Thursday, November 4, 2010

Muslim Brotherhood urges Egyptian state to protect Copts after Iraqi al-Qaeda group issued threats

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood urged the state to protect Christian places of worship after an Al-Qaeda group in Iraq, which earlier this week claimed the  deadly attack on a church in Baghdad, issued a threat against Egypt's Coptic church. Al-Azhar also condemned the attacks in statement on Tuesday.
"The Muslim Brotherhood is stressing to all, and primarily Muslims, that the protection of holy places of all monotheistic religions is the mission of the majority of Muslims," the group said in a statement on its website late on Tuesday. "The Brothers reject all stupid threats against Christian places of worship in Egypt issued by anyone and under any pretext," the group said. "The Egyptian state and the Egyptian people must protect holy places of all worshippers of monotheistic religions," it added.
The Iraqi group 'Islamic State of Iraq' (ISI) has declared Christians "legitimate targets" as a deadline expired for Egypt's Coptic church to free women allegedly held after converting to Islam. ISI said in an internet statement its threat was justified by the church's refusal to indicate the status of the women who it believes are being held captive in monasteries. "All Christian centers, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them," said the statement.
The group which claimed the capturing of Christians in a Baghdad church that ended Sunday with the killing of 58 people in a rescue drama, had said that the attack was to seek the release of the alleged converts in Egypt.
An Egyptian security source told AFP that security around Coptic places of worship had been "discreetly reinforced with plainclothes police and patrols."

In related news, an Egyptian judicial source on Tuesday told DPA the country's Administrative Court has suspended a lawsuit demanding the disclosure of the whereabouts of Kamilia Shehata, one of the alleged captives. The court ruled to hold a session to deliver its verdict at a later time.
In July, Shehata, a Minya pastor's wife, was reported missing. Her disappearance ignited protests by Copts. She may have been a forced convert to Islam. She was later found by security authorities. She then made a video in which she said she remained Christian. The footage, however, did not lead the protests to subside.
The other convert referred to in the statement is Wafaa Konstantin, whose adoption of Islam in 2004 ignited the Coptic community, who believed the conversion was coerced.
The lawyers who introduced the case demanded it bind President Mubarak to issue a decree forcing Pope Shenouda III to release Shehata, whom the petition claimed to have been confined at a monastery since 24 July.

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