The national dialogue, headed by President Muhammad Mursī, continued yesterday, Tuesday, February 26, 2013 in order to discuss the integrity and transparency of the upcoming parliamentary elections. Present at the dialogue were a number of political parties, including the Freedom and Justice Party, al-Wasat Party, al-Asālah Party, al-Fadīlah Party, Salafī al-Nūr Party, al-Watan Party, Egypt 2000 Party, and Building and Development Party. Also present at the dialogue were a number of public figures, including counselors Mahmūd al-Khudayrī and Dr. ‘Abdullah al-Ash’al (Amānī Mājid and Jamāl Abū al-Dahab, al-Ahrām, Feb. 27, p. 1). Read original text in Arabic.
Not present at the dialogue, and apologizing for their absence, were representatives of the Church and a number of political parties, including Misr al-Qawīyah (the Strong Egypt) Party and al-Tayār al-Misrī (the Egyptian Current) Party. Noticeably absent as well were the following public figures: counselors Zarkīyā ‘Abd al-‘Azīz and Jamāl ‘Aīd.
Points on the agenda were: discussion of all the proposals of the political forces involved, finding ways to pursue both local and international civil society organizations, the election process, strengthening the climate of trust that should accompany the elections.
In another development, the National Salvation Front (NSF) announced it is boycotting the upcoming parliamentary elections. It stated it is unable to participate in the elections without fair law and a neutral government (Amānī Mājid and Jamāl Abū al-Dahab, al-Ahrām, Feb. 27, p. 1). Read original text in Arabic.
Representatives of the Churches of Egypt have refused their participation in the national dialogue called for by President Mursī because of a lack of commitment to agreements made during previous sessions. Based on this, they claim the dialogue is unlikely to be fruitful (John ‘Abd al-Malāk, Mu'taz al-Khusūsī and Muhammad Rabī’, al-Misrīyūn, Feb. 27, p. 3). Read original text in Arabic.
An investigator in Alexandria has revealed the mystery of the five Christian citizens killed in Naj’ al-Salām in Burj al-‘Arab of Alexandria Governorate on February 25, 2013. Investigations have confirmed that there are no suspicions of this being a sectarian-motivated crime. Last year a dispute broke out between the guards and the Bedouins over a piece of land, which encouraged a guard to report the incident.
The examination has clarified that a group of masked men in possession of weapons, machine guns, and Kalashnikovs attacked the land from a car and killed the five people. Those killed in the crime were 27-year-old Sāmī ‘Aīd Sūrīyāl, his brother Bishāy, Shenouda, owner of the land, ‘Adil Fāyiz Malāk, and Mahmūd Ahmad Husayn.
The perpetrator is a 21-year-old guard of the land, Taha Mūsá ‘Abd al-Qādir. The investigating officer was able to ambush the perpetrator and arrest him for possession of firearms. After extensive exposure to ill treatment he confessed to having committed the crime (Nashwá Fārūq and Ahmad Badrāwī, al-Shurūq al-Jadīd, Feb. 27, p. 3). Read original text in Arabic.
In a report submitted to the Public Prosecutor Tal’at Ibrāhīm, a number of leaders from the Orthodox Church and some Coptic secular figures were accused of forming a terrorist organization known by the name “Black Bloc”. There are allegations that the Church has individual “Black Bloc” scouts in all governorates of Egypt.
Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Mustafá, the former director of Khānkah Hospital, and Muhammad al-Shamās, two recently converted Muslims were hosted on the TV channel “al-Ummah” and made similar allegations. The two men have also confirmed to al-Misrīyūn that the “Black Bloc” is made up of groups that are recruited by scouts from the Church.
Mustafá revealed that among the supporting figures of these groups are Archpriest Antonius Mīlād, Deputy of Suez Diocese, and ‘Awnī ‘Awad and Majdī al’-Dīb, Chaperons at Saint George Church in Suez. He added that Archpriest Shenouda Kamāl of the Virgin Mary Church in al-Zaytūn, Cairo and Father Mattiyās Nasr of Saint Kyrillos and Saint Mark Church in ‘Izbat al-Nakhl were also part of the team that scours the country for new members.
“Black Bloc” members are allegedly receiving training from the former police brigade in a number of monasteries around the country. A number of monasteries have been said to be used to train these groups to use armed weapons to threaten those that have converted to Islam to return to Christianity. According to Mustafá and al-Shamās, these groups work to support the separatist cries to divide Egypt. They are said to participate in the kidnapping of new converts and induce them with money or threaten to hold their children or wives in the monasteries to force them to convert back to Christianity. Thus according to Mustafá and al-Shamās, the “Black Bloc” and members of the Church are actively engaged in carrying out a sectarian strife in Egypt.
Copts abroad are accused of funding the trainings and militias. Additionally, a group call the “Expatriate Coptic Dutch” consists of Copts in various European countries that allegedly oppose and resist any move of Islamic politicians and are deliberately fueling hatred and deepening sectarian problems in Egypt. A number of prominent Copts, both inside and outside Egypt, are accused of abusing their positions in order to spread sectarian violence. For example, Mustafá explains how through his work as a reporter, Nājī Walīm was able to publish a lot of propaganda for the Coptic opposition that was targeted at Islamic leaders.
Al-Shamās mentions other names of Coptic figures who act as lawyers for the Church and provide advice on how to legally protect scouts and members of the “Black Bloc”.
Al-Shamās claims the “Black Bloc” carries out frequent violent actions against peaceful protesters to guarantee the continuation of the January Revolution. This has allegedly been confessed by a number of arrested “Black Bloc” members (Nuhá ‘Uthmān and Muhammad Hamīlī, al-Misrīyūn, Feb. 27, p. 4). Read original text in Arabic.
Security forces were able to contain a potentially violent sectarian crisis on Monday evening, February 25, 2013, in Shubrā al-Khaymah. A group of Salafīs who opposed the construction of a service building for the Abū Maqār Church surrounded the church and forced the workers to stop their labour. They claimed there were irregularities and that there was no license for the construction (Rānīyā Nabīl, al-Sabāh, Feb. 27, p. 7). Read original text in Arabic.
Calmness has returned to area around the Church of Abū Maqār in Shubrā after dozens of Salafīs congregated in front of the church on Monday evening, February 25, demanding to see licenses of the construction of a service building for the church ('Abd al-Wahāb Sha'bān, al-Wafd, Feb. 27, p. 3). Read original text in Arabic.
Father Abrām, member of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod and Bishop of Saint George Church in the village of Sirisnā, Tāmīyah Township of al-Faiyum Governorate confirmed that he was not injured as suggested on the official Orthodox channel “CTV” (John ‘Abd al-Malāk, al-Misrīyūn, Feb. 27, p. 3). Read original text in Arabic.
The Coptic Orthodox Church has confirmed its refusal to participate in the national dialogue called for by President Muhammad Mursī. According to Father Angelous, the secretary of the Coptic Orthodox Pope, the Church has a spiritual foundation and it has a national role, not a political one. The Church apologized, but emphasized its commitment to this principle (Majdī Fakrī, al-Dustūr, Feb. 27, p. 4). Read original text in Arabic.
In a time in which the Islamist parties and the Muslim Brotherhood are flourishing, President Mursī has called for a national dialogue. The Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical churches have apologized for not participating in the dialogue (Māhir ‘Abd al-Wāhid, Rihāb ‘Abdullah, Hānī ‘Uthmān, ‘Alī Hasān and Imān ‘Alī, al-Yawm al-Sābī, Feb. 27, p. 1). Read original text in Arabic.
Counselor Walīd Mas’ūd, head Burj al-‘Arab Prosecution Office, has ordered that the individual suspected of having killed five people in Alexandria be remanded under custody pending investigation. The suspect claims he was taking vengeance for their mistreatment of him (Shīrīn Tāhir, al-Wafd, Feb. 27, p. 11). Read original text in Arabic.
Copts are occupying a leading stance in a majority of newspapers and talk shows. According to the rules of the media, the topics and sources addressed are chosen according to what attracts the recipient. This indicates that promotion and marketing are the most important elements that determine media variations (Kamāl Zākhir Mūsá, al-Sabāh, Feb. 27, p. 11). Read original text in Arabic.
Yesterday, Tuesday February 26, a message was posted on the “Egypt Safer – Youth Bishopric” Facebook page. Youth Bishopric is affiliated to the Coptic Orthodox Church. The message, accompanied by a picture of Abū Islām (recently convicted of religious defamation), called for a prayer so that God may cure him (Rānīyā Nabīl, al-Sabāh, Feb. 27, p. 7). Read original text in Arabic.
The engineer and member of the Shūrá Council “the Islamic group”, ‘Asim ‘Abd al-Mājid, has criticized the position of the Salafī al-Nūr Party towards the National Salvation Front. He asked how it is that the party represents the strongest front in the Constituent Assembly and then demand the amendment of articles in the Constitution when it was the first one to accept the Constitution (Husayn ‘Uthmān, al-Misrīyūn, Feb. 27, p. 3). Read original text in Arabic.