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Death Fatwa against Priest for Wanting to Open a Prayer Hall

ICC Note

Muslim radicals threaten to kill an Egyptian priest after he requested to use family property for purpose of holding prayer services.

By Mary Abdelmassih

08/16/2009 Egypt (United Copts of Great Britain)-Father Estefanos Shehata sent an urgent plea to Middle East Christian Association (MECA) on 8/14/2009 as the village elders issued a death fatwa (ruling) against him for wanting to open a prayer hall. He has also been banned from entering Ezbet Dawood Youssef, where he serves and where his family lives.

He said that the village Muslim’s reaction was absolute anger at his request to convert a space in his family’s home to be used for conducting funeral services and for marriage ceremonies. “I know we are not allowed to have a proper church in Egypt , but until now I pray for the dead and hold marriage ceremonies in the street.” Father Estefanos told Waguih Yacoub of MECA in an audio recording.

When Reverent Stefanos told the villager Muslim elders of what he was intending to do, they called for a meeting with the elders of the neighbouring villages. “They were extremely angry at my proposal and instead a death Fatwa was issued against me! . They told the Copts in the village to make me change my mind, and that it only takes a bullet to get rid of me since there is no ‘blood money’ for killing a Christian”, Father Estephanos said.”I am banned from entering my village for over a month now, I cannot even go to see my mother.”

Commenting bitterly he said: “Muslim said I have to give up using this hall for praying for the dead. Last year I conducted prayers for my deceased uncle in the street, and they know that very well. I pray in the street.”

“Can’t they see that as Egyptian citizens we have the right to show some respect to out dead and conduct pray on their bodies in a clean place instead of the street?”. he said. “But I assume that if the state security gives them this authority, then they use it. I really am at a loss, who gives permissions now, is it the state security or the Muslim villagers?”

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