Quantcast
Connect with us

Egypt Copts fear fallout from anti-Islam film

Published

on

CAIRO — Egyptian Christians, who have long complained of discrimination, say they fear that an anti-Islam film produced by Copts in the United States will lead to further persecution at home.

Egypt’s churches were among the first to condemn the low-budget Internet film that portrays the Prophet Mohammed as immoral and which sparked violent and often deadly protests throughout the world.

On September 11, demonstrators breached the wall of the US embassy in Cairo in protests that served as a catalyst for clashes between youths and police in the centre of the city.

The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the highest authority of the Coptic patriarchate, issued a statement slamming the film’s release as a “malicious plan aimed at defaming religions and causing divisions among the Egyptian people.”

But the condemnations did little to stop hardline Islamists blaming Egypt’s Christian community. One preacher, Sheikh Abu Islam, called for burning the Bible during demonstrations outside the US embassy.

“Egyptian Christians’ fears have increased because of violent reactions by some extremist Islamists,” said Mona Makram Ebeid, a Christian former MP and member of the National Council for Human Rights.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We were afraid that the reaction would be mainly against the Christians,” she told AFP.

“Innocence of Muslims” was apparently produced by a Coptic Christian film-maker and has triggered violent protests around the world.

“Those behind the film are a small group of Copts in the diaspora. The issue should not be linked to Egypt’s Copts at all,” she said.

Last week, the public prosecutor ordered the trial of seven Egyptian Copts living in North America over their alleged role in the film.

ADVERTISEMENT

They are accused of “insulting the Islamic religion, insulting the Prophet (Mohammed) and inciting sectarian strife.”

“I’m upset about the film and of course Muslims have a right to protest against it,” said Christine Ashraf, a Coptic employee at a marketing firm in Cairo.

But “linking it to us and to the Bible also upset me and could inflame sectarianism, particularly among the uneducated,” she told AFP.

Regular church-goer Ashraf believes the film aimed “to create sectarianism in Egypt.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Ramy Kamel, a Coptic activist and member of the Maspero Youth Union, a group defending Coptic rights that was created after the 2011 uprising, said he was concerned by the violence of some protests against the film and feared this anger would turn towards Christians.

“The film was a pretext for attacking Christians, just like Sheikh Abu Islam did,” Kamel told AFP. “Coptic fears will rise as long as the state keeps silent about violations against us.”

The aftermath of the uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak and saw Islamists take power was marked by repeated sectarian clashes.

A recent fight between a Muslim and a Christian in the town of Dahshur south of Cairo, for example, resulted in the eviction of several Christian families from their homes. They were allowed back 10 days later when police intervened.

ADVERTISEMENT

But tensions have risen again with the controversy surrounding the film.

“Some people in the town tried to protest against the film but the security forces stopped them,” Father Takla Abdel Sayyed of the Dahshur church told AFP.

“The Copts of the diaspora think they are doing this for us, but the truth is that we are paying the price without having anything to do with it,” he said.

Egypt’s Christians make up between six and 10 percent of the country’s 82 million people, and have long complained of discrimination and marginalisation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Press reports say many Copts have emigrated or are looking to leave the country since Islamists came to power in the parliamentary and presidential elections.

President Mohamed Morsi ran for office on the Muslim Brotherhood ticket, the country’s largest and most organised political group.

A six-year sentence given to a Copt for mocking the Prophet Mohammed and insulting the president on a social networking site has further fuelled Christian fears.

On Thursday, the Maspero Youth Union accused the Egyptian judiciary of double standards when it comes to defaming religion.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The law is only applied when it comes to Copts… increasing their feeling of alienation in their own country,” the group said.

This view was echoed by Sameh Saad, a member of the Coptic Coalition for Egypt.

“There are only cases involving defamation of Islam. All those who defame Islam are held accountable and punished, but those who defame Christianity aren’t,” he told AFP, saying this increased fears among the Coptic community.

But there are some who believe things will improve, such as Coptic former MP Gamal Assaad.

“I think the Muslim Brotherhood will be more responsible when it comes to resolving problems for the Copts,” Assaad told AFP.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Activism

‘Weakness doesn’t win elections’: Indivisible co-founder explains why members are holding #ImpeachTrump rallies

Published

on

The growing support to commence impeachment proceedings by House Democrats is driven by their need to fire up grassroots support to hold control of the chamber, an Indivisible co-founder explained on MSNBC.

"The call for impeachment continues. this as protesters are hitting the street in more than 140 rallies planned across the country. Organizers say the "Impeach Trump" event is a day of action urging House Democrats to start impeachment proceedings," MSNBC's Richard Lui reported Saturday.

"A new survey from the indivisible project finds 80 percent of their respondents say the House should start impeachment proceedings," he noted. "Right now in the House, 63 Democrats and one Republican support impeachment."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Mississippi fast food cashier ‘terminated immediately’ for ugly racist slur on customer’s receipt

Published

on

The owner of a fast food restaurant in Mississippi "terminated immediately" an employee after a racist and misogynistic slur of patrons.

When Lex Washington visited Who Dat's Drive-Thru in Oxford with her roommate, the cashier listed them on the receipt as "black b*tches in a silver car."

A manager reportedly refused to apologize at the time, and instead "laughed in her face."

A photo of the receipt then spread on social media.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

George Conway calls out fears Trump will compromise new US intelligence initiative aimed at Russia

Published

on

On Saturday, George Conway drew attention to a specific passage of a new article from The New York Times about the intelligence community's efforts to counterattack the Russian power grid, in response to years of covert Kremlin attacks on our own:

“[O]fficials described...hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern...that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation...to the Russian foreign minister.” https://t.co/BXTjjXBmia

Continue Reading
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

I need your help.

Investigating Trump's henchmen is a full time job, and I'm trying to bring in new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have more stories coming you'll love. Join me and help restore the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link

Investigating Trump is a full-time job, and I want to add new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have stories coming you'll love. Join me and go ad-free, while restoring the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link