance rather than the essence of religion, and a tendency for youth to approach clergy for opinions akin to their Muslim counterparts’ requests for fatwas (religious edicts), which obviate the need for their own personal exegesis.
The effect of the Arabic curriculum on Christians is a clear infringement on their rights according to the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious, and Linguistic Minorities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The impact on Muslim youth is no less important. The Arabic curriculum warns Muslims against befriending “followers of other religions.” They are not taught anything related to their non-Muslim compatriots with only rare exceptions, such as the U.K.-based organ transplant surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub, whom the third-grade curriculum mentions, or a passing mention of “Coptic civilization” in a fifth grade lesson on tourism. Furthermore, Muslim pupils are taught that they alone belong to “the most noble nation brought to the worlds,” effectively giving them a right to master and dominate the rest of humanity, and preparing them to become obedient “soldiers” in the service of religious fascism. It is no surprise then to find new generations more intolerant and extremist than their parents and more willing to support militant Islamism.The use of religion in language instruction is not in the long-term interests of the Egyptian state. The issue need not divide Egyptians by religion. Many secular Muslims and those who prefer that the state remain aloof from religious matters object to the mixing of religion and education.In January 2008, Watani weekly sent the original study on which this article is based to the prime minister, the minister of education, the speaker of the Egyptian People’s Assembly and its education committee, and the National Council of Human Rights. These institutions have remained silent and did not acknowledge the problem during a major conference on the future of education, which President Husni Mubarak convened in May 2008.It is ironic that Egyptian officials, who do not hesitate to flout Egypt’s contractual obligations to the international conventions or to raise publicly issues relating to Muslim minorities in Europe, would dismiss any questions regarding the Islamization of the Egyptian education system as undue interference in Egyptian domestic affairs.Egypt is in need of a major educational overhaul. Youth should be educated in the domain of civic duty in which all men and women are treated as equal citizens, keeping the divisive factors of religion outside the secular classrooms. They should be taught the skills of rational and creative thinking and of discovering that one’s dignity is based on one’s intellectual contributions and goodness of character, rather than on the religious group into which they were born.
*Adel Guindy is a senior editor of the Cairo Coptic weekly Watani. This article is based upon the author’s study “Al-fashiyya al-Diniyya wa Talbanat al-Ta’lim al-Masri” [“Religious Fascism and the Talibanization of Egyptian Education”], published in Watani, December 2007/January 2008.
ucopts .org

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

ACLJ Calls on President Obama to Address Religious Persecution of Christians in Middle East

ACLJ Calls on President Obama to Address Religious Persecution of Christians in Middle East
22 June 2009

The ACLJ is calling on President Obama to take action to put policies in place that would protect Christians in the Middle East. The ACLJ continues its global work to protect Christians who face punishment - and even death - because of their religious beliefs.You can read the ACLJ letter sent to President Obama urging action. That letter is posted hereAnd, the ACLJ has compiled reports about religious persecution of Christians in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia. The Egypt report is here. The Saudi Arabia report is here.
Obama Opens Door - Now Action Must Follow President Obama opened the door with a brief mention of religious freedom in his 55-minute speech to the Arab world. He did bring up the importance of religious freedom, saying: "Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.
We must always examine the ways in which we protect it." It's a good beginning, but President Obama must use this opportunity to take some real action - to engage this issue with those in the Middle East who have a notorious record for persecuting Christians and others who do not embrace Islam.
We're really talking about more than just tolerance, though. We're talking about putting an end to religious persecution. President Obama did not address this issue head-on, but did make a brief reference to the topic:
"Among some Muslims, there is a disturbing tendency to measure one's own faith by the rejection of somebody else's. The richness of religious diversity must be upheld - whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt."
We have just completed a detailed report about the persecution of Christians in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The persecution of Christians who make up the 'minority' religion in many countries is on the rise.
That's exactly why we sent a letter to the White House outlining specific incidents involving the persecution of Christians in countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. And, that's exactly why we called on President Obama "to resolve to establish policy that would bring safety and security for the Christian minority who desire to practice their faith, but who continue to live in fear for their lives in the Middle East."
The 'religious freedom' reference in the speech was fine. But, if President Obama is truly committed to upholding what he calls "the richness of religious diversity" - he must begin to put words into action. People of all faith - including Christians being persecuted in the Middle East - deserve nothing less


Monday, June 22, 2009

Prostitutes 5, Egypt 0

Mzilikazi Wa Afrika
21 June 2009

Mzansi hookers teach Egypt players how to score - And now the losers are crying foul
Horny Egypt players brought five prostitutes to their hotel rooms on the night their team competed in the Confederations Cup – and later claimed US2,400 (R19,377) had been stolen from their rooms.
Yesterday a spokesperson at the Norwood police station, where the case has been reported, said they had evidence that some of the Egyptian players brought hookers to their hotel to celebrate their historic win against world champions Italy on Thursday night.
A police officer says: “We have confirmed that some of the players brought prostitutes, whom they picked up on Oxford Road [in Rosebank], to their hotel rooms and we have strong suspicions that they were cleaned out by those ladies of the night.”
The police’s claim was confirmed by members of Thaba Strategic Service – the security company guarding the Protea Hotel Wanderers.
One of the guards yesterday said: “These players brought abomagosha here and when they were robbed they pointed their dirty fingers at the hotel staff – that’s nonsense.
“The workers are black so they are being labelled as thieves.”
The guard says all the staffers at the hotel were rounded up by the police on Friday and interrogated but came out clean “because they were not involved”.
National police spokesman Director Sally de Beer yesterday said only five Egyptian players were “burgled”.
She says: “It must be noted that this was not a robbery but a burglary and only five players were involved.”
De Beer says nobody was arrested and the staffers at the hotel who were working that night were questioned and “all statements taken”. De Beer says that she knew nothing about the prostitutes.
The hotel yesterday sent a statement to Sunday World stating that they have the best security.
The statement reads: “Protea Hotels has strict security measures in place where electronic access control of the rooms and safes are monitored.
“We assure all guests that personal security is of utmost importance to us and we implement strict security measures to safeguard our guests and their personal possessions.”
The statement adds: “The police have interviewed the guests reportedly affected by the theft as well as the staff at the hotel and we are awaiting the results of this investigation.”
The Egyptian team’s spokeswoman, Inas Mazhar, could not be reached for comment as both her cellphones were switched off the whole day yesterday.

Flag this messageMuslim Mob Attacks Church and Loots Christian Homes in Egypt

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Muslim Mob Attacks Church and Loots Christian Homes in Egypt

(AINA) --
An Egyptian Muslim mob attacked a church on Sunday, 6/21/2009 in the village of Ezbet Boshra-East, El-Fashn, smashing its windows and assaulting Copts with clubs and white weapons, wounding 25 Copts, in the presence and with the instigation of the State Security.
On Monday 6/22/2009, El-Fashn prosecution issued an order for the village priest, Reverend Isaac Castor, to appear before them, on charges of sectarian sedition after three Muslim women accused him of hurling stones at them from inside the church.
The Church is still besieged by State Security and the priest is still confined to the Church walls, together with 10 people and three children not exceeding the age of five years. "The prosecution wants to get me out there, together with those who are with me, in order to make arrests. None of us are leaving the Church premises," the priest said. "I do not know why I am besieged inside the Church in this way, together with my toddlers. I am not a criminal, neither are the people who are with me."
Bishop Estephanos of Beba El Fashn Diocese, together with other priests called for a sit-in at the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin in El-Fashn, demanding the release of the unlawfully arrested Copts. The sit-in included families of those arrested, who refused to leave the Cathedral. (video of sit-in).
"As if I'm dreaming what went on, such savagery! It broke my heart to see my children [congregation] treated in such beastly and barbaric way" said Rev. Isaac to Coptic News Bulletin. "It is as if we are back to the Era of Diocletian" (Roman emperor who carried out the worst persecution in the history of the Copts) .
"A curfew was placed on Copts on Sunday in Ezbet Boshra-East village including me and my family, while Muslim offenders are free," said Reverend Isaac
Homes of nearby Copts were broken into on Sunday by the Muslim mob, which included women, assaulting the residents including young girls, and destroying their furniture and looting electrical equipment. "These assaults were followed by security officers, assaulting Copts and destroying what remained of their belongings. When asked by a Coptic woman why they are doing this, the officers answered that they have 'orders' to do so," added Reverend Isaac. "Now the Coptic inhabitants are living in terror."
"State Security went into homes of the Copts and forcibly rounded up the men. At present 19 Copts are under arrest including children under twelve and people over 60 years of age," said Reverend Isaac. "I have sheltered 10 other Copts in the Church to save them."
The incident happened when 6 young Copts living outside the village came to visit the priest who lives at the top floor of a 3-storey building owned by the Church and which used for ceremonies and prayers. The same church was attacked by Muslims in August 2008. The security police tried to prevent the visitors from entering the village, but after an altercation they were allowed in. Later a police constable asked them to end their visit and leave separately. While on their way out, they found a Muslim mob awaiting them. Muslims harassed the young visitors and one Muslim woman struck a Coptic woman on the face. At that moment violence broke out, and Muslims began to attack the building using bricks and sticks, injuring 25 Copts, and destroying the priest's car.
State Security has cut all telephone lines and the internet in the village, which is inhabited by 1500 Copts of the total 3000 inhabitants, to prevent them from getting in touch with the outside world, according to Reverend Isaac. "With all this strife, the Security wants to have grounds to issue a report confirming that this village is not suitable to have a church. We have no Church in the village and the nearest is 3 miles away, and can hardly accommodate its own congregation"
Human rights organization 'Sunshine' said that what is happening now in El-Fashn is a new trend in the violations carried out by the State Security against Coptic clergy. This trend began with the imprisonment of Father Mettaos Wahba for five years on false charges of forgery, and now an order has been issued against Father Isaac to 'apprehend and bring,' which has no legal grounds. "This is proof to the whole world that Egypt is persecuting the Copts," according to Sunshine.
During his Sunday appeal to the world through Coptic News, Reverend Isaac said "Please help us, the whole world just looks and does nothing, where is President Obama's talk about peace? All what we want is to raise our hands and worship God, equal to Muslims. We cannot take it any longer; we are ready to give up our lives, just let us pray."
During the sit-in, Bishop Estephanos said: "We will all pray. Since matters reached this stage, if necessary we will all become martyrs. Our Coptic Church has been built on the blood of martyrs."
By Mary Abdelmassih


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Christian Coptic Twin Boys Struggle Against Forced Islamization

By Mary abd elmassih
Cairo (AINA) --
The Egyptian Court of Cassation ruled on Monday, June 15, 2009, in favor of Mrs. Camilia Lutfi, giving her the right to retain custody of her twin boys Andrew and Mario, in spite of their father's conversion to Islam, thereby ending the 5-year legal battle over the custodial rights between her and her ex-husband, Medhat Ramsis. Ms. Lutfi summed up her fight for her children's custody by saying: "My opponent is not only my divorcee; my opponent is everyone who hears this story and wants Andrew and Mario to become Muslims." The Coptic twin boys resisted their enforced Islamization by using one sentence 'I am a Christian.' This has made of them heroes in the eyes of Copts and a role model for Coptic children in similar situations.
The Court of Cassation accepted the appeal filed by the Public Prosecutor against the final ruling of the Alexandria Appellate Court of September 24, 2008, to transfer the custody of the twin boys to their father, who had converted to Islam in 2000 and changed his children's religion on their official documents in 2006. The Alexandria court had based its ruling on an interpretation of the principles of Islamic law (Shari'a), contrary to constitutional law on maternal custody and the rights of the child.
In its Monday ruling, the Court of Cassation refused the Public Prosecutor's argument that the Alexandria Court should have given the twin boys the choice to remain Christian or to convert voluntarily to Islam, since they have reached the age of seven, considered as the age of 'discrimination between religions in Shari'a. The Court insisted on upholding its previous rulings that conversion by one parent must be followed by a change in the children's religion to Islam, which is considered as the 'best of religions', until they reach the age of 15 years.
Ms. Lutfi commented on the ruling: "Thank God, we received an unprecedented verdict to retain custody of the children; however, the judge deprived the children of their right to choose their own religion."
Human rights organizations heavily criticized this latest ruling upon reading its details, and believe that one hand gave and another took away. Hossam Bahgat, Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said that it was a small step forward, and a great opportunity missed.' "The Court of Cassation wasted an unprecedented opportunity to stop the discriminatory policy, which currently forces a change of religion to Christian children in official documents when the father converts to Islam." he said. "We regret that it only addressed the outcome and declined to support the initiative of the Public Prosecutor, who sought to address the root of the problem, which is the non-voluntary change of the children's religion without paying the slightest regard to their will or the will of their mother."
Activist Medhat Kelada, spokesman for the European Union of Coptic organizations for Human Rights (EUCHR) told Elyom el Sabeh newspaper that this ruling represents a minor achievement, but is against equal citizenship, and has shown the devotion of the Court of Cassation to the religious State. "The ruling states that since the father converted to Islam, the children automatically follow the 'better religion', which is of course, Islam. We should not applaud a flawed ruling."
The rule of the Court of Cassation, newly emphasized the right of the mother of the "People of the Book" (Christians and Jews) to the custody of her Christian child who was converted to Islam due to the conversion of his father in what is called 'Islamization by dependence' until they reach the age of 15 years, the age of discrimination and choice. Muslim practice over the past 15 centuries has been to take children away from their Christian mothers as soon as their father converts to Islam, even if they are very young, as well as converting them to Islam by dependence.
Although this ruling was seen by some as a victory in custodial matters, others believe that Christian children are still forced into Islam. Activists see a loophole through the presence of the clause which allows for the denial of custody to a mother "when there is fear over the religious status of the youngster from their mother's upbringing." They believe this will open new legal arguments in the family courts and the possible use of this clause against Christian mothers.
Andrew and Mario's case found national and international support, especially from human rights organizations. The EIPR together with the London-based INTERIGHTS filed a complaint in 2008 to the African Union's main human rights body against the Egyptian Government, accusing it of human rights violations against Mario, Andrew and their mother. The United Kingdom, member at the European Parliament, Dr. Charles Tannock, submitted their case to the EU Commission in October 2008.
Andrew and Mario's story caught the attention of the media when, obliged to sit for the Islamic religion test at school in May 2007 -- tudents have to pass Religion exams to be promoted to a higher class -- the boys answered none of the questions. On his answer sheet Andrew wrote "I am Christian" and Mario wrote: "My religion is Christianity." They failed the exam and had to re-take it, but again insisted on writing these single phrases. On national television they declared: "We do not want to be Muslims. We are born Christians, will remain and die as Christian."
EIPR emphasized that the ruling shows the need for the government to remedy this issue in the amendments to the Personal Status Law, which the Justice Ministry intends to submit to Parliament at its next session, taking into consideration the legal view of the Public Prosecutor of giving children the right to chose their religion upon reaching the age of seven years, especially after including an article in the 2008 Child's Law which provides for the protection of the child against religious discrimination
"I feel very sorry for the 5 years stolen from their childhood, spent in courtrooms, threats to escape or go on hunger strike if forced to go to their Muslim father, not to mention the psychological harm of evading the police arriving to implement the 2008 final court ruling to deliver them to their father," Lutfi said.
Ms. Lutfi confirmed to El-Yom El-Sabeh newspapers, that she intends to file a case in front of the Supreme Administrative Court to establish the right of her twins sons, who were born on 6/24/1994, in choosing their religion upon reaching the age of 15. "The judge's insistence on stating that children follow their Muslim father's religion will cause problems to the children's education, as was the case in the past," Lutfi added.
Another massive hurdle awaits Andrew and Mario at the age of 16, when they apply for their identification cards. Their father already changed their religion on their official documents, and since the Ministry of Interior constantly refuses to alter this data, they are only left with the option of going to court to force this change. There are presently hundreds of similar cases pending in front of the courts, leaving the lives of the so-called Christian 'Returnees' in limbo. It is worth noting that there has never been one single registered case in Egyptian history where the government allowed a change in the official status of children of Muslim converts.
By Mary Abdelmassih