34. AWR Daily Overview, February 15, 2012: 'Āmrīyah's displaced Copts reside with Muslims, says fact-finding commission

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34. AWR Daily Overview, February 15, 2012: 'Āmrīyah's displaced Copts reside with Muslims, says fact-finding commission
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February 15, 2012
'Amr al-Misrī
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A fact-finding commission sent by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) to investigate the sectarian unrest in the troubled district of al-'Āmrīyah, Alexandria, revealed that the Christian families forced to leave their homes and property after clashes over a purported love affair between a Muslim woman and a Christian man are now residing in Muslims' houses in the area of al-Huwayjī. [Nādyah Mutāwa' and 'Abd al-Wahāb Sha'bān, al-Wafd, Feb. 15, p. 1] Read original text in Arabic

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The Muslim families hosting expelled Christians said they were glad to offer refuge to persons who were wronged by the unfair decision of an 'urfī (informal) conciliatory session.

The unrest took place last week after rumors that a Christian tailor of the name Murād Sāmī Girgis and a Muslim woman had a love affair. The incidents left seven Coptic houses vandalized and 11 stores owned by Copts in the village ablaze.

An 'urfī session was convened under six leading al-Da'wah al-Salafīyah (Salafī Call) figures and a former National Democratic Party (NDP) member, ruling that the tailor, his family and seven other families residing with him in the same and neighboring buildings leave the village.

The EOHR director termed the incidents as "very serious" because it reflects the absence of the state.

"We're speaking of an 'urfī justice and decisions that have no matches in the penal code and they are being applied individually without the least consideration of the law," said Hāfiz Abū Si'dah. [Nādyah Mutāwa' and 'Abd al-Wahāb Sha'bān, al-Wafd, Feb. 15, p. 1] Read original text in Arabic

Alexandria Governor Dr. Usāmah al-Fūlī said denied that the deported families were seven, adding some satellite channels exaggerated things in a "community that is enjoying calm and stability" after the incidents that erupted late January 2012.

"The 'urfī session, which I attended myself, only agreed to have the Christian young man and his family as well as the Muslim woman move out of the village to settle the flaring dispute," said Fūlī. [Muhammad 'Abd al-Majīd, al-Jumhūrīyah, Feb. 15, p. 3] Read text in Arabic

Some parties and a group of civil society organizations issued a statement on the forced displacement of Christian families in which they said that there is religious fanaticism in the society for many reasons, topped by the practices and schemes of the former regime, which still continue under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

"We're holding the state authorities, namely SCAF, fully responsible for the incidents as the ruling military council has not sent any forces to contain the situation there. Moreover, the interior ministry stood idle as if it was not concerned with these developments and even directly contributed to the wasting of the rule of law," read the statement. [Author Not Mentioned, al-Ahālī, Feb. 15, p. 4] Read text in Arabic

Archpriest Girgis Jamīl of the Virgin Mary Church in the village of Mīt Bashār, al-Sharqia governorate, said the MPs of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), and mosque preachers successfully appeased angry local residents after a minor girl escaped and a number of Muslims accused the church of hiding her.

"Muslim elders in the village formed human shields to protect the church and my house that some of them were wounded while trying to calm things down until security authorities announced that they have the young girl and are investigating her," said Jamīl.

Some local residents in the village said that the vanished girl, 16-year-old Rānyā Khalīl, a student in the intermediate stage of education, has converted to Islam six months ago and broke away from her Coptic mother and even celebrated her engagement to a Muslim young man in the village 10 days ago.

The residents said the girl's relatives kidnapped her and some Muslims were indignant and set fire to two vehicles that belong to a Copt in the village. ['Imād Khalīl and Haytham al-Sharqāwī, al-Misrī al-Yawm, Feb. 15, p. 3] Read original text in Arabic

The al-Zaqāzīq security authorities sent back the girl to her father, who is said to have named himself Khalīl Muhammad Khalīl after he converted to Islam two years ago.

Khalīl was the first one to have announced that the church has kidnapped his 14-year-old daughter after she asked her father that she would like to be engaged to a Muslim man.

The residents had destroyed the fence of the church in an attempt to storm it in search of the girl, leaving seven Copts wounded. [Rānyā Nabīl, al-Ahālī, Feb. 15, p. 4] Read text in Arabic

Moreover, the Salafī al-Nūr Party in the governorate of al-Fayoum precluded a fitnah that almost erupted between a Muslim landlord and a Christian tenant in the town of Sinnūris.

'Abd al-'Azīm 'Abd al-Hamīd and his sons sought last week to terminate the contract of Dāwūd 'Azmī Fahmī and have him out of his apartment in which he lived for tens of years but the latter refused.

Fahmī sought the help Shaykh Muhammad Ibrāhīm Abū Sa'ādah, the secretary of al-Nūr Party in Sinnūris, after the landlord and his sons, armed with machine-guns, brought a bulldozer and demolished Fahmī's house fence and two rooms.

In an 'urfī (informal) reconciliatory session, the arbitrators decided to charge the Muslim landlord the sum of LE350,000, forcing him to re-build the fence and two rooms he demolished and continuity of the Christian tenant in his place based on the terms of the contract concluded between the two parties.

The Christian man waived the compensation money and later on the two of them hugged one another and agreed to live peacefully together. [Ibrāhīm 'Umrān and Hibah Sa'īd, al-Ahrām, Feb. 15, p. 3] Read original text in Arabic

Meanwhile, the Coptic Orthodox Church declined to issue a statement on the decision to bar priests Philopater and Mattias Nasr from leaving Egypt after they were accused of premeditated murder, attempted raid on a government building – the state radio & TV office, and setting vehicles and public property on fire during the October 9 incidents in the area of Maspero.

"We will not interfere in the judiciary's affairs nor will we issue any statements in this respect. The decision to ban the priests from traveling outside Egypt is a precautionary one," said Bishop Bīsantī of Helwan and al-Ma'ṣarah ['Imād Habīb, al-Musawwar, Feb. 15, p. 41] Read text in Arabic

Also related to the Maspero issue, Counselor Tharwat Hammād, the judge tasked by the justice ministry to investigate the acts of violence outside the state radio & TV building, ordered the release of three media people – Ibrāhīm al-Sayyād, the head of the news sector, 'Abd al-'Azīz al-Hilw, the editor-in-chief in the sector, anchorwoman Rashā Majdī.

The three were under investigation on charges of inciting acts of violence that erupted in Maspero on October 9, 2011, which left dozens of Coptic protesters killed or wounded. They denied the charge. [Author Not Mentioned, al-Akhbār, Feb. 15, p. 8] Read text in Arabic

On the other hand, the Episcopal / Anglican Church for Egypt and North Africa on Wednesday (February 15) is hosting famous British pastor Rev. Stephen Sizer to talk about the Jews' allegations that they are the chosen people of God.

Rev. Munīr Hannā Anīs, the head of the Episcopal / Anglican Church for Egypt and North Africa, said that the British pastor will explain during a session why many Western Christians are backing the state of Israel. [Author Not Mentioned, al-Ahrām, Feb. 15, p. 3] Read original text in Arabic

Activists exchanged via the social networking site Facebook a photo of a policeman who was referred to prosecution for sporting a beard.

Col. Yāsir Jum'ah, a communications police officer at the Cairo Security Department, has grown a beard and was summoned and rebuked by his seniors, according to the Facebook surfers. [Rose al-Yūsuf newspaper, Muhammad Fu'ād, Feb. 15, p. 12] Read original text in Arabic

Meanwhile, under the auspices of Grand Shaykh of the Azhar Dr. Ahmad al-Tayyīb, the top Sunni Muslim institution is hosting a meeting called by the General Congress for the Support of al-Quds (GCSQ) in a bid to launch an international campaign to break the siege on al-Quds (Jerusalem) and its people, whose activities will start during second week of April. [Muhammad 'Abd al-Khāliq, al-Ahrām, Feb. 15, p. 3] Read original text in Arabic