Archive for Copts

Egyptian Elections: Islamophobes Will Be Unable to Explain this Picture

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by loonwatch

Of course anti-Islam bigots like “John C. Drew, Ph.D” will be unable to explain the picture below. According to them, Muslims are all persecuting Christians in Egypt, who are supposedly in the same position as Jews on the eve of the Kristalnacht (h/t: Amir):

The picture is taken from the Facebook group, The Official Page for the Coalition of Coptic Egyptians.

They wrote this as a caption for the picture:
دى بقى من أجمل صور المصراوية فى الإنتخابات الرئاسية لمصوّر جريدة الأهرام “بسّام الزغبى” .. سأختارها حتما ضمن أفضل صور العام.
انشرها وعرف غيرك اننا هنفضل مسلم ومسيحى مش كلام لكن حقيقة

Translation: “One of the most beautiful photos of Egyptians during the presidential elections from photographer for Al-Ahram newspaper, “Bustaam Al-Zoghbi.” We choose it amongst the best pictures of the year. Spread it. And let others besides yourself know that verily we remain Muslims and Christians, not just “talk” but “reality.”

But who wants to hear the voice of Copts themselves, when “John C. Drew, PhD” can speak for them?

Loonwatch Stands with Protests for Freedom in Egypt

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Loonwatch, like many around the world has been glued to events in Egypt. Will it go the way of Tunisia, full blown revolution, or will brutal repression quell the revolt as happened in Iran?

Only time will tell. You can follow the live stream of what is happening in Egypt at AlJazeera’s Live Stream.

The governments of the West in general and the US in particular have given luke warm platitudes about their support for peace, rights etc. Hillary Clinton in the beginning stages of the protests this week left a sour taste in the mouths of the protestors when she essentially extended her support for the Mubarak regime,

I urge all people to exercise restraint. I support the fundamental right of expression, but our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people

This is realpolitik speak that translates to “we want the status quo” and the Egyptian people know it and they resent it because it exposes the hypocrisy of the so-called beacon of “democracy and freedom.”

Vice President Joe Biden blurted out some hours ago what perhaps may be the true sentiments/wishes of the US government:

Mubarak is no dictator, he shouldn’t step down…

How out of touch is Biden? Is he blind? Does he think we are children?

Today Hillary Clinton came out with a statement that on its surface seems to contradict Biden’s revelatory position,

“People in the Middle East, like people everywhere, are seeking a chance to contribute and have a role in decisions that will shape their lives…The Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away”

While these statements indicate an improvement in rhetoric they fall far short of a condemnation of the violence and repression perpetuated by the Mubarak regime.

The events in Tunisia and Egypt have all but thrown a wrench in the stereoptypes perpetuated by anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racists and Islamophobes.

It proves that regime change need not come at the point of a gun, and that Democracy can be born in the Middle East through organic change from the grass roots as opposed to the Bush Doctrine.

It proves that the stereotype that Arabs and Muslims are incapable of change unless it be either theocratic or despotic is a racist lie. These protests are for better living conditions, jobs and DEMOCRACY!

It also proves that despite attempts at enflaming sectarian division between Muslim and Christian Egyptians by extremists in both the extremist Muslim and anti-Muslim camps they are more united than ever. During protests Egyptian Copts protected their Muslim brethren as they prayed and vice versa!

It exposes quite clearly the hypocrisy and double standards of many in the West who give zero credit to the Arab and Muslim peoples, it also exposes their close link and dealings with decadent despotic regimes. We can’t help but notice the difference between the reaction to protests in Iran and these protests, can it be that denunciations are affected by how friendly or adverse one is to the regime in question?

The Egyptian people have tasted liberation, have tasted the idea that they can take destiny into their own hands and bring about –real change– that can lead to a brighter future, may they succeed in transitioning to Democracy.

Update #1: Tear gas canisters are…drum roll…MADE IN THE USA:

Update #2: From mp11,

“Spencer is having a hard time turning the protests in Tunisia and Egypt into a Jihad.

In his latest offering he tells his stupid readers that when Muslims call for democracy and freedom they are in fact calling for Shariah.

“Calls for democracy effectively amount to calls for Islamic rule.”

Update #3: Some 2,000-3,000 people thronged around a military vehicle near Cairo’s Tahrir square, a Reuters witness said. They climbed on it, shaking hands with the soldiers, and chanted: “The army and the people are united” and “The revolution has come”. (AlJazeera English)

Update #4: Mubarak breaks his silence, attempts to look defiant. Is he adding fuel to the fire?

Update #5: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia speaks, “No Arab and Muslim human being can bear that some infiltrators, in the name of freedom of expression, have infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilize its security and stability and they have been exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction, intimidation, burning, looting and inciting a malicious sedition,’” the news agency said.

Some autocratic ally of ours is scared isn’t he?

Update #6: “‘Democracy is something beautiful,’ said Eli Shaked, who was Israel’s ambassador to Cairo from 2003 to 2005, in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. Nevertheless, it is very much in the interests of Israel, the United States and Europe that Mubarak remains in power.‘”

Update #7: “Which would I rather have, the autocrat or the Islamic radical Democracy,? I don’t know, that’s a question that’ll keep me up at night” –Geraldo Rivera

Rivera should keep looking for Al Capone’s secret safe and not talk about things he has no knowledge of makes him sound really stupid.

 

Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields”

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2011 by loonwatch

Don’t expect to see this news on Spencer’s blog.

Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields”

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.

From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.

Among those shields were movie stars Adel Imam and Yousra, popular preacher Amr Khaled, the two sons of President Hosni Mubarak, and thousands of citizens who have said they consider the attack one on Egypt as a whole.

“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

In the days following the brutal attack on Saints Church in Alexandria, which left 21 dead on New Year’ eve, solidarity between Muslims and Copts has seen an unprecedented peak. Millions of Egyptians changed their Facebook profile pictures to the image of a cross within a crescent – the symbol of an “Egypt for All”. Around the city, banners went up calling for unity, and depicting mosques and churches, crosses and crescents, together as one.

The attack has rocked a nation that is no stranger to acts of terror, against all of Muslims, Jews and Copts. In January of last year, on the eve of Coptic Christmas, a drive-by shooting in the southern town of Nag Hammadi killed eight Copts as they were leaving Church following mass. In 2004 and 2005, bombings in the Red Sea resorts of Taba and Sharm El-Sheikh claimed over 100 lives, and in the late 90’s, Islamic militants executed a series of bombings and massacres that left dozens dead.

This attack though comes after a series of more recent incidents that have left Egyptians feeling left out in the cold by a government meant to protect them.

Last summer, 28-year-old businessman Khaled Said was beaten to death by police, also in Alexandria, causing a local and international uproar. Around his death, there have been numerous other reports of police brutality, random arrests and torture.

Last year was also witness to a brutal parliamentary election process in which the government’s security apparatus and thugs seemed to spiral out of control. The result, aside from injuries and deaths, was a sweeping win by the ruling party thanks to its own carefully-orchestrated campaign that included vote-rigging, corruption and rife brutality. The opposition was essentially annihilated. And just days before the elections, Copts – who make up 10 percent of the population – were once again the subject of persecution, when a government moratorium on construction of a Christian community centre resulted in clashes between police and protestors. Two people were left dead and over 100 were detained, facing sentences of up to life in jail.

The economic woes of a country that favours the rich have only exacerbated the frustration of a population of 80 million whose majority struggle each day to survive. Accounts of thefts, drugs, and violence have surged in recent years, and the chorus of voices of discontent has continued to grow.

The terror attack that struck the country on New Year’s eve is in many ways a final straw – a breaking point, not just for the Coptic community, but for Muslims as well, who too feel marginalized, persecuted, and overlooked, by a government that fails to address their needs. On this Coptic Christmas eve, the solidarity was not just one of religion, but of a desperate and collective plea for a better life and a government with accountability.

 

Ahmed Rehab: A Silver Lining in Egypt’s Dark Cloud

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by loonwatch

An inspiring and heartening post by Ahmed Rehab on the bombing of the Coptic church. We were alerted to this late but this is certainly thus far one of the best posts on the subject. (hat tip: Ivan)

A Silver Lining to Egypt’s Dark Cloud

by Ahmed Rehab

The recent bombing outside a Coptic church in the Egyptian seaport of Alexandria that claimed 21 lives and 96 injuries sent shockwaves throughout Egypt and made headlines around the world.

Much of the global media has limited its interest in the story to the bombing itself and the subsequent angry street protests by Coptic youth; more savvy journalists included some discussion of government negligence and the context of sectarian strife that plagues Egypt today.

Still, an integral part of the story remains untold outside of Egypt: the strong response of everyday Egyptians – Muslims and Copts.

A popular storm of anger, defiance, and national unity is sweeping the country expressed by political leaders, members of the clergy, movie stars, students, and men and women on the street all reiterating one resounding theme: this is an attack against Egypt and all Egyptians.

While sectarian strife – even violence – is a serious problem in this mostly Muslim nation with a sizable Coptic population, Muslims and Copts generally live in peace side by side and have for many centuries.

Ali GomaaEgyptians of all stripes seem to concur that the Alexandria bombing – the most serious act of terrorism in a decade – is an attack on the Egyptian way of life with the intent to drive a wedge between faith communities and push the nation into turmoil.

“This is not just an attack on Copts, this is an attack on me and you and all Egyptians, on Egypt and its history and its symbols, by terrorists who know no God, no patriotism, and no humanity,” said Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the grand mufti of Egypt.

Khaled El Gendy“This cannot be classified as religious extremism, this can only be classified as religious apostasy,” said sheikh Khaled El Gendy a popular Muslim TV personality. “I do not offer my condolences to Christians, but to all Egyptians and to Egypt, All Copts are Egyptian and all Egyptians are Copts; their places of worship are national places of worship, a bomb that targets them bleeds us all.” A high ranking member of the Coptic clergy who sat beside him echoed his words.

“An act like this is wholly condemnable in Islam. Muslims are not only obligated not to harm Christians, but to protect and defend them and their places of worship,” said Imam Ahmed Al Tayeb the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt’s seat of Orthodoxy.

Adel Imam“Let us hang black flags from our homes and black ribbons on our cars to mourn this cowardly attack against our brothers and sisters, let us send a symbolic message of defiance against those who are trying to divide us”, said a visibly enraged Adel Imam, Egypt’s most popular living actor, a Muslim, and a long time advocate for Coptic rights.

The message was not much different on Egypt’s most watched talk shows that were abuzz with Muslim and Coptic guests in the studios and on the streets, expressing their solidarity with each other and defiance against what they see as a common enemy trying to drive a wedge between Egyptians.

Muslim college students in Alexandria and Cairo have vowed to join Copts at their upcoming Christmas celebrations (January 7th for the Coptic Church). “We will be there with signs bearing the Crescent and the Cross, celebrating with them, standing with them, and falling with them if necessary,” said a young, veiled student leader surrounded by her colleagues.

As an Egyptian, I am as invigorated by the current mood in Egypt as I am distraught by the bombing. However, I pray that this welcome surge of unity and camaraderie is seized and eternalized. I hope that it becomes ingrained into our societal fabric and that it is leveraged to induce long needed reforms.

I agree that an attack such as this has the bearings of Al Qaeda and its imitation groups therefore taking us outside the realm of common sectarian strife and into one of national security; nonetheless, Egyptians should see the current atmosphere of empathy as an opportunity to address Coptic grievances and strive towards a more equal society.

We can no longer deny that since the rise of Muslim extremist ideology in the 1970′s, Egypt’s once exemplary Muslim-Coptic relations has deteriorated significantly.

My father tells me that growing up in the 50′s, he often did not know if one of his friends was a Muslim or Copt except by sheer coincidence, and then when he did it mattered little. This was not my experience growing up in Egypt where my religion teacher made sure to warn me against the “treachery” of my Coptic colleagues.

Naguib El RihanyIn the 40′s, no one seemed to care that Naguib El Rihany, Egypt’s then greatest comedian and a national treasure, was a Copt; he was simply Egyptian. Likewise, Copts did not bat an eyelid when Omar Sharif, a Christian, converted to Islam in the 50′s, at the height of his celebrity, a far cry from today’s intense reactions against conversions.

As far back as the 12th century, Egyptian Muslims and Copts fought side by side against the Crusaders, viewed then as a national security threat and not a religious war. Together, they stood tall against British colonialism – a lasting image of the period depicts Muslim sheikhs and Coptic priests marching together side by side and chanting “long live the crescent and the cross!”

One needs not look farther than the Alexandria Church itself to gain a glimpse of the sort of religious cohabitation that is uniquely Egyptian: the church is brightly lit up by flood lights perched up on a Mosque, only 30 feet across the street.

Egyptians are asking today privately and publicly, where has all this gone?

But we need to do more than ask and lament. We need to act.

The post-Alexandria solidarity between Muslims and Copts – the likes of which Egypt has not witnessed in decades – represents a silver lining in Egypt’s dark cloud of sectarian strife and mistrust.

We would be wrong not to acknowledge and applaud it, but equally wrong to settle for it; a silver lining never made for a brighter day.

We need to carry the momentum forward into the realm of real change:

When extremist religious discourse at Mosques (and in Coptic circles) is regularly and unequivocally condemned and countered with a proactive and effective discourse of respectful coexistence, it will be a brighter day.

When Egyptians no longer have to list their faith affiliation on their official government ID’s, it will be a brighter day.

When Copts no longer need a special government decree to build churches (or fix bathrooms in their churches), it will be a brighter day.

When I see talented young Coptic men playing on the Egyptian football national team at a rate proportional to the Coptic talent in my 6th grade class in Cairo, it will be a brighter day.

When the glass ceiling barring Copts from reaching the highest levels of government is shattered, it will be a brighter day.

When Egyptian law, prosecutors, officers, and judges treat Muslims and Copts as merely Egyptians – that is as equal citizens – with merit being the only qualifier, it will be a brighter day.

Given the candid conversations happening all over Egypt today, I believe that a brighter day is within reach. It is up to us “to change this tragedy into an opportunity,” to borrow the words of Sheikh Ali Gomaa.

Clearly, the immediate priority is security, but that must be followed – if not paralleled – with addressing Coptic civic grievances. For this to stand a realistic chance of success, the Coptic cause must become a national cause led and fought for by Muslims under a program of comprehensive civil rights reform.

Ahmed Rehab is a board member of the Egyptian American Society and a co-author and signatory of the Chicago Declaration, a practical document calling for equal treatment of Copts under the law, submitted to the Egyptian government in 2005.

 

Two missing Coptic women Abused by Priest Husbands, What if they were Muslim?

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , on December 28, 2010 by loonwatch

Robert Spencer was all on this issue before, painting it in a simplified form directly taking the side of ultra right-wing Coptic apologists who hate Islam with a passion. Don’t expect any retractions from Spencer on this one.

Two missing Coptic women had been abused by priest husbands

(StlToday)

CAIRO, Egypt • The wives of two Egyptian Coptic priests, forbidden by the church from divorcing their abusive husbands, desperately sought another way out by converting to Islam. When their intentions were discovered, police handed them over to the church, and their whereabouts since have been unknown.

The cases caused a furor at home that spilled over the borders and turned deadly when al-Qaida in Iraq cited the women as the reason behind the worst attack ever on Christians in Iraq — a siege of a church in October that left 68 people dead.

It was a stark example of the schism between Christians and Muslims that runs through the Middle East and periodically erupts into violence.

“Amid the current sectarian discord, the timing is perfect for al-Qaida to show it is defending Islam and to exploit the situation to rally extremists against the churches,” said Ammar Ali Hassan, an expert in Islamic movements.

Both Wafaa Constantine, 53, and Camilla Shehata, 25, lived in remote rural towns and enjoyed prestige as devoted and pious wives of conservative Coptic priests. But behind that veneer, a lawyer and a church official said, the women were trapped in abusive relationships.

Both tried to seek a divorce through church channels but hit a dead end because the Coptic Orthodox Church forbids divorce — a rule enforced even more strictly against the wives of priests. And they decided to rebel, not only against their husbands but against the whole religion.

They sought to convert to Islam, something viewed as a disgrace in their community. The Coptic Church considers those who convert to other religions dead, making the marriage contract invalid.

Though Egyptian religious authorities say the women never succeeded in converting, the controversy in both cases escalated with protests by Egyptian Christians, who accused Muslims of abducting the women and forcing them to convert.

That riled Muslim extremists in Egypt who protested and accused the church of holding them against their will and forcing them to convert back to Christianity.

Al-Qaida in Iraq turned it into a cause celebre when it cited the women as the reason behind the Baghdad church siege. The group followed with more threats against Iraq’s Christian minority, generating such fear that most Christmas celebrations in the country were canceled.

 

Oxymoron: Robert Spencer Joins Islamophobes on Panel to Celebrate Human Rights

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2010 by loonwatch

Voice of the Copts which for all intents and purposes is an anti-Islam Coptic apologetic website is hosting a “celebration” of human rights on Human Rights day which they completely undermined by inviting a panel consisting of some of the most anti-Freedom, anti-Muslim activists (read opportunists) out there.

The panel will include:

Robert Spencer: anti-Muslim director of David Horowitz’s funded JihadWatch. An ally of Fascists and neo-Nazi groups such as: Geert Wilders (Right-wing Dutch neo-Fascist), EDL (English Defense League), SIOE (Stop the Islamization of Europe), BPE (Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa), Ewald Stadler(Far right Austrian politician), BZO, Sergei Trefkovic (Serbian Nationalist, genocide denier). Spencer has also created anti-Muslim org’s along with Pamela Geller, SIOA and AFDI.

Pamela Geller: All you need to know about Pamela, “Pamela Geller: The Looniest Blogger Ever.”

Tawfiq Hamid: Oppurtunist of the worst kind, “Tawfiq Hamid: The Shemp of the Three Stooges.”

It is sad that the Voice of the Copts has chosen to give a platform to hatemongers of the worst kind, it undermines a valuable day and hurts any credibility that they may have.