Posted by Kendall Harmon

In February, the 20 or so Christian families still living in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa were given the same choice. The cost of protection is now the equivalent of $650 in Syrian pounds, a large amount for people struggling to make ends meet in a war zone. The other two options remain unchanged. This time the offer came from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), an extremist antigovernment group that seized Raqqa in May 2013 from more-moderate rebel brigades and declared the town the capital of its own Islamic state.

Most of Raqqa’s 3,000 Christians had already fled the fighting, leaving just a few families in a place suddenly run by a group known for its violent tactics in both Iraq and Syria, including beheadings and floggings–tactics so ruthless that even al-Qaeda has disowned the group. The number had fallen even further by the time ISIS commanders promised the Christians that as long as they paid the levy, the one church that had not already been destroyed in the fighting would be left untouched and the Christians would not be physically harmed. They would have the right to practice their religion as long as they didn’t ring bells, evangelize or pray within earshot of a Muslim.

Church leaders urged Raqqa’s Christians to pay the militants. “[ISIS] told me that all I need to do is pay the taxes, and they will protect me,” says George, a 17-year-old Christian music student still living in Raqqa. “I know that under the Caliphate, Christians got a lot of things in return for paying taxes. The Christian community was left in peace.” That hasn’t been the case so far in Syria’s new Caliphate. When ISIS arrived in town, it warned Christians to stay out of sight and hide their crucifixes.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"This will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest ecclesiastical body in the (Anglican) Communion," Bishop Mark Lawrence said in his address to the annual diocesan convention.

Lawrence and most local Episcopal parishes separated from the national church because of long-standing administrative and theological disputes. However, the Episcopal Church is a North American province of the Anglican Communion, so the separation left the diocese without a formal connection to the seat of global Anglicanism, the See of Canterbury.

Since then, the Diocese of South Carolina and others around the U.S. have sought ways to remain in communion with global Anglicans outside of the Episcopal Church umbrella.

"This measure of oversight allows us to be involved in the larger conversations that take place in the communion in a more direct fashion," the Rev. Canon James Lewis said. "We'll have a more direct connection."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* South Carolina* Theology

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Posted March 16, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Imam-Priest exchange initiative for 2014 opened at Al Azhar al Shereef, at the invitation of the Grand Imam. The 30 imams and 30 priests who participated in the initiative in 2013 shared what they learnt and were presented with certificates.

This initiative aims at reducing religious tension through practical dialogue. The need for dialogue has become
more critical after the 25 January 2011 Revolution because of the inter-religious strife leading to incidents of tragic sectarian violence. It is clear that religion will play a significant role in shaping Egypt’s future. Muslim Imams and Christian leaders need to address religious harmony and the importance of unity, because it is known how fragile the inter-religious relationships are and the dangerous consequences of the alternative for Egypt’s future.

‘Together for a New Egypt: the Imam-Priest Exchange,’ is an interfaith initiative which brought together 30 priests (from different denominations) and 30 imams (selected by Al-Azhar) for four weekends in 2013. As a result of these meetings, the participating imams and priests built friendships and engaged together.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A bus full of South Korean Christians who saved money for years in order to visit biblical sites in Egypt and Israel were attacked Sunday by a suicide bomber.

Four people were killed in the bombing, including the Egyptian driver, a church member, and two South Korean guides. At least 14 others were injured, the Associated Press reports.

This is not the first time South Korean Christians have been the target of violence in a foreign country. In 2007, after a 43-day hostage situation left two South Korean missionaries dead in Afghanistan, South Korea subsequently banned citizens from traveling to certain majority-Muslim countries—which proved to be a blessing in disguise for Korean Christians.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth KoreaMiddle EastEgyptIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted February 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The priest of an Egyptian church attacked last week says his church was targeted as part of a wider pattern of retribution from Muslim Brotherhood supporters against churches and security forces following the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last summer.

Around 70 churches were attacked last summer in retaliation against the dispersal of protest camps set up in the wake of Morsi’s deposal. Many Muslim Brotherhood members hold Christians at least partly responsible for the overthrow, especially following comments made in support of the army by Coptic Church leader Pope Tawadros II.

In the latest attack on a church, a policeman was killed and two others injured when the Church of the Virgin Mary in the 6th of October Diocese came under fire on Jan. 28.

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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted February 4, 2014 at 6:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mosques across Egypt have witnessed the first Friday sermon on a set theme chosen by the government as part of newly introduced controls on Muslim places of worship.

The policy is controversial in a country that is deeply polarised after the army overthrew President Mohammad Morsi last year after mass protests, amid deep resentment against his single year in power.

The Ministry of Religious Endowments is the official Egyptian body which will decide what imams or preachers should tell the millions who attend the weekly prayers, known in Arabic as salat al-jummah. Attendance is obligatory within Islam for Muslims without a valid excuse such as sickness.

Starting from Friday 31 January, all Egyptian mosques are to abide by the weekly topic posted on the ministry's website.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted February 1, 2014 at 8:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ultimately, the film’s central question—who are the heroes of the revolution?—scarcely seems to matter. Its answer—the liberal democracy activists—seems dubious. And was it even a revolution? Today some activists are in jail or back on the street, protesting against the new regime. Others have joined a large majority of Egyptians to cheer for the army as it withholds many of the freedoms the activists fought and died for.

Peter Hessler, a winner of the Macarthur “Genius” grant who reports for the New Yorker from Cairo, heard a common refrain around the city on the day of the referendum on the army’s constitution: “The country needs to move forward.” There were very few “no” votes that day. On Twitter, journalists joked that a citizen willing to admit he or she voted “no” couldn’t be found anywhere. Very few Egyptians seem to be willing to jeopardize stability and security to experiment with the Western-style values of democracy and accountability preached by the activists.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 31, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Egyptian people were preparing for the celebration of the 3rd anniversary of the 25 January 2011 Revolution, and rejoicing after the passing of the new Constitution, the Islamists (Muslim Brotherhood and other groups) threatened that they would demonstrate, yet again, in protest of the removal of former President Mursi.

This morning Egypt woke up hearing the news of several bombs in Cairo; 12 people were killed and dozens injured. It is clear that the terrorist groups are now targeting the police and the army. The day before, six police were shot dead by a group of terrorists at a check-point in Upper Egypt. The Egyptian Security is doing its best to bring security within the streets of Egypt, yet, as you know, terrorist attacks are very difficult to predict and not easy to avoid. The question that needs to be answered is: why have these terrorist attacks happened throughout Egypt only after the removal of former President Mursi? What is the link?

Many Egyptians believe that during the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, many extremist groups flourished. Many members of these extremists were pardoned by Mursi and released from prisons. They immediately became involved in the political life in Egypt. Under the current interim government, there is no space for such extremist groups.

These terrorist attacks stirred both anger and determination within the Egyptian people. After the attacks, people gathered from everywhere at the site of the bombing to shout against those groups who committed these criminal and savage acts, and also against the Muslim Brotherhood who supported these groups. Many have expressed their determination to support the police and the army in their war against terrorism.

All churches in Egypt condemned these attacks, including the Anglican Church, and encouraged the Egyptian people to fight terrorism and do their best to build the country.

My hope and prayer is that the international community would stand in solidarity with the current Egyptian Government in its fight against terrorism. I know that most countries have condemned these bombings, but condemnation needs to be accompanied by more practical actions.

Please continue to pray for our beloved country Egypt.

--The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis is Bishop of Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa and President Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted January 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three years after the start of its revolt for democracy, the capital was shaken Friday by four deadly bombings, in the clearest sign yet that Egypt is entering a prolonged and violent struggle between the military-backed government and a growing Islamist insurgency.

The bombs, scattered around the city and aimed at the police, killed six people and left in their aftermath a grim realization that a cycle of terrorism and repression is hardening the determination of each side to fight to the death, all but extinguishing the three-year-old dream of an inclusive democracy and open debate.

“The timing is a message that the third anniversary of the revolution will not be a celebration; they want to color it with blood,” said Moataz Abdel-Fattah, a political scientist at the American University of Cairo. “And it will only darken the political waters, with more people calling for a hard-line stance against the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted January 25, 2014 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A crude device exploded near a police station in a Cairo suburb on Friday, security sources said, hours after a car bomb killed at least four people near the Egyptian police headquarters in the center of the Egyptian capital, and a second blast in the city killed a police officer.

A loud blast was heard in the Talbeya neighborhood in Giza, a large district on the outskirts of Cairo, witnesses told Reuters. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The first and deadliest blast of the day was the car bomb at the police headquarters in the heart of Cairo -- a hugely symbolic attack on the eve of the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted January 24, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last summer, as unrest raged in Cairo, Egypt’s small Anglican community started looking for a way out. One family made for Canada, another went to Australia, and several emigrated to the United States.

As exoduses go, Anglican emigration has been small compared to the torrent of fleeing Coptic Orthodox migrants, but with approximately 3000-4000 congregants, the Anglican Church’s problems over the past few years have mirrored those of the wider Christian population.

When modern Egypt’s worst bout of sectarian violence erupted in August, few Anglicans were left untouched by the fallout. Two of the Anglican community’s 15 churches were attacked, while only the timely arrival of the army spared a third, and those inside it, from an irate mob intent on setting it alight.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted January 21, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt's referendum on a new constitution has been backed by 98.1% of people who voted, officials say.

Turnout was 38.6% of the more than 50-million eligible voters, the election committee said.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted January 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Once again, the Egyptian people have surprised the world. Yesterday was the first day of the Referendum on the new Constitution of Egypt. The supporters of the former President Mohammed Mursi called people to boycott the Referendum. Surprisingly enough, yesterday millions of people went to the polls to vote and they are still voting today!
............................
I can see my beloved country standing on the doorstep of a new day. Do pray that the hopes and dreams of millions of people, of a more settled, secure and democratic country, will be fulfilled.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted January 15, 2014 at 2:53 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egyptians are voting amid tight security in a two-day referendum on a new constitution, which could pave the way for fresh elections.

The new charter aims to replace the constitution passed under Islamist President Mohammed Morsi months before he was ousted by the army.

The military wants a strong Yes vote to endorse Mr Morsi's removal.

His Muslim Brotherhood, now designated a terrorist group, is boycotting the vote and there are fears of violence.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted January 14, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A masked armed man blocked the road ahead before five more emerged from hiding and dragged Mamdouh Eskander Farid from his car.

“They tied my hands and gagged me to stop my screams. Then one hit me on the back of my head with the butt of his rifle and I lost consciousness,” said the 58-year-old Christian worker at a health clinic in Minya province, Upper Egypt. When he came to, he did not know where he was, but Mr Farid’s ordeal had just begun. His captors wanted £180,000 — an inordinate ransom for a man who supports a family of nine on just £120 a month.

Like many other Christians in Egypt, Mr Farid will be spending the festive season in fear — terrified of a spate of kidnappings that poses a new threat to their beleaguered minority, which makes up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s majority Muslim population. Dozens have been abducted and some tortured by armed gangs who have demanded ransoms of between £4,000 and £30,000.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church

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Posted December 24, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church in the West cannot intervene in conflicts in places such as Syria and Egypt - unless it is invited to do so, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

"We would be delighted to play a reconciliation role if there is one we can play. If someone in a viable position on both sides says, 'Come and help,' we'll be on the next flight."

But he ruled out any peace mission under present circumstances. "Nothing can be done until people are willing to let something happen. If people want to fight, they fight. When both sides think they can win, they will go on fighting."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 20, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Egyptian criminal court convicted three Christians Saturday of killing a Muslim man, a judicial official and the state news agency said, in a dispute that that left nine people dead in some of this year's worst sectarian violence.

Six Christians died in the clashes, which took place in a small town just outside Cairo in April, but no one was arrested or convicted for their killings, lawyers said.

In its ruling, the criminal court of Qalubiya province sentenced one Christian man, Hani Farouk Awad, to life imprisonment and two others to 15 years for the killing of a Muslim resident of Khosoos, where the violence took place. Nine Muslims were sentenced to up to five years for vandalizing Christian properties while 32 were acquitted, the official said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted December 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christianity is at risk of extinction in some parts of the world due to growing persecution of minority communities, a minister has warned.

Baroness Warsi said Christians were in danger of being driven out of countries, such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root.

Syria's civil war and the instability in Iraq has seen many leave.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastEgyptIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the drafting committee entrusted with creating Egypt's new constitution, which is to be put to a national referendum next month, races against time to conclude its final product, concern runs high in most rights quarters about what the expected bill would bear for civil, political and other liberties.

Despite the active engagement of the Coptic church in the committee, representing the vast majority of Egyptian Christians, serious concerns remain in numerous Coptic quarters about the new bill's ability to attend to the grave citizenship issues that have plagued them in past decades – not least of which those added during the Muslim Brotherhood's one-year rule and its now suspended 2013 constitution, on whose drafting committee the liberal forces and representatives of the Coptic church had walked out.

"We are concerned, and for a very simple reason: in its entirety, the text of the proposed constitution – as we have been able to figure out depending on the access we have to the committee's work – is not at all successful in eliminating the key causes for compromised citizenship rights that Copts, and Christians in general, have been facing," said Coptic activist Marceiliano Youssef, a member of the Maspero Youth Union and the Egyptian Centre for Human Rights.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“’God of life, lead us to justice and peace’ has become a prayer around the world.” These were words of Dr Wedad Abbas Tawfik about the theme of the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly. She shared her experiences and hopes for social and political stability as a Coptic Christian in her country, Egypt.

Tawfik, who was one of the speakers at the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, made special reference to the situation of Christians in the Middle East, Egypt and Syria in particular, inviting prayers for peace for the region.

Tawfik was addressing a plenary session of the WCC assembly on 31 October.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The wedding party stood outside the church, eagerly awaiting the ceremonious arrival of the bride. Instead, drive-by shooters killed four, including two children and the groom's mother, and injured 18.

Beyond its poignancy, the attack in Cairo's industrial neighborhood of Warraq was significant for being one of the first to target Egypt's Christians specifically, versus the now-common attacks on their church buildings.

"Since the revolution, this is the first instance Coptic people were targeted randomly in a church, with weapons," said Mina Magdy, general coordinator for the Maspero Youth Union, a mostly Coptic revolutionary group formed in response to church burnings in 2011 after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 24, 2013 at 6:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his years as a dissident, the book publisher had taken on Egypt’s autocratic government and its censors, aided revolutionaries during the uprising and protested in the streets to protect freedoms he thought he had helped the country win.

But like many other Egyptians these days, the publisher, Mohamed Hashem, says he feels defeated by the latest tragic turn, toward growing violence, repression and civil strife after the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in July. Tired of waiting for better days, the publisher announced last week that he would emigrate, stunning his friends and a legion of young fans.

“I won’t postpone happiness until I die,” he said.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Three people, including a girl aged eight, died when gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a wedding party outside a Coptic Christian church in Cairo.

At least nine others were wounded in the attack in Giza, officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Egypt's Coptic Christian community has been targeted by some Islamists who accuse the Church of backing the army's overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in July.

The unidentified attackers fired indiscriminately as people left the church

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

1 Comments
Posted October 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Brotherhood was toppled in Egypt in a July military coup, and former president Mohammad Morsi will go on trial in November. The coup is also threatening the 6-year-old rule of its Palestinian branch, Hamas, in neighboring Gaza, because the Egyptian military has closed smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, depriving Hamas of millions of dollars in foreign donations and customs revenue. In several Gulf Arab states, the movement has been targeted in a crackdown, and Tunisia's Brotherhood-dominated government faces a backlash.

"They fail to make the transition from a closed organization into an open and broad-based transparent government," Fawaz A. Gerges, director of the Middle East Center of the London School of Economics, said of the Brotherhood. "They behaved, while in government, exactly as they behave internally."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 18, 2013 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Locked inside a 6th century church in a desert monastery are some of the jewels of early Christianity — ancient murals in vivid pinks, greens and reds depicting saints, angels and the Virgin Mary with a baby Jesus, hidden for centuries under a blanket of black soot.

Italian and Egyptian restorers are meticulously uncovering the paintings, some of the earliest surviving and most complete examples of early Coptic Christian art. But the work, in the final stages more than a decade after it started, is done quietly to avoid drawing attention — and there's no plan to try to attract visitors, at least not now.

"This is our heritage and we must protect it," said Father Antonius, abbot of the Red Monastery where the Anba Bishay Church is located. He takes it as a personal mission to protect it. The church's heavy wooden door has only two keys. He keeps one and a young monk he trusts keeps the other.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church

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Posted October 17, 2013 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Egyptian Government to do more to prevent mob attacks on the country’s Coptic Christian minority.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the circumstances for Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up about about 10 per cent of the nation’s population, were “life-threatening”.

More than 200 Christian-owned properties have been attacked and 43 churches seriously damaged across the country, according to an Amnesty International report out...[this week].

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than two months after the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood was driven from power and the country's army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, surged to the fore, Egypt remains deeply divided about the role of religion in public life. Whether in fiery mosque sermons, slow-moving constitutional deliberations or triumphal military statements, the banner of heaven is being waved by all sides.

"Religion is being more or less used the same way by the military as it was by the Brotherhood," said Ahmad El Azabawy, a former political science professor who is now an independent analyst. "Just with more subtlety, because now, of course, people are just coming out of a bitter experience with an Islamic regime."

Religious minorities make up about 15% of the population, and Islam is the state religion. It pervades daily existence in Egypt as surely as the muezzin's call echoing through dusty streets.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 2, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indisputably, there is today a Coptic nation. But it is not a nation that seeks to achieve independence and statehood. That nation is neither racial nor, after the loss of the Coptic language, is it based on a distinct language or on purely religious lines. Instead, it is a nation that is founded on the unique history of a church. It is a nation, as S.S. Hassan described it, whose topography is invisible. The nature of the dangers facing that nation have varied throughout its history from assimilation in an imagined liberal Egypt, to the erosion of Coptic uniqueness, the threat of Protestant missionaries and of modernity and its discontents.

Today, this nation faces a more serious threat. It can fight back against persecution, although overwhelming odds lined up against it assure its defeat. It can accept dhimmitude and live as second-class citizens, or it can withdraw inside the walls of its ancient church finding comfort within those walls.

The prospects for Copts in Egypt are, to say the least, bleak. Unlike the Jewish emigrants escaping Egypt in the 1940s and 50s, for Copts driven out of their ancestral homeland there is no Israel to escape to. Nor does their overall percentage in Egypt allow them to play a key role in shaping its future. The only option in front of them is to pack their bags and leave, putting an end to two thousand years of Christianity in Egypt.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the mid-August day that Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of Islamist protesters, throwing the country into deeper turmoil, the ultraconservative religious Salafist Nour Party released a statement positioning itself as the sole voice of reason.

"We warned a long time ago against the danger of bloodshed and against mobilization and counter-mobilization," the group said.

Nour called on both the nation's military rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood that had been ousted from power to stop the violence, saying that the only option for peace was a political solution.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 10, 2013 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Coptic Orthodox priest would talk to his visitor only after hiding from the watchful eyes of the bearded Muslim outside, who sported a pistol bulging from under his robe.

So Father Yoannis moved behind a wall in the charred skeleton of an ancient monastery to describe how it was torched by Islamists and then looted when they took over this southern Egyptian town following the ouster of the country's president.

"The fire in the monastery burned intermittently for three days. The looting continued for a week. At the end, not a wire or an electric switch is left," Yoannis told The Associated Press. The monastery's 1,600-year-old underground chapel was stripped of ancient icons and the ground was dug up on the belief that a treasure was buried there.

Read it all.

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Posted September 9, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A powerful bomb blasted through a convoy of cars carrying the interior minister along a residential street on Thursday, raising fears of a widely predicted turn toward terrorist violence by opponents of the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.

The minister escaped and so did his would-be assassins. But the explosion killed at least one police officer, injured 10 others and wounded at least 11 civilians, according to an official statement from the Interior Ministry. Speaking independently, Gen. Osama al-Soghayar, security chief for Cairo, put the number of civilians injured far higher, at more than 60. Read it all.

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Posted September 6, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Syrian civil conflict is both a proxy war and a combustion point for spreading waves of violence. This didn't start out as a religious war. But both Sunni and Shiite power players are seizing on religious symbols and sowing sectarian passions that are rippling across the region. The Saudi and Iranian powers hover in the background fueling each side.

As the death toll in Syria rises to Rwanda-like proportions, images of mass killings draw holy warriors from countries near and far. The radical groups are the most effective fighters and control the tempo of events. The Syrian opposition groups are themselves split violently along sectarian lines so that the country seems to face a choice between anarchy and atrocity.

Meanwhile, the strife appears to be spreading. Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq is spiking upward. Reports in The New York Times and elsewhere have said that many Iraqis fear their country is sliding back to the worst of the chaos experienced in the past decade. Even Turkey, Pakistan, Bahrain and Kuwait could be infected.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted September 4, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fresh video has emerged from Egypt showing the storming of a Coptic church, apparently proving claims that supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi have been laying waste to Christian churches.

The shocking footage shows a Muslim mob storming the church in the southern Egyptian city of Sohag, smashing furniture and walls and torching cars as they go.

Read it all.

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Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Catholic Church has been following with concern the radicalization of Syria’s civil war. The country hosts a sizable Christian minority, which has mostly sided with Assad during the two-year long conflict.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Maroun Lahham, the vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said he hoped the “world’s ‘bigs’” would “make peace instead of war and find a peaceful solution.”

Other Syrian Catholic leaders have been even more vocal in condemning a possible Western intervention.

Read it all.

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Posted August 29, 2013 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From Barrons [it may also be found here]:
When [President Barack] Obama proclaimed his red line on Syria and chemical weapons, he assumed the issue would not come up. He made a gesture to those in his administration who believe that the United States has a moral obligation to put an end to brutality. He also made a gesture to those who don't want to go to war again. It was one of those smart moves that can blow up in a president's face when it turns out his assumption was wrong. Whether al Assad did launch the attacks, whether the insurgents did, or whether someone faked them doesn't matter. Unless Obama can get overwhelming, indisputable proof that al Assad did not -- and that isn't going to happen -- Obama will either have to act on the red line principle or be shown to be one who bluffs. The incredible complexity of intervening in a civil war without becoming bogged down makes the process even more baffling.

Obama now faces the second time in his presidency when war was an option. The first was Libya. The tyrant is now dead, and what followed is not pretty. And Libya was easy compared to Syria. Now, the president must intervene to maintain his credibility. But there is no political support in the United States for intervention. He must take military action, but not one that would cause the United States to appear brutish. He must depose al Assad, but not replace him with his opponents. He never thought al Assad would be so reckless. Despite whether al Assad actually was, the consensus is that he was. That's the hand the president has to play, so it's hard to see how he avoids military action and retains credibility. It is also hard to see how he takes military action without a political revolt against him if it goes wrong, which it usually does.


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Posted August 29, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two former militant groups offered to call off street protests if the government agrees to ease its pressure on Islamists, a move that underscores how a onetime strong Islamist movement is now bowing to an unprecedented crackdown by security authorities.

The proposal comes after the military rounded up hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and other Islamists in the wake of the country's worst bout of violence, which followed the Aug. 14 clearing of two sprawling sit-in camps housing protesters calling for the reinstatement of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader.

Read it all.

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Posted August 27, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Egyptian military has enlisted Muslim scholars in a propaganda campaign to persuade soldiers and policemen that they have a religious duty to obey orders to use deadly force against supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.

The effort is a signal that the generals are worried about insubordination in the ranks, after security forces have killed hundreds of their fellow Egyptians who were protesting against the military’s removal of the elected president — violence by the armed forces against civilians that is without precedent in the country’s modern history.

The recourse to religion to justify the killing is also a new measure of the depth of the military’s determination to break down the main pillar of Mr. Morsi’s support, the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, after ousting Mr. Morsi in the name of tolerance, inclusiveness and an end to religious rule, the military is now sending religious messages to its troops that sound surprisingly similar to the arguments of radical militants who call for violence against political opponents whom they deem to be nonbelievers.

Read it all.

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Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

The past week has been traumatic for Egyptians. We witnessed bloodshed on our streets, vandalism and the deliberate destruction of churches and government buildings in lawless acts of revenge. One of our Anglican Churches was attacked, and other ministries received threats. We praise God that our churches and congregations are safe, but we grieve for the loss of life and for the churches which were burnt over the past week in Egypt.

The Anglican Church in Egypt serves all Egyptians, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized, through our educational, medical and community development ministries. We seek to be a light in our society, and we continue to serve our neighbours in the difficult situation which surrounds us. Unemployment is at a record high, there is a lack of security on the streets, the economy is in decline, and poverty is crushing for many people in Egypt.

Read it all.

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Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No one knows exactly when the Virgin Mary Church was built, but the fourth and fifth centuries are both possible options. In both cases, it was the time of the Byzantines. Egypt's Coptic Church—to which this church in modern-day Delga belonged—had refused to bow to imperial power and Rome's leadership over the nature of Christ. Constantinople was adamant it would force its will on the Copts. Two lines of popes claimed the Seat of Alexandria. One with imperial blessing sat in the open; the other, with his people's support, often hid, moving from one church to the other. Virgin Mary Church's altar outlasted the Byzantines. Arabs soon invaded in A.D. 641. Dynasties rose and fell, but the ancient building remained strong, a monument to its people's survival.

Virgin Mary Church was built underground, a shelter from the prying eye. At its entrance were two ancient Roman columns and an iron door. Inside were three sanctuaries with four altars. Roman columns were engraved in the walls. As in many Coptic churches, historical artifacts overlapped earlier ones. The most ancient drawing to survive into the 21st century: a depiction, on a stone near the entrance, of two deer and holy bread. Layers and layers of history, a testament not only to the place's ancient roots but also to its persistence. Like other Coptic churches, the ancient baptistery was on the western side, facing the altar in the east. Infants were symbolically transferred through baptism from the left to the right. The old icons were kept inside the church, the ancient manuscripts transferred to the Bishopric in modern times.

Read it all.

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Posted August 24, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamist radicals accuse Christians of being behind the 3 July coup against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood and the toppling and detention of its leader, President Mohamed Mursi. But Christians point out that although the Copts’ leader, Pope Tawadros II, was pictured on television alongside the coup’s protagonist, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, following the take-over, also present was Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Shaikh of Al Azhar, the beating heart of Sunni Islam. Despite that, since the army carried out its mostly popular coup some 40 churches have been looted and torched, and 23 others heavily attacked.

This is a relatively new development as even hard-line Muslims, like all of Islam, recognise Jews and Christians as Ahl al-Kitab (“People of the Book”) or dhimmi, a status which affords rights of residence while requiring them to pay special taxes. While they stress their inferior status and see them constantly as potential converts to Islam, a more moderate attitude often prevails. For example, the Franciscan nuns at Bani Suef were initially paraded like prisoners of war but were quickly given refuge by kindly Muslim women, an indication that Egyptian innate kindliness survives.

Furthermore, just as Muslims and Christians protested together in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after the revolution against President Mubarak began on 25 January, 2011, so many Muslims have helped to protect churches from Islamist fanatics.

Read it all.

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Posted August 23, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Few Western observers predicted the scale of the recent military crackdown in Egypt, or the nation's sudden lurch to something like civil war. The next question troubling policymakers is just how bad the violence will become, and history does give us some strong indicators about the near future. The resulting picture is alarming.

I begin with a useful principle: Egyptian state security is very good at counter-subversion, but not as good as it thinks it is. For decades, Egyptian officials have prided themselves on their ability to penetrate radical organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which for years has operated under constant surveillance. Unless the organization was so riddled with government informers and double agents, the Egyptian state would never have risked its recent decapitation attempt against the group and its leadership.

History, however, suggests that official activities are strictly limited in their usefulness. Time and again, state security has won dazzling victories against subversion, only to have the state's enemies rebuild their infrastructures over the following years. Repeatedly, the Egyptian state has been wrong in its claims about the end of Islamist radicalism.

Read it all.

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2 Comments
Posted August 22, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Osama Makram Amin woke to the sound of gunfire, looked out his window and saw what he says were young men throwing gasoline bombs at the nearby Coptic Christian church.

Earlier that morning, security forces in Cairo had attacked two predominantly Islamist sit-ins, leaving hundreds dead. Now, hours later on Aug. 14, attackers in this Upper Egyptian city were embarking on a day of burning and looting that would target 14 Christian churches, homes and businesses. It was the work of Islamists enraged by the Cairo crackdown, said police and many Christian residents.

Read it all.

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Posted August 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The police lieutenant put his boots up on the desk and casually reloaded his machine gun. "The problem is," he said, nodding at a television that was live-broadcasting the siege of a nearby mosque, "these people are terrorists."

It was mid-afternoon last Saturday, and for nearly 24 hours, the lieutenant's colleagues in the police and army had surrounded the al-Fath mosque in central Cairo, inside which were hiding a few hundred supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. On screen, it seemed like it was the soldiers doing the terrorising. But for the lieutenant, the terrorists were the ones on the inside. They had bombs, the policeman said: they deserved what they got. And a mob of locals agreed. "The police and the people," chanted a crowd that had gathered to lynch the fugitives as they exited the mosque, "are one hand."

It was a wretched scene – but one that has become familiar in Egypt.

Read it all.

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Posted August 21, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before the violence that shook this small village last week, there were warning signs.

On June 30, when millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest against now ousted President Mohamed Morsi, residents of Al Nazla marked Christian homes and shops with red graffiti, vowing to protect Morsi's electoral legitimacy with “blood.”

Relations between Christians and Muslims in the village, which had worsened since Morsi's election in 2012, grew even more tense as Islamists spread rumors that it was Christians who were behind the protests against Morsi and his ouster by the military on July 3.

Read it all.


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Posted August 19, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For two years, the conversation on Egypt centered on how to build a democracy. Suddenly the discussion has turned much darker, with some wondering aloud whether the largest Arab nation is hurtling toward civil war.

The bloody crackdown by Egypt's security forces has raised the specter of a protracted conflict pitting the military against the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's most powerful political force.

Egypt's escalating crisis is far too volatile for any declarative statements, analysts say. But here are three possible scenarios that could play out:

Read or listen to it all.

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Posted August 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...we do ourselves a disservice by overstating the plight of Egyptian Christians. Many live comfortably, and while there are many who are poverty stricken, the same is true of all Egyptians. Christmas is a national holiday, and church bells ring on Sundays. But amongst Christians the atmosphere is one of deep concern, bordering on paranoia. One friend told me of how it is much harder for Christians to get Western visas, because the visa staff are all locally employed Muslims, and religion is stamped on one's passport. I don't know the truth of that, but am reminded of the saying that just because I'm paranoid, it doesn't mean I'm not persecuted. And societal divisions are growing, despite protestations to the contrary. These divisions are fuelled by ignorance of the other – one Muslim friend thought Christians worship three gods – and conspiracies about Western ‘fifth columns’, and they lead to incidents such as the attacks on churches in Suez and Upper Egypt over the past few days.

The Christians were as varied in their voting in the presidential election as everybody else was. Some I knew even voted for Morsi in the second round: better the Muslim Brotherhood than the old regime. Most didn't vote either way. And a few voted for Shafiq, the Mubarakite, with reasoning ranging from 'better the devil you know' to 'we were served well by Mubarak'. But in largely supporting the overthrow of Morsi, they were in line with the will of the majority of Egypt: Pope Tawadros stood side by side with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar while the people, once again, rejoiced in the streets.

It's hard to state just how the army, the saviours of the revolution, were despised by June 2012....

Read it all.


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Posted August 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
38 Churches completely destroyed, burned and looted
23 Churches attacked and partially damaged
In Addition to the following:
- 58 houses owned by Copts in different burned and looted
- 85 shops owned by Copts
- 16 pharmacies
- 3 hotels (Horus, Susana & Akhnaton)
- 75 cars, buses owned by churches
-6 people killed based on their religious Christian Identity
-7 Coptic people kidnapped in upper Egypt governorates
The link will provide you with many more sobering numbers--please pray for Egypt--KSH.

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Posted August 18, 2013 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The Egyptian defense minister ordered the engineering department of the armed forces to swiftly repair all the affected churches, in recognition of the historical and national role played by our Coptic brothers,” read a statement that aired on Egyptian television.

Bishop Mousa thanked Sisi for his efforts to repair the damaged churches.

“We thank Col. Gen. Sisi for commissioning the brave Egyptian armed forces to rebuild the places of worship damaged during the recent events,” Bishop Mousa said on Twitter.

Read it all.

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Posted August 18, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and follow all the interactive's features. Also, read the accompanying article there which includes the following:
As if sensing trouble, just two days before Wednesday's violence, Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II called on all Egyptians to prevent bloodshed.

"With all compassion I urge everyone to conserve Egyptian blood and ask of every Egyptian to commit to self-restraint and avoid recklessness and assault on any person or property," Tawadros wrote on his official Twitter account Monday.

Youssef Sidhom, editor-in-chief of the Christian weekly Watani, said the recent attacks are painful and vicious but it be worse if they are allowed to divide the two faiths.


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Posted August 17, 2013 at 8:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"You wouldn't have a civil war unless there were people who were really willing to fight the army with arms," [ Elliott] Abrams said. "It's not, I think, going to look like Syria."

Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, added that because the military controls 35 to 40 percent of the economy, it was unlikely the military would splinter like it did in other countries.

"In Egypt, you don't have a huge armed population, and the chance of the military splitting the way it happened first in Libya and later in Syria is less likely because the role of the military in Egyptian society has been very separate from the population, and very privileged."

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted August 16, 2013 at 7:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The state of emergency in Egypt following the carnage and increasing death toll of recent days is a matter of grave concern for those within and outside the region. The heavy loss of life is deeply disturbing and points to the urgent need for resolution and restraint from Government forces.

Of equal concern are the reports that several Churches across Egypt were attacked, including St Saviours Anglican Church in Suez. These unprovoked attacks are part of an all too familiar pattern that we see repeated across the region where Christian and other minority communities find themselves as collateral casualties in a wider struggle between two increasingly illiberal and repressive forces....

Read it all.

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Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain has summoned the Egyptian ambassador for a meeting as the death toll from Wednesday's attack on pro-Morsi supporters rose to 525.

a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/egypt/10244413/Egypt-death-toll-rises-to-525-as-Britain-summons-Egyptian-ambassador.html">Read it all.

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Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:37 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

As I write these words, our St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in Suez is under heavy attack from those who support former President Mursi. They are throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the church and have destroyed the car of Rev. Ehab Ayoub, the priest-in-charge of St. Saviour’s Church. I am also aware that there are attacks on other Orthodox churches in Menyia and Suhag in Upper Egypt (photo above), as well as a Catholic church in Suez. Some police stations are also under attack in different parts of Egypt. Please pray and ask others to pray for this inflammable situation in Egypt.

arly this morning, the police supported by the army, encouraged protestors in two different locations in Cairo, to leave safely and go home. It is worth mentioning that these protestors have been protesting for 6 weeks, blocking the roads. The people in these neighborhoods have been suffering a great deal—not only these people, but those commuting through, especially those who are going to the airport. The police created very safe passages for everyone to leave. Many protestors left and went home, however, others resisted to leave and started to attack the police. The police and army were very professional in responding to the attacks, and they used tear gas only when it was necessary. The police then discovered caches of weapons and ammunition in these sites. One area near Giza is now calm, but there is still some resistance at other sites. There are even some snipers trying to attack the police and the army. There are even some rumors that Muslim Brotherhood leaders asked the protestors in different cities to attack police stations, take weapons, and attack shops and churches.

A few hours later, violent demonstrations from Mursi supporters broke out in different cities and towns throughout Egypt. The police and army are trying to maintain safety for all people and to disperse the protestors peacefully. However, the supporters of former President Mursi have threatened that if they are dispersed from the current sites, they will move to other sites and continue to protest. They also threatened to use violence. There have been a number of fatalities and casualties from among the police as well as the protestors, but it seems that the numbers are not as high as expected for such violence. However, the supporters of former President Mursi claim that there are very high numbers of casualties. The real numbers will be known later on.

Please pray that the situation will calm down, for wisdom and tact for the police and the army, for the safety of all churches and congregations, and that all in Egypt would be safe.

May the Lord bless you!

--(The Most Rev.) Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
 is Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt
 with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
 and President Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican

Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East



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Posted August 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every night at dusk, the streets of this desert town near the Israeli border empty out, and the chatter and thump of gunfire and explosives begin. Morning reveals the results: another dead soldier, another police checkpoint riddled with bullets, another kidnapping. In mid-July, the body of a local Christian shop owner was found near the town cemetery, his head severed, his torso in chains.

The northern Sinai Peninsula, long a relatively lawless zone, has become a dark harbinger of what could follow elsewhere in Egypt if the interim government cannot peacefully resolve its standoff with the Islamist protesters camped out in Cairo.

In the five weeks since Egypt’s military ousted the Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, the endemic violence here has spiraled into something like an insurgency, with mysterious gunmen attacking military and police facilities every night.

Read it all.

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Posted August 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was nighttime and 10,000 Islamists were marching down the most heavily Christian street in this ancient Egyptian city, chanting "Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians." A half-dozen kids were spray-painting "Boycott the Christians" on walls, supervised by an adult.

While Islamists are on the defensive in Cairo following the military coup that ousted President Mohammed Morsi, in Assiut and elsewhere in Egypt's deep south they are waging a stepped-up hate campaign, claiming the country's Christian minority somehow engineered Morsi's downfall.

"Tawadros is a dog," says a spray-painted insult, referring to Pope Tawadros II, patriarch of the Copts, as Egypt's Christians are called. Christian homes, stores and places of worship have been marked with large painted crosses.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted August 9, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Egypt’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, promoted Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi to defense minister nearly a year ago, sweeping away an aging cadre of generals, many saw it as a triumph for the Islamist president, and for a fledgling democracy.

Mr. Morsi had seized back broad powers from the old guard, and General Sisi, known to be pious, seemed to have a close relationship with the new president, even sending Mr. Morsi a laudatory telegram. “The men of the armed forces assert to your excellency their absolute loyalty to Egypt and its people, standing behind its leadership as guardians of the patriotic responsibility,” it read.

Mr. Morsi is now a prisoner of the military, deposed by General Sisi on July 3 after mass protests against the president’s rule. And the telegenic general, who has cast himself as protector of Egypt’s security and its very identity, is riding a wave of muscular nationalism and pro-military sentiment that has led his adoring fans to liken him to former President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Read it all.

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Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in these circumstances are facing a dangerous backlash, Church leaders having supported the ousting of Mr Morsi. Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church – at whose enthronement last November in Cairo the Archbishop of Dublin acted as a representative of the former Archbishop of Canterbury – was critical of Mr Morsi’s pro-Islamist approach and attended the ceremony at which the army’s commander, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, announced the suspension of the country’s constitution. The killing of a Coptic priest and attacks on Christians’ homes have shown very clearly how vulnerable the approximately 10 per cent minority is in the situation.

The Church must heed the call of Bishop Anis and pray at this time for healing in a very troubled nation, and for all Christians in Egypt who are suffering real personal dangers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted August 2, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[ Lindsey] Graham told reporters today that President Obama asked the two senators to travel to the region to assess the situation and to urge the Egyptian military to proceed with new elections.

“The president asked Sen. McCain and myself to go to Egypt next week, so we’re trying to find a way to get there,” Graham said, according to The Associated Press. “So we can go over and reinforce in a bipartisan fashion the message that we have to move to civilian control, that the military is going to have to, you know, allow the country to have new elections and move toward an inclusive, democratic approach.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa invited Muslim leaders and politicians, along with Christian leaders from different denominations, for an Iftar or a break of the fast of Ramadan, at All Saints Cathedral Hall.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 31, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The stunning fall from power of President Mohamed Mursi, and the Muslim Brotherhood which backed him, has upended politics in the volatile Middle East for a second time after the Arab Spring uprisings toppled veteran autocrats.

Some of the principal causes were highlighted a month before the army intervened to remove Mursi, when two of Egypt’s most senior power brokers met for a private dinner at the home of liberal politician Ayman Nour on the island of Zamalek, a lush bourgeois oasis in the midst of Cairo’s seething megalopolis. It was seen by some as a last attempt to avert a showdown.

The two power brokers were Amr Moussa, 76, a long-time foreign minister under Mubarak and now a secular nationalist politician, and Khairat El-Shater, 63, the Brotherhood’s deputy leader and most influential strategist and financier. Moussa suggested that to avoid confrontation, Mursi should heed opposition demands, including a change of government.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted July 30, 2013 at 11:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he Obama administration increasingly fears that Egypt's military, ignoring American appeals, is deepening a crackdown that could spark a sustained period of instability and lead members of the country's Muslim Brotherhood to take up arms.

In a series of private messages in recent days, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other American officials warned Egyptian military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi that his clampdown on the Brotherhood risked driving the Islamist group back underground, say U.S. officials involved in the discussions.

Despite those exhortations, Gen. Sisi called for massive demonstrations on Friday, which precipitated the deadliest single incident in the more than two years since Egypt's revolution. The U.S. also had sent messages urging calm to Brotherhood leaders, but officials said the group, like the military, showed little sign of backing down.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastEgypt

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Posted July 29, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just as they have done for 17 centuries, the Greek Orthodox monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt’s Sinai desert and the local Jabaliya Bedouins worked together to protect the monastery when the 2011 revolution thrust Egypt into a period of uncertainty. “There was a period in the early days of the Arab Spring when we had no idea what was going to happen,” says Father Justin, a monk who has lived at St. Catherine’s since 1996. Afraid they could be attacked by Islamic extremists or bandits in the relatively lawless expanse of desert, the 25 monks put the monastery’s most valuable manuscripts in the building’s storage room. Their Bedouin friends, who live at the base of St. Catherine’s in a town of the same name, allegedly took up their weapons and guarded the perimeter.

The community’s fears of an attack were not realized, but the monks decided they needed a new way to protect their treasured library from any future threats.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

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Posted July 28, 2013 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 37 people have been killed in bloody clashes overnight in and around Cairo after protests escalated into violence, with supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi saying police shot at demonstrators.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson confirmed the number of dead at one field hospital alone, and said that the toll is likely much higher. Doctors at the field hospital are telling reporters that many of the injuries were caused by live ammunitio

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted July 27, 2013 at 7:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nine people have died in Cairo in overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, officials say.

Most of the victims were killed at a sit-in held by pro-Morsi demonstrators near Cairo University.

Mr Morsi's family earlier accused the military of abducting him.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was less than two weeks ago that General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, announced the removal of Egypt's first democratically elected president, in the wake of the largest mass protests the country had ever seen. On July 3, an alliance of liberals, leftists, Nasserists, revolutionary youth, Coptic Christians and Salafists appeared together on television for a harmonious group picture.

But the rare pact was fragile. When soldiers opened fire on protesting Morsi supporters last Monday and at least 51 people died, the Salafists of the Al-Nour Party, or Party of the Light, demonstratively revoked their cooperation with the transitional government -- albeit only temporarily.

In fact, the Salafists need to maintain cooperation with the military and the transitional government in order to remain influential. Under Morsi's presidency, they had the same problems as the secular opposition. They were marginalized, and important positions went to members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Now Bassam Sarka, the deputy party leader, has renewed his support for the state, saying that Al-Nour will "demonstrate responsibility" and "cooperate with the military to prevent worse things from happening." The reward came quickly, when the military leaders decided to keep a controversial article in the constitution, whereby the principles of Sharia law are the "primary source of legislation" -- despite the fact that the liberals had just rejected the very same article.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted July 17, 2013 at 5:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By dispatching a senior State Department official to Cairo, the United States is signaling that it wants to see a return to a democratic government – and an end to continuing violence – as soon as possible.

In his two-day visit, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns is holding talks with Egypt’s military-backed interim government. With him also making time to meet with Egyptian business leaders, the US is likewise looking to emphasize that putting Egypt’s economy back on the rails and addressing Egyptians’ concerns about daily living will be key in the country’s transition period.

Mr. Burns, who began his visit Sunday, is expected to “underscore US support for the Egyptian people, an end to all violence, and a transition leading to an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government,” the State Department said in a statement.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastEgypt

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Posted July 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ABERNETHY: You’ve been to Egypt many times. As you look at it from here, what do you see? How do you characterize the mess it’s in?

[KATE] SEELYE: Well Egypt is facing a very challenging situation as it transitions from an authoritarian regime to a democracy in the future. It’s still very much along a transitional path.

ABERNETHY: But, how do you describe what’s going on?

SEELYE: Well, you know, there are two different views of what just happened. There are those who say that a coup just took place, that a legitimately elected government was just overthrown. You now have the military in office that is rounding up the very Islamists that were ruling Egypt just, you know, a few weeks ago, putting them in prison and closing down the media. You have liberals on the other hand, who supported the recent popular uprising, who say this is the very best thing that could have ever happened to Egypt. They say Morsi, the president, was incompetent, that he was authoritarian, as authoritarian as Mubarak. And they note that the economy was collapsing. There were two months left of wheat supplies. Now, in response to what’s just happened, Gulf countries have committed twelve billion dollars to Egypt. The new prime minister is a renowned economist and the liberals say there’s hope that Egypt will become prosperous and stable once again.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted July 13, 2013 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following fresh turmoil in Egypt, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have sent a message of 'committed solidarity' to Pope Tawadros II and Bishop Mouneer in Cairo.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have joined the call for prayers for unity, reconciliation and an end to violence in Egypt.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Archbishop Dr John Sentamu wrote to the Coptic and Anglican leaders in Cairo today, pledging their 'committed solidarity' amid the recent turmoil in the country.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle EastArchbishop of York John Sentamu* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church

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Posted July 12, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This time, the military's actions could be disastrous. Egypt's armed forces have not only brought the 2011 uprising to an ignominious end but invited a vengeful extremist backlash in the process.

Those who celebrate Morsi's ouster seem to think the Muslim Brotherhood — and the millions of Egyptians who are sympathetic to its cause — will suddenly and magically disappear.

This is indeed a fantasy. Even if Egypt's fractious liberals had anything approaching a coherent plan for governing Egypt, they would not be able to defuse the ticking time bomb that is Egypt's sizable minority of now-disenfranchised radical-leaning Islamists.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

5 Comments
Posted July 10, 2013 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Morsi, meanwhile, saw more and more signs of conspiracy. Liberal members of the constitutional committee did not want to reach consensus, he thought, but rather to prevent Egypt from stabilizing on an agreed-upon document. Accustomed to decades in the political wilderness, he and the Brotherhood believed the non-Islamist opposition and the entrenched state bureaucracy were doing everything in their power to oppose not only them but the success of the revolution.

Morsi was ousted within this polarized setting. The Rebel movement began in April to collect signatures demanding early presidential elections, with a goal of 15 million by June 30, the anniversary of Morsi’s presidency. Islamist leaders were dismissive, but the campaign gained steam. Days before the deadline, organizers announced their goal was reached—prompting Islamists to hold a massive demonstration in support of the president. But their hundreds of thousands near the presidential palace were soon dwarfed: Rebel supporters not only filled Tahrir Square but surrounded the palace in numbers exceeding the revolution itself.

Yet the situation was different. Morsi was legitimately elected. And unlike Mubarak, he had a substantial social base. The original Tahrir was a united revolution; now one side rallied against another.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted July 9, 2013 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The violence that flared in Cairo Monday morning, leaving dozens of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi dead, exposes a deepening and destabilizing power vacuum in Egypt that is likely to make the Obama administration’s “neutral” stance toward Egypt’s political factions increasingly difficult to maintain.

President Obama says the US is “not aligned with” anyone in Egypt’s political upheaval in the aftermath of Mr. Morsi’s removal from power by the military last Wednesday, and only supports the Egyptian people’s aspirations for democracy and prosperity.

The US is reportedly urging all of Egypt’s principle political movements, including Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, to participate in political negotiations and in new presidential and parliamentary elections – which as of yet have no date.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastEgypt

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Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A party of ultraconservative Islamists that emerged as an unexpected political kingmaker in Egypt after the military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi said on Monday that it was suspending its participation in efforts to form an interim government.

A spokesman for the Al Nour party said its decision was a reaction to a “massacre” hours earlier at an officers’ club here in which security officials said more than 30 people had been killed. The decision brought new complexities and unanswered questions to the effort to create a transitional political order.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The external reasons for the sectarian catastrophe that threatens the Middle East are equally obvious. French colonialism in Syria after World War I explicitly reinforced sectarian divisions and encouraged an Alawite entrance into the military that eventually saw Hafez al-Assad rise to power. It also provoked an anti-Western nationalist reaction, of which the Baath Party was one example.

Similarly, Shiite Hezbollah, now involved openly on the side of the Assad regime, emerged as a direct response to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, an invasion condoned by the United States. And U.S. support for the shah’s dictatorship helped precipitate the Iranian revolution and the anti-Western discourse that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini espoused.

The United States has also consistently supported the Wahhabi Saudis over secular nationalists in the Middle East. Finally and most obviously, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 played a pivotal role in destabilizing the region, inadvertently bolstering Tehran’s influence, and provoking Saudi and Qatari fear of Iran.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Mubarak used to say that if he were removed from power, then the Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood would succeed him. He was right. Today, the Brotherhood is warning us that if their man falls from power, then the Salafists would be the replacement. This is not a theory I would want to test.

Egypt’s political class needs to grow up, and offer us more than the just the largest-ever crowds at the latest protests for and against Morsi.

Meanwhile, the United States has been right not to call for Morsi to resign. At stake is nothing less than bringing Islamism into the modern world — and ridding it of its anti-Americanism. When I met with Brotherhood leaders earlier this year, they repeatedly asked for greater U.S. strategic assistance to help govern Egypt and saw America as an ally. It is important that the United States seize this historic chance to tame the tiger of Islamist anti-Americanism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

2 Comments
Posted July 6, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of Egypt's army has given a TV address, announcing that President Mohammed Morsi is no longer in office.

Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi said the constitution had been suspended and the chief justice of the constitutional court would take on Mr Morsi's powers.

Flanked by religious and opposition leaders, Gen Sisi said Mr Morsi had "failed to meet the demands of the Egyptian people".

Read it all and the Live: Crisis in Egypt website from the BBC has a lot of good information.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

1 Comments
Posted July 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the whole, though, critiques of the Tamarod movement—as well as of the police and the army—are muted. People are careful not to portray the Brotherhood in a negative or violent light. Everyone I speak to stresses that it’s natural for members of a society to hold differing opinions and says that the media is overstating the divisions in Egyptian society. Others differentiate between the army and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, saying the former are of the people while the latter is a part of the old regime. Even the police, the same police who looked on while the Muslim Brotherhood Headquarters burned yesterday, are called “an Egyptian institution” by Abdel Aziz of Alexandria. “They don’t belong to any [political] trend,” he says.

Despite these gentle words, I can’t help but be unsettled by all of the military-looking exercises going on around me, though I am assured several times that the weapons and hardhats are merely a precaution against “thugs” who might want to harm the protesters. The presence of hundreds of men with sticks does give one pause, even when those men insist they are “peaceful” and “against violence.”

“We don’t want military rule. We want a civil government,” says Ahmed el Bahrawi, a 37-year-old engineer from Sharqeya in the Delta. “We don’t say religious, because people think [we mean] like Iran,” his friend, a French teacher, adds. The choice of the words “civil state” is a bit ironic. In this case, people are using it in the sense of civil as opposed to military rule, but the phrase “civil state” is usually used by liberals here to contrast with an Islamic state—which, of course, these people seek in some form. Changing times, changing lexicons, I suppose. Ahmed then shows me his dirty clothes and says he has been camped out since last Friday; today he took his first shower in six days.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Muslim Brotherhood, among the most powerful forces in Egypt, is facing perhaps the worst crisis in its 80-year history. Its members have been gunned down in the streets. Its new headquarters have been ransacked and burned, its political leader, President Mohamed Morsi, abandoned, threatened and isolated by old foes and recent allies.

It is a steep fall for the pre-eminent Islamist movement in the region, and especially surprising for a group that was elected just one year ago. Its critics say the Brotherhood remains stuck in old divisions, pitting Islamists against the military, and has failed to heed the demands of ordinary citizens.

“I think this is an existential crisis, and it’s much more serious than what they were subjected to by Nasser or Mubarak,” said Khaled Fahmy, a historian at the American University in Cairo, referring to the governments of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Hosni Mubarak, the autocrat deposed in 2011. “The Egyptian people are increasingly saying it is not about Islam versus secularism,” Mr. Fahmy said. “It is about Egypt versus a clique.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mohamed Morsi woke up today as President of the Arab Republic of Egypt. By nightfall, if the opposition have their way, he may have been toppled in a coup d’état.

At about 3pm tomorrow afternoon, a 48-hour ultimatum announced by the military will come to a head. It called on the President to solve the deepening national crisis or face an army intervention. Reports said the military intends to establish an interim council to rule while the constitution is redrafted. It would then call presidential elections within months.

The President’s office responded to the army’s statement obliquely by saying Mr Morsi was “going forward” with his own plans “regardless of any statements that deepen divisions between citizens”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted July 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Egyptian military has leaked details of its draft "roadmap" for the country's future, which includes new presidential elections.

According to details given to the BBC, the plan would see the suspension of the new constitution and the dissolution of parliament.

Clashes in Cairo between opponents and supporters of President Morsi killed seven people on Tuesday, officials say.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted July 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi says he was not consulted by the army before it set a 48-hour ultimatum to resolve the country's deadly crisis.

Mr Morsi said a part of the statement "may cause confusion in the complex national scene". He vowed to stick to his "national reconciliation" plan.

The army has warned it will intervene if the government and its opponents fail to heed "the will of the people".

However, it denies that the ultimatum amounts to a coup.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

0 Comments
Posted July 2, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 48-hour ultimatum issued today by Egypt's unelected military brass comes amid a wave of protests that appear to dwarf the popular uprising that drove Egypt's military-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak from power 27 months ago.

While what happens next is anyone's guess, Egypt is undoubtedly in its most dangerous moment since former President Hosni Mubarak's ouster in 2011. The military is front and center in Egypt's politics once more; the Muslim Brotherhood feels cornered and threatened by what it deems to be counter-revolutionaries; and the crowds in Tahrir Square and elsewhere are demanding something different – but what they want, exactly, is far from clear.

Today Egypt's so-called democratic transition is a failure, with the strongest evidence of that the rapturous crowds chanting their love for the Army and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). In January and February 2011, a massive show of street power led SCAF to dump Mubarak overboard. Then came a period of ham-handed military rule, with show trials of activists, organized sexual assault on female protesters (what else to call the so-called "virginity tests" forced on them within weeks of the military takeover?) and the torture of democracy activists like Ramy Essam.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

1 Comments
Posted July 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Previous demonstrations have led to violence, and these are intended to be the biggest since the January 25 revolution which overthrew President Hosni Mubarak. Three people, including an American student who stopped to take photographs of protests in Alexandria, were killed on Friday alone.

The American, Andrew Pochter, 21, was working in the city over the summer as part of a volunteer scheme.

"As we understand it, he was witnessing the protest as a bystander and was stabbed by a protester," his family said in a statement on Saturday from their home in Ohio.

Read it all and please join us in praying for Egypt.

Update: There is more from Reuters there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is going to happen on the 30th of June? We do not know! All what we know is that when emotions run high, anything can happen. However, we trustthat God is in control and we are in His hands.Two days ago during his visit to Egypt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby encouraged us by using St. Paul s words, while in the middle of a storm, “But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost (Acts 27:22).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

4 Comments
Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

5 Comments
Posted June 25, 2013 at 8:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt needs a revolution.

Wait, isn’t that what happened two years ago? Not really. It is now clear that what happened two years ago was more musical chairs than revolution. First the army, using the energy of the youth-led protesters in Tahrir Square, ousted Mubarak, and then the Muslim Brotherhood ousted the army, and now the opposition is trying to oust the Brotherhood. Each, though, is operating on the old majoritarian politics — winners take all, losers get nothing....

“The other day,” [Ahmed el-]Droubi said, “I was standing on a main intersection in downtown Cairo, where two one-way roads meet. As I stood there, I saw cars going both ways down both one-way streets — cars were coming and going in four different directions — and other cars were double-parked. I was standing next to a shop owner watching this. ‘This is a complete mess,’ he said. ‘No one has any civic responsibility. They each only care about themselves getting to where they are going.’ ”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

11 Comments
Posted June 18, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egyptian author Karam Saber said that a misdemeanor court in Beni Suef sentenced him to five years on Wednesday on charges of insulting religion in a collection of short stories he wrote two years ago titled "Where is God?"

The politically active author told Aswat Masriya in a phone call on Wednesday that he plans to appeal the verdict through a legal challenge he will present to the court tomorrow.

Charges of "insulting religion" against authors, artists, television hosts and Coptic Christians have increased in recent months.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 13, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Egyptian court has convicted a Coptic Christian teacher of blasphemy but didn't hand down a prison sentence and only imposed a fine on her.

The court on Tuesday ruled that elementary schoolteacher Dimyana Abdel-Nour had insulted Islam. It ordered that she pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($14,000). Abdel-Nour was not in the courtroom for the verdict.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the ouster of Mr. Mubarak in February 2011, a growing number of Copts, including some of the most successful businessmen, have left Egypt or are preparing to do so, fearing persecution by an Islamist-controlled government as much as the stagnant economy that is smothering their industries.

Among the most prominent are the heads of the Sawiris family, who for several months have been running their enormous business empire from abroad.

“Every week I learn of 10 people who are leaving or who have already left,” Mr. [Wasfi Amin] Wassef said. “They know that what happened to the Sawiris’ can happen to them tomorrow.”

Read it all

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Posted May 16, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An alleged romance between an Egyptian Muslim college student and a Coptic Christian man heightened sectarian tension on Friday in a small rural Egyptian town where police fired tear gas to disperse stone-throwing Muslims who surrounded a Coptic church in anger over the inter-faith relationship, a security official and priest said.

The Muslim protesters accuse Saint Girgis Church of helping 21-year-old Rana el-Shazli, who is believed to have converted to Christianity, flee to Turkey with a Coptic Christian man.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2013 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just how many Copts have fled to the United States no one can say with certainty, since immigration statistics do not include religious affiliation. But the number of Egyptians seeking asylum has jumped since the revolution; in 2011, 1,028 Egyptians were given asylum — 4.1 percent of all of those granted asylum — up from 531 in 2010, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics. With that increase, Egypt ranked fourth on the list of countries whose citizens were given asylum in the United States....

For Copts in Egypt, church is more than just a place to go on Sunday mornings; it is the center of their social life outside the family. For Copts newly outside Egypt, the church is a familiar oasis in a strange country.

“It is our church everywhere,” said Gameel Girgis, a 36-year-old pharmacist who came to the United States in October to seek asylum with his wife and two children after his father-in-law, a priest in the central Egyptian city of Asyut, was stabbed to death. When he searched for a place to live, “my first consideration was distance from the church,” Mr. Girgis said, adding, “I want to raise my kids in the church.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Mass was celebrated as if from centuries past: A bearded priest veiled in incense chanted for grace in a church along the Nile, near the spot where Christians believe Jesus and his mother sought refuge in an earlier age of bloodshed and uncertainty.

Marianne Samir knelt and prayed for the Coptic Christians killed in a spasm of sectarian violence that has further shaken a nation engulfed in economic and political anxieties.

"I feel unsafe," said Samir, a high school philosophy teacher with a cross tattooed on her wrist. "The Islamists want war. They want strife. But this is our land too. It is a country blessed by God, and there's no way we'll leave it to them."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted April 13, 2013 at 7:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church accused President Mohamed Morsi’s government on Tuesday of “delinquency” and “misjudgments” for failing to prevent sectarian street-fighting that escalated into an attack on the church’s main cathedral after a funeral mass over the weekend, leaving at least six Christians dead.

“This is the first time the main Coptic Orthodox Cathedral has been attacked in Egypt’s history,” the church leader, Pope Tawadros II, said in a television interview, faulting Mr. Morsi’s government for failing to act fast enough to control the violence.

Direct criticism of the government by an Egyptian church leader was all but unheard-of under former President Hosni Mubarak, whose ouster two years ago ended the fear of reprisals from the authorities that had helped silence church officials and others. But the pope’s comments also highlighted the growing anxieties among Christian leaders about the subsequent rise to power of Mr. Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and his Islamist allies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church

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Posted April 12, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Via email--KSH) 11 April 2013

My dear Friends,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

The situation in Cairo is very sad for us as a Christian community. On Friday 6 April 2013, sectarian clashes erupted once again, this time in El Khosus, in the outskirts of Cairo. The story, according to the director of the police, started by a 12-year old Muslim boy drawing graffiti on the wall of an Islamic school. Two Muslim men rebuked him for doing so, and a Christian man also came and rebuked him. This developed into a big argument and fighting between Christians and Muslims in the area. After the Friday prayers in the mosque, a group of Muslims came out and attacked the Coptic Orthodox church in the area. The result of this was the killing of four Christians and one Muslim, and many injured. Many stores were also vandalized and looted. The Grand Imam sent his assistant, together with a Coptic Orthodox bishop, in order to do a reconciliation. However, one hour after things calmed down, the fighting erupted again.

The next day there was a funeral at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abassayia the center of Cairo for the Christians who died. Thousands of Christians attended the funeral. Amidst their mourning and grief they were shouting words against the government and against the Muslim Brotherhood. Because of this, as they exited the Cathedral and the church grounds, they were attacked by other Muslims. The police then interfered throwing tear gas. At least one person was killed with over 80 injured. This was the first time in history that the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral was attacked, especially during a time of mourning.

It is worth mentioning that in the last two years, since the beginning of the Revolution of 2011, the number of incidents of sectarian clashes has increased. No one who committed violence or killing has been brought to justice because the government is content to solve the sectarian clashes by reconciliatory meetings. In a statement I made, I urged the government to apply the rule of law as the only way to stop these sectarian clashes. I emphasized the importance of the reconciliatory meetings which we as an Anglican Church are facilitating at several levels. I also emphasized that they are not a substitute to the application of the law. Unfortunately the current government is inexperienced and is not doing enough to include the different political parties in building up Egypt after the Revolution.This contributed to the instability of the Egyptian society, the decrease of tourism, and the bad economic situation.

The Christian community in Egypt right now is mourning and feels challenged in their own country, as some of them have said, “we have been here since the time of the Pharaohs, this is our country! We will not leave whatever happens. ” On the other hand, there are many educated young people who are immigrating out of the country and this is the saddest thing for me as one of the leaders of the church in Egypt, because I believe that the Christian presences is very much liked with the Christian witness.

May the Lord bless you!

--(The Most Rev.) Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis is Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa and President Bishop of the Episcopal / AnglicanProvince of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted April 11, 2013 at 3:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The death toll in clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo has risen to two, health and security officials said Monday. Another 89 were injured in the clashes outside Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral, which brought Egypt’s growing religious tension to the seat of the church’s pope.

The clashes broke out following the funeral of four Christians killed in sectarian violence the day before...

Read it all and there is an eyewitness report in the Independent

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted April 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least five people were killed Saturday in clashes between Muslims and Christians, raising new questions over whether President Mohamed Morsi’s Islamist-led government can calm sectarian tensions amid Egypt’s broader political unrest.

Violence between Muslims and Coptic Christians over the last year has been a troubling subplot, especially in the provinces, to the nation’s post-revolutionary political division and faltering economy. There were conflicting accounts over what ignited the latest fighting in Khousous, an impoverished town north of Cairo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted April 6, 2013 at 11:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's been more than a year since a military-induced massacre in Cairo, Egypt, killed 28 people—mostly Coptic Christians. But the only people convicted thus far have been the Christians themselves.

Last week, a Cairo court sentenced Michael Farag and Michael Shaker to three years in jail, charging them with inciting violence, destroying military vehicles, and deliberately attacking soldiers. Farag and Shaker were among the more than 30 Coptic civilians arrested following the massacre, 12 of whom were given life sentences last May.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church

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Posted February 10, 2013 at 11:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Budget constraints are prompting the U.S. Navy to cut back the number of aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region from two to one, the latest example of how contentious fiscal battles in Washington are impacting the U.S. military.

According to Defense Department officials, the USS Harry S. Truman, which was set to leave for the Persian Gulf region on Friday, will now remain stateside, based in Norfolk, Virginia.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the change to the department’s “two-carrier policy” in the Persian Gulf region early Wednesday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudget* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted February 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt's top Muslim cleric told visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tuesday that his Shi'ite-led government must refrain from interfering in the affairs of Gulf Arab states and must give full rights to Sunnis living in Iran.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of the al-Azhar mosque, also urged Mr. Ahmadinejad to "respect Bahrain as a sisterly Arab state" and rejected "the spread of Shi'ism" in Sunni countries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted February 6, 2013 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry says an explosion at an Egyptian Coptic church in Libya’s third largest city, Misrata, has killed two people and wounded two others.

The statement by the Foreign Ministry says Sunday’s explosion killed two Egyptian citizens working at the church in preparation for traditional New Year’s Eve mass.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaLibyaMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church

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Posted December 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Tuesday, Egyptians officially began life under a mostly democratic constitution, nearly two years after the Tahrir Square revolution. But this remarkable feat for the Middle East was hardly a model in how opposing sides in a democracy should listen to each other. In fact, the US State Department issued a stern warning to President Mohamed Morsi about “the urgent need to bridge divisions, build trust, and broaden support for the political process.”

Many of the steps on the way to the Constitution – whose bright spot includes regular elections – ignored the interests of Egypt’s various minorities, from liberal secularists to Coptic Christians. The dominant Muslim Brotherhood, whose party has won three national votes, fell for the notion that the majority should always get what it wants – a mistake that has been the undoing of many democracies.

“Democracy requires much more than simple majority rule,” said a US State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted December 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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