31. Egypt torn apart by extremist Muslim Brotherhood members and Copts

Article summary: 

The article presents excerpts from controversial press statements made by both Muslims and Copts. While the Muslims refuse to be ruled by a Copt, an alleged spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox church claims that the Copts are the original natives of Egypt and decry Muslims as "occupiers."

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Newspapers have turned into a field for verbal battles between extremists and Muslims/Copts says the author of the article. The two sides are competing to set Egypt ablaze, he adds.

According to him, Dr. Maḥmūd ‘Izzat, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s guidance office, presented views aimed at shutting the Copts out of the political arena. He finds those views contradictory to Mahdī ‘Ākif’s statements about the groups’ intention to form a civil party.
Usāmah quotes ‘Izzat’s statement where he said that he would rather be ruled by a non-Egyptian Muslim than a Copt. ‘Izzat justified his statement saying that the ruler’s job is to lead people in prayer and command them to pay the Zakāh, which a Copt cannot do. The author of the article compares this statement to a different one from another member of the guidance office, Dr. ‘Abd al- Mun‘im Abū al-Futūh, who said that "it is lawful for a Christian to be a president."

Usāmah wonders if those contradictory statements are a tactic that the group adopts to acchieve their goals. He warns of this duality of speech which, from his point of view, means that the group would employ religion the way they see would best serve their interests.
The author of the article criticizes ‘Izzat’s argument that the president or the ruler should lead people in prayer and states that the conditions that Islām defined for Imāms, among which are: efficiency of the memorization of the Qur’ān; jurisprudence knowledge and other qualifications, do not necessarily exist in a president.

He also cited examples from history indicating how the non-Muslims who ruled Egypt were unjust to their people, such as the Ottomans. Other examples were given such as the Muslim Khalīfahs who tore the Islamic state apart and weakened it with wars over riches and resources in the name of religion.
Usāmah, on the other hand, quotes Bishop Marqus, bishop of Shubrā al-Khaymah and spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Church, as telling the press that "The Copts whose number in Egypt are estimated at 15 to 18 million, are the natives of this country and its possessors." He links this statement to the notion that the publication of the Virgin Mary and St. Simon Church in ‘Izbat al-Nakhl, al-Katībah al-Ṭībīyah, reiterates: "Muslims are the Arabs who occupied Egypt and should go back to where they belong." The author of the articles questions if Pope Shenouda III shares these views, and whether Bishop Marqus officially speaks for the church. He notes that Bishop Marqus is the most likely successor of Pope Shenouda. [Editor: we asked Bishop Marqus to respond to the text in this paragraph but since we are now in the Holy Week before Easter the Bishop could not respond for this issue of AWR. We hope to place his response in a next issue].

The question remains can Bishop Marqus prove that his blood and that of his ancestors has not been mixed with that of the ‘occupiers’,’ asks the author of the article. These type of statements are inciting to sedition. He also raised doubts about the bishop’s statistics on the number of Copts, and said that those statistics are meaningless as the unity of the country is measured by the patriotism of its people, not their religions and sects.

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