Religious freedom and freedom of expression

14. Commemorating ‘Āshūrā’: Remembering diversity or difference?

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Article title: 
14. Commemorating ‘Āshūrā’: Remembering diversity or difference?
Date of source: 
December 11, 2013
Author: 
Yosra El Gendi
Article summary: 

The tenth day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic Hijrī calendar is known as ‘Āshūrā’. This day, is a sacred day celebrated by both Sunnīs and Shī’ah Muslims alike albeit for different reasons. Despite sharing this day in common, it highlights differences and brings memories of unjustified hostilities. 

13. Amnesty International reporting about Egypt’s draft Constitution

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Article title: 
13. Amnesty International reporting about Egypt’s draft Constitution
Date of source: 
December 11, 2013
Author: 
Cornelis Hulsman
Article summary: 

Amnesty International has been recurrently critical of the military intervention following large-scale demonstrations against President Morsi between June 30 and July 3. Amnesty International has also criticized the interim authorities for various human rights violations following July 3. In their evaluation of the current draft Constitution they recognize improvements over the previous 2012 Constitution.

7. Christian Convert Arrested in Egypt: Details and Background

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Article title: 
7. Christian Convert Arrested in Egypt: Details and Background
Date of source: 
December 10, 2013
Author: 
Jayson Casper
Article summary: 

Few subjects are so sensitive in Egypt as the conversion from one religion to the other. It is often difficult to find out the truth in such stories with all of the possible interests involved, both of the convert and the people around him or her. One can obtain a better glimpse of the various motives through in-depth interviews with various actors. Neither Jayson Casper nor I have ever met with Muhammad Hijāzī. I, however, remember the outpouring of negative Egyptian media reporting when his conversion became public in the late 90s, making him despised in the eyes of many Muslims and a hero in the eyes of Christians wanting to see Muslims get to know the Gospel and/or Christians with generally negative perceptions of Muslims. Such experiences of hate and love also form the concerned convert; it may make them even more negative about Islam and preach this to anyone who wants to hear such a message.  For several years Hijāzī tried to change the religion field on his ID card, but once that court case was lost media attention for him declined.  His work with the U.S.-based al-Tarīq station, known for a very negative attitude towards Islam, however, brought new problems with Egyptian authorities. Why did he work with al-Tarīq? It is possible this was for lack of other sources of income. 

The only thing we can do with such potentially inflammatory stories is to try to be as factual as possible with the information found, knowing of course that what has been reported may be far from a complete picture. We are pleased with the effort of Jayson Casper to bring as much information together as possible which is reflected in the report below.

Cornelis Hulsman

72. Opinion Piece: Why Burn Churches?!!

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Article title: 
72. Opinion Piece: Why Burn Churches?!!
Date of source: 
August 22, 2013
Author: 
Daniela De Maria
Reviewer: 
Yosra El Gendi
Article summary: 

The final outcome of the Brotherhood’s fatwá is the inevitable disappearance of churches in Dār al-Islām (Islamic countries), which logically entails that there is no place for non-Muslims in Egypt. The Shaykh ends his fatwá stressing that building churches in Islamic countries is not permitted.

AWR Daily Overview, June 10, 2013: Copts rebel against Mursi

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Article title: 
AWR Daily Overview, June 10, 2013: Copts rebel against Mursi
Date of source: 
June 10, 2013
Author: 
Denise Hartlieb
Article summary: 

The Maspero Youth Union has decided to participate in the June 30 demonstrations, stressing that President Muhammad Mursi (Mursī)'s attempt to win Copts' side by building a new church will fail. The Copts do not want to build churches, however they want a secure homeland with freedom and social justice. Also “Coptic Alliance without Borders” confirmed their participation in the June 30 demonstrations, stating that the President's attempt to restrain them from participating will not work (Majdī Fikrī, al-Dustūr, Jun. 10, p. 5). Read original text in Arabic.

31. AWR Daily Overview, May 17, 2013: Copts unstable in Egypt under Morsi's rule

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31. AWR Daily Overview, May 17, 2013: Copts unstable in Egypt under Morsi's rule
Date of source: 
May 17, 2013
Author: 
Alexander Thomas
Article summary: 

In a recent report by the New York Times, a clear trend towards migration has emerged among successful businessmen from Egypt’s Coptic community. Coptic businessmen remain a significant force in the trade, finance and accounting sectors.

One of the clear motivating factors for this phenomenon is the recent upswing in violence targeting the minority, exemplified by a string of incidents including the Maspero Massacre in October 2011 and the attack on the Saint Mark Cathedral  in al-‘Abbāsīyyah in April 2013. In addition, fears of economic discrimination by means of taxes have been a further cause of this exodus. These events have further aggravated the post-revolution recession, which has in turn become an underlying cause for the flight of skilled labor and capital from the struggling economy (Engy Majdī, al-Yawm al-Sābi’, May 17, p. 6). Read original text in Arabic.

39. AWR Daily Overview, May 2, 2013: U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom: Egypt's protection of minorities is concerning

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Article title: 
39. AWR Daily Overview, May 2, 2013: U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom: Egypt's protection of minorities is concerning
Date of source: 
May 2, 2013
Author: 
Calum Humphreys
Article summary: 

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed its concern about the status of religious minorities and religious freedoms in Egypt. USCIRF's 2013 Annual Report stated despite the progress made by the transitional government in advancing religious freedoms, and a noticeable decrease in deaths and injuries related to sectarian violence, systematic abuse of religious minorities continues. It states that the government has failed to protect religious minorities from violence and legislation remains backward, despite some progress in the granting of identity papers to Bahā’īs and converts to Christianity, and the government has not sufficiently addressed the anti-Semitism in state media. The report observed that just as under the previous government, the government controls religious associations like mosques and places of worship. It urged the U.S. to put pressure on the government to prosecute the perpetrators of sectarian violence, to reform to improve religious freedoms, and to guarantee the security of religious minorities, and for the U.S. to stop considering religious affairs as Egypt internal affairs. The report also called for a postponement of military aid to Egypt until the government proves it is enacting policies to protect religious freedoms and human rights. U.S. Republican Congressmen Chris Smith (Author’s note: al-Misrī al-Yawm made an error, honorable Chris Smith is from the House of Representatives not a Senate) said that the U.S. will do more to ensure that aid is not used to commit serious human and religious rights abuses ('Alā’ ‘Abdullah, al-Misrī al-Yawm, May 2, p. 4). Read original text in Arabic.

26. AWR Daily Overview, March 22, 2013: Crisis of “Beni Suef girl” ignited after call of protesters in front of Church

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Article title: 
26. AWR Daily Overview, March 22, 2013: Crisis of “Beni Suef girl” ignited after call of protesters in front of Church
Date of source: 
March 22, 2013
Author: 
Quinta Smit
Article summary: 

There is an atmosphere of concern in the village of al-Wāstá in the governorate of Beni Suef following the disappearance of the Muslim girl, Rānā Hātim Kamāl al-Shāzlī. On Wednesday, March 20, there was a march to protest the girl’s disappearance during which shops owned by Copts were forcefully closed. Protesters were demanding the immediate return of the missing girl. Protests and marches have been “infiltrated” with individuals calling for a sectarian strife unless the girl is returned. In the midst of the events, the Beni Suef Security Director has requested for the presence of central security formations for the protection of Saint George Church (Ashraf Mustafá, al-Tahrīr, Mar. 22, p. 9). Read original text in Arabic.

20. Screening the movie "One Hand", a film portraying Egyptian Christians and Muslims standing together for a better common future.

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Article title: 
20. Screening the movie "One Hand", a film portraying Egyptian Christians and Muslims standing together for a better common future.
Date of source: 
April 3, 2013
Author: 
Tāriq Hasan and Cornelis Hulsman
Article summary: 

On Wednesday, April 27th, we've had the pleasure to show the movie "One Hand", a film produced by Johnny and Rebecca Weixler with help of contacts provided by Arab-West Report. The film had been earlier presented and well received at the well-attended MESA Film Festival in Denver, Colorado, USA. Some of the people who have purchased the film have written Johnny and Rebecca to inform them that it was really eye-opening and informative for them.

15. AWR Daily Overview, January 9, 2013: Fatwás banning greeting Christians in feasts embarrass Egypt, says Pope Tawadros

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Article title: 
15. AWR Daily Overview, January 9, 2013: Fatwás banning greeting Christians in feasts embarrass Egypt, says Pope Tawadros
Date of source: 
January 9, 2013
Author: 
Jeanne Middelstaedt-Rizkallah
Article summary: 

In a statement delivered to Rose al-Yūsuf, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II said: “I was keen to reassure the Copts feeling anxious for their future. The occasion of Christmas, a joyful day that carries a message of love and peace, was the ideal occasion to do so” (Michael ‘Adil, Rose al-Yūsuf, Jan. 9, p. 1). Read original text in Arabic.

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