Sunday, January 31, 2010

Egyptian Christian Framed in Sexual Assault Case

The drive-by shooting of Coptic Christians by extremist Muslims after celebrating the Orthodox Christmas Eve midnight Mass in the southern town of Nagaa Hammadi on January 6, causing the killing of 6 and wounding of 9, (AINA 1-7-2010) was condemned by public opinion worldwide.

To contain the damage of tarnishing the "image" of Egypt and to minimize the repercussions of the massacre, government spin doctors tried to condition public opinion into believing and accepting the scenario set out by State Security that the killing was "criminal and individual" rather than a "sectarian" affair.

Egypt's Interior Ministry said the Nag Hammadi attack was a retaliation for the sexual assault of a Muslim girl by the Christian man Girgis Baroumi Girgis in the town of Farshout last November. This alleged rape crime was used by security officials, politicians, and the media to justify attacks against Copts in Farshout last November and in Nag Hammadi .

Surprisingly, Prosecutor-general Adbel Meguid Mahmoud, also came out linking the killing to the rape.

Egyptian police arrested three suspects responsible for the Christmas Eve shootings, Mohamed el-Kamony, Korshy Aly and Hendawy Hassan, who are registered criminals. Habib el-Adly, Minister of Interior, said on January 24, in an interview on the Egyptian TV programme "City Talk" that el-Kamony is a hired killer, but "he got so upset about the rape and the videos of nude Muslim girls with Christian men, that it triggered the shooting urge in him."

Mustafaal-Sayyed, professor of political science at Cairo University believes that the theory of a revenge killing does not hold because the three men charged with the killings are not relatives of the raped girl. "Why would they choose to shoot at Copts on their Christmas eve?" he asked.

Renowned activist Fathi Farid told Coptic News in an aired interview on January 19 the authorities are trying to make a scapegoat out of Baroumi to justify the violations against the Copts in Egypt. "If they can prove that Girgis is guilty then they can say that what happened on Christmas Eve is a reaction to what he did."

On November 18, 2009, the 21-year-old Girgis Baroumi Girgis, a poultry vendor from Kom al-Ahmar village, near Farshout, was accused by the 12-year-old Muslim girl Yusra Abdelwahab from the neighboring village of al-Shukeifi , of sexually assaulting her. Claims of the assault led to several days of unrest in the area caused by hundreds of Muslim protesters looting and burning Christian property. State Securiy also forced the eviction of 160 Christians from Baroumi's village (AINA 11-22-2009, 11-23-2009).

Girgis has been detained since last November but not charged and the forensic report of the assault was never published, which some observers say means no evidence could be found against him.

At very short notice Girgis Baroumi's trial began on January 17, at the Qena Criminal Court, nearly 600 kilometers (370 miles) south of Cairo. Shocked and crying incessantly during the whole session, Girgis kept on pleading "Sir, I need a lawyer." He denied committing the crime. His Muslim defense lawyer had to withdraw at the very last minute, and no other lawyer agreed to defend him, when the presiding judge asked the lawyers present. The case had to be postponed until January 19 to find a lawyer.

As a result, the Egyptian Organization for Anti- Discrimination and Defense of Children's Rights (EGHR) issued a statement that together with the American Coptic Friendship Association, it will be taking over the defense of Girgis Baroumi Girgis to counteract the "interference of State Security in the role of the judiciary and their efforts to influence it." It also condemned the biased media and the intervention of some security heads to pressure any lawyer considering defending Baroumi.

Two of the EGHR members, Ashraf Edward and Saeed Abdelmassih, volunteered to defend Baroumi and attended the court session on January 19.

Ashraf Edward said they traveled from Cairo "under great secrecy for safety reasons and because they feared that State Security might delay them from appearing in court."

"The Lawyers' Syndicate in Qena refused to assign a lawyer, and Coptic lawyers are under great pressure and are terrorized by the State Security," said Saeed Abdelmassih. "If Ashraf Edward had not volunteered to defend him, the situation would have been critical."

The judge adjourned the trial until 17 February.

"The State Security is telling us lawyers that whatever your religion or inclinations are, you are not able to defend one defendant, to the extent that not one lawyer had the courage to attend, so we had to get a lawyer from Cairo," commented Abdelmassih bitterly.

News media reported that a defense team of 25 lawyers, headed by Islamist lawyer Mohamed el Wahsh, have volunteered to defend the killer el-Kamony.

Talaat Sadat, MP and a vehement critic of the government said on the Cairo Today talk show that the allegedly raped Yousra was never a virgin, but was previously "used". He was voicing rumors that Yusra has previously been raped by one of her relatives, and that is the reason behind the case remaining unresolved since November. Many activists believe that State Security manufactured evidence against Baroumi to make their case against him stick to justify their interpretation of the massacre of Nag Hammadi.

According to Abdelmassih forensics only examined the girl and said she was not virgin, but said nothing of when she had lost her virginity. They omitted examining Baroumi altogether. A difference existed between the police and the prosecution reports. In the preliminary police report the girl and her father said there was 'an attempt' on the part of Girgis to take her clothes off. "All this changed went it went to the prosecution; instead of the matter being 'taking off clothes' it changed to sexual intercourse."

He said that what was more surprising was that the investigating officer validated the incident based on what a 12-year-old said, without even one witness.

Girgis Baroumi's lawyers requested a forensic specialist to examine 12-year-old girl Yusra and conduct a new interview with the officer who filed the police report.

"We have Inconsistencies in statements, not one single evidence, and no lawyer was present during investigations of the prosecution, because lawyers were afraid to attend to defend a citizen," said Abdelmassih.

Public opinion in Egypt became so conditioned that Baroumi is guilty before being tried, and the majority are calling for the death penalty to be applied in his case, said most of those interviewed.

EGHR called upon the Egyptian Lawyers' Syndicate to form a committee to monitor the conduct of the investigations in the Baroumi case, as it did previously during the case of the Veil Martyr Marwa El-Sherbini.

"Girgis Baroumi is a victim of circumstances which has led him to stand trial before the court and the community at the same time," said his defense attorney Ashraf Edward.

By Mary Abdelmassih

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Copts and the President

The attempts to force Christians to convert to Islam in Egypt is on the increase and the methods are getting increasingly varied and well organized. These efforts are being conducted by the Egyptian government and President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. It is common for money to be offered to Christians to convert to Islam, but it also common for intimidation and force to be employed. The media and education system have turned Egypt into an Islamic fundamentalist state.

President Mubarak says that “there is no persecution of Copts in Egypt and it’s just an attempt to divide the Egyptian people, which is an old imperialist game.” However, he intentionally does not admit that Copts, the indigenous people of Egypt, face various forms of discrimination and persecution. According to the Egyptian law, the construction of churches – unlike mosques – requires formal government approval. Christian communities face undue bureaucratic obstacles when trying to build or renovate their places of worship, while efforts to build mosques face little, if any, official obstruction.

Mr. Mubarak also ignores that a systematic abduction and forced Islamization of Coptic girls in Egypt is a frequent, dangerous and a rapidly escalating phenomenon. The problem was brought to light by Coptic Pope Shenouda III as far back as December 17, 1976, when he protested during a conference held in Alexandria that “there is pressure being practiced to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror to Muslim husbands” and demanded that the abducted girls be brought back to their families. Reports of hundreds of cases of kidnappings of girls from Christian families takes place every year, with very little, if any, success in getting them back to their families, and not one single person accused of abduction of Coptic girls has been brought to justice. The Egyptian police even order the families of kidnapped Christian women to forget about their daughters and not to try to get them back.

In addition, he does not pay any attention to churches destroyed by Muslim mobs. Instead of arresting the actual perpetrators, the Egyptian police arrest Coptic Christians to accuse them of attacking their own churches. Part of a growing trend throughout Egypt’s Coptic communities, local police and security forces are framing Christians, while the perpetrators escape prosecution. Days after the arson attack on a church in the south of Egypt, Egyptian State Security Investigation (SSI) officers arrested the Muslims suspects, but all three were released without charges. Local police and fire brigades arrived two hours after the church’s building had been set on fire.

Moreover, Mr. Mubarak allows Muslims converting to Christianity to face extreme hardships and torture by the State security apparatus. The number of Muslims who dare to convert to Christianity do so in secret. That is because the penalty for leaving Islam is death in all schools of Sharia (Islamic law). Former Egyptian Muslims are put to death by their own families and the Egyptian police for exercising their basic human rights to choose their own religion.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

“Who killed the Christians on their Christmas Eve.”


1715 Ashley Road,

Hoffman Estates, IL. 60169

Phone # 847 / 882-4414

FAX # 847 / 882-4414

January 19, 2010.

Attention to:

The editor in Chief,

The Globe And Mail,

Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you in response to the article by Mr. Alaa’ El-Aswaani about “Who killed the Christians on their Christmas Eve.”

Forgive me sir if I expounded the issue by discussion and some fringe information. I am an expatriate Canadian/American who spent a good part of his life in Toronto, Ontario and who frequently visits that city dear to his heart; something like four or five times every year. I am also an admirer of Mr. Aswaani and have nothing but love and respect for him. Although he wrote his article in a fair and unbiased progressive mentality, yet we are all humans and that means that we are all vulnerable to err.

Indeed the Copts have always been loving to their mother land and always strived to push it in the direction of civility and progress and their efforts benefited not only the Copts but the whole country. To give you a few examples of what I mean; The Patriarch Cyril the IV opened the first school for girls in the country to educate the girls and the school accepted Moslem and Christian girls as students. I would venture to say, that Egyptian Moslem professional girls are indebted to the initiatives of the Patriarch for the freedoms and progress they enjoy today. Otherwise, they would have been left under a Burka without any education, without progress and without enlightenment up till now. They would have been told that they are mere sexual objects for the pleasure of men. It was also Pope Cyril IV who imported in the country the first printing machine to print books and to emphasize the importance of knowledge he ordered that the choir greets it at the time of its unloading with the Hymn of “O prince of Peace” one of the most sacred and popular hymns in the Orthodox Church. He spear-headed the learning of foreign languages to be able to deal with foreigners and to have access to foreign progress. Here the Church acted as a progressive leader for the country as a whole not just for the Christians only. History books tell us that the ruler of the country Sa’eed Pasha was a good friend of the Patriarch and often sought his advice.

Yet envy, jealousy and rivalry led the narrow minded adversaries to view this as an act of deprecation infringing on their status and domain. So they imitated what he did while seeding rejection and hate in the spirits of the Islamic schools students who eventually grew up with deep suspicions of the Copts and dealt with them as infested people. And as they entered public life, and exercised their powers they adopted policies of alienation against the Copts. This created the social schism that we see in Egypt today. Yet, and this is the irony, the average Moslem always felt at ease dealing with his Christian compatriots and liked their company and despite all that was said about these Christians, there was a sense of acceptance and accommodation between them. People listened to the Wahhabi propaganda but did not internalize it.

Then there was the evolution of the Egyptians revolution against the British occupation. The Christians participated in the movement whole heartedly something that led to a sense of gratitude among the Moslems and a de facto coalition between the Christians and Moslems was quite evident in all the walks of life. It became an unwritten tradition that in every Cabinet formed there was three Coptic ministers (almost 25%) by ratio. This continued on until a crisis erupted between a famous politician and the wife of his dear friend. During the Second World war provisions as a whole were in short supply and the rationing of necessities was the rule. Yet the family of Zaynab El-Wakeel wanted to export oil to Syria at a lot higher price than the controlled price for the commodity in Egypt. This would have created shortages of the commodity in the market place. Makram Ebeid blocked the export of the commodity and virulent cries that the Christians are trying to impose their will on the Moslems became spread. Eventually the tight friendship between Makram Ebeid and Moustafa Al-Nahas was broken under the stress of the crisis. Nevertheless the Royal family was not antagonistic to the Copts and valued them as an asset in the country. In fact it was the Royal who initiated the tradition of attending the Catechismal part of the Mass to express his good wishes to them on the occasion of the Christmas in appreciation of the contributions of the Copts to the progress of the country.

There was time when uttering one foreign word by a Moslem drew harsh disapproval from other Moslems and was almost viewed as anathema. The Christians however went on to learn foreign languages and it is common to find the one of them speaking at least two foreign languages besides Arabic. Thus with the growing industrialization of the land and the influx of foreign investors, the foreign investors had a tendency to hire the Christians because of their knowledge of the languages. Accordingly the Christians achieved a higher standard of living which led to a growing jealousy among the Moslem masses. Yet this did not affect the sense of solidarity prevailing among the two groups. The leadership of the country continued the tradition of solidarity with the Copts. Then came the war with Israel and as usual the public was very emotional about the issue and was reluctant to listen to any rational argument. Senator Tewfik Doss – a Copt - stood in the parliament to reason with those who wanted to rush in sending troops to fight in Palestine. He told the members of the Senate; “What are the troops going to fight with? We have ammunition for two weeks only. When this ammunition is consumed what will the soldiers fight with?” This was a touchy subject with the public and a provincial Moslem senator stood up and slapped him on the face with his foot ware (Bulghah). The Senate did not discipline the perpetrator and the net effect of the incident was the withdrawal of the Christian politicians from public life.

Then came the role of a failure by the name of Hassan el-Banna who formed the Moslem Brotherhood and kept spewing his venom among the mobs inciting them to be hostile to the Christians on the premise that they are Polytheists and Kafers. Things went from bad to worse. There was the exclusion of the Christians from general hiring and from all pivotal positions. Foreign investors were admonished not to hire Christians more the 3 % of their working force. Yet the Copts enjoyed the free capitalist market and thrived in it. So they did not see any reason to protest the status quo and let things slide by. A disciple of Hassan El-Banna and the head of the paramilitary arm of the Moslem Brotherhoods by the name of Gamal Abdel Nasser led a military Junta to depose King Farouk and to every one’s surprise the USA ambassador in Egypt the honorable Jefferson Caffrey indicated the support of the USA to the Junta and Farouk left the country on board of his Yacht Al-Mahrousa to later on die in Italy. In all fairness to the Royal Family they did their best to keep the country on an even keel with European countries. Their contributions to the education in the country are undeniable. Only an ignorant or an ingrate would deny them their achievements in this endeavor. And in all fairness to Farouk, it was his advisor; Ali Maher; who tangled his life in this ugly way. The king fell victim to bad advice which alienated the public from him. The Junta itself have always boasted that there is not one Christian among their ranks or in their Cabinet.

Nasser was a complex man, rash and brash, debelitatingly lacking in experience. He never had the finesse necessary to succeed as a politician or as a statesman. With his military upbringing he was convinced that it is all a matter of enforcing his desires. He lacked the economic perspective. He thought, that all he needs is a loud voice and intimidation to make the world respond to his wishes. He acted in an inappropriate manner with President Lyndon B. Johnson when he was seeking finance for the High Dam. Johnson had in front of him a report from Arthur D. Little which concluded that the project would be a failure and would have a loss of 10 – 15 % every year based on the net present value method. The report was basically a feasibility study and predicted many of the side effects that materialized after the construction of the Dam. To deny Nasser the benefits of the report Johnson ordered it classified. Arthur D. Little in their study treated the project as an economic investment enterprise not just a construction project as Nasser and his advisors thought. So he jumped into the construction phase without the benefit of the feasibility study done by Arthur D. Little. And the after effects of this mistake are now evident to every one. Indeed the report predicts that by the year 2070 the loss of water to evaporation behind the Dam will surpass the loss of water in the sand and that Egypt will face a state of water famine; a shortage of water supplies to the extent that they may have to choose between land irrigation or human use, or at least to ration its use between both. Not a very good prospect.

When he needed funds for the High Dam and was denied his wish, Nehru advised him to nationalize the Suez Canal which he did and had to pay for the shares on the world stock exchanges when he could have gotten it for nothing 9 or 10 years later. This alienated the foreign investors from investing in the country and the financial noose tightened on the economy leading to skyrocketing inflation and the spread of unemployment. Domestic investors were also frightened by his leaning towards communism and kept the strings on their purses tight. In a dire situation he decided to confiscate the wealth of the “public” and 89 % of the affected by his actions were the Christians. Besides when he controlled the economy the businesses under the government control excluded the Christians from hiring and many of them who were previously employed by these firms realized that they are facing a brick wall and decided to emigrate to other lands where they can have their lives and enjoy it too. This loss of talent aggravated the situation and as many of us succeeded in their new home-lands others became encouraged to follow suit. The drain of talents continued on an accelerated pace.

Nasser was followed by another inexperienced Sadat who was as corrupt as corruption can be. He signed a peace treaty with Israel not for the love of peace but to spite the Arabs. In his feuding with the Saudis, they instigated his assassination. When the Patriarch declined Sadat’s plea to send pilgrims to Jerusalem as a vestige of normalization of relations with Israel he was infuriated and created the spectacle of confining the Patriarch in a monastery. The Patriarch’s decision was wise because he did not want the Copts to look as if they are stabbing the country in the back. If the patriarch would have acceded to Sadat’s request he would have acerbated the situation in the country beyond belief and would have squandered a wealth of goodwill accumulated over the years.

With the exclusion of Copts from employment and from public life, the Church became the only representative of the Copts. A function that the Church did not seek, did not want and does not want but it was foisted on her by the realities of politics in the country. This is the point that my friend Alaa’ missed and imagined that the Church did that as a political entity. The Coptic Church has always abided by the teaching of Christ; “To Caesar what is to Caesar and to God what is to God.” Nor do the Copts want the Church to be tangled with Politics but as they say in Egypt; “Necessity have its rules and dictates.” That the Patriarch endorsed the succession of Gamal Mubarak to power after his father is due to the fact that it is the least of the two evils; Gamal or the Moslem Brotherhoods. Eventhough Gamal himself is a Moslem Brotherhood sympathizer, his status as a capitalist billionaire modulates his views to a mellower perception. It was simply a rational decision to make, not a wholehearted endorsement. Being the head of a large constituency and with the absence of other leading figures, made him the target of extreme pressure by the government to utter a favorable testimonial for the benefit of the ruler. You see Alaa’, Moslems must take an active role in managing the politics of the country. They should not sit back and expect the Copts to take the whole brunt on themselves. Don’t forget that we have been so alienated for such a long time that we distanced ourselves from any action, in protest and in boycott. For the vast majority of the bamboozled public this is viewed as a welcome development.

Actually the Copts were keen on maintaining the social harmony in the country. They expected and wanted the enlightened Moslems to have their input in the crisis, but dear Alaa’, they neglected their role between indifference to the happenings and subliminal sympathizing with the actions of the Moslem Brotherhood. This led to the current state of affairs. The Copts abroad realizing that there is a concerted campaign to eliminate Christians and Christianity from the Middle East, as stated in the secret resolutions of the Islamic Summit of 1974 in Lahore Pakistan. They did not want to stand on the side lines as if they have no interest in the matter. They decided that hence no one showed any magnanimity and no one is willing to be rational they might as well flex their muscles. Do not ignore the fact that we are now citizens of our new homelands yet we are still ethnic Copts. The thing that worries me Alaa’ is that the spiraling tensions are bound to lead to a civil war in the country. Civil wars when they start they grow continuously because by the virtue of their eruption they create a vested interest for the people who started it to continue with it until they get a recognition of their legitimacy. This is why civil wars never end until there is no more blood to shed. You probably are aware that blood is the ammunition of civil wars more than the weapons. This probably will make the rulers of Riad elated and happy but it will destroy Egypt totally. The Copts have always sacrificed for their mother land. It is their heritage and their inheritance and if they don’t get their rights in it they will not leave it to the dogs. They will let it burn than let the Wahhabis enjoy it. It is time the enlightened Moslems step up to the plate and do what they have to do to foster peace and harmony in the country. Alaa’ I have a lot of respect for you and for the many reasonable Moslems who live in Egypt. But I maintain it is up to you to heal the nation. The expatriate Copts will not be intimidated by having them labeled by some ugly labels. We know we did our best to keep Egypt abreast with progress, and we were the custodians of its economic development. It is the hostile attitude of some closed minded petty people that threaten the future of Egypt. With a big push for Wahhabism, there is little that the Copts can do without the help of the enlightened Moslems. You will have to take the lead to heal the country this time.

G. R. Scharoubim

A trustee of the American Coptic Association


The growing trend of gauging our responses to international incidents, against political correctness standards, and subjecting them to these standards as the ideal and appropriate course to formulate our foreign policy when dealing with others, irrespective of their posture towards us is certainly a gross and foolish mistake. We argue that, planning for security should not be skewed by non-rational considerations but must be subjected to rigorous critical evaluation of the facts. Any other approach is bound to doom our actions to failure and dooms our security to be violated and impugned. Our national security consideration must take precedence over any other consideration and we should no be apologetic about that.

Of course we should not opt to offend counter entities unduly, but also we should not rush to accommodate the whims and the pretensions of others at the expense of our security. They must understand that our national security is sacred to us and is non-negotiable. It is not subject to tactful accommodations. One question stands in my mind; why are they, all that reluctant to accommodate our security? And what obligation do we owe them to endanger ourselves in order to accommodate their devious desires? Any entity that patronizes terrorism as a religious activity or duty, even though it does not participate in the activity, SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED OUR FRIEND OR ALLY. Our energy future should be secured through bio-diesel, nuclear energy, fuel cell or natural and coke oven gases. In our frigid weather, automotive engines are better off running on propane than on Gasoline.

Moslems have a tradition of chiseling at their targets one chisel at a time until they totally destroy them and subjugate them over time. We must be fully aware of this fact and avoid falling for this ploy. Many of their practices are intended to provide instant visible identification as a segregation technique and to assert their separation from the host society. Sometimes they are intended to assert their superiority over the society they live in by isolating themselves from it and distinguishing themselves from the society. We must vehemently repel any effort to diminish our security or our prestige for that matter even if it came from some one we imagine him as a friend or an ally. We must not subjugate ourselves to our “allies” We must maintain our pride and dignity. Diversity is a beautiful thing in a society but it should not be endorsed to destroy the character of our innate culture, or to mutate our nature. I happen to be a foreign born American, yet I feel strongly about preserving the nature of the society I admired and opted to adopt. Immigrants should be willing to adapt to the local culture, not force us to adopt the culture they opted to desert and come to live in our society. We must always bear in mind that Moslem societies have an addiction to delusion, delirium and denial. There are no true facts in life other than what they believe in. They are characterized by the total suppression of reason and rational. They reject any use of brain and endorse the total suppression of intelligence. The core values of Islam are; treachery, treason and terrorism. What happened in Fort Hood (Major Nidal Hasan) and with the CIA in Afghanistan (Humam Khalil Abul Mulal Al-Balawi) are two salient evidences to this fact. Please notice that both perpetrators were highly educated, both were doctors who presumably swore to honor the Hippocratic oath. Yet they committed both crimes willfully in a deliberate and premeditated way. How and why did this happen? The teachings of Islam instills acrimony and rancor in the hearts of its followers and poisons their minds in a manner that makes them act as possessed morons. They live in a hypnotized state of hate. Playing the game of political correctness does not cure this state of deep seated hatred it only endorses it and encourages it. We have seen this game played by more than one entity, all claiming to be the true followers of Islam. We must bring ourselves to face this fact rather than turn our faces away from it.

There is something in the course of inter-relations called reciprocity. The dictionary defines reciprocity as the mutual exchanges of trades and diplomacies. We must insist on reciprocity in our dealing with others. We should condition our accommodations to others on counter and equal reciprocity. Thus we can keep a healthy balance of relations. If they decline to exercise it, then they are not our friends or allies and we should treat them as thus. I would expect from a friend, to return the gesture of goodwill, not to demand preferential privileges with no reciprocity.

When a country calls on us to help them with their domestic problems, they must be willing to put in their share of responsibility. They should not expect us to baby sit them. We should not undertake the whole burden of action. They should contribute to the venture, local security and intelligence. These are all valuable contributions they can bring in to secure the success of our operations. We should not suffer being tossed in the turbulence of their chaos.

Democracy is a beautiful thing to be adopted and exercised. However on many occasions we see democracy feigned but not practiced. We should insist on the true practice of democracy not just a veneer, a mask or a phony look alike. Yet we have to be meticulous about this matter because democracy is often co-opted by extremists to serve their own purposes. We have seen examples of this in Algiers and in Iraq. Majorities are often made up of ignorant masses that follow a virulent extremist without any thinking or any input on their part. We have to distinguish between true honest democracy and the opportunistic extremism masquerading as majority to manipulate the government of the land to implement their plans and policies. Majority rule have to be thoroughly examined and we must insist on a safe haven for minorities to protect their interest in an overwhelming majority and turbulent regime. Minorities must have the right to veto resolutions by the majority intended to impugn their rights or freedoms. It would be appropriate to have the United Nations insert this concept in the Universal declaration of Human Rights,

G. R. Scharoubim.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Washington DC: 2000 Coptic Christians Rally Outside White House on January 21

Washington DC: 2000 Coptic Christians Rally Outside White House on January 21
By R.E.A.L. Organization • on January 21, 2010
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On January 21, 2010 on a winter afternoon, over 2000 Coptic Christians rallied, chanted, sang, prayed, and marched outside the White House to get the attention of U.S. President Barack Obama and the American public on the continuing human rights violations of the Copts in Egypt. They came from Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and other parts of America to protest the recent terrorist attack on Copts in Egypt on January 6 (Coptic Christmas Eve), with terrorists killing Copts as they left their religious services in Nag Hammadi (near Luxor). The latest attacks were part of a continuing history of oppression, rape, murder, and forced conversion from Christianity to Islam of the Coptic people and women in Egypt.

January 21, 2010 - Over 2000 rally in front of the White House in the aftermath of the Coptic Christmas eve killings of Copts in Egypt

Protesters Joining the Copts White House Rally
The crowd arrived in different locations from buses, some of which were organized at St. Mark Coptic Church (11911 Braddock RD Fairfax, VA 22030) and St. Mary Coptic Church (8340 Woodward St. Savage, MD 20763). Coptic organizers included Halim Meawad and Magdi Khalil. The rally was supported by the Coalition of American Coptic organizations and activists, the National American Coptic Assembly, Free Copts organization, and was promoted on the Free Copts organization website.

With the recent attacks on Copts in November 2009 (in Farshoot and Abou Shousha) and the January 2010 terrorist attack on Copts outside their Mar Yohana church in Nag Hammadi, the Coptic people continue to face deadly persecution in Egypt. Morris Sadek’s group, the National American Coptic Assembly, passed out fliers at the White House rally defying President Mubarak’s claims that “there is no persecution for Copts in Egypt;” the fliers addressed the oppression of Coptic Christians, attacks on churches, the forced “Islamization” and abduction of Coptic girls, and official restrictions on creation of new Christian churches. According to Morris Sadek, “enough is enough,” calling for Mubarak and the American government to “do something now.”

National American Coptic Assembly's Morris Sadek at January 21, 2010 White House Rally
One attendee stated that the crowd of Copt supporters was estimated at 2500 people. It was a large enough crowd that it filled the Pennsylvania Avenue area in front of the White House. We attempted to estimate the moving crowd (which frequently was marching around the area) and concluded it was clearly over 2000 people. New members to protest continue to join the rally as it was in progress. Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) was represented among the supporters at the Copts’ White House rally.

More People Kept Coming to the Copt Rally
Protesters held signs, crosses, and American flags. Entire families with their children came to spend the day.

Signs included messages such as “Stop the Killing of Innocent Christians Now,” “Save Christians in Egypt,” signs imploring President Obama to recognize their plight, and some signs merely asked the painful question “Why?” regarding the hate-based attacks and oppression on the Copts’ human rights and lives.

Copts Called for "Stop the Killing of Innocent Christians Now"
In reference to the January 6 (Coptic Christmas Eve) terrorist attack, one protester’s sign read “Bloodshed is not what I wanted for Christmas.”

Others held large banners describing the scope of the ongoing human rights violations against the Copts: 161 attacks on Christians and churches, 4500 stores, houses, and churches burned, and 1500 tortured.

Copts Describe Scope of Human Rights Crisis in front of the White House (January 21, 2010)
The protesters called for U.S. President Barack Obama to take action, and chanted “Obama, Obama, We Need Action!”

They also chanted to stop the killing of Christians in Egypt, that “Christian Blood is Not Cheap,” and implored the “U.S. [to] Wake Up!”

Protesters lined up and down the Pennsylvania Avenue area in front of the White House marched back and forth.

Copts Lining Up on Pennsylvania Avenue in Front of the White House

Copts Marching in front of the White House
During the protest at the White House, Coptic supporters sang “Lord Have Mercy,” and prayed. They protested for freedom of worship for the Coptic Christians in Egypt.

Copts Join Together for Moment of Prayer in front of White House
As the Copts braved the winter day to show their support for their fellow Copts in Egypt, they showed that they would defy the forces of oppression, and that they will not allow the suffering of the Copts to be forgotten by the U.S. government or by the American people. Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) stands by the Copts’ struggle for their universal human rights.

Copts Fear No Evil as They Call for Their Universal Human Rights
Video of Rally from Free Copts Website

Other Protest Scenes

Monday, January 18, 2010

Over 100 Coptic Christian Teenagers Arrested in Egypt

Over 100 Coptic Christian Teenagers Arrested in Egypt

Over 100 Coptic Christian Teenagers Arrested in Egypt

Egypt (AINA) -- Egyptian State Security has intensified its intimidation of the Coptic Church and Christians in Nag Hammadi, and neighboring Bahgoura, by carrying out random arrests of Christian youth. The campaign against Christians started on Friday January 7, 2010 and is continuing; multiple members of families have been arrested without warrants. Most arrests are being carried at dawn. More than one hundred Christian youth have been arrested without charge.

Arrests of Copts after every sedition is the usual scenario as a pressure card in the hands of State Security to force the church and Copts to accept "reconciliation", in which Coptic victims give up all criminal and civil charges against the perpetrators. Because of the reaction in Egypt and worldwide to the shootings and the role of the State Security, Bishop Kyrollos was asked issue statements downplaying the negligence of State Security. It is believed the arrests of the Coptic youth is a pressure tactic to force him to recant his accusations.

Anwar Samuel, a head teacher from Nag Hammadi, told Freecopts that State Security came to their home at four o'clock in the morning, looking for his nephew Mohareb, who happened to be in Kuwait. "Instead they arrested my three other nephews, Fadi, Tanios and Wael Milad Samuel, and took them away in their pajamas." He said they have been subjected to electric shocks.

Coptic News Bulletin contacted several families who confirmed that males as young as 16 were taken away by the police. In an aired interviews, affected families told how the Police tricked their sons into going with them, by telling them that Bishop Kyrollos wanted them to do so for their safety.

Habib Tanios was arrested on charges of firing on people who burnt his home in Bahgoura, although he has no rifle.

Families of the arrested Copts congregated all day near police station waiting for news

According to sources close to Freecopts, strict state security instructions were issued to the clergy in the parish of Nag Hamadi, to suppress any move by the Copts affected by the events and the families of those killed, to demonstrate or protest, accompanied by explicit threats that police will be using live ammunition.

After the Nag Hammadi shooting on January 6, in which 8 Copts were killed and 15 injured as they came out of Coptic Christmas Eve mass (AINA 1-7-2010, 1-10-2010). Bishop Kyrollos of Nag Hammadi Diocese criticized the lack of police protection of the church, which is usual during such events. He held State Security responsible especially that he had received death threats, and was the intended target of the shootings.

Conflict between State Security and Bishop Kyrollos arose due to his insistence on compensation for the Copts of Farshout who lost property and businesses caused by Muslim mob violence against them end November 2009 (AINA 11-22-2009, 11-23-2009, 11-29-2009). None of the state officials attended the celebrations at Church which many took as a sign of their knowledge of the forthcoming shootings.

By Mary Abdelmassih

Monday, January 11, 2010

Violence Against Christians Continues in Egypt After Christmas Eve Shootings

Violence Against Christians Continues in Egypt After Christmas Eve Shootings

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Violence Against Christians Continues in Egypt After Christmas Eve Shootings

Egypt (AINA) -- Violence broke out in the evening of January 8, 2010, in the southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, in the main market and 'Bein el Mehatat' area, spreading as well to the neighbouring town of Bahgoura. Muslim mobs used swords, butane gas cylinders for explosions and Molotov cocktails to loot and torch Coptic-owned homes, shops and cars (video).

Mary Om Boktor Kyrollos, a Coptic widow from Bahgoura, died of fumes after her home was torched yesterday by Muslims while she was indoors. She was buried in the early hours of January 09, 2010.

Reverend Misaeel, pastor of the church in Bahgoura told Coptic News that violence started on Friday at 20:00. In Bahgoura, 3 kilometers from Nag Hammadi, where most of the violence took place, inhabitants confirmed that water and electricity were disconnected in the evening, during the fires. "Fire brigades arrive 90 minutes late, and the vehicles which arrived had empty tanks."

Eyewitnesses said the perpetrators were chanting "Allah is Great" and "No God except Allah" while destroying, looting and torching Coptic property.

"When the State Security forces are not present, the Muslims come to loot and burn, and when the forces return to the area, the Muslims disappear. They simply do not arrest them, they just tell them to go away," an eye witnesses told Coptic News Bulletin in an interview. "State Security is only present in front of the Coptic Diocese."

Complete absence of security forces was confirmed by another eyewitness. "All Copts are terrified and are staying indoors," he said.

According to Free Copts, Muslims mobs were led by elements loyal to the first defendant in the Christmas Eve Massacre on January 6, 2010, when the Christian congregation was sprayed with bullets as they came out of church after celebrating the Coptic Christmas Eve mass. 8 were killed and 15 wounded (AINA 1-7-2010).

Funeral services for the victims of the Christmas shootings took place on Thursday, led by Bishop Kyrillos of the Nag Hammadi Diocese, and was attended by several thousand Copts. (video of funeral). It was reported that Muslims pelted the funeral procession with stones.

By Mary Abdelmassih

Thursday, January 7, 2010

8 Coptic Christians in Egypt Shot Dead As They Left Christmas Mass

By: Mary Abdelmassih

Jan 08, 2010

An assassination attempt on the life of Bishop Kirollos in southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi was foiled tonight. Eight Copts were killed and 15 wounded as they came out of Church after celebrating the Coptic Christmas Eve midnight mass on Wednesday 6th January at 11.15 PM.

"I was the one intended to be assassinated by this plot, and when it failed the criminals turned round and started shooting and finishing off the young ones." Bishop Kirollos of the Nag Hammagi Diocese told Middle East Christian Association (MECA) today in an aired interview.

Eyewitnesses saw a dark-green "Fiat" 131 without registration, one Peugeot 504 car and a half-truck. The cars were driven by masked men shooting randomly at the congregation as they came out of Church. The cars then went into three nearby areas (15th March Street, 15 May Street and Railway Station Street) shooting Copts.

One eye-witness told MECA that those killed were mostly young men in their early 20s. He said that most people were killed or wounded near the church, but that the cars went around shooting in other areas, resulting in two more death, besides the wounded. It was reported that among the dead was a young man and his fiancé and a 14-years-old boy .

Another witness criticized the absence of security. "Security came as everything was over, instead of trying to catch the criminals, they were interrogating us about the description of the cars." This video shows the shootings.

An eye-witness told Coptic News Bulletin from Nag Hammadi Hospital that the situation is dire, and there is a critical shortage of blood for transfusions. "The Muslims promised us a wonderful Christmas, and I think the message is received now," he said.

The Bishop accused security services of negligence in dealing with the events which led to the massacre, and added: "Not one single security man intervened to prevent casualties." He criticized the absence of adequate State Security forces guarding the church, which is customary on such events and in view of the unrest which took place in the area in November 2009.

According to Wagih Yacoub of MECA Bishop Kirollos had recently received a death threat.

Bishop Kirollos told Freecopts that the assassination attempt was meant to dispose of him in view of his standing position on the rights of the victims of the attacks on Christians in November 2009, in the areas of Farshout, Abu Shusha, Aerky and Alshokeify, part of the parish of Nag Hammadi. The State Security was heavily criticized at the time for the shameful role it played when Muslims assaulted Copts, in addition to looting and burning their businesses. One hundred and sixty three Copts were forcibly deported from their village by State Security following the events. These events were sparked by a rumor that a Copt had indecently assaulted a minor Muslim girl. Many Copts believe that the rape incident was fabricated by the Muslims to use it as a pretext to start violence against them. The accused Copt has not yet been charged by the Police. (AINA 11-22-2009, 11-23-2009).

A state of curfew was imposed tonight on the city of Nag Hammadi, and those inhabitants who were outside could not get back into their homes in the city.

Most witnesses interviewed believe that there was collusion between those carrying out today's shooting and the State Security, as for the first time, none of them attended the Christmas Eve midnight mass, which is customary in those events. "They must have known in advance of the shootings and avoided the embarrassment of participating in the festivities inside church," said one witness.

All Christmas festivities have been cancelled said the Bishop. "Copts are terrified and will be staying indoors."

A similar incident occurred in April 2009 when Muslims opened fire on worshipers as they left the prayer service on Easter Eve in the village of Higaza, Qena Governorate, resulting in the death of Amir Stephanos (36 years) Ayub Said (22) and the injury of Mina Samir (35) Higaza village turned into a military barracks since April last.