Title: Controversial Statistics: Articles from Egyptian Media Dealing with Coptic Representation in Egypt and Coptic Migration Statistic, 1997-2012



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  1. ‘Alā’ al-Aswānī, “Who killed the Egyptians on their feast day?” Al-Shurūq al-Jadīd in Arab West Report, Week 2, Art 3, January 12, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-2/33-who-killed-egyptians-their-feast-day.

“Novelist and columnist Alaa al-Aswani looks back to the rejection of a Coptic quota in parliament when the Egyptian Constitution was signed in 1923 […].


When the first Egyptian Constitution was being prepared by al-Wafd party in 1923, the people drafting the document, which included some of the greatest minds of the age, wanted to incorporate an article designating a certain quota of parliamentary seats to the Copts. Many, however, were opposed to this quota, arguing that the Copts were not a minority that needed protecting, but rather Egyptian citizens just as any other. Most of those who opposed the quota system were, in fact, Copts.
[…] when the Copts rejected a quota in 1923, it was during a period of a tolerant, reformist reading of Islam led by the then Muhammad ‘Abduh, which liberated the national conscience from intolerance. Since the end of the 70s, however, Egypt has engaged in a new understanding of Islam; the extreme salafī ideology that Egyptian jurists have called "the law of the Bedouin."
The most dangerous aspect of salafī ideology is that it totally undermines the concept of citizenship. In their eyes, the Copts are not citizens but dhimmīs (protected non-Muslims) - a defeated and subordinate minority in a country conquered by Muslims. On tens of satellite stations and internet sites, one can find material professing hatred and contempt for the Copts, and even some who call for boycotting and not dealing with them.

With the spread of such anti-Coptic sentiment, it's normal that Copts feel like attacks against them are natural and inevitable.”




  1. Katia Saqqā, “The Shaykh and the priest,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 5, Art 11, January 30 –February 5, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-5/11-shaykh-and-priest.

Father Basīt stated that since the incidents in al-Khankah there have been 120 attacks against Copts that have the same scenario: provocation from some extremists, arresting a number of Christians, though they are victims, and arresting another group of Muslims for bargaining reasons. After that the problems are resolved outside the law and through conventional reconciliation sessions that result in no punishment for the culprit and no compensation for those harmed. Sometimes the culprits are not punished and the price is allowing Christians to pray. Usually security officers, MPs and members of municipal councils hold the sessions. Father Basīt stated that he does not blame Muslims; those who commit such attacks are not real Muslims, he says. However, he blames the government for the way it deals with the problems. He added that 99.9 percent of Muslims are moderate and do not object to building churches.




  1. Hany Danyal, “Human Rights Watch annual report Poor record,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 5, Art 41, January 31, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-5/41-human-rights-watch-annual-report-poor-record.

“In its annual report for 2010, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) lashed out at what it dubbed “deteriorating religious freedoms in Egypt”. The report was concerned with monitoring the status of freedom in 90 countries, including 15 Middle Eastern ones. As far as Egypt is concerned, the report cited the continuous discrimination against Copts and the official intolerance of Baha'is and some Muslim sects.


“Although Egypt’s constitution provides for equal rights without regard to religion,” the report said, “discrimination against Egyptian Christians and official intolerance of Baha’is and some Muslim sects continue despite court rulings early in 2008 that ordered the government to provide identification documents to Baha’is and to allow Muslim converts from Christianity to convert back to Christianity without penalty.”
The report observed that disputes between Muslims and Christians flared into violent clashes on several occasions, resulting in deaths and injuries as well as destruction of property.”


  1.   Jamāl Girgis and ‘Amr Jād, “Zaqzūq stirs a fight between the Muslim Brotherhood and Copts about the unified law for houses of worship,” Al-Yawm al-Sābi‘ in Arab West Report, Week 5, Art 45, February 2, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-5/45-zaqzuq-stirs-fight-between-muslim-brotherhood-and-copts-about-unified-law-houses.

“Salīb Mattá Sāwīris, priest of Mar Girgis Church and member of the Coptic Orthodox Community Council, points out that the problem lies mainly in the dominant ideas of society. He argues that the society's view towards building churches should be changed to avoid tensions. Passing a unified law for houses of worship is not enough, he stresses.

 

On the other hand, another party, representing a particular Islamic trend, argues against a unified law for houses of worship believing there is no need for it. Shaykh Yūsuf al-Badrī for example, states that Egypt does not need such a law, as the number of churches is now increasingI in Egypt, while the number of Copts is decreasing to only 5% of the total population. He says that it is expatriate Copts and not Copts inside Egypt that call for a unified law for houses of worship. Al-Badrī asks the advocates for the unified law not to ignore the fact that Egypt is a Muslim country and that the law they call for is an American law that does not fit a Muslim country.”




  1. Author not mentioned, “American report asserts: economical reasons, not oppression, behind Christian migration to the West,” al-Wafd in Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art 47, February 8, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-6/47-american-report-asserts-economical-reasons-not-oppression-behind-christian.

A report issued by the US ABC News Agency asserted that it is the economy, not oppression, why Arab Christians migrate to the West. Prof. Hilāl Kashān, professor of political sciences at the American University of Beirut, stated in this report that what is being said about the increasing tension between Muslims and Christians in Egypt and Iraq is not true. He also expressed his surprise at the exceptional interest in any violence Christians are facing in either Egypt or Iraq.




  1. Author not mentioned, “Hilāl rejects the Coptic quota,” Al-Jumhūrīyah in Arab West Report, Week 7, Art 55, February 12, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-7/55-hilal-rejects-coptic-quota.

“‘Alī al-Dīn Hilāl does not agree with establishing a quota in the Parliament on a religious basis.


He said he always called for increasing Coptic representation in political positions and the parliament, and argued that this could be realized through partisan and political work, and through electoral success. He also confirmed his disagreement with the idea of a religious quota in Parliament.”


  1. Rob Crilly, “Justifying the Mob’s Actions,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 7, Art 23, February 14, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-7/23-justifying-mobs-actions.

“This article comments on the conflict between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.


Copts account for about 10 per cent of Egypt’s mainly Muslim population. Theirs is a long history, and they remain the largest Christian population in the Middle East.
Today, the Copts – who number about eight million – are living through another period of fear. Sectarian conflict is growing in frequency as both sides radicalise. Newspapers keep a running tally of the latest casualties. Homes have been burned and dozens from either side arrested.

At the same time, rumour and paranoia turn misunderstandings and isolated disputes into religious clashes.”




  1. Shaymā’ Fathī and Nuhá Hijāzī, “Names and numbers: The map of Coptic participation in political parties,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 7, Art 57, February 17, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-7/57-names-and-numbers-map-coptic-participation-political-parties.

The authors of this article reflect on the scarcity of Coptic participation in political parties and give percentages of this participation. The proportion of this participation is 5 percent in al-Ghad Liberal Party, including only five Coptic members in its high leadership authority. Other parties have even less Coptic participation such as Misr al-‘Arabī Socialist Party and al-Jumhūrī al-Hurr Party, where Coptic participation is only two members in each. In al-Jīl Party, participation is only 5 percent. Al-Dustūrī Party has a higher participation, with 15 percent of members Copts. A similar proportion of 8 percent is found in both al-Itthādī Democratic Party and al-Islāh wa al-Tanmiyah Party.




  1. Rānyā. “Copts fund the detection of culprits in sectarian incidents,” Al-‘Arabī in Arab West Report, Week 10, Art 31, March 7, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-10/31-copts-fund-detection-culprits-sectarian-incidents.

“Coptic expatriates establish a project to provide financial support to the victims of sectarian attacks in Egypt and their families and to provide media campaigns against culprits of sectarian clashes.


Establishers of the project “claimed that there are about 75 sectarian incidents in Egypt every year with 400 victims and 500 injured. (Editor: A recent report published by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) counted 53 sectarian incidents in 2 years, 52 of which were between Muslims and Christians. That expatriate Copts claim around 3 times higher than this figure is significant, although possibly an inflated figure.)”


  1. Sanā’ al-Sa‘īd, “Pope Shenouda: We should only resort to the president in complex matters,” Al-Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, Week 14, Art 30, April 2, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-14/30-pope-shenouda-we-should-only-resort-president-complex-matters.

The article present “a review of an interview conducted by Sanā’ al-Sa‘īd with Pope Shenouda who commented on political, social and Coptic issues.


Q: Does Your Holiness feel that there is persecution and discrimination against Copts?
A: The term persecution is so difficult, and there is no need to use it in our discussion. What I want to say is that Copts are deprived from positions in the State, and the percentage of Copts in certain important posts in the army leadership, the State Security, judiciary and universities is almost zero. When a Copt is appointed to one of these posts, all the media focuses on how Copts have got this or that, while this person doesn't comprise more than one per cent of the leadership.

 

Q: There were times where Copts’ percentage of MPs was high?


A: Now there is no percentage of Copts in the Parliament or any legislative councils.”


  1. Ahmad ‘Abd al-Halīm, “Documented: psychiatrist centers accused of using clients’ troubles to convert them,” Ṣawt al-Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 14, Art 3, April 3, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-14/3-documented-psychiatrist-centers-accused-using-clients-troubles-convert-them.

“The author reports on allegations about psychiatric medical centers that abuse the fragile state of drug addicts to convince them to convert to Christianity.


Ṣawt al-Ummah claims having obtained a “secret document” sent by the security apparatus to the Ministry of Health accusing a number of centers directed by Copts of being involved in Christianization.
The author reported that the security took control of a farm in Wādī Natrūn that is allegedly under the supervision of a prominent religious leader. The big farm extends over about 150 feddāns and receives drug addicts in the withdrawal stages, and allegedly widely practices Christianization.
Not far from the farm, the author reports, there is another center for addiction treatment. The owner of the center (A. Kh) has six similar centers in several governorates: In Fāyid district in al-Ismā‘ilīyah, in al-Nuzhah and Brilkly and al-Azārītah districts and another hospital in Muharram Beik in Alexandria.”


  1. Hānī Labīb, “Are the Copts in Egypt a Pampered Minority?!” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 15, Art 9, April 10-16, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-15/9-are-copts-egypt-pampered-minority.

“Labīb then reflects on a number of issues before tackling the main question raised in the article. First, he reflects on the notion of "minority," stressing that the expression is a scientific one and that the argument over the Copts’ status was political rather than academic. According to him, the Copts in Egypt are a minority in terms of quantity rather than ethnicity, religion, or even culture — the word “minority” should not be used to imply marginalization or weakness.”




  1. Muhammad al-Sāwī, “Copts having adulterous relationships because of falsified conversion certificates,” Al-Fajr in Arab West Report, Week 15, Art 18, April 12, 2010.

“Ayn Shams prosecution director Tāmir Jamāl, for instance, has discovered 17 forged certificates attributed to the Evangelical and Greek Orthodox Churches in Alexandria. […] According to Tāmir Jamāl, there are 70 incidents of forgery currently being investigated.”




  1. ‘Imād Habīb, “The Season of Migration to America,” Al-Muṣawwar in Arab-West Report, Week 15, Art 24, April 14, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-15/24-season-migration-america.

Around forty bishops from the Orthodox Church started their annual journeys to America and various European countries, staying abroad for up to several months. Reasons include fundraising, visiting expatriate conferences and human rights advocacy.




  1. Majdī Khalīl, “The violence against Copts in the past two years,” Waṭanī al-Dawlī in Arab West Report, Week 16, Art 12, April 18, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-16/12the-violence-against-copts-past-two-years.

“Khalīl highlights and analyzes the recent report of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights about sectarian violence in Egypt over the last two years.


Khalīl focuses on the recent report of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights concerning sectarian violence in Egypt over the last two years. Khalīl points out that 51 sectarian incidents were against Copts, one was against Bahā’īs and one against Muslims.”


  1. Majdī Salāmah, “Coptic agents create unrest in Egypt,” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report, Week 20, Art 16, May 2, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-20/16-coptic-agents-create-unrest-egypt.

“Majdī Khalīl, Director of the Middle East Freedom Forum, in an interview with al-Wafd Daily, said that he emigrated to the U.S. searching for a better life and future. He believes that Copts in Egypt are a "persecuted minority." He defines 'minority' as a group that has a lower social status within the society, less power and less rights compared to the group dominating the society.


Khalīl said that all definitions of persecution and discrimination are applied to Copts in Egypt.

 

He noted that the late President Jamāl ‘Abd al-Nāsir marginalized the Copts politically and economically, while late President Anwar al-Sādāt was the one who started the Islamization of Egypt and the persecution of Copts. Then President Mubārak continued what Sādāt started. Therefore, the ruling period of President Mubārak is the worst for Copts since the establishment of modern Egypt, in terms of the increasing violence and political marginalization, according to Khalīl.



 

He referred to some features of that persecution. For example, there are more than 1,500 attacks on Copts which resulted in the murder and injury of many, in addition to incidents of theft and destruction of properties worth millions of pounds. Besides, there are hundreds of disappearances of Coptic girls and minors.

 

Elaborating, he said that Copts are deprived from being a part of sovereign decision-making institutions in Egypt, such as the National Security Council, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, the Supreme Judicial Council…etc. The current parliament includes only one elected Copt among the 444 members of parliament.



 

Furthermore, the building of churches demands a presidential decree, hence the number of churches accounts for 2 percent of the number of mosques.”




  1. Majdī Salāma, “Copts have to struggle alongside Muslims for reform, democracy – activist,” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report, Week 18, Art 20, May 4, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-18/20-copts-have-struggle-alongside-muslims-reform-democracy-activist.

“Majdī Khalīl, founder and director of the Middle East Freedom Forum, said in an interview with al-Wafd newspaper that he immigrated to the United States like thousands of people from third world countries in search of a better life for his family.

 

Khalīl identified Copts as an oppressed minority in Egypt, for the government deprives them of their rights as Egyptian citizens.



 

“Copts are not allowed to undertake leading posts in decision making institutions like the National Security Council, the Higher Council of the Armed Forces, the Police Higher Council, and the Higher Judicial Council, etc.,” Khalīl explained. He further noted that of the 444 current members of parliament, only one is a Copt.

 

“Even among universities there is not a single Coptic president, while in the foreign ministry Copts do not exceed 1-2% of the total number of diplomats,” he added.”




  1. Magdy Malak, “Democracy Egyptian style,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 19, Art 41, May 9, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-19/41-democracy-egyptian-style.

“This article details the state of democracy in Egypt through the work of the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE) in their third annual report titles “Democracy status in Egypt 2009.” It was found that Egypt was lacking in the international democratic standards concerning elections, as well as free and fair participation.


Mr Fawzy said, “the report revealed a decline of the rate of participation of Copts, whether in nomination or in balloting. No Coptic candidate whatever stood in some elections, such as in case of the syndicates of the lawyers and the acting professions.” The report emphasised that there was great disregard for women and Copts in the community as a result of the prevailing climate of hostility towards Copts and of resistance to the empowerment of women. The highest percentage of participation in elections was among sports clubs proving, he said, that Egyptians are not indifferent to political participation once they are sure elections are free and fair and would bring to office persons who would make a difference”


  1. Hanān Sulaymān, “Coptic-Lebanese movements form American and Israeli platforms for the involvement of the US in the issue of Middle Eastern Christians,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab-West Report, Week 19, Art 38, May 10, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-19/38-coptic-lebanese-movements-form-american-and-israeli-platforms-involvement-us.

The author highlights the attitudes of some expatriate Copts and how they seek interference from foreign countries. She refers to an article by ‘Ādil Jindī at www.gloriacenter.org/meria/2010/03/guindy.html1#_end21 in which he focuses on the situation of Copts in Egypt, and believes it to be an organized persecution and refers to images of such persecution. The author explains that MERIA is a review published by an Israeli extremist organization. Coptic activist Magdī Khalīl alleges that the crimes against Copts are “crimes of the state” and believes that the Egyptian state encourages Islamic extremism. Migration to the West is blamed on persecution of Christians.




  1. Ahmad Ayyūb and ‘Imād Habīb, “Copts boycott foreign ministry tests,” Al-Muṣawwar in Arab West Report, Week 20, Art 17, May 12, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-20/17-copts-boycott-foreign-ministry-tests.

“This article addresses the relationship between Muslims and Christians in Egypt, bringing to light the desire from the Coptic minority for full social inclusion and accessibility to more opportunities that should be initiated by the Egyptian government.


The Committee's move was adopted by Foreign Minister Ahmed AbūAbū al-Ghayt, who had noticed that the number of Copts applying for the Ministry’s exams for new diplomats had decreased over the past five years with only three percent among 600-800 applicants during the last two years being Copts.
"There are many Copts who would rather establish businesses of their own than to seek diplomatic positions. However, reports that Copts are not welcome inside the Foreign Ministry are sheer lies in light of the presence of a large number of Coptic ambassadors in the Ministry," ‘Azīz added.”


  1. Robeir al-Faris, “Copts in Parliament: The untold story,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 24, Art 11, June 13, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-24/11-copts-parliament-untold-story.

“The monthly Watani Book series has chosen to tread the prickly path of issues concerned with the curtailed citizenship rights of Copts […]


[…] some 85 per cent of the MPs Watani approached were all for passing the bill, it was the views expressed by the opponents that were eye-opening. Opponents of the bill used arguments that insisted Egypt was a Muslim country and that allowing Copts to build churches freely would change the Islamic look of Egypt—a possibility that was, according to them, utterly unacceptable. Others feared that, if allowed to build churches, Copts would build too many of them—a strict no-no. And yet others said that the building of churches would ‘irritate’ Muslims. If a portion of Egypt’s legislators was so impervious to the needs of Copts, the question that begs an answer is: what kind of representation are Copts getting?
Copts joined political parties—one Copt, Akhnoukh Fanous, founded a political party on his own in 1908, but the experience was short-lived and ended in 1911. Several Coptic MPs became political leaders and had considerable following; most famous among them was Makram Ebeid who was a Wafdist but left the Wafd and formed his own party al-Kutla in 1942. In their heydey, Coptic MPs formed 8 – 10 per cent of the total number of MPs in Parliament.”


  1. Yusuf Sidhum, “A history of religious discrimination,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 25, Art 6, June 20, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-25/6-history-religious-discrimination.



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