37. Egyptian Christians Back to Square One

This article was originally posted on Christianity Today, May 29, 2012.

Despite the best efforts of Christian and Muslim revolutionaries, the first free presidential election in Egypt's history has resulted in an all-too-familiar choice: old regime vs. Islamists.

The nation's Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission confirmed on Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood's Muhammad Mursī advanced to the run-off election against Ahmad Shafīq, former president Husnī Mubārak's last-ditch appointee as prime minister during the revolution's early days. Both candidates gathered nearly 25 percent of the vote. Only a few percentage points behind was Hamdīn Sabbāhī, whose late surge as the revolutionary choice was not enough to displace Egypt's traditional combatants.

36. Muslim Brotherhood Signs Agreement with Egypt’s Evangelicals

This article was originally posted on Christianity Today, May 31, 2012.

The first free election in Egypt's history has captured headlines worldwide with its unexpected runoff between a Mubārak regime figure and a Muslim Brotherhood leader.

Less known is that 17 Coptic evangelical leaders met with five Muslim Brotherhood counterparts at the Brotherhood's headquarters on February 28, and crafted a joint statement of common values that both sides agree the new Egyptian constitution and government should uphold. Evangelicals comprise a minority of Egyptian Christians, almost 90 percent of whom are Coptic Orthodox.

35. How MB-Evangelical Dialogue Began

On February 28, 2012 the leaders of the Evangelical Churches of Egypt met with the Muslim Brotherhood, and produced a document delineating the shared values of both organizations.

Seventeen evangelical signatories are listed; perhaps the one most surprising comes at the very end.

Rev. Rifa’at Fikrī is the pastor of an evangelical church in Shubra, a densely populated suburb to the north of Cairo well known for its high concentration of Christian residents.

Rev. Fikrī is well known for his strident anti-Islamist stance. In fact, it is this very posture which involved him in the dialogue in the first place.

72. Brotherhood Faces Both Ways as Egypt Votes for President
72. Egypt’s Presidential Elections and Christian Fear

Cornelis Hulsman addresses Egyptian Christians' fear of the strong shift towards Islamism in Egypt and the repercussions it may have for the Christian community. He discusses this fear in the context of current situation in Egypt with regard to the further decline of the economy, the power struggle that exists between several blocs, and the upcoming presidential elections.

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Martino Diez and Meriem Senous published on March 22 an interesting interview with Father Rafīq Greish, head of the Press Office of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt. We are providing here some excerpts with comments showing disagreement on a few points.

 

On March 4 a court sentenced Coptic Orthodox priest Makarius Bulus to six months in jail for preparing a falsified building permit for a church in Mārīnāb. The sentence was widely reported in particular in Western Christian media, in part as result of Compass Direct News reporting that is seen particularly in Western Evangelical circles. This report by Compass Direct News was deliberately unfair, misleading, partisan and Islamophobe.

 

In the early 1960s during the tenure of late Pope Kyrillos VI, Coptic Orthodox Christians had only seven churches abroad – two in each of the United States, Canada and Australia and only in Britain (1).

MEMRI provided a clip of Muslim preacher, Shaykh Wajdī Ghunaym (Wagdy Ghoneim) speaking about the death of Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III, cursing him and wishing him to burn in hell. Read MEMRI article here

 

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Newsclippings from International Sources

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In a single week, Arabs of the Christian and the Islamic faiths commemorate the births of their most significant religious figures. The past year has seen their faiths deployed on many an occasion for various gains – sometimes laudable ones, but often otherwise. Will 2014 see a change in how religion is used in Egypt and Syria? Will it be used to bring people together, instead of forcing them apart? Or will it merely continue to be a tool for partisanship, bigotry and violence?

Christian Arabs who follow the different Orthodox calendars rejoiced in the birth of Christ earlier this week. In Egypt, they did so under close guard, amid fears that violent opponents of the government might target Christians. Radical Islamists have promoted sectarianism in Egypt for a long time, including in this current phase where many of them believe that the Coptic Church is disproportionally responsible for the ousting of Mohammed Morsi. Certainly, religion in this context is not being used to bring people together.

In a few days time, Muslim Arabs celebrate the birth of the final Prophet of Islam during Mawlid al-Nabi (the Birthday of the Prophet). They will do so the day before the much-anticipated referendum on amendments to the country’s constitution. In the run-up to that referendum, Egyptians have seen religious functionaries deploy religious language to support a “yes” vote. Former grand muftis of the republic have issued clear statements where they encouraged a “yes” vote on the basis that this was religiously commendable. Religion in this context is also not being used to bring people together – but rather to build support for a partisan position on a legal document that is a genuine point of contention between Egyptians.

(H.A. Hellyer, Brookings Institution, Jan. 9, 2014) Read original

 

Egyptian Poet Abdul Rahman Al-Qaradhawi, Son Of Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi:
The Current Egyptian Rule Is Like A Spider-Web, Doomed To Collapse Soon
Interviewer: "Are you considering running for president?"
 
Abdul Rahman Yousuf: "I will do so when they free Morsi... The only position in which one can effect
change is the position of defense minister, and not that of president. According to the constitution that they
want to pass, the defense minister will be above accountability, whereas the president will face every type
of criticism, whether justified or not. I appreciate the question, but I don't think that I am suitable to run for
president."
 
Interviewer: "You said that the present defense minister is more powerful than the president "
 
Abdul Rahman Yousuf: "That's right."
 
 

(Author not mentioned, MEMRI, Dec. 29, 2014) Read Original

CAIRO (BP) -- Islamic extremists and criminals are extorting Christians in Egyptian towns, while trouble brews over the country's new protest law and constitution.

According to Morning Star News, a news service reporting on the persecuted church, Islamist radicals in several Egyptian towns have begun a campaign of terrorism and extortion against Christians.

Muslim extremists in a number of towns are demanding Christians pay the jizya, a Quran-based fine on non-Muslims known as the "humiliation" or "submission" tax. Human rights activists told Morning Star News that radicals and ordinary criminals have started a cottage industry from extorting Christians. They threaten kidnapping, torture and murder to seize money and property from Christians mainly in southern Egypt.

"What you are dealing with now is some criminals attacking Christians -- Christians who own shops and things like that," Mina Thabet, founding member of the Maspero Youth Union, told Morning Star News, adding that Islamists see persecuting Christians as a religious duty.

(Author not mentioned, Baptist News, Dec. 4, 2013) Read Original

Security forces in Minya have arrested a correspondent working for an American TV channel, accusing him of inciting sectarian strife and broadcasting false news, state-owned news agency MENA reported.
Minya Security Chief Major General Osama Metwally was notified that national security sector and Minya Police Station’s criminal investigations officer had information about a correspondent working for an American TV channel who authorities accuse of spreading sectarianism in Egypt.
The 31-year old correspondent, only known as “Bishoy,” works for a religious channel owned by a Copt in the United States and authorities claim he is known for showing “inaccurate images of oppression” against Copts in Egypt. A camera and four USB flash drives in his possession were seized. A report was filed and prosecution was notified to conduct investigations.

 

(Author Not Mentioned, Egypt Independent, Dec. 4, 2013) Read Original

Clan Warfare in Egypt - The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Given Egypt's brewing power struggles, the current state of relative calm should not be mistaken for progress, let alone stability.

Nearly five months after the uprising-cum-coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsy, Egypt is mostly calm. That might seem surprising, especially given the reemergence of hundreds-strong protests following the military-backed government's passage of a law restricting demonstrations last week, and the ongoing power struggle between the government and the Muslim Brotherhood, in which over 1,000 Morsy supporters have been killed. Just last week, Islamist protesters reached Tahrir Square for the first time since Morsy's ouster this summer. But this is also the way most of Egypt has been for the past three years: Like the old Microsoft Windows computer game Minesweeper, the most explosive tumult typically occurs in small pockets, leaving the rest of the country safe, tranquil, and at times eerily quiet.

(Eric Trager, The Washington Institute, Dec. 3, 2013) Read Original