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.

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