Thursday, August 17, 2006

Egypt: Christian Copts-Muslim Relations


Photo: Islamic protesters throw stones at the Coptic church and police officers.


BBC: 'Conversion' sparks Copt protest
More generally, however, Copts complain that they often face discrimination and that they are vastly under-represented in senior government positions and in the army and the police.
Also, allegations of forced conversions surface every year.
The rise of an assertive Islamist movement in Egyptian society in the last three decades has produced tensions in Coptic-Muslim relations.

US State Dept 2005 Report on Religious Freedom in Egypt: (interesting read...)

+ In February, hundreds of Christians demonstrated in Fayoum, protesting what they viewed as the kidnapping and forced conversion of two young women to Islam. However, there were reliable reports indicating that the women went willingly to the security directorate to convert, after falling in love with Muslim men.

+ On December 5, 2004, in the Upper Egyptian village of Mankatien, Minya Governorate, a Muslim mob reportedly attacked a new Coptic church and damaged property belonging to Christians. Sources reported that a Christian-owned pharmacy and home were burned down, while the mob's attempt to burn down the church reportedly failed. In reaction to the incidents, police imposed a curfew and arrested 15 local Muslims, but some Christians alleged the police had been too slow to react. None of the victims received any compensation for the damages resulting from this incident.

+ On March 25, near Mankatien, a Muslim motorist allegedly ran over a group of Christian children who were walking home after attending Friday church classes. Nermeen Kamal Malak, an 8-year old girl, was killed; others received minor injuries. Christian villagers described the accident as deliberate. In response, many Christian villagers in Mankatien demonstrated, demanding an end to their 28-year wait for approval for a reconstruction permit.

+ As of late June 2005, there were 49 other cases involving individuals who converted to Islam and then back to Christianity, who were attempting to recover their original Christian identities. All of these cases were before the same judge of the Cairo Administrative Court who ruled in the Gibran case. Of these 49 individuals, approximately 8 had received verdicts allowing them to recover their Christian identities

+ In May 2003, SSIS arrested Metwalli Ibrahim Metwalli Saleh, apparently because of his progressive views on Islam. Metwalli's unpublished research, which he distributed to religious scholars and several embassies prior to his arrest, refuted the idea that it is a Muslim's religious duty to kill an "apostate"

Three killed in Egypt church riot
"Protesters threw stones at the Coptic church and police officersThree people have died during a riot outside a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, after a protest against a play accused of offending Islam.
Coptic Christian leaders have said the play depicts the dangers of extremism, not of Islam.
"Copts would never tolerate anyone insulting Islam," Coptic Bishop Armia is quoted by Egypt's official Mena news agency as saying. "

Three thousand Coptic demonstrators in Cairo, el-Minia, el-Behara and Assiut provinces gathered on December 5 and 6, 2004 to protest the abduction and forced conversion to Islam of Wafaa Constantine, the wife of a Coptic priest. Demonstrators further protested President Mubarak’s inattention to Coptic pleas for protection from government persecution. The on-going two-day protest is a response to the predominantly Muslim Egyptian government’s sanction of anti-Coptic hate crimes such as arson, torture, murder, and the abduction, rape, and forced conversion of young Coptic women. Although Egypt’s native Christian Copts—numbering between 12-15 million and constituting approximately 15% of Egypt’s population—have long been targets for Muslim extremists, a recent rise in anti-Coptic sentiment has prompted an escalation in violence against Copts.


Coptic Christian nun on the ground after being stabbed by then 18-yr old Islamic extremist.



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