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The misery of Copts in Egypt
Recent blasphemy cases show that Copts are not treated equally before the law
Said Shehata , Tuesday 2 Oct 2012
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While it is not a new thing to suffer as a Copt, the raised expectations of better treatment after the revolution turned to be a big frustration. It is not simply about complaining; the goal of the article is to highlight the Copts’ plight and how to overcome those sufferings.

This article will highlight some recent incidents that support my argument of the Copts’ dilemma. It will also examine the weak reaction by the current regime, the lack of effort to seriously tackle those issues, and it will provide some suggestions for ways forward.

Bishoy Kameel, a Coptic teacher in Sohag, was sentenced to six years in prison for insulting Islam and defaming President Morsi on his Facebook page. This sentence was confirmed by an appeal court in Sohag, and the whole process happened in a matter of days. 

Nageeb Gibrial, Bishoy’s lawyer, told me that the conditions of a fair trial did not exist because of intimidation by Salafists surrounding the court and inside it. Gibrial got permission from the Minister of Justice to transfer the trial to a court in Cairo but it was not implemented by the chairman of the appeal court in Sohag.

Bishoy was put in prison in July 2012. His lawyer presented evidence that the materials on his defendant’s Facebook page were not his, but the court did not consider this evidence.

The Salafists gathered outside the court building tried to attack Bishoy and shouted slogans such as "death to the infidel." They also threatened to burn Coptic houses and kill Bishoy's family if he was released. It is very difficult to expect justice in this intimidating atmosphere.

On the other hand, Abou Islam, who confessed to ripping up a Bible and who described Christianity in an interview with Al-Tahrir newspaper as a religion of infidels, was not detained. Eventually, however, he was put to trial, and his trial was then postponed, although his confession and video materials proved that he insulted Christianity.

If one looks at the two cases, it is obvious that there is discrimination against Christians, and some questions should be raised. Why did it take time to get Abou Islam before trial and a fast track trial for Bishoy? Why was Abou Islam not detained until the end of his trial? Why did Egyptian leaders such as President Morsi not condemn Abou Islam, as they did the producer of the anti-Islam film? It looks as if the rules were applied differently to the same offence because of religion.

The other incident is the forced displacement of Copts from Rafah, Sinai. There were threats from Islamist groups to Christians to leave Rafah. There were calls from the Church in Egypt for the government to take measures in order to protect Christians in Rafah.

The reaction of the government can be described as similar to the ousted regime of Mubarak. Hisham Qandeel, the prime minister, said that the nine Christian families who left Rafah did so of their own accord. He added: "We must uproot fear and provide all security measures to every citizen." However, there were in fact threats to Copts in Rafah and this was the main reason for their escape.

There are urgent steps that should be taken by the current regime to ease the pressure and sufferings of Copts in Egypt. First, equal treatment before law should apply to all Egyptians. There should be no double standards when it comes to insulting Islam and Christianity. Secondly, some lines should be drawn against the radical Islamists through laws, media and Al-Azhar University.

Moreover, an organised and well-thought out campaign to raise the awareness of Copts’ rights as equal citizens to other Egyptians is urgently needed, sooner rather than later. Finally, Christians are an important part of Egypt and there is no Egypt and no democratic Egypt without Copts beside Muslims.

 

 

 



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9



rabena yostor
17-10-2012 11:46am
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in the middle ages
during the middle ages the same kind of accustaions used to be directed to witches and anyone who dared to contradict the power of the church. we are in the year 1400 while the free world is in the 2012 but in the same calendar. these 600 years of difference are causing what we are seeing of trials for blasphemy and discrimination and competetition in who is more muslim than who. the political islam came from high up in the skies to the damn earth he has to show us by deeds and not words how the islam will b ethe solution in discrimination, economy good governance sewage infrastructure etc... we have some tough years to go ahead.......
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4ZTruth
28-10-2012 04:25pm
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To Brother Ansari
I was raised to respect all religions.. your claim needs some reason.. if it has been proven that Islam is the solution to every human problem .. how do you explain the Muslim teacher rapping a 9 years old in Aswan.. how about 300 sexually harassed (Ta7aroush) females of all ages in Cairo alone during the first 48 hours of El Ad7a Muslim feasts.. if you follow the news you will find that great number of rape and abuse still happen in the world including Muslim countries as well. Please name one Muslim country where rape and abuse and every human problem were solved!?
Ansari
20-10-2012 08:00am
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The mischivious Copts in Egypt
Yes, FYI, the Islam proves and proved the best solution of every human problem, economic, social, political and all. You look at the Western civilizations in The US and and EU. LGBT is rampant, Woman rights are nearly none, every minute a woman is raped, abused in the USA, every 30 second a Child is molested and abused, Pornography under the pretences of freedom of expression is rampant, incest, teen pregnancies are common, children dont respect parents, do you want more? Islam presents the solution to these societies.
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A Woman
13-10-2012 01:15pm
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No wonder....
One day i heard a 9 year old boy saying to his comrades: Islam is the best religion and the christians are all bad... It rhymed nice in Arabic... From where those kids have this ideas??? Very sad! Why those stupid ideas get already implanted in kid's brains? It is a crime spoilng already those young ones and it happens every day. So no wonder...
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Shame
14-10-2012 10:29pm
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Big lecturer
You should see what the fanatic settlers teach their children, to throw molotov cocktails in Palestinian cars with six family members inside
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Jouko
12-10-2012 08:27pm
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Amazing: Egypt one of world's oldest civilizations but so backward country!
Egypt is thousands of years old civilization but her goverment is without justice just like at the time of Pharaos. How totally different is for example Israel as a modern justice-state even if she is just 60 years old? Why does these two countries differ like night and day? What is the reason?
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6



M.D
07-10-2012 07:54pm
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The real struggle begins now
I totally agree on the fact that the title is not the best choice for this article that depicts an obvious and unsurprising double standard justice system in Egypt. The lack of a fair justice system has been an egyptian trademark since decades! Nothing new here other than an alarming sign that from now on thugs of salafists will dictate their own rules and that Mursi and his gang of brotherhood opportunists will watch passivly cause they don't really mind having some copts, like Bishoy, serve as example to intimidate those who dare oppose their rule or the supremacy of islamist ideals. They will be happy to see that as a consequence, the numbers of copts immigrating will exceed that of any other period in egyptian history. The only way forward from here is resistance and struggle not only from copts, on the contrary, it's essential that all egyptian revolutionaries, freedom fighters, militants for democracy and intellectuals, muslims and christians, local and abroad, unite in a si
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A.K.
08-10-2012 02:40pm
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Dear M.D.
I read a statement by President Morsi that "an insult on Copts is an insult on me". He will now have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk! It will be very sad indeed if more Copts will immigrate from their home country as NO Egypt without Copts beside Muslims. To continue the struggle, the Egyptian revolutionaries need to establish a party, win the public support and win the next election so they can implement their ideas peacefully. As for you saying "thugs of salafists will dictate their own rules and that Mursi and his gang of brotherhood opportunists", I suggest that we need to treat each other with courtesy and decency.
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A.K.
06-10-2012 10:51am
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Dear Guest
Yes, I agree. A free press should be neutral un-biased and report the factual truth, and let the readers make up their mind. I did not propose "censoring"; I proposed a "Code of Conduct" set for the press by the press (or by a regulatory authority). Not sure if this exists in Egypt, but such is used in western democracies for many benefits including stopping adding fuel to the fire in some situations. Note: my original comments were not meant to offend the author of the article, who delivered good but unfortunately very grim anlysis.
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4



A.K.
04-10-2012 02:59am
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Mr Said Shehata: The Media Too Must Be Accountable
I strongly believe that the media channels such as the Ahram Newspapers should be more responsible and must play a wise role in uniting the nation instead of dividing it between muslims and christians. Magnifying the misery of the Copts in Egypt in your article, and publishing news today about arresting two coptic kids, could escalate the tension rather than calming things down. Freedom of the press comes with responsibility and accountability for what the media channels publish.
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Guest
05-10-2012 09:10am
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Freedom of the press by withholding information???
“Freedom of the press comes with responsibility and accountability for what the media channels publish.” In other words, you consider it “freedom of the press” to simply omit/withhold certain news, as if nothing had happened??? NO, a free press should publish what is going on by simply reporting the truth. Otherwise, how can grievances be addressed if they remain untold??? What you want is censoring, it seems.
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Henrik
03-10-2012 01:06pm
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The courst want to
courts want to keep the masses happy in their judgments. The law is there for all residents and not just those who have the majority. The case of Bishoy Kameel evidence that clearly points to those who are in the minority is not protectet of the law. The masses in the streets wanted him judged and they got their way, even if the evidence proved that he was innocent. And now it turns out that Morsi is reluctant to go into the case of the Muslim priest who burnt one bible of the public. Why? To control the masses whims of the street.
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2



Sami Pierre
03-10-2012 10:07am
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My experience living in Egypt is positive
Highlighting 2 or 3 negative incidents that have happened to Christians does not deserve a headline like "the Misery of Copts in Egypt" unless your intention is to sensationalize the issue. I am a Christian Egyptian and I've lived in this country for 5 decades. Yes, sometimes I feel indignant, specially to certain Salafists' opinions, but on the whole Egypt is not such a bad place to live in. I totally disagree with Christians who are migrating to the West. You will face new forms of discrimination over there. For example, you'll realise that in America, you're not considered "White" because of your brown complexion, and your Egyptian English accent will get you nasty stares whenever you speak. Trust me, some of my relatives in California & Canada wish they had stayed behind in Egypt. If you are willing to study & work hard, you will make it in Egypt, whether you're a Muslim or a Copt, or even a Catholic like me.
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Solanki
13-10-2012 06:27am
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Difference in discrimination
You might have faced discriminations in America or any western country but the basic difference is that in those countries you do not get killed or even attacked because of your religion while in Muslim country you lose your life, property and all. Also in western country most of the people will be willing to defend you while in Muslim country majority will be against you because you are a Kafir.How many of your relatives have come back from America or Canada because of discriminations ?Do they suffer there because of their religion ?
sally wilton
08-10-2012 01:20pm
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Unfair to all minorities
why do you make a judgement on just your own small experience? I have also been living in Egypt but read all the newspapers and internet and can assure you there is abject discrimination against all minorities in Egypt. I was personally caught up in an ambush outside a monastery where christians were being shot at by Muslims. it didn't even make the news and the perpetrators did not have to attend any trial, they were released by the police. There is not freedom in Egypt at all.
Mina
03-10-2012 06:48pm
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Yes, and most Egyptians are not criminals either...your point?
I'm sorry, but my cousin got one of the best grades in medical school in Egypt, and they couldn't let him be a surgeon, because Christian surgeons are untrustworthy. Instead, he became a medical school professor, which is prestigious, but still as a result of discrimination. Now imagine living in an area where you might become framed for desecrating holy books. As a Christian, you're screwed, but as a Muslim, you get fair trial. That is the reality. Whether you work hard or not, you are simply lucky not to have any enemies around you...yet!
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A.K.
03-10-2012 02:57am
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No Egypt without Copts beside Muslims.
It is sad and silly that in this time and age, there are still discrimination against Christians. Copts in Egypt should never suffer and their rights as equal to muslims should be protected by law. Under this new democratic system, equal rights and responsibilities should progress forward for the sake of the nation.
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Kiwi
15-10-2012 08:29am
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No Egypt without Copts
Democracy in Egypt? When a constution is written based on sharia

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