Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Knife Attacks on Egyptian Coptic Churches
April 14, 2006

During mass on Good Friday, Coptic churches were invaded by men with knives around 9am, just after mass had started. One person died, twelve were injured. BBC News reported three men in custody.

According to news reports, each man held two knives and began slashing at the Copts randomly. Before attacking, the invaders shouted, “There is no God but Allah,” and “Allah is the greatest.”

“We closed the doors of the church as soon as he started attacking the worshippers and we fought back with sticks but he tried to flee through one of the church's underground passages,” said one Copt.

Father Augustinos, who heads one of the churches attacked Friday, believes the attacks were caused by Islamic activists. Click here for the full story.

Extremist Muslims or ‘Deranged Man?’April 15, 2006

Although the knife attacks on Friday were believed by most of Egypt’s church goers to have been the plot of Muslim extremists, the government has stated that no such plot exists.

The government has said a "deranged" man was arrested for carrying out all the attacks at the three churches, but some Copts believe they were carried out simultaneously as part of an anti-Christian plot by extremist Muslims reports the BBC.

Three people were arrested on Friday, but only one remains in custody; Mahmoud Salah-Eddin Abdel-Raziq.

“Certain papers speak of a madman. I don't believe a word. It is propaganda to silence us and to make us believe it is an individual incident,” said Karim, a 78-year-old Copt. Click here for the full story.

Sectarian Riot during Copt Funeral
April 15, 2006

Nushi Atta Girgis, a Coptic Egyptian, died in a knife attack on his church Friday. During his funeral, Muslims and Christians threw stones and sticks at each other. Fifteen people, Copts and Muslims, were arrested. To separate the two groups, police used tear gas.

Around 3,000 people attended the funeral, some shouting anti-government slogans. In the past, the Christians have accused the Egyptian government of improperly protecting their rights and safety. Many say past attackers were let off easy, or were not punished at all.

The BBC reports 15 people injured and four vehicles burned out. Click here to read more.

Day 3: More Sectarian Violence
April 16, 2006

Still seared by fresh memories of the knife attacks on Friday, Alexandria residents turned to riots Sunday, which took place near St. Maximus Church, in Egypt’s second largest city.

One man died Sunday and a total of 40 people had been injured and 80 people were arrested during the weekend. On Sunday alone, there were an estimated 2,000 police on the scene. A Coptic priest was seen urging peace and composure of the Copts.

Police were seen beating a young Coptic boy, who was among the crowd that fled. Later, a huge mob of what appeared to be Muslim protesters charged the police cordon from the other side, reports AP. A Muslim lawmaker beaten on Saturday, later died on Sunday.

Acts of violence were seen on both sides. "We were afraid so we locked ourselves inside our houses, but they broke in and destroyed everything," Sami Aziz, a Muslim who said about eight Copts stormed his home Saturday night.

Ehab Sami, a Copt said, “It was the Muslims, and the police were collaborating with them. I asked the police to help me, but they didn't lift a finger.” Click here for the full story.

An Egyptian Priest Speaks Out
April 18, 2006

“I cannot say where this hatred comes from,” Father Bejimey said about the recent Sectarian riots, “We have coexisted for generations.”

His church windows were broken, and a door was unhinged. Among the vandalized cruch property were the church library, the anteroom for baptisms, and the offices of the priests.

The New York Sun reported on the condition of the church. It smelled faintly of smoke, and was barely fit for worship. But Father Bejimey's flock turned out every night for the evening service between the Coptic Palm and Easter Sundays to recite lines from the Gospel and remember Christ's last week before the crucifixion. A few members of the congregation had bandages on their arms and legs from the clashes two days before.

The attacks are said to be the worst in a decade. Click here for the full story.

Bird Flu Affects Egypt’s Poor
April 14th, 2006

There are many Egyptians who are dependent on poultry, as it is all they have to survive on. But with the threat of the bird flu rising in Egypt, there is a push for the country to rid itself of potentially hazardous chickens and ducks.

It was only two months ago when the flu arrived in Egypt, killing some and contaminating an estimated twelve. There is not enough bird flu vaccine available in the country.

Telling poor Egyptians in the countryside they cannot raise poultry at home for food and extra income would cut off not only a crucial source of nutrition, but also a lifestyle that has deep cultural roots, reports the New York Times.

As long as cages were kept decently sterile, the government allowed the ownership of poultry. In some cases, such as the Nile Delta region where the flu is most rampant, the government offered to compensate the loss of each bird they killed with a dollar. Doubtful of the promise and with the certainty that their birds are worth more, the citizens refused.

Across the railroad tracks and a four-lane highway that cuts through the farmland, the village of Rateb sits on the bank of a canal. It is an area thick with white feathers and rotting bird carcasses.

"I think it's a rumor,” said Sayed Abu Tahon, who cannot believe people have thrown their birds out, “I've not seen any infected birds.” Click here for the full story.

A Call to Protect Muslim Reformers
April 14, 2006

On Wednesday an organization calling itself “Supporters of God's Messenger” (“Al-Munasirun li Rasul al Allah”) announced it would kill ‘atheists,’ ‘polytheists’ and their supporters unless they repented. They emailed their statement and a list of Muslim reformists and their family members to over 30 political and religious reformers.

Among those on the list was Egyptian sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a popular human-rights and democracy activist in the Arab world, who was previously imprisoned by the Egyptian government for his advocacy of Coptic Christian rights and free elections in his native country. Ahmad Subhy Mansour, also on the list, is an imam who fled Egypt and now lives in Virginia. He has published works arguing against the death penalty for apostasy. Wafa Sultan, also threatened, is a California psychiatrist who has been quite open with her criticism of Muslim extremism. She is worried because the threat is from a group, not just an individual, not too mention the list of family members they have on record.

Those three mentioned and the rest of the targets were pronounced “guilty of apostasy, unbelief, and denial of the Islamic established facts” and were given three days to “announce their repentance and disavow their writings in denial of the traditions of our prophet and to repent their support of the countries of unbelief and their rulers.” They are to do so publicly.
Paul Marshall, senior fellow at Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom, calls for protection, saying, “Now is the time to ensure not only that those on these and similar lists are protected, but that their voices are heard and amplified. If even Western democracies cannot provide the political space for Muslims to debate these critical questions concerning the meaning of Islam, then all hope of an Islamic reform movement will be lost.” Click here for the full editorial.


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