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Archive for the ‘Egypt’ Category

A crowd of around 3000 Muslims attacked Christians gathered in prayer in a building adjoining the local church. There were four priests, one deacon and 400 parishioners in the building, women and children also targeted: 25 people got wounded.

The fundamentalists fury, encouraged by the imam, was sparked by the rumour that the Christians have begun to build a new place of worship.

Around 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon, the Muslims – a group of Bedouins and Salafi fanatics – started throwing stones at a construction site, which they believe in reality will be a new church. Local witnesses reported that security forces present were not sufficient to contain the attack. The police fired tear gas and arrested a dozen people, including Muslims and Christians. Only this morning, reinforcements arrived from Alexandria, thanks to which the Coptic faithful trapped inside the building could return to their homes.

At the moment of the attack the Christian prayer house contained four priests, one deacon and about 400 parishioners. Christians say that the building under construction, in fact, is a nursing home and said they were “terrified” by the latest attack. The local imam Shaikh Khamees intervention during Friday prayers has helped to foment the anger of Muslims. He emphasized the duty to fight against the “enemies” of Islam and stressed that “we do not tolerate the Christian presence in our area.”

Reverend Matta Zakarya confirms that this morning there was a summit between the leaders of the local church, state security forces and even some Muslims. “The Coptic are scared – he stresses – especially women and children who were inside the building and witnessed the assault.”

In Egypt, the Coptic Christian community is about 10% of the population in a country with an overwhelming Muslim majority, which discriminates against the Christian community. It is the victim of violence, caused by a sharp rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Sometimes the basis of many attacks there are disputes over land ownership and disputes for women, but they soon become sectarian clashes.

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In a recent TV children’s show, aired on the Egyptian Al-Rahma TV, a child preacher, Abd Al-Fattah Marwan, recites the legend of Abu Qudama and the young boy, who died a martyr on the battlefield in the early days of Islam.

In the legend, which glorifies Jihad and martyrdom, the boy, Muhammad, is said to have beseeched Abu Qudama to let him join the Jihad against the infidels despite his young age. After shooting three arrows, which killed “three Byzantine soldiers,” he died a martyr’s death and went to Paradise. There he met his wife-to-be, whose face radiated blinding light and whose beauty was maddening.

In the program, Abd Al-Fattah Marwan – himself a child – recounts that the boy smiled in his sleep when he dreamt that he would be martyred the next day. “My father was martyred last year, and my brother and uncle the year before that,” he says. This year, “my mother has presented me as a gift to Allah.” Paradise is described in endearing terms, as full of “a scented bouquet of black-eyed virgins” of indescribable beauty.

The mother, upon hearing the news of her son’s martyrdom and when her daughter drops dead from shock, praises Allah, “who did not send any offspring of mine to the Hellfire.”

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A man hurled a suitcase containing a makeshift bomb at Cairo’s main downtown synagogue in the early hours Sunday morning, but there were no injuries or damage, police said.

According to the police report, a man entered a hotel located on the fourth floor of a building across from the synagogue at around 3 a.m. and as he was checking in, abruptly threw his suitcase out the window.

The case contained four containers of gasoline each attached to a glass bottle of sulfuric acid meant to shatter on impact and ignite the makeshift bomb, said police, who speculated the man may have panicked.

The bag, which also contained clothes, cotton strips, matches and a lighter, fell onto the sidewalk in front of the hotel and briefly caught fire before being extinguished. There were no injuries and no damage to the historic synagogue.

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On the evening of Feb. 9, Malak Saad, a 25-year-old Coptic carpenter living in Teta in Menoufia Province, was walking outside a meeting hall that police had seized from Christians when he was shot through his chest at close range. He died instantly.

Scant details are known about the shooting. Police surrounded the entire village and closed it to all reporters. In a statement, officials at the Interior Ministry said the Saad was killed by mistake when a bullet discharged while a police guard was cleaning his weapon. The Interior Ministry said the shooter has been detained and will be tried in a military court. Such courts are traditionally closed to the public.

One of Saad’s cousins, who requested anonymity, disputed the Interior Ministry’s version of the incident. He said that the guard had used the bathroom inside the meeting hall and had come outside of the building when he exchanged a few words with Saad and shot him at close range. The bullet went completely through Saad’s chest.

The building in question had been Coptic-owned for 16 years, but two days prior to the shooting, police seized it after a group of Muslims started a rumor that the owners planned to convert the hall into a church building.

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An Egyptian court on Saturday postponed to March 20 the trial of three Muslim men suspected of killing six Coptic Christians and a Muslim policeman in a drive-by shooting last month.

The incident took place in the southern Egyptian town of Nagaa Hamady following mass on the eve of Coptic Christmas, which falls on January 7.

The suspects, who surrendered to police two days after the shooting, have retracted their earlier confessions.

In Egypt, Christians account for about 10 percent of the population of roughly 80 million which is mostly Muslim. Sectarian violence is rare, but disputes over issues including land rights or relationships occasionally erupt.

The shooting, which wounded another nine Copts, sparked protests by more than 1,000 Copts from Nagaa Hamady. Muslims and Christians from the town also set fire to each others’ homes and shops.

The incident was linked to the suspected rape of a Muslim woman by a Christian more than a month earlier, a Ministry of Interior statement said after the shooting.

Southern Egypt is relatively undeveloped compared with the capital Cairo. Nagaa Hamady, which has a large Coptic population, is about 60 km (40 miles) north of the tourist and archaeological centre of Luxor.

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The following are excerpts from a show in which a toddler is taught to recite the Quran. The show aired on Al-Nas TV on January 1, 2010.

Read the transcript here.

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