Father Marqus ‘Aziz Khalil responds in Watani to statements of a Coptic Orthodox priest from Abu Qurqas. “The strange thing is that he said in his words that we reject what some of the Americans say about protecting the Copts in Egypt and urging them to migrate.”
Father Marqus ‘Aziz Khalil responds that Copts need to solve their problems inside Egypt and “the Copts fully refuse to accept a solution to this problem from any foreign country-either the United States or any other state. It is a shame for the Copts to solve their problems in a way that causes them to be seen in a way they themselves are not happy about.”
CH: It is unusual that the response to the priest from Abu Qurqas came in public. Differences in opinions between priests are usually kept within the circle of the church. Father Marqus ‘Aziz Khalil does not deny that (some) Americans do speak about protection and urging Copts to migrate. It is sad there are people engaging in efforts to make Copts migrate.
Dr. Sa‘d al-Din Ibrahim, “The road of thorns from Al-Khanka 1972 to Al-Kosheh 2000,” Waṭanī in Arab West Report, Week 7, Art 21, February 13, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-7/21-road-thorns-al-khanka-1972-al-kosheh-2000.
“The author argues that the non-implementation of the recommendations of the report by a special committee convened to look into the communal violence in Al-Khanka in 1972, the Al-Oteify report, led indirectly to the recent communal violence in Al-Kosheh, because the underlying issues were not addressed.
To realize how these rumors can stir the feelings of Muslims in Al-Kosheh and the surrounding villages, we have to remember that the village of Al-Kosheh is one of the big villages in the area of Al-Balayna and Dar Al-Salaam. Surrounding it are some smaller villages. Al-Kosheh is inhabited by 35,000 persons. Three quarters of the population are Coptic Christians and only one quarter are Muslims. It means that Muslims are the numerical minority in Al-Kosheh. They are also a poor minority if compared to their brothers the Copts who for a long time worked in commerce and as civil servants. Al-Kosheh became an active center of trade for the surrounding villages which are populated by a Muslim majority.”
Egyptian Organization of Human Rights, “Report of the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights (EOHR) on the murder of Christians in al-Kosheh,” Religious News Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 8, Art 15, February 15, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-8/15-report-egyptian-organization-human-rights-eohr-murder-christians-al-kosheh.
“[…] published text of the EOHR’s Special Report on the Al-Kosheh incident.
Basic information: Al-Koshah village lies in Dar al-Salam Municipality, Sohag Governorate.
According to local council 1999 estimates, the population of al-Koshah is about 24,618 people, of whom 12,586 are male and 12,032 are female. According to popular estimates, the number of inhabitants is around 35,000 people (70% Christian and 30% Muslim).
The village has four mosques: al-Bakr, al-Karashwa, al-Sabak, Amr Bin al-Aas, and one small praying corner named al-Sheikh Fath. There are also five churches (Angel Mikhail, Virgin Mary, Abu Sifin, Abu Shenouda, and Mar-Girguis).
The local council consists of 21 members representing the villages of al-Koshah, al-Balabish, al-Balabish al-Mostagadah, al-Balabish Kebly, al-Balabish al-Bahariya, and al-Batikh farm. On the local council there are six members representing al-Koshah (three Muslims and three Copts).
There are about 532 professional workshops and commercial shops, 517 of which are owned by Christians, while Muslims own the remaining 15.”
Mamduh al-Shaykh, “Statement of ‘The Hundred’ stirs strife,” Al-Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, Week 9, Art 7, February 28, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-9/7-statement-hundred-stirs-strife.
“Al-Usboa publishes its attack on the ‘Statement of the Hundred’.
We will satisfy ourselves here with indications of how much this judgment that appeared in the statement is wrong. For example:
Until 1992, there were 1442 churches in Egypt, while the ones registered with the state are [only] 500. The difference between these two numbers reflects the fact that the Hamayouni Law [regulating the building of churches] does not exist anymore, and that the building of churches does not show in [the lists of] official churches.
Among the 500 churches registered with the state, there are 286 Coptic Orthodox churches, accounting for 55 percent [of all the registered churches]. The rest - 45 percent - belongs to the Catholic Copts, Latin, Maronites and the Evangelical churches.
The percentage of "only" Orthodox Coptic NGOs is 40% of all the NGOs of Egypt.
The Christians in Egypt have a church for every 1352 citizens and the Muslims have a mosque for every 1227 citizens.
Do these numbers reflect discrimination activities and policies against the Copts?
And why was the economical dimension of Copts within the society ignored while they have:
22.5% of the companies founded between 1974 and 1995.
20% of contractors’ companies in Egypt.
50% of consultancy offices.
60% of pharmacies.
45% of private [medical] practices.
35% of the membership of the American and German chambers of commerce.
25% of the elite jobs "doctors, pharmacists, engineers, lawyers, and vets".
20% of the investors of the [industrial] cities of Sadat and Tenth of Ramadan?!
A Dialogue or a Balance Statement?
The measurement standard then is the wealth of the Copts and their social status. Therefore, they should have 45% of the countries official position to go with their 45% of the wealth of the country which they have. This talk of "feeling persecuted" is a psychological attitude while the statement talks about "an evident discrimination that cannot be missed by a fair observer."
CH (9 April 2012): It would be interesting if someone would find the author and interview him for where he obtained his information from.
Jamal Shahin, “American allegation: "Egyptian government encourages persecution of Copts,” Al-‘Arabī in Arab-West Report, Week 13, Art 11, March 26, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-13/11-american-allegation-egyptian-government-encourages-persecution-copts.
A short time before the visit of Mubarak to the USA a report of the American State Department alleged that the Egyptian government is continuing its persecution of Copts in Egypt. The report coincides with a Jewish anti-Egyptian campaign through paid-for advertisements. The article mentions several items in this report including “the lack of an accurate census about the number of Christian habitants in Egypt.”
Musafá Sulayman, “Coptic celebrities will participate in the election campaign,” Al-Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, Week 17, Art 26, April 24, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-17/26-coptic-celebrities-will-participate-election-campaign.
The article comments on the raising political awareness of the Copts:
“Copts are now more interested in political participation, as they became aware of the danger of their political isolation, so that the church took a series of steps to push Copts to participate in political life.
Despite the announcement of the government that Copts will be well represented in the next parliament, some observers even expect the reservation of 10 seats for the Copts, the National Democratic Party is still hesitating to nominate the Coptic candidates for the approaching elections
The government might dedicate another five seats for Copts to gain independently through free elections.”
Tal‘at Bast, “The Copts and the People’s Council elections,” Al-Aḥrār in Religious News Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 30, Art 12, July 23, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-30/12-copts-and-peoples-council-elections.
“Coptic leaders in 1923 “objected to the idea of representing the Copts by giving them a number of seats [in parliament] in proportion to the population.” In 1952 during the Presidency of Gamal Abdel Nasser, political parties disappeared and many Copts stepped back from public office. They “started to emigrate after many socialist decisions were made leading to nationalization of assets, along with laws on agricultural reform that limited ownership and led to the stripping of assets of those Copts who had participated in public life and politics in the time prior to the revolution.” President Hosni Mubarak, unlike President Sadat before him, “held up the slogan ‘I am the President of all Egyptians, there is no difference between Copt and Muslim, all work together under the Egyptian flag’. With this, national unity has returned to take its place once more in society and that will give Copts hope for the future to invest millions of pounds in the economy without fear (note that in recent statistics from America concerning business men the Egyptian business man Onsi Sawirus and his family were ranked 194 in the list of the richest people in the world and his riches come to 2.1 million dollars [ed: possibly a misprint; it is more likely to be 2.1 billion] and is the only Egyptian on the list) as well as take part in the social and political life of the country.”
Ihab Fathi, “Copts between elections and appointment,” Ākhir Sā‘ah in Arab West Report, Week 31, Art 10, August 2, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-31/10-copts-between-elections-and-appointment.
“In the latest elections of 1995 the Copts had 57 candidates in 35 constituencies and five of them reached the second round, however, they failed to be elected for the Parliament in the second round.
Al-Wafd was the favored party for the Copts before its alliance with the Muslim Brothers in the 1984 elections, after which a gap emerged between the party and the Copts. Al-Wafd had 9 Christian nominees and so did the Al-Ahrar Party, Al-Tagammu had just one Christian candidate while the Naserists didn’t have a Christian nominee. Thus the parties had 14 Christian candidates while 43 ran as independent candidates. Thus the total was 57 candidates in 35 constituencies. When the Egyptian Copts failed to join the Parliament through elections the only solution was to appoint some candidates.
Nabil Abdel Fatah, in charge of the annual report on religious status, thinks that frustrated atmosphere has prevailed over all Egyptians, not just Christians, since 1952. The low percentage of participation in Alexandria and Cairo, which reached 15% from the list of registered voters, is clear proof.”
Wa’el Lofty, “The percentage of the Copts in the Labor Party (p.17), Author: Khaled al-Balashy,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 37, Art 6, September 9-15, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-37/6-percentage-copts-labor-party-p17-author-khaled-al-balashy.
“Khaled al-Balshani, from another party, revealed that the al-Tagammu Party had dedicated four per cent of its lists to Copts. The general secretary of the party issued the first list with 50 candidates for 49 districts in 22 provinces. There were two candidates for Cairo, the Coptic lawyer Mamdouh Nakhla, and Sayyed Abdel Radi.
27 of the 50 candidates will be candidates for labourers’ seats and 21 for peasants’, whilst two will compete for that of category (In the Egyptian People’s Assembly, there are three groups, namely, labourers, peasants and categories. The last group is comprised of people other than labourers and peasants, such as, doctors, engineers and lawyers. In the elections, candidates are competing for one a seat of one of the three groups).”
Manal Lashin and Salah Shalabi (respectively), “Only three Copts are on the lists of the National Democratic Party,” Media Review in Arab West Report, Week 38, Art 9, September 17, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-38/9-only-three-copts-are-lists-national-democratic-party.
“Today, Minister Kamal Al-Shazli, the General Secretary of the National Democratic Party (NDP), will declare, at a press conference, in his office in the People’s Assembly, all the names of the candidates of the party. Al-Arabi got to know that the lists of the NDP contain only three Copts, namely, Dr. Youssef Butros Ghali, the Minister of Economy, in Cairo, Asmat Nathan in Alexandria and Medhat Fou’ad Shehata in Al-Behara.
A parliamentary source is expecting an increase in the number of Coptic representatives in the People’s Assembly, through the nomination of another six Copts, by a presidential decree. Four women would be among the six nominated Copts, including the former representative, Yousria Loza, Minister Nadia Makram Ebeid and Laila Takla. The source affirmed that the NDP is not choosing its candidates on a religious basis and that there is a chance for all.
In addition, Al-Wafd Party is trying to include the greatest number of Coptic candidates in its lists, which is expected to be seven. However, it settled the matter with two only.”
Usamah Salamah, “For Show and propaganda, their election is of no importance. Political parties are holding signs ‘Looking for Copts’,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 39, Art 12, September 23, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-39/12-show-and-propaganda-their-election-no-importance-political-parties-are-holding.
“The NDP has leaked through unofficial press-releases, that their ballot tickets will include at least 7 Copts. The Wafd-party spoke of a historical heritage, which dictates a special place for Christian nominees. The Tagammu Party is the loudest in calling for Coptic rights and denouncing their persecution, even the Muslim Brotherhood has declared that they will nominate a Copt and support him.
Out of 444 nominees the NDP, ruling party, could only find three Coptic nominees to place on their ballot tickets. The Tagammu Party has only 5 and the Wafd Party only 9 candidates. The Nasserist Party could not find any Copts to place on their ballot tickets, despite many efforts to do so. All the parties have exerted great effort in searching for Coptic nominees and yet come up with only this small number.
The NDP nominated only three, one from Cairo, the present Minister of Economy Dr. Youssef Boutros Ghali. And if we consider him as a member of the cabinet instead of as a Copt than we are left with only two original Copts; Mr. Adel Nathan from Alexandria and Medhat Fou’ad Shehata from Wadi El-Natroun, Beheira district. Both are businessmen. The first had no political activity in the past nor was he even active in the church, but recently he financed the renovation of the Sidi Bishr mosque.
The NDP party, however, couldn’t find anymore nominees in the rest of Egypt. In fact the total number of Coptic nominees on the ballot tickets is less than 1% of the 444 nominations. This contradicts the statements made by the NDP leadership, that the number of Christians or Copts will not be small.
As for the nine from the Wafd party, which is 5 % out of 250, this is not in line with their declared position and their slogan of "the religion is for God and the nation is for all." In fact the Wafd has been trying to increase the number of nominees, but many of the public figures they contacted have declined to be nominated.
Mr. Mounir Fakhri went on to add that in the last elections the Wafd party nominated as many as 16 Coptic candidates, which was in fact 3 times more than all the other parties put together.”
Jamal As‘ad ‘Abd al-Malik, “How could Copts be represented in parliament?” Al-Akhbār in Arab West Report, Week 41, Art 9, October 8, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-41/9-how-could-copts-be-represented-parliament.
“Asaad believes that "the change in the political environment changed the basis of the selection, which resulted in the election of deputies who don’t honor a lot of Egyptians." The entry of Copts into parliament "became difficult with the change in the political criteria for the choice, within the sectarian environment produced by the violent incidents" he said.
"On this basis the National Party, only presented three candidates for the elections, less than 0.7 percent. One of them was a Coptic minister, who was the candidate for a district with a high percentage of Copts. The other parties did the same thing," Asaad added.
Independent Coptic candidates used to present themselves in districts with a high percentage of Copts, in order to gain their support, an attitude which creates a sectarian environment. Then no Coptic candidate will be able to be elected as Coptic support will not reach the 51 percent required to elect an independent candidate. In order for Copts to be represented in parliament, the author proposed "the formation of Coptic cadres, which can carry out political work, have a strong relationship with the public, and adopt clear political stands towards the public’s problems in order to solve them. But I don’t think that this kind exists, due to the isolation of Copts inside the church."
Muná al-Mallakh, Ahmad Ayyub, and Muhammad Ramadan, “Problems face Coptic candidates in the coming elections,” Al-Muṣawwar in Arab West Report, Week 42, Art 4, October 13, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-42/4-problems-face-coptic-candidates-coming-elections.
“Seventy-four Copts are running for the coming parliamentary elections. This number is somehow large. The National Democratic Party (NDP) nominated three Copts, namely, Dr. Youssef Boutros Ghali, the Minister of Economy, Esmat Nathan and Medhat Fouad Shehata. The most famous Coptic candidate of the eight Copts elected by Al-Wafd Party is businessman Mounier Fakhri Abdel Nour. For its part, the Tagammu Party nominated seven Copts, amongst who are Mamdouh Nakhla, Ekram Labeeb and Wagih Shukri. The rest of the 74 candidates are running as independents.”
Usamah Salamah, “Against Sheikh Matloof,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 44, Art 10, October 28, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-44/10-against-sheikh-matloof.
“This article gives an overview of the religious events that took place in Egypt since the establishment of Rose Al-Youssef 75 years ago […].
[…] precisely in 1926, Wissa Wassef was appointed as the secretary of Representatives Assembly. Two years later, he became its head. He was the first Copt to be appointed in such a position with the backing of Muslim members. In the same year, when Rose Al-Youssef was first issued, 15 Copts were able to win in the elections. In 1929, the number increased to 23.”
“Sfeir: the existence of Christianity in the Middle East is a matter of life or death,” Al-Ḥayāh in Arab-West Report, Week 48, Art 13, November 21, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-48/13-sfeir-existence-christianity-middle-east-matter-life-or-death.
The Maronite Patriarch and Cardinal stated at a meeting of heads of churches that the existence of Christians in the East, at the beginning of the third millennium, is a matter of life or death for them. Lebanon is an example. The majority of the Lebanese who emigrated in the last ten years are Christians. This also applies to other countries in the East. Sfeir "this is the bitter truth that cannot be ignored." He wondered "how can it be ignored while we see this continuous migration that uproots our children from their villages and cites and sweeps them away to the unknown."
This means a decrease in the number of the Christians of the East, that was once all Christian.
Rasha Husni, “A Brotherhood party. A threat to Egyptian political life?” Al-Qāhirah in Arab West Report, Week 52, Art 5, December 19, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-52/5-brotherhood-party-threat-egyptian-political-life.
According to Prof. Rifa’at El-Sa’id, secretary general of the Tagammu Party: “(…) it is noted that some parties, namely the Wafd and Tagammu, have acquired more seats in the recent elections than in the previous parliament, while the Brotherhood won only 17 seats instead of the previous 38. Unlike what many observers believe, this fact shows that Islamism is retreating in Egypt.
And even those seventeen seats were acquired using illegal means. Voters supporting the Brotherhood have given their votes more than once. I have documents proving that fact. Their supporters were caught with more than one identification card, trying to vote more than once.”
Dr. Rudolph Yanni, “Conversions of Christians to Islam,” Religious News Service from the Arab World in Arab-West Report, Week 1, Art 4, January 9, 2001. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2001/week-1/4-conversions-christians-islam.
The Coptic Church faces the issue of Coptic conversion to Islam due to political and economic factors as well as family issues and a lack of Christian education, among other reasons.
Hayam Jamil, “Press review: The meeting with his holiness Pope Shenouda III was one of love,” Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art 9, February 10, 2001. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2001/week-6/9-meeting-his-holiness-pope-shenouda-iii-was-one-love.
Pope Shenouda III gave a speech in a seminar held at the Book Fair. Someone asked a question about the census count of Copts in Egypt. The pope responded to this question, "We do not try to count our numbers because we do not want people to think that Copts are thinking of their political rights that [are] based on the increasing number of them," adding, "We are after spiritual not political gains."
Nabil ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and Ahmad al-Mansi, “Emigrant Copts and the money of the church,” Al-Maydān in Arab West Report, Week 9, Art 25, February 27, 2001. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2001/week-9/25-emigrant-copts-and-money-church.
“The priest of the Hanging Church said that the State gives no allocation to the Church, which is only funded by the donations of its children. He denied that emigrant Copts send lots of money to the Egyptian Church. The pastor of the Church of Ain Shams said that the financial affairs of the Church are run according to a certain system, which is followed by all churches. Lawyer Mamdouh Nakhla said the Church is dealt with as any commercial institution and is not given any privileges.
Father Khalil added "The money of some churches covers their services and that of some others does not. Small churches suffer from a limited income. I should say here that some people donate a fixed amount of money, others donate according to their potential. However, the majority do not donate fixed amounts of money."
Cornelis Hulsman, “Demolition of a building belonging to the church is followed by international protest and a permit,” Religious News Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 8, Art 9, March 5, 2001. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2001/week-8/19-demolition-building-belonging-church-followed-international-protest-and-permit.