The tenth day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic Hijrī calendar is known as ‘Āshūrā’. This day, is a sacred day celebrated by both Sunnīs and Shī’ah Muslims alike albeit for different reasons. Despite sharing this day in common, it highlights differences and brings memories of unjustified hostilities.
Amnesty International has been recurrently critical of the military intervention following large-scale demonstrations against President Morsi between June 30 and July 3. Amnesty International has also criticized the interim authorities for various human rights violations following July 3. In their evaluation of the current draft Constitution they recognize improvements over the previous 2012 Constitution.
Few subjects are so sensitive in Egypt as the conversion from one religion to the other. It is often difficult to find out the truth in such stories with all of the possible interests involved, both of the convert and the people around him or her. One can obtain a better glimpse of the various motives through in-depth interviews with various actors. Neither Jayson Casper nor I have ever met with Muhammad Hijāzī. I, however, remember the outpouring of negative Egyptian media reporting when his conversion became public in the late 90s, making him despised in the eyes of many Muslims and a hero in the eyes of Christians wanting to see Muslims get to know the Gospel and/or Christians with generally negative perceptions of Muslims. Such experiences of hate and love also form the concerned convert; it may make them even more negative about Islam and preach this to anyone who wants to hear such a message. For several years Hijāzī tried to change the religion field on his ID card, but once that court case was lost media attention for him declined. His work with the U.S.-based al-Tarīq station, known for a very negative attitude towards Islam, however, brought new problems with Egyptian authorities. Why did he work with al-Tarīq? It is possible this was for lack of other sources of income.
The only thing we can do with such potentially inflammatory stories is to try to be as factual as possible with the information found, knowing of course that what has been reported may be far from a complete picture. We are pleased with the effort of Jayson Casper to bring as much information together as possible which is reflected in the report below.
The final outcome of the Brotherhood’s fatwá is the inevitable disappearance of churches in Dār al-Islām (Islamic countries), which logically entails that there is no place for non-Muslims in Egypt. The Shaykh ends his fatwá stressing that building churches in Islamic countries is not permitted.
Pope Tawadros II ordered the muting of the Cathedral bells for eight weeks. His decision is a consequence of the tensions in Egypt since General 'Abd al-Fattāh al-Sīsī deposed president Muhammad Morsi (Mursī) on July 3. Pope Tawadros II backed al-Sīsī on that day. There were a number of indications that attacks could be carried out against Pope Tawadros II or his residence. In anticipation of any attack against Pope Tawadros II, Pope Tawadros II cancelled his weekly lecture for the eighth time in a row ('Abd al-Wahab Sha'bān, al-Wafd, Aug. 22, p. 5). Read original text in Arabic.
(Anton Bondarew, Intern)
Egyptian churches celebrated (August 22) the Feast of the Virgin Mary despite the present state of security in the country, and despite rumors relating to the targeting of churches and monasteries. Archbishop Sergius said in a statement to al-Wafd that churches all over Egypt held evening prayers and that the mass included prayers for Egypt. He added that prayers for Egypt will not stop until stability returns.
Bishop Bola threatened to withdraw from the Constituent Assembly for the second time in opposition to the way the Preamble was drafted. The Constituent Assembly, on the other hand, decided to form a new committee to reformulate the Preamble. Bola stated that he was surprised to find that the reference to the civil state was removed and that the “principles of sharī’ah” was inserted in the Preamble without being involved (Author not mentioned, al-Shurūq, Nov. 25, p. 1). Read original text in Arabic.
The Public Prosecutor, Hishām Barakāt, has banned publication on the shooting on al-Warrāq Church that took place on October 20 (Amānī Mūsá, Copts United, Nov. 23). Read original text in Arabic.
In an interview with Bishop Rafael, Secretary of the Holy Synod, he said that Egypt in the war against terrorism, and that this war is more difficult than regular wars between states. He continued, “It is not wise for the Copts to go out in demonstrations to raise their demands in these exceptional security circumstances”. He also stressed that the problem the Copts face is not only in building churches, but also in the culture of extremism and hatred. He pointed out that the solution is not the laws and the Constitution, but to deepen the values of a culture of tolerance and acceptance of others (Amānī Mūsá, Copts United, Nov. 23). Read original text in Arabic.
Anonymous sources have reported that a conflict developed in the Constituent Assembly due to a disagreement over the insertion of the term “civil state” in the Preamble of the Constitution. This follows the Nūr Party demand to insert the content of deleted Article 219 in the Preamble. ‘Amr Mūsá the head of the Constituent Assembly has met with the representatives of the Church and Al-Azhar to discuss the opposition of both to articles in the Constitution. He stated that there might be a reference to the term “principles” (of shar’īah) in the Preamble. This was followed by a questioned if the word “civil state” would be inserted also. He stated, “We are a civil state already and we respect all religions” (Muhammad al-Khūli, al-Tahrīr, Nov. 22, p. 3). Read original text in Arabic.