11/15/17

Al-Sisi’s old guard appointee maintains anti-Copts solutions to jihad

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

Al Minya’s governor

General Essam Al-Badawi was installed as Al Minya’s governor (in Upper Egypt) in September 2016 when President Al-Sisi was replacing local officials. He graduated from the police academy in the mid-eighties last century after a long career with the National Security Service. Statements made recently by the governor in response to antagonism and threats towards Christians and the forced closing of Saint George Church (on Oct 27) have aroused widespread suspicion of him among Copts inside and outside Egypt.

His denial of “sectarian” strife as the cause of the recent closures of three churches and an assault on a fourth issued on the heels of Bishop Makarious’ pointed objections displays his interest in gaining control over this narrative with a pro-Islamic stance.  Sectarianism is rife with Muslim civil servants and becomes an obstacle to any attempts at equality under the law.

How could Governor Al-Badawi not see that the mosque inflated its numbers with jihadists in order to pose a threat and strike the church across the road?  And now, after the fact, what do Copts risk by speaking up? In an attempt to silence Copts, the governor schooled them: “It is not permissible to raise internal problems in international and local media.” But Copts need to be heard outside of Al Minya and seek only justice.

In countering a public statement made by the bishop, the governor patronized, flattered, and feigned ignorance regarding the detrimental “peace reconciliations” for Copts who are corralled into rigged tribal agreements and kept from the courts. In other words, it is evident to Copts directly involved or following it closely that the governor has no interest in truth or justice.

Governor Al-Badawi cautioned Bishop Makarious to regard his sources more carefully for the sake of accuracy as if the bishop had the basic facts wrong. “With great confidence in the wisdom and rationality of the bishop” the governor began and proceeded to say that “through sincere cooperation between the bishop and the organs of the province” there would be “agreed implementation of the solutions.” In other words, this Islamic bureaucrat instructs to toe the line and the solutions will come from ignoring the facts and excusing the culprits.

Exasperated by the governor’s request for cooperation with a system that’s well-known for incriminating Christian victims, Monsignor Athanasius George replied, “Where were you when the attacks, insults, vandalism and injuries took place? Where were you when barbarians and bandits became self-appointed rulers?” Sarcastically he added, “It is better that you remove the ISIS flag from your provincial building.”

Governor Al-Badawi warned Copts against pursuing justice, cautioning that irritating “religious citizens who love their religion,” i.e. jihadists, might incite them to strike again if Copts persist. Coptic MP, Marian Azer, seems to agree with the governor. With the expectations of her to represent her own people and at least take a role to insure that evidence is factual, she remains silent. Azer instead reassures the American delegation days after the incident of non-discriminatory treatment of Copts: “…all Muslims and Christians are living under the umbrella of the homeland as equal citizens in rights and freedoms without distinction in any field.” Sadly, misinformation is their take-away.

Muslim and Christian support for Al Minya Copts 

The largely Muslim and Muslim-led political party, the Egyptian Secular Party, put MP Azer to shame. It issued a statement strongly condemning “the wave of church closures in Al Minya” stressing its absolute belief in the right of every citizen to practice the rites of religion and beliefs whatever they are without restrictions or conditions – further emphasizing the repeal of the unfair church construction law and proclaiming a unified law on places of worship, a meaningful reform for Copts.

Likeminded Kamal Suleiman Bishara, former MP and member of the Christian community, urged a fact-finding commission: “The president must immediately send a committee to Al Minya to investigate the truth about what is happening on the ground against Christians and their churches and not rely on misleading reports from the security and executive services.”

Coptic Bishop Agathon of Magagha and Al Adwa (Upper Egypt) issued a statement of support for Bishop Makarius and the Coptic community of Al Minya and Abukarqas in their legitimate demand for the right to pray and practice religious rites, pointing out the repeated attacks by outlaws against the Copts and stressing their rights as guaranteed under the law and current constitution.

Bishop Agathon’s signature was notably absent from an earlier dhimmi-style (appeasing and assuming inferiority) press release issued from the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Mallawi Ashmonin gushing thanks to the governor of Al Minya, as well as President Al Sisi, the prime minister, the interior minister, the security director of Al Minya, the director of national security of Al Minya, officers and police staff for their hard work to resolve the variety of problems concerning Coptic issues as well as serving the Coptic Church.

So far, their hard work has led them to unsatisfactory and unacceptable solutions: The church closure issue is ignored and Saint George remains closed indefinitely, other churches have been shut down since the crisis, perpetrators are not arrested for their encroachments and threats which led to police closing the victimized church, and finally, a “conciliation” meeting has been thrust upon Copts for the purpose of submission and further threats.

Governor Al-Badawi is Al-Sisi’s man. He awaits direct orders from the top. If he does not receive a clear dictate to treat Copts equality and fairly he will adhere to Islamic doctrine and teachings.  As it stands, the governor appears to take his lead from the Grand Imam who just a few weeks ago emphasized Islamic Sharia as Egypt’s rule of law.

10/30/17

More “Peace Solutions”: Egyptian Copts Pay The Price

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

Bedouin peace process

A few days prior to the stand-off on Friday, the streets leading to the village mosque were heavily posted with a threatening provocation ostensibly written by Coptic Church attendees that said, “We re-opened the church against your will.”

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah – Voice ofthe Copts

The Islamic Bedouin peace process, used for negotiating an agreement between two tribes, arrived in Egypt via Saudi Arabia with the Arab conquest. Today, the technique is utilized to settle issues between Muslims and the indigenous Copts. The Copts submit to prepared agreements that force them as innocent victims into statements of guilt along with penalties, by-passing the courts.

Last week on Friday, October 27, following an attack by jihadists against Copts gathering to pray in a newly renovated church a week earlier, the heads of 1,800 Copts from the village of Al Kashery (Abu Kurkas region of Al Minya) were coerced into a Bedouin Peace Reconciliation meeting after a throng of Muslims (a thousand or more) gathered for prayer outside the mosque and threatened the church across the road.

Expanded numbers of Islamic worshipers for the purpose of intimidating church-goers to the Saint George Church across the road from the mosque prompted police forces to protect Copts against possible violence but also to serve Copts with papers demanding attendance at a Bedouin peace meeting later that day. (Automatically, this means Copts relinquish their own defense and innocence in the matter). Police bolted shut the door of the church building along with the children’s nursery.

Throng of Islamic participants prone to attack church incited by false-flag suspicions 

A few days prior to the stand-off on Friday, the streets leading to the village mosque were heavily posted with a threatening provocation ostensibly written by Coptic Church attendees that said, “We re-opened the church against your will.” Local Copts claim that Muslim instigators are the ones responsible for the signage in order to incite malice against Copts from mosque-goers and give them justification to attack the church. This type of agitation has a viral affect, notifying jihadists from nearby villages to join with another.

Message of power

Rumors grew during Friday that police were prepared to arrest both Muslims and Copts on charges of sectarian strife. Because of this, Muslims made threats to Copts with warnings that Copts would be held accountable for any Muslims arrested or harmed. Meanwhile, Copts see themselves framed in the whole matter. One anonymous source directly involved said the following: “We found no support from the law, and we fear that our children will be hurt — overall, after seeing the mobilization of large numbers of jihadists in front of the mosque that faces toward our church, closing the street with prayer mats as a message of power.”

Problematic “solution”

The same source close to the matter had more on Friday to say, “Copts had to agree to the reconciliation that will be held this evening in the village hall. A written agreement was presented that indicated a framework of friendliness, love and brotherhood. A reconciliation and waiver of all records between the two sides must be signed, including a ‘non-provoke crisis’ clause.”

This final item for Copts could mean permanent closure of their church building. The simple act of attending church is a provocation for jihadists and a trigger for mosques — particularly so when a mosque is in direct proximity of a church, i.e., across the road. “Conciliators” made no mention of the bolted church doors during the meeting. Many times the excuse used to rid towns of churches is a “permit issue” problem that has little or no basis in fact, which could happen next in order to have the church remain closed. 

Jihadists have the final word 

Bishop MakariousBishop Makarius of Al Minya summed up the latest episode when he stated, “As we remained silent for two weeks after the closure of a church, hoping officials would stand up in the role entrusted them by the state, our silence led to a worse situation. After closing the first church, a second and third followed the same path, and a fourth one may follow soon — as if Coptic prayer is a crime and must be punished.”

Worse than ever under Al Sisi now

The Bishop’s statement continued, “What happened in two weeks didn’t occur in a year — bolted churches, people attacked and their property destroyed without deterrents by the authority.”

Coexistence comes with a price for Christians alone

The Bishop went on to say, “Copts always pay the price of this coexistence — always called for by the authorities when Copts (are attacked) pay always the price for that coexistence and not the Muslims (the attackers).”

Standard reaction by the state to aggression; Deprive Copts the right to church and prayer
Furthermore, Bishop Makarius added, “When there is any aggression, the first action taken is to close the church and pressure Copts alone without punishing the aggressors.” The Bishop concluded, “The most basic right of our rights is prayer, which is guaranteed by the constitution, and we will not stop demanding it until it is realized.” 

A law is now pending to regulate church construction and clarify Christian rights

Bishop Makarius stated, “Our fear is once the church construction law is passed along with the promises that Copts will be equally treated and are second-class citizens no more that jihadists will impose their will on the organs of the state, which we reject in total.” 

List of attacks in just the last 12 days, including the story above
October 15, 2017: The church of Virgin Mary was closed in 2015 after jihadists attacked it. On this date two years later it re-opened, and while in use on the same afternoon worshipers were harassed by outsiders and police arrived to bolt the church shut – parishioners not allowed to enter again. 

October 22, 2017: The church and children’s nursery of Bishop Moses in the Al Kashery village (Abu Korkas – Al Minya) where 950 Copts are parishioners was attacked by jihadists, and four Copts were injured. The church was bolted. No one was arrested but another Bedouin Reconciliation meeting was held, and the church remains closed.  

October 22, 2017: Within a few hours of the Al Kashery village incident, the church of Abi Sefin at Al Karm village was closed by police wrongly claiming that local Muslims were complaining. For the record, this is the village where the seventy-year old Christian woman was stripped naked and beaten in the street in a recent attack.  

October 27, 2017: Five days later, Saint George church was attacked. On the same evening jihadists attacked Coptic homes and businesses. (Story above)

Which Egypt is this — Al Sisi’s or Al Tayeb’s? Neither. 

Is this evidence of the secular democratic Egypt President Al Sisi praised last week in France? (In all fairness, he did mention chaos.) Is this the religion-of-peace Islam that the Grand Imam, Al Tayeb, portrayed in his speech this month at Cairo’s “Ifta conference?”

10/29/17

Exposing Islam’s “Necromancy” Doctrine Risks Al-Azhar Scholar’s Professorship

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

Al-Azhar Institute is scrambling to protect and defend the Islamic faith, its traditions and foundational beliefs – clamping down on Islamic scholars who reveal truths that will damage Islam’s position as a “heavenly” religion. By labeling them “incompetent,” the Institute muzzles religious researchers. Currently, the highest authorities of Al-Azhar are ignoring President Al Sisi’s requests for “renewal of Islamic discourse,” which aims for discussions to temper interpretations of the Hadiths and the Sera doctrinal books.

Islamic authorities stifle discourse in the media when scholars of their own as well as other independent researchers expose embarrassing doctrine or examine it. Al-Azhar rejects any formal attempts by the government to have an open discourse. Copts care about this issue because so much of the violence against them can be traced to Islamic verses containing hatred and violence, which back it up.

The Coptic community remains certain that Ah-Azhar Institute is an enormous obstacle to societal equality and progress for human rights in Egypt — the country is dysfunctional with oppressive norms, discriminatory regulations, lawlessness and violence against a prescribed underclass that includes all non-Muslims. This is all doctrinally sound.

Islamic doctrine is discussed in the media and Al-Azhar reacts

In the middle of last month, while Al-Azhar denounced a liberal law in Tunisia, the Institute created a national scandal within Egypt when it reacted to the pronouncements of two of its comparative-religion professors – Dr. Sabry Abd El Raauf and Dr. Suaad Saleh – both specialists in the field of religious doctrine. While appearing on an Egyptian TV talk show (ITC Satellite TV) by invitation, Professor Dr. Sabry Abd El Raauf answered a call-in question about the acceptable practice of necromancy. Necromancy – a solid component of Islamic religious doctrine – tends to be a subject of derision for Egyptian school children but nonetheless a gruesome reality.

Unseemly and demonic to those in the biblical tradition, for Muslims, communing with the dead as a practice was accurately explained by the expert-professor as permissible and allowed by Allah (“halal”). He further qualified that, “This practice is against human nature but cannot be considered sin [“haram”].” Dr. Raauf was using his knowledge of the Quran, Hadiths and Sera – the doctrinal books of the Islamic faith. He clarified that a man would not be punished for engaging in this.

According to Islamic practice, the doctor’s response to the caller automatically established an edict or “fatwa” (a religious decree) just by virtue of answering the question. Typically, when a religious decree is made in such a way it is recorded by number and entered into the edict registry and disseminated around the world. (The dos-and-don’ts edicts keep piling up to govern world-wide followers of Islam.) As a comparative-religion professor and expert on solid grounds, Dr. Raauf was shocked at what occurred next. He was called in by his employer, the Al-Azhar Institute’s Vice-President’s office, and threatened to be fired. What had he done wrong?

After all, as recent as May 2011, an Algerian Imam, in a fresh statement of endorsement and reinforcement of the truth just expressed by the professor confirmed it with the question, “Who am I to disagree?” Also in 2012, a member of Egypt’s majority-Muslim Brotherhood parliament submitted a bill to clarify that sexual intercourse with a dead wife must occur within six hours of her death. Furthermore, Egyptian children in the Al-Azhar curriculum learn this lesson in school from religious textbooks.

According to pre-eminent Islamic teaching texts, Islam’s adherence to necromancy stems from a “strong” classification based upon the Hadiths (the religious source) as opposed to a “weak” one. If “weak,” Professor Dr. Raauf would have stressed that no one need follow it, and his edict affirming the practice could never have been produced. According to a current statement on the Al Tahir website — Egypt’s electronic daily newspaper with a mission to bring truthful information to readers — intercourse with the dead is part of the Islamic heritage and is still rightly being taught.

Disturbingly as well, according to the website “the farewell intercourse” is “…fixed among the pages of books of Islamic heritage for decades without revision or modification.” The Al Tahir statement continued with, “…until many of them [pages] became a guide [for teachers] causing the escalation of attacks against them [teachers] instead of attacking the sources the fatwa was built on.” This last quote might as well be an indictment of the Al-Ahzar Institute’s reaction to the correct professor.

Dr. Suaad Saleh was reprimanded along with Dr. Ruaaf because she answered a caller in a second talk show to produce in the same way a “fatwa” (religious decree) about the existing practice of bestiality, confirming what every Muslim knows to be true by the content of their sacred books. Intercourse between humans and animals is “halal” (permitted) but does, however, carry various penalties or prescribed procedures unlike the topic addressed by Dr. Ruaaf. Both practices are not merely facts out of Islam’s history (meant for only a time and place in the past) but are relevant today and applicable to modern-day worshipers.

Copts live in a culture where the dominant values are set by a “foreign” doctrine and regulated by edicts accordingly. It goes without saying that Copts have never adopted the degrading practices of jihad, necromancy, bestiality and honor killings – just to name a few. Instead, Christians in Islam’s midst counter this by the life-affirming, life-giving ideals rooted in their religious doctrine and spiritual walk.

For Copts, manipulation by deception (“taqiyya”), adds psychological damage to their physical endangerment. Denial as an aspect of deception can be seen here with Al-Azhar leaders at Cairo’s October 17 conference entitled: International Conference of Ifta (Fatwas): The role of the fatwa in the stability of societies. During his opening speech, Mohammed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Institute, shifted blame away from the evidence-linked facts of the Institute’s teachings leading to death and destruction onto the machinations of the international community. He said, “a link between terrorism and Islam is a falsification in the consciousness of Muslims, distracting them from the real cause behind terrorism, which in my view is the unjust international policies that know nothing about the human brotherhood in countries that manufacture weapons and export them to ignite strife in Muslim countries.”

Geo-political actors are guilty as the quote points out. However, Islamic doctrine and practice provides a culture groomed and ready for exploitation. Islam is weaponized and counterfeited in the Middle East precisely because the narrative is plausible and easily digested by the western world. Imagine for one moment that a world conference is hosted by the pre-eminent Al-Azhar Sunni-Muslim Institute of Cairo in which speeches are made denouncing unequivocally each crime committed in the name of jihad and every church and village bombing done in the name of Islamic supremacy.

Replacing the normal platitudes of “peace,” which signify nothing, with genuine apologies as a precursor to altering interpretations of texts would transform the world and form a natural resistance to war games that exploit the vile nature and unreformed character of Islam.

10/26/17

Egyptian president visits France: Declares “modernity” while Coptic church is seized

By: Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

The Church of the Virgin Mary and the Martyrs of Margaregs and Abi Sefin has been harassed for years by the state and is constantly under threat of closure.

During President Al Sisi’s press conference upon his visit to France a few days ago (Saturday, Oct 21), a journalist asked about Egyptian human rights. The President replied that Egypt is suffering from disorder and chaos, adding, “I am keen to establish a modern and civil state

Meanwhile in Egypt on the same day, the government Zoning and Planning Commission paid a visit to a four-year old, owned and occupied Orthodox building containing a church for a surprise inspection. The Upper Egypt region of Egypt is primarily Christian and subject to gestapo-like scrutiny with a view to shutting down churches. The village of Al Hager in Suhag has three thousand Coptic Orthodox inhabitants with only one church a mile away – too far to walk.

The following morning before Sunday’s church service, worshipers and the priest arrived to find police forces surrounding the church building while the water and electricity were being disconnected. The reason given was that the state was concerned with security and safety due to complaints from Muslims in the town.

The Church of the Virgin Mary and the Martyrs of Margaregs and Abi Sefin has been harassed for years by the state and is constantly under threat of closure.

Church of the Virgin Mary – Its history of abuse

Beginning in 2006, the Virgin Mary Church was under construction for seven years as a four-story service and sanctuary building. The first floor was for priests only, the second floor for worship service, and the third floor dedicated to the children’s nursery. The top floor provided social services for the congregation.

Delays in construction were endless as they waited for a state church-building permit to be issued (which generally takes many years). The building was finalized and occupied before receiving it. Copts know that non-issuance of church permits is one way the state attempts to obstruct Christian worship.

Upon completion and occupancy in 2013, the Zoning Commission issued a demolition order, but fortunately the courts overturned it when Copts challenged the decision. In the middle of 2013, Copts began to hold two masses weekly on Friday and Sunday mornings.

Now, one day after Al Sisi’s declarations of civility and modernity in France, the church priest toured the property with officials from the Zoning Commission and answered their questions surmising that a shut-down was pending.

That Sunday evening, a delegation from the diocese met with the mayor for more than five hours. In the early hours of Monday morning a decision was reached to “temporarily” close the building until further determinations by the Zoning Commission. No reason given. In June of this year the church in Bani Sweef was subjected to the same closure.

It is easy for a leader to give speeches in foreign countries stating good intentions — another matter to implement them.

10/15/17

Islamic terrorist murders Coptic priest

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

We are not without sympathy for the Muslim Egyptian who is under pressure, indeed coercion towards a Sharia fundamentalism that’s touted today in Egypt – in particular by the powers-that-be from Al-Azhar Institute, the Muslim Brotherhood factions and the fundamentalist Salafi remnant currently influencing believers.  It is difficult to be patient with the slow process of expunging or relegating these influences and the long-haul of reform (if in fact the effort to do so actually exists in Egypt today as we are told) when the outcome of Sharia brainwashing is so gruesomely apparent in crimes such as last Thursday’s bludgeoning to death of Coptic Christian Orthodox Monsignor Samaan Shehata.

In an indisputable act of jihad by a Cairo Muslim named Ahmed Saayed Al Sunbaty wielding a sword in the streets of Al Marg in Egypt’s capital city, two Orthodox priests, Father Beeman Muftah and Monsignor Samaan, became the targets of this jihadist.  On Thursday, October 12, the two priests were visiting Cairo to raise funds for the poor villagers of Bani Sweef (Al Minya). They departed from a store (a construction steel seller) and returned to their car where the Monsignor realized he forgot his cell phone in the store. Father Beeman asked their driver, Gerges Kamel, to accompany the Monsignor on his return to the store in order to retrieve it.

Mr. Kamel gave the following firsthand account:

There was water in the street dividing us.

I followed him separated by water, and suddenly I saw a man carrying a sword begin to follow Monsignor Samaan who began running toward the store. At the store entrance, the attacker reached the Monsignor and stabbed him in his side. Monsignor fell to the ground. At that point, the killer stabbed him again in the neck, slaughtering him. The murderer then hit him in the skull and then carved a cross with the same tool into Monsignor Samaan’s forehead.

The driver continued to say that the street was filled with pedestrians who were present at the scene, but no one intervened. The jihadist ran off but not before tossing onto the Monsignor’s body a handwritten note from his pocket. It all happened in four minutes.

Ahmed Saayed Al Sunbaty was apprehended by citizens with the police who by then were a few meters away from the carnage.  The Monsignor remained alive for another half hour waiting for an ambulance to navigate Cairo’s streets. It arrived one hour after he died. Some say dispatchers work slowly when an emergency call comes in for Christians. Mr. Kamel estimated that the Monsignor’s life could have been saved.

Rumors began to circulate about the attacker’s mental state with labels such as “mentally unstable” and “out of his mind,” which is often heard when Copts are the victims of attacks and a legal case for “insanity” begins to build. But this time, eyewitnesses, including the priests’ driver, Mr. Kamel, emphasized seeing a very deliberate and wholly conscious actor. Later, Al Sunbaty admitted under preliminary interrogation that his action was intentional and fulfilled his desire to get rid of infidels. This is confirmed by the hand written message Al Sunbaty threw down onto his mutilated victim. It stated, “Praise be to Allah. The operation was successful.”

Al Sunbaty’s neighbors told reporters that he lives in the area where he murdered the Monsignor and is well-known for his devotion to Islamic jihad, often directing insults to Christians. In general, Copts rekindled the ire of jihadists when they became one of the forces favoring removal of the former Muslim Brotherhood ruler, President Morsi. Copts were labeled as enemies for their political views after June 30, 2012 and hostility toward Copts proliferated throughout radio and television broadcasts until today.

Reaction to the incident has brought only silence as of yet from Islam’s highest governing authority with its Sunni Muslim Institute located in Cairo. The Institution of Islamic scholars is obstinate when it comes to the slightest reforms and least of all to jihad, one of the major pillars of Islam. As of this writing, no statement has come from President Al-Sisi who normally garners praise from Copts.

Coptic Bishop Rafael addressed government authorities in a statement making mention of the increase of frequency of jihad since churches began to burn in 1972, the very year Monsignor Samaan was born, adding that it demonstrates how poorly the state is handling religious crimes and the extremism of a culture which needs to change by a huge effort yet to begin. Defective security monitoring, prosecution of victims instead of the perpetrators, releasing the guilty without penalty when arrested; all foster the system of religious jihad, stressed the Bishop.

The late Monsignor Samaan, who entered the priesthood in 1998 and was promoted to Monsignor in 2016, was laid to rest within a day of his murder. At his funeral, Bishop Rafael addressed parishioners, “We are all ready to die for the Christian faith.” Not a soul could disagree. Referring to terrorists, the Bishop said, “The blood of our martyrs is the seed of the Church – each murder by a terrorist flourishes our Church – sadly they [terrorists] do not understand that.”

Agreement came from Germany, where Pope Tawadros II resides temporarily for therapeutic reasons, in his statement expressing the Monsignor’s final reward for a purposeful life and death: “celebrating with heaven, receiving another martyr to paradise of joy…he joined the procession of victory like his predecessors of the Church…” Indeed.

Voice of the Copts offers condolences to all who knew and loved the Monsignor. Our prayers and sympathies go to Monsignor Samaan’s family and congregation. We hope and pray as well that President Al-Sisi is enabled and directed by the Almighty to work toward equality throughout Egypt’s system of justice, end anti-Coptic rhetoric, and begin genuine reform within Islam despite the very discouraging signs we see — all as a foundation to build a better future for Egyptians.

10/1/17

Al-Azhar Deep State Strikes At Egypt’s Constitutional Free Speech

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

In June this year, Justices Alito and Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in their separate opinions for Matal v. Tam that there is no “hate speech” exception to the first amendment of the constitution. In other words, “hate speech” is free speech. In that same month, Egypt’s parliament found a new hate speech bill placed before them for review. It is likely Egypt’s legislators will not take their lead from the United States but follow the footsteps of Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France and Denmark, to turn the bill entitled, “Combating Hatred and Violence” into law. The vote is scheduled to take place in the near future.

However, before any vote takes place, the Egyptian parliamentarians must address the origin (the writers) of the introduced bill. The bill — which has 16 articles in three sections — was not written by any member of the elected body but by an outside entity. Committing an unconstitutional and illegal action, the Al-Azhar Institute wrote and submitted to parliament the proposed “hatred” bill. Egypt’s parliament is currently aiding and abetting the illegality by considering the proposed bill. Next, they will buckle under the same pressure to rubber stamp it. Just watch.

To be clear, Al- Azhar Institute has no representation, honorary or otherwise, in the Egyptian parliament. This was enumerated a long time ago when Nasser allowed the Islamic religious institute to expand its teachings to the university level in science and technology. And before doing so, Nasser established Law No. 103 in 1961. Still current, Law No. 103 restricts Al- Azhar Institute’s role to a religious/cultural one (meaning not political) and defines it as “the renewal of Islamic culture, removing abstractions and impurities from it.”

A hate speech law crafted by Al- Azhar may, in its own view, be very effective in “renewing” Islamic culture for, rest assured, it will favor Islam above the others. The language of the drafted bill is generic and abstract with the intent to exact that favor. Vagueness is subject to interpretation by those in charge. For example, the proposed bill states it is, “Protecting the community from attempts to indoctrinate false concepts that may emerge among its members and affect the facts of their religion in a manner that incites hatred.” “Community” is not defined, and this makes non-Muslim segments jittery. Are the indoctrinated “false concepts” affecting the “facts of their religion” pertaining to truths spoken about Islam and Sharia? — Probably.

At a time when Al- Azhar Islamists are under much criticism, the ambiguity of the bill, if passed, will muzzle thinkers and intellectuals and stifle expression more so than now. With this maneuver, Al- Azhar ar shows that its aim is to govern behavior and gain more power over personal lives.

Nothing short of a move to reverse Egypt’s constitution regarding free speech, Article 4 of Al- Azhar’s “Combating Hatred and Violence” bill incorporates an end to any opposition to the proposed bill once made into law and, in this case gets very specific: “It’s not permitted to invoke freedom of opinion and expression, criticism, freedom of information, publication or creativity against any statement or action involving anything contrary to the provisions of this law.” To the contrary, Article 65 of the current 2014 Constitution states that “Freedom of opinion is guaranteed and everyone has the right to express his or her opinion by speech, writing, photography or other means of expression and publication.” The two are at odds.

A thousand years old, Al- Azhar has an institutional memory of the freedoms’ and rights’ environment for centuries in Egypt prior to Nasser’s decision to nationalize personal property and pour the proceeds into the coffers of Al-Ahzar. Tipping the scales in this way set up society for the battle against freedoms and human rights. In response to the negative popular reaction in May 1879 to the emerging abuses of political and religious powers, Egypt’s 1923 Constitution came about 45 years later. It stated that the Egyptian parliament is the only “legislative authority” and that no religious institution can have that same role — referring to Al- Azhar Institute and the Coptic Orthodox Pope. Although the 1923 Constitution is now expunged, this point, fortunately, carried over to the current 2014 Constitution.

With its aggressive overreach (an unsolicited and illegally proposed “hate” bill) to increase the presence of Islam throughout a diverse population (secularists, liberals, atheists, Christians of various denominations and Muslims), the Al- Azhar deep state unveiled its true intentions. Instead of reviewing its own internal policies regarding religious teachings and preaching, which would alleviate oppression in Egypt and around the world as well as pressure on the devout, it rides the trend rising in Europe to suppress free speech and ingrain 7th century doctrine.

The powerful Al- Azhar deep state is shoring up its position to hold and penetrate fundamentalism in many ways, building momentum over time. After rejecting Al-Sisi’s plea for reform of Islamic doctrine and ignoring the possibility of school textbooks revision, Al- Azhar Institute created the kiosk project to disseminate religious edits (“fatwas”). Shortly after, Al- Azhar vocalized its contempt for Tunisia’s modernization of ancient religious traditions, and most recently remained silent on the Egyptian state’s campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM). Furthermore, Al- Azhar has never condemned ISIS or any act of Muslim terrorism against Christians in or outside of Egypt.

09/19/17

Would you say that again?

By: T F Stern | Self-Educated American

In recent news the State of Oregon is leading the way down yet another slippery slope, this time with free abortions on demand for anyone, including illegal aliens.  It’s been presented as a ‘women’s health issue’; but therein lies the deception, and that deception has been successful as it alters the discussion and removes any consideration for constitutional rights of the individual being aborted.

An article written by Christina Cauterucci praised the ambitious legislative package.

“On Wednesday, the Oregon state legislature joined the ranks of states preparing for the worst by passing the Reproductive Health Equity Act. If signed by the very pro-woman Gov. Kate Brown, the bill will enshrine the right to abortion care in state law, a first for Oregon. It also requires insurers in the state to cover contraception, vasectomies, prenatal and postpartum care, abortion care, screenings for reproductive cancers and STIs, and counseling for survivors of domestic violence. All would be completely covered at no cost to patients, even if the ACA were repealed, with some federally mandated exceptions for churches and religious groups.”

Let’s dissect that statement and attempt to understand the mindset of those who have jumped on board the Reproductive Health Equity Act; one passed while ‘preparing for the worst’.

What is the worst?  Is it the idea that individuals might be held accountable for their actions both morally and financially?  Morality shouldn’t be an issue; we got rid of that years ago…

Some argue that rape victims who get pregnant should have access to abortions as do women who believe they’re carrying a deformed fetus or are in a pregnancy which is life threatening (abortion is always life threatening to the individual being aborted) as justification for the entire premise of abortion on demand.

Here’s an interesting statistic regarding women seeking abortions:

“95% of abortions are done as birth control, 1% are done because of rape/incest, 1% because of fetal abnormalities, and 3% due to the mother’s health problems.”

The moral structure of our society has been altered in favor of murdering millions of defenseless individuals, depriving them of their inalienable right to life and all the other protections afforded under our constitutional republican form of government…and it’s all based on a lie; that’s right, the lie that abortion is a Women’s Health Issue when in fact 95% of lives aborted are little more than ‘after the fact contraception choices’ made to erase poor life style choices.

The socialist movement has now mandated a wide range of defined (altered the definition of words) Women’s Health Issue expenses be paid by insurance companies, which will include any government facilities paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Free, in their mind, means the recipient of goods and services no longer has to be concerned with earning enough money to pay for their incurred debts; instead, those inconsequential burdens are passed along to the State.

All these goods and services are now ‘Free’ because the State has and endless supply.  Has anyone ever explained the word ‘Free’ to those pushing socialism?  Those having to perform or provide these goods and services no longer are free to decide how to spend their efforts or money; that decision has been made by the State.

Well where does the State get all that money?  That’s right; the Evil Rich must pay for stealing from the undeserving poor.

Oregon has taken a large step towards abandoning reason in favor of satisfying those who demand the pipe dream of ‘free services for all’; neglecting to recognize there never was and never will be a free ride.  Somebody has to pay and these folks are willing to slap it on the Evil Rich who, for the most part must have obtained their ill gotten gain because of White Privilege.  This doesn’t even address moral issues; dang, I forgot we’ve already done away with morality.

We have arrived at a point in our nation’s evolution where Social Justice  is considered an equal to Due Process.

“Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due process violation, which offends the rule of law.”

Socialists, progressives, communists, call them what you will; but they don’t respect individual rights or the implication that such rights come from God.  It is their intention to do away with such antique philosophies and give the State free reign to run everyone’s lives.

09/16/17

Two Coptic churches re-open; two meetings held: Are they related?

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

On Sunday, September 10, two Coptic churches were re-opened by an executive order made by President Al-Sisi. One of them was the St. Mary Church of Al-Furn village in Al Minya diocese, which was illegally shut down by Egyptian police recently in the final days of the Virgin Mary fast.

Bishop Makariuos of Al Minya diocese issued a statement to announce this good news. He indicated that Al-Sisi issued an executive order to local law enforcement to re-open the two churches on the eve of the new Coptic year.

The bishop further added that Copts of Al Minya and Abu Kurkas are thankful to the Egyptian president for his response and the attention given to their petition concerning the shutting down of their churches.

Their gratitude goes to the Interior Minister, the Governor of Al Minya and the head of Al Minya security as well as the National Security Service.

Muslim neighbors are congratulatory

The bishop’s statement did not ignore that Muslim residents of the town seemed grateful for the re-openings. Muslim villagers had been used as scapegoats by police authorities for the closings. Concerning the latter, a Voice of the Copts’ member emphasized that many Muslims came to the church to congratulate the priest and congregation. A celebration entailed almost three hundred Christians in the first mass and took place with great joy and tears of happiness.

Two high level meetings took place

The Al Ahzar Grand Imam visited Germany, and Al-Sisi met in Cairo with the United States delegation of Anglican Churches – two events that took place within hours of the order given to re-open the churches. The re-openings could be seen as timed to serve the purpose of “substantiating” messaging.

In the same time frame, the executive level meetings immediately followed the order to re-open the churches. Therefore, the matter is subject to speculation. The future will tell. If this proves to be the beginning of more re-openings to come then we know this gesture by the Al-Sisi government is meant to be consistent with Article 46 of the Egyptian Constitution, which permits freedom of worship.

Why now and why only two churches when so many need to re-open?

Grand Imam 

Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Institute, was invited to participate in the Roads of Peace International Conference where he delivered a speech on Sunday, September 10. In his speech, the Imam condemned the recent aggression against Muslims in Myanmar ignoring the “plank in his own eye” regarding the plight of Coptic Christians his own country. Perhaps he thought he had a right to do so because of the church re-openings in Egypt preempting his critics.

President Al-Sisi

At the same time in Cairo, President Al-Sisi met with a delegation from the National Council of American Churches. The meeting’s agenda was about how to confront extremist thinking and terrorism. During that meeting, Al-Sisi confirmed that Egypt will uphold the concept of citizenship and consolidate the culture of pluralism (the acceptance of others). He further confirmed the absence of discrimination in Egypt on the basis of religion and that all citizens enjoy the same rights and all the same duties to the homeland – after all, “Egypt’s churches were now being re-opened.”

Voice of the Copts joins in the celebration with gratitude

Christian Copts are truly grateful for the return of two church properties no matter what the motive. It is not new that Coptic issues are exploited for political purposes.

If the Egyptian president is sincere in his talk to the American delegation, then we should expect to see an effort to restore more churches in the near future. This would include re-opening and returning all the remaining closed churches and reconstructing churches destroyed by terror attacks. The latter would benefit by a new law for the construction of all worship buildings with equality in mind.

The right to practice your faith is granted by the Egyptian constitution, and we at VOTC join Bishop Makarious and the Copts of Al Minya and Abu Kurkas in their joy and happiness!

We thank the Egyptian authorities for re-opening churches that were illegally closed down. We hope that more executive orders to restore remaining churches will be made sooner than later.

09/14/17

Finding Treasure

By: T F Stern | Self-Educated American

It’s been a year since we packed up my parent’s house and sold it after my mom died.  We’ve had boxes of photographs and framed pictures stored in a climate controlled U-haul unit until such time as we could figure out where to put them in our house in Buffalo, Texas.  That time has arrived.

I had no idea what framed pictures were in each box as they’d been professionally packed and boxed; took several hours to get past the Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap and plastic adhesive that had been applied to the glass on certain pictures.  It took four large black plastic trash bags to haul off the packing material and that didn’t include cutting the boxes down flat so they didn’t take up the entire dining room.

We now have the guest bedroom lined wall to wall with an odd assortment of pictures and paintings; some of which are probably quite valuable as they are museum quality; but that’s not the kind of treasure I’m excited about.

Other items that were packed away from my folk’s house were thrown into large cardboard boxes and we used anything available for packing material; kitchen towels, bath towels, ornamental pillows, stuffed animals…anything to keep fragile items from breaking.  I found a real treasure among the packing material to protect a table lamp; a hand made quilt that had been sewn by my grandmother, signed on the back.   Priceless!

Other treasures among the packing material would include cross stitched linen table clothes; also my grandmother’s handiwork.  These were placed on a shelf out of the way until this morning when I decided they should be put into service; but you can’t simply toss an old wrinkled up table cloth on the table and expect it to have the same effect as when it’s been carefully ironed and displayed properly.

There’s something to the process of ‘living in elegance’ that requires a little more effort.  It took me an hour to iron two table cloths; there are at least three more cross stitched table cloths that require the same loving care to restore them to usable status.

While filling my glass yesterday I noticed that I’d almost thrown away a ‘limited edition’ Dr Pepper soda can.  So glad I caught that in time or it would have gone to the recycle bin and lost forever.  Exactly what constitutes a ‘limited edition’ can of Dr Pepper?

We have a biscotti jar on the hutch.  It had been a Christmas present many years ago, filled with a variety of chocolate covered biscotti; but the jar was too beautiful to simply throw away after the biscotti had been eaten.  We’d given a similar jar to my sister in law; something of an inside joke.

Her husband, John, died a few years back.  He’d been cremated and his ashes placed in an old shoe box that was kept in the closet; not exactly how John would expect to be treated for time and all eternity.  We quietly hinted that John could use an upgrade; perhaps the biscotti jar would be a better ‘final resting place’ or at least better than the shoe box.

…And it would have been, had she not dropped the biscotti jar.  Maybe we’ll give her our biscotti jar; or better yet, buy her a new one at Sam’s Wholesale, one that’s filled with a nice variety of chocolate covered biscotti.  Treasure is in the eye of the beholder.