20 January 2018

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12/21/2004 EGYPT – ISLAM

Coptic Patriarch in retreat to protest anti-Christian discrimination

Cairo (AsiaNews) – Coptic Patriarch Shenouda III went into retreat to protest Muslim discrimination against Egyptian Christians. "The Patriarch will remain in retreat," his secretary said, "till the time the government has found a solution his conscience can accept".

Egyptian authorities today released 13 of the 34 detainees, but the other 21 will remain in prison for another two weeks.

Speaking off the record, Coptic sources said that Shenouda will leave his voluntary retreat at Anba Bishoy monastery (north-east of Cairo) only when the 34 Copts detained after clashes with police on December 8 are released.

Three thousand Christians had gathered outside Cairo's St Mark's cathedral to protest after the wife of a Coptic priest had disappeared—abducted to be forcibly converted to Islam according to Copts.

Clashes between demonstrators and the police had left some people injured and 34 arrested. It is for them that Patriarch Shenouda went into voluntary seclusion.

Wafaa Constantine Messiha, 47, is married to Father Joseph, Coptic Orthodox priest at the Abul-Matamir parish church in Beheira (north of Cairo), a diabetic who risks the amputation of both of his legs.

Ms Constantine Messiha, a trained-agronomist working for a local company, was allegedly abducted to be converted to Islam. She was found in the nearby home of a Muslim family.

Local Christians claim that her employer kidnapped and seduce her and then tried to blackmail into becoming Muslim.

Local Muslims denied she was abducted. But upon her return home a few days after her disappearance, the physically- and emotionally-strained Constantine—it took her two days before she could speak—said she "was born a Christian and intends to die one" as Maher Abdel Wahed, the local public prosecutor, attested.

This is not an isolated case. According to Emil Zaki, vice president of the US Copt Association, "the situation for Christians in Egypt is getting worse by the minute. Muslims are regularly attacking Copts. Mubarak's regime has not only ignored, but in many cases contributed to the alarming increase in anti-Coptic violence."

In recent months, Patriarch Shenouda III had said that he had received "numerous complaints about young Christian women being kidnapped", most likely to be forcibly converted to Islam.

The prelate has called on the police to take "serious steps" against the violence. "We do want these tragic events to happen again'" he said. "We have had enough!" (LF)

See also

21/12/2004 EGYPT – ISLAM
Forced conversions, church permits denied, Christians discriminated: An overview

24/10/2005 ISLAM - EGYPT
"Forget violence, foreign to our heritage," say Coptic and Muslim leaders

In a joint statement, the Grand Muftì of Egypt and Pope Shenouda III condemned Saturday's violence outside the Church of St George. Dialogue and understanding are the "weapons to defeat division and rancour".

05/01/2005 EGYPT - ISLAM
Christians jailed since December set free
Coptic Patriarch Shenouda III was in self-imposed exile in a monastery to free them.

19/03/2012 EGYPT
Pope sends message for Shenouda III's death, huge crowds form to see his body
Crowds crush to death three people trying to see the body lying in state. The funeral for the Coptic patriarch who died last Saturday is set for tomorrow in Cairo's St Mark Cathedral. Hundreds of religious and political leaders around the world send of messages of condolences.

13/10/2017 11:47:00 EGYPT
Coptic priest killed in stabbing incident in Cairo outskirts, executed by an extremist

The murder took place in El-Marg, a north-east suburb of the capital. Local sources speak of "hate crime" carried out by an element close to fundamentalism. The police have found and detained the assailant, now being questioned. Egyptian Christians targeted by Islamic extremism.


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