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Friday, 24 September 2010

Egypt: Islamist cleric accuses Coptic Church of "being a State within the State", stockpiling weapons

On September 15, Qatar-owned Al-Jezirah TV broadcast a program called Without Limits, presented by moderator Ahmad Mansour, who hosted the Islamist Dr. Selim el-Awah, former Secretary-General of the World Council of Muslim Scholars, which has stunned and enraged Copts inside and outside of Egypt. "El-Awah is simply threatening Copts that the forthcoming chaos after Mubarak dies will see mass violence against the Copts," says Magdy Khalil, Coptic activist and head of Middle East Freedom Forum.

The program alleged the Church has its own militia and hides weapons and ammunition in monasteries and churches, preparing for a war "against the Muslims." el-Awah said that "Israel is in the heart of the Coptic Cause," and the Church gets weapons from Israel. He cited as evidence an incident in mid-August, in which the son of a priest in Port Said, Mr. Joseph El-Gabalawy, was falsely accused of importing weapons from Israel. Although he was cleared of charges and released, as the imported goods were children's fireworks from China and did not belong to him, he is still detained by State Security.
The television program also charged the Church of concealing Muslim converts to Christianity, besides abducting and torturing Christian converts to Islam. Out of the thousands of Christian woman who converted to Islam, willingly or unwillingly, el-Awah mentioned only two wives of priests whom he claimed converted to Islam and consequently were imprisoned in monasteries, Wafa Constantine and Mary Abdallah. Speaking on the latest crisis over Camelia Shehata, about whom Muslims fabricated rumors of her conversion to Islam, he said that she never converted to Islam and was handed over by State Security to her two married sisters (AINA 11-1-2015).

The nearly two-hour program went on to accuse the Coptic Church of being a "State within the Egyptian State," allegedly taking advantage of the weakness of the present regime, behaving as if it is above the law. The Church was also accused of making an "inheritance" deal with the regime to support President Mubarak's son in succeeding his father as president in exchange for benefits.

...In a Middle East Freedom Forum press release on September 20, Magdy Khalil said that what Dr. Selim el-Awah said "amounts to incitement to murder and ethnic cleansing of a minority, which are crimes in Egyptian and international law" and if Al-Awah's words of hate and incitement are overlooked by the Egyptian government, "this would mean that they are partners in these crimes." The Forum invited national lawyers, Muslims and Christians, to join its campaign for the prosecution of Dr. el-Awah for crimes of incitement.
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