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15th Issue of Copts in the Egyptian Press

ICC Note

Here are various articles that appeared on Egyptian press concerning Coptic Christians in the country.

By Robeir al-Faris

04/27/08 Egypt (Watani) – Our reading of the Cairo press this month takes us to a magazine of no wide circulation but of undoubtedly considerable impact since its main distribution is free of charge to university students. This is the non-periodical al-Nour (The Light), published by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

Vintage hatred

Under the title “Loyalty and disloyalty The rules of dealing with non-Muslims” an article in al-Nour advises that loyalty, which embodies love, approval, support, obedience, and fellowship, should be only accorded to Allah, the Prophet, and the believers. It is a sin, the article declares, to be loyal to non-believers or “apostates who do not believe in Allah and his Prophet”. This means Muslims should not love non-Muslims, approve of them or their ways, obey them, or do as they do; otherwise a Muslim’s behaviour would be tantamount to denying that Allah is the only god.

The article goes on to declare that Muslims should never befriend non-Muslims, since the Prophet Mohamed said: “Only befriend a believer”. Allowing or helping non-Muslims to build places of worship, taking part in celebrations or ‘orgies’ of non-Muslims, or wishing them well on their feast days, which are usually related to religious occasions, are among the most sinful practices of disloyalty.

If anything, the MB did not try to delude readers into thinking they believed in social peace or co-existence. The article presented a sample of vintage MB thought without the frequent embellishment applied so skilfully by the MB supreme guidance office to make their message appear tolerant. Then why do we in Egypt appear surprised at the rapidly-increasing hate and religious discrimination?

That great triumph

On a quite different note, Ibrahim Eissa wrote in the independent, Islamic-leaning daily al-Dostour (The Constitution) condemning what he called the “obsession” of Muslims with converting teenage Coptic women. Under the title “A confounded nation” Mr Eissa wrote: “It is indeed disastrous when the greatest victory Muslims in this country can achieve is to make a Christian girl become Muslim. The rejoicing which then follows makes one wonder: ‘Have we achieved a huge scientific or trade triumph over the Western world? Have we found a cure for Hepatitis C which threatens the health of a large sector of Egyptians?’

Mr Eissa’s courage in condemning sectarian strife is definitely commendable; but he stopped short of delving deeper into the irregularities and injustices which mire the issue of the girl converts. He did not tackle the girls’ illegal conversion or marriage—since no underage person is eligible to convert or marry without a guardian’s approval. Neither does he write about the illegal new ID papers handed to the girls so swiftly, nor how the truth about their situation and whereabouts are kept secret from the parents who are usually heartbroken at the daughters’ predicament. And worse, he made no hint whatsoever to whether such conversions may in some cases be forced.


Threatened heritage

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