Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Feast of The Visitation

It is the feast of the Visitation today. I did a post back in January about John The Baptist that is good for today (link).

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

In memory of Sister Karen Klimczak, the people are showing unity and working for peace

When Sister Karen Klimczak died (link), I worried about the reaction. I worried that some people would take the opportunity to speak in the name of the violence she fought against. But that is not happening. A life of love is spreading peace (link):

At the base of the altar was a dove-shaped sign. On it was a slogan Sister Karen came up with, part of a non-violence campaign she hoped to launch.

The sign read: "I Leave Peaceprints."

She hoped it would inspire people to leave peace behind them wherever they go. Since the funeral, more than 4,000 signs have gone out, with more being made each day, and they've sprung like flowers on lawns across Buffalo.

Rather than turn people against ex-offenders like Lynch, Sister Karen's death has brought greater commitment to the work she did. Anonymous checks have come in to Bissonette House to ensure it keeps running. Volunteers have come forward.

"If she would have known that her death would have had such a ripple effect, she would've said, `So be it,'" said Sister Roz Rosolowski, a chaplain at Attica prison and longtime friend of Sister Karen's. "What keeps a lot of us going is the drive to continue this work in her name. And it has just caught fire."

The people of Buffalo have lost someone who will never be replaced, yet there is little anger to be found this spring. Instead, there is resolve and focus. Determination and forgiveness.

There is a sense of ease, it seems, in the knowledge that Sister Karen hasn't gone far.

She's still leaving peaceprints. Everywhere.

May the Lord bless all those who seek peace.

John Paul II and Benedict XVI: Two Historic Visits to Poland

There is no denying the the visits of John Paul II and Benedict XVI are historic events. I was planning to do a post on this after Benedict finished his visit. But I need to thank Viva for the comment in another post for making me think a bit more deeply on these events. It is likely that I would have done a post Wednesday and it would have been a news round up around the time the pope did his overview of the trip. Instead I began to look in deeper prayer at the visits of two Popes and what they tell us.

All week in the media I've been hearing about how important it is that Benedict XVI is visiting Auschwitz. And it is. The visit of a german born Pope to that place of horror is important on many different levels. The coverage in the west has ignored the importance of the vist overall.

I think that is because the coverage has not really been about Pope Benedict XVI visiting Poland. It has been about Joseph Ratzinger visiting Auschwitz. What many people do not realize is that he has been there three times now. This is not something that he has done because his office demanded it. This is not a show or symbolic gesture. This is more. And this whole trip, as well as John Paul II, has been more than symbolic.

Is there symbolism in Benedict XVI taking his first trip to the homeland of John Paul II? Yes.
Is there symbolism in the trip to Auschwitz? Yes.

But what else is said:

There is the message to the Polish people that they are not forgotten.

There is the message that they are not a fad to be a historical oddity in the history of the Papacy.

There is the message that in an age where values are so often relative that the strong faith and determination of the Polish soul is sorely needed in Europe.

There is the message that to never have Auschwitz happen again there must be courage in the face of darkness.

Yes, there is symbolism. Just as there was symbolism in John Paul II trip. But this is of Christ. And with Christ the symbols do not reflect a reality we want, but a reality that is.

The church has many symbols in her worship. But each symbol has behind it a substance greater than what we see in daily life. These are not empty symbols to be turned by onlookers to whatever view of politics fit the current flavor. These are the outward signs of a reality we are called to embrace.

The love of Christ is a reality deeper and stronger than any other. When we have faith, we are not ignoring reality. It is the voice that cries out to ignore love and dignity that ignores reality.

The Polish people are not forgotten.
They are not a historical oddity.
Their faith and strength is needed in Europe.
There is courage in the face of darkness.

When at Auschwitz both John Paul II and Benedict XVI visited the cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe. The saint who gave his life for a jewish prisoner (link). Was this a symbol of what can be accomplished when we love each other? A symbol of what can the cost can be for love? A symbol of courage in darkness? No. It is a reminder.

It is a reminder of the reality that there is courage in the face of darkness and the cost is high.

There was nothing empty about John Paul II visit to Poland. And because it was not empty, because it expressed a deeper reality, it became an event that changed the world. An event that brought the reality of dignity and love through the illusion of hatred that the weak place on others.

There is nothing empty about the visit of Benedict XVI. It is about the reality of dignity and love and the cost of maintaining it.

They are about truth.

About those who did not stand for it at Auschwitz and those who did.

About those who tried to supress it in Poland for so long and how John Paul II helped open the floodgates of truth.

About how truth is needed now.

A disturbing reminder occured on Saturday when Michael Schudrich, Poland's chief rabbi was attacked in Central Warsaw by a man yelling, "Poland for Poles"(link). The quote from police:

"Police said they were treating the incident as a possible anti-Semitic attack"


That is not a symbol, but a reality. A reality that can only be conquered by the deeper reality of dignity and love.

Lord may the truth of Your dignity and love, that You give freely to Your children out of Your infinite love and mercy shown to us in the person of Christ, wash away hatred. And may You make us strong, to do what You will all over the world in love and service to our brothers and sisters.

Alaa's Story on Yahoo news

Yahoo news has a story on Alaa (link).

At the bottom of the page there are links to the Manal and Alaa's blog, Sandmonkey and instapundit.

There have been some stories hitting our media in the mainstream in force since about May 28th. There are only a few articles but it seems they have been picked up by about (and this is a quick count) 125 online reports and papers in the mainstream media.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day Tomorrow

A day to remember. To remember with prayer and love all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of others. That is what the day is supposed to be. But is it really that anymore?

Is it now just a three day holiday that means summer is here. A day for cookouts and such. In a way it should be both. A day to enjoy the freedoms after remembering those who have died for them.

But today we usually go right to the cookouts.

This site has ways to support a bill to restore Memorial day to the traditional meaning. It was said at the first Memorial day (link):

"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic." -- General Logan - May 5, 1868

Mr. Inouye (a veteran of WWII) said in his introduction to the bill:

As eloquently stated by Mr. Inouye in his introductory remarks to both bills:

"Mr. President, in our effort to accommodate many Americans by making the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, we have lost sight of the significance of this day to our nation. Instead of using Memorial Day as a time to honor and reflect on the sacrifices made by Americans in combat, many Americans use the day as a celebration of the beginning of summer.

My bill would restore Memorial Day to May 30 and authorize our flag to fly at half mast on that day. In addition, this legislation would authorize the President to issue a proclamation designating Memorial Day and Veterans Day as days for prayer and ceremonies honoring American veterans. This legislation would help restore the recognition our veterans deserve for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our nation." (1999 Congressional Record, page S621, and 2003 Congressional Record, page S67)

May we remember, in the name of a loving God, all those who would give up their lives for the freedom of others.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Egypt: Two bloggers beaten and arrested and a LA Times reporter tear Gassed

Freedom for Egyptians has the story and the response from Reporters Without Borders (link).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ascension Thursday, Where to look for Him. In working for the Freedom and Dignity of Others

It is Ascension Thursday. I did a post on this earlier in the week because I want to maintain focus today on the solidarity protest for the Egyptian Judges.

Do not look for Christ in the sky, but look to our brothers and sisters of all faiths or no faith. Find Christ in the basic human dignity of freedom today. Say a prayer and do whatever you can to support people who struggle for that dignity to be recognized by their own government.

The events of the day are being followed by some bloggers:

Freedom for Egyptians
Ranting of A Sandmonkey

They are both much more versed in all of the details and faster with the accurate news than I am in this situation. I'll be following and updating as best I can.

Today is a day of international support for the Egyptian Judges

Freedom For Egyptians has a good post wiht a run down (link)

Here is a map of events from Toman Bay MyMaps at

If you can not make an event, please do not forget to phone, fax or email your support. Let them know that you support the activists and their right to be heard. As always make your emails and such polite:

Embassy in Washington:

The Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

3521 International Ct. NW

Washington DC 20008

Phone (202) 895 5400

Fax (202) 244 5131

(202) 244 4319

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Book of Tobit

It has always been one of my favorite stories.

Tobit is a good man. He risks his life to bury the dead. He gives to the poor and performs works of charity. His faith is strong. Little by little the way of the world and a hard life wear him down. He is now even blind. He offers a prayer to the Lord that ends:

And now deal with me according to thy pleasure; command my spirit to be taken up, that I may depart and become dust. For it is better for me to die than to live, because I have heard false reproaches, and great is the sorrow within me. Command that I now be released from my distress to go to the eternal abode; do not turn thy face away from me.
Tobit 2:6

Far away, there is a good woman. A kinswoman to Tobit. Sarah. Seven of her husbands have been slain by a demon. People suspect her. People abuse her. Everything she loves and hopes is falling in around her. She offers a prayer at the very same moment that ends:

Why should I live? But if it be not pleasing to thee to take my life, command that respect be shown to me and pity be taken upon me, and that I hear reproach no more.
Tobit 2:15

And the Lord responds:

And Raphael was sent to heal the two of them: to scale away the white films of Tobit's eyes; to give Sarah the daughter of Raguel in marriage to Tobias the son of Tobit, and to bind Asmodeus the evil demon, because Tobias was entitled to possess her. At that very moment Tobit returned and entered his house and Sarah the daughter of Raguel came down from her upper room.
Tobit 2:17

Tobit remembers that he has depostied a large sum of money with a cousin Gabel. He wants to send his son Tobias to get it. Should the Lord take him, his family will not be left wanting. But his son need a guide for the road, and he finds the Angel Raphael in disguise. He leads him along the roads.

At one point while bathing Tobit is attacked by a fish. The angel tells him to save parts of it since they are a medicine. Rapahel tells him of Sarah, and his kinsman Raguel. The Angel takes them there so he can arrange their marriage.

The angel has already spoken (before they arrived at the house of Raguel), what is to me, one of the most beautiful lines of scripture:

Do not be afraid, for she was destined for you from eternity
Tobit 6:17

People are destined for each other. If a person is made for the married life they are made by two. There is a translation of the line that is "before time began" instead of "from eternity". Same thing...a beautiful phrase. You are made for one another.

The demon is driven away. The Angel chases him down and takes care of him. Sarah and Tobias are married. a real marriage, it says:

O Lord, I am not taking this sister of mine because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that I may find mercy and may grow old together with her
Tobit 8:7

Grow old together. They are not possessions to each other, they are one.

And the instructions from Raguel are not the instructions for taking care of property. They are the words of a father who loves his child:

The Lord of heaven bring you back safely, dear brother, and grant me to see your children by my daughter Sarah, that I may rejoice before the Lord. See, I am entrusting my daughter to you; do nothing to grieve her.
Tobit 10:12

They return, after a long feast, to Tobit. His blindness is healed and he sees his family. The angel reveals himself in drama:

Praise God and give thanks to him; exalt him and give thanks to him in the presence of all the living for what he has done for you. It is good to praise God and to exalt his name, worthily declaring the works of God. Do not be slow to give him thanks.
It is good to guard the secret of a king, but gloriously to reveal the works of God. Do good, and evil will not overtake you.

Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than much with wrongdoing. It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin. Those who perform deeds of charity and of righteousness will have fulness of life; but those who commit sin are the enemies of their own lives.

"I will not conceal anything from you. I have said, `It is good to guard the secret of a king, but gloriously to reveal the works of God.' And so, when you and your daughter-in-law Sarah prayed, I brought a reminder of your prayer before the Holy One; and when you buried the dead, I was likewise present with you.

When you did not hesitate to rise and leave your dinner in order to go and lay out the dead, your good deed was not hidden from me, but I was with you.

So now God sent me to heal you and your daughter-in-law Sarah. I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One."

They were both alarmed; and they fell upon their faces, for they were afraid.
But he said to them, "Do not be afraid; you will be safe. But praise God for ever.
For I did not come as a favor on my part, but by the will of our God. Therefore praise him for ever.
Tobit 12:6-18

The point:

God does not abandon his people who have faith in Him.

Good works flow from faith. Faith guides our good works. Two sides of a coin to be used to help others.

Marriage is not about ownership or the use of another, but love.

In marriage we are made for each other from before time began. Made to be one together.

As Tobit prays in the end:

If you turn to him with all your heart and with all your soul, to do what is true before him, then he will turn to you and will not hide his face from you. But see what he will do with you; give thanks to him with your full voice. Praise the Lord of righteousness, and exalt the King of the ages.
Tobit 13:6

Turn to Him with all your heart and soul...have faith.
Do what is true before Him...good works.
He will not hid His face from you...God is faithful.

A simple story that I have always loved, Tobias even has a dog.

(On a side note there is a nice novel, written in the first person from the Angel's view. It is called On The Road With The Archangel by Frederick Buechner. I liked it alot.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

May 25: International Day of Solidarity with the Egyptian Democracy Movement

The details are here from Unecessary and Not Very Diverting Musings (link).

And here are some more details in the event in America from Freedom for Egyptians (link)

What Saudi Arabia thinks is a hate free textbook

The article is in the Washington Post (link). Asianews also has a story (link). This is what Saudi Arabia thinks is hate free:


" Every religion other than Islam is false."

"Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than ______________ is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters ____________."


"True belief means . . . that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly."


"Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of God cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose God and His Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives."

"It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam."

"A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion."


"Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God's power."


"As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."

"God told His Prophet, Muhammad, about the Jews, who learned from parts of God's book [the Torah and the Gospels] that God alone is worthy of worship. Despite this, they espouse falsehood through idol-worship, soothsaying, and sorcery. In doing so, they obey the devil. They prefer the people of falsehood to the people of the truth out of envy and hostility. This earns them condemnation and is a warning to us not to do as they did."

"They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied [with them]."


"The clash between this [Muslim] community (umma) and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills."

"It is part of God's wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour [of judgment]."

"Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him."


The 10th-grade text on jurisprudence teaches that life for non-Muslims (as well as women, and, by implication, slaves) is worth a fraction of that of a "free Muslim male." Blood money is retribution paid to the victim or the victim's heirs for murder or injury:

"Blood money for a free infidel. [Its quantity] is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is 'of the book' or not 'of the book' (such as a pagan, Zoroastrian, etc.).

"Blood money for a woman: Half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel."


"The greeting 'Peace be upon you' is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others."

"If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims."

"Do not yield to them [Christians and Jews] on a narrow road out of honor and respect."


"Jihad in the path of God -- which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it -- is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God."

Does not seem hate free to me.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Three Days until Ascension Thursday

Ascension. One final proof of Christ's divine nature. But I always thought: What did the Apostles think at that moment and in the days that followed until Pentecost?

Christ has gone. He has left.

There is some scripture that supports the thought that they had fear:

And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

Acts 1:9-11

I'm sure that the Apostles stood there a long time looking up at the sky. Long enough that God sent some angels to tell them to stop. In a way, that's a bit funny. We all have those what now moments. And here is the largest, "What now" moment in history.

Christ is not in the sky. He is now in the hearts of the world. He'll be back. Remember what He said:

Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled."

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high."

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.
While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Luke 24: 44-53

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

Matthew 28: 18-20

Go home, pray. Wait. Get ready, because you are about to do your job. I am with you. I will always be with you. And soon the spirit will come.

To me, I'd be scared. Like that moment when a music teacher plays a song that you're learning and then turns to you.

You think: "What me! Me! I can't play it like that. I can't do that. You've shown me, but...I can't."

So here are the Apostles. The teacher gone. Gone but not gone. But the spirit has not opened their understanding yet to what that means. "Go and and make disciples of all nations"

They think: "We're still hunted. They'll kill us. All nations...we can't make disciples of the next block."

But the spirit will come:

Fear of the Lord

These gifts will be in your hearts.

They are in ours. We do not have to wait for the Spirit, we just have to work with Him. So in all of our what now moments, just think on:

Fear of the Lord

Think on:

I am with you always, to the close of the age

Find Him in each other. Bring Him to each other.

Love each other.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Fight over Aid to Egypt

Congress will meet this week to discuss foreign aid. On the table is a 20.7 billion dollar package for various nations that includes the entire 1.7 billion that the United States gives to Egypt. A debate is gearing up over cutting a portion of that aid (link).

From the articles:

"When our major aid recipients engage in conduct that flies in the face of our own values then we ourselves are tarnished," said Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the Appropriations Committee's senior Democrat.

The issue is one that divides me a bit. I agree with cutting aid to dictatorships that harm their people. But if that aid is supporting infrastructure that aids suffering people, then how moral is it to cut the aid. This point however is not an issue:

Obey said he will try to cut back the bill's $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt -- the second biggest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel -- when it reaches the full committee. The rest of Egypt's appropriation was for non-military aid.

So it is military aid. This aid is helping with military and security. You know, the security that is beating democratic protesters.

So, cutting this aid prevents American dollars from paying for activites that help to hold back democracy. I'm a Republican, I'm sure that the administration is good with this, right...wrong:

Earlier in the week, Assistant Secretary of State David Welch urged lawmakers to maintain Egypt's aid, calling Cairo a "formidable partner" in fighting terrorism.

Rep. Jim Kolbe, the Arizona Republican who heads the foreign aid subcommittee, said he will oppose Obey because Egypt is a "strategic partner" that is "clearly moving toward democracy." Cutting aid only would make Cairo turn to China and former Soviet countries for its military needs, he said.

This is how Sadam Hussien was created. This is how problems are created. But take a look at this:

The bill provides Afghanistan $926 million, but withholds $225 million until the administration certifies that Kabul is cooperating in drug interdiction efforts.

So why can't we make stipulations. Whay can't we say that the aid is held back until the prisoners jailed for speaking their mind are free. Until the religion you espouse has no effect on getting a job. Until all religions can practice their faith freely. Until a judge can point out that elections are unfair wihtout being charged with a crime.

Maybe we don't break up aid that way...wait, from the same article:

The bill has $80 million in humanitarian aid for the West Bank and Gaza, but bars support to Hamas, the militant group that won Palestinian elections in January.

Ok. Maybe we don't break it up based on the social structure and government of the country:

Sudan would get $450 million, including $138 million for the turbulent Darfur region. But that is conditioned on the government's support of peace agreements in the war-ravaged country.

Well, we don't give to people who harm human rights just to get them on our side, right:

The bill also would lift restrictions on $19 million in military assistance to Indonesia, likely to draw opposition from lawmakers critical of Indonesia's human rights record.

The fact is that, if you need to bribe a country with military aid to get them to agree that people's lives are valued...they don't really agree.

So what are the options. It is impractical to say that this method is devoid of results, but isn't there a better way? If only we had an international body that would make sure that the rights of all people are respected despite difference in religion and political structure.

Wait, the United Nations.

Sorry. An international body that is not corrupt and has recently put 9 countries who are not free and 12 who are only partly free on the Human Rights Council (Source: Gateway Pundit). This includes: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China and Cuba. And Human Rights Watch was pleased with the results.

So countries give countries with bad human rights violations mitltary aid and the same types of countries get on the UN Human Rights Council so the UN does not use other means to enforce human rights. So the aid, seen as the only way to get the countries to cooperate with reforms, continues.

The countries don't agree with the reforms anyway so they don't do anything. The aid continues and in a decade or two everyone is surprised what there is some kind of problem.

US administrations, both Democrat and Republican have supported some these governments and followed this policy for over 50 years. Neither pary has clean hands on this.

To get some changes write:

House (link)
Senate (link)
Governors and State (link)

Friday, May 19, 2006

More Police Violence in Egypt and the fate of Ayman Nour

Countries protest, but again:

Despite U.S. criticism, police beat pro-reform protesters in the streets and arrested more than 300 for the second week in a row Thursday as Egyptian courts dealt new setbacks to activists seeking greater democracy.

While club-wielding police chased activists in downtown Cairo, a court rejected the appeal of prominent opposition leader Ayman Nour, the runner-up in last year's presidential elections. The ruling means Nour will have to serve a five-year prison sentence on forgery charges he says are intended to eliminate him from politics.

The United States sharply criticized the ruling, saying it and the violence "raise serious concerns about the path to political reform in Egypt."

From the end of the article:

The two reform judges, el-Bastawisi and Mahmoud Mekki, had become heroes of the reform movement after they blew the whistle on fraud during parliament elections in November and December. Activists have been outraged that the government put them before a disciplinary court rather than investigate the reports of fraud.

Last year, Mubarak contested presidential elections on a platform promising political and constitutional reforms, including ending emergency laws that activists say are used to stifle opposition.

Since then, emergency laws have been extended, municipality elections have been postponed apparently to prevent Brotherhood gains and hundreds of activists have been arrested.

Egyptian officials deny the government is backpedalling on reforms and Mubarak has counseled patience, saying change takes time.

Gateway Pundit has that story with links to Sandmonkey and Freedom For Egyptians, who have much more knowledgable coverage of the judges issue than I. (link)

The Tragedy of a Coptic Family

The Free Copts has the story (link).

This is from a comment at The Free Copts:

The National American Coptic Assembly condemns the arrest of Midhat Azziz, a 33 year-old Coptic Egyptian Christian. The Egyptian State Security Intelligence (SSI) has detained Mr. Azziz under vague circumstances. His wife and three kids do not know the reason behind his arrest. They also are not aware of where he is currently detained.

Mr. Aziz is a Christian, who refused to convert into Islam. He was exposed to several temptations offered by Islamist groups. Moreover, He endured a great pressure to renounce his Christian faith, including a false accusation of Battery and Assault. He was beaten up, humiliated and harassed by SSI, because he was proud of his faith. Mr. Aziz has been detained for more than six months without any court decision or legitimate charges.

The American Coptic Assembly calls for the immediate release of Mr. Aziz to reunite with his family. The Assembly urges the U.S. Congress and Committee of Religious Freedom to promote the right of religious freedom in Egypt. Finally, The Assembly invokes President George W. Bush to assist in elevating all forms of discrimination against the Coptic Christian minority in Egypt.

For More information regarding Mr. Aziz case, you could either contact Morris Sadek at or watch a recorded video interview in (Arabic) with Mr. Aziz’s family on

National American Coptic Assembly
Washington DC
Mr. Morris Sadek-ESQ President

May they be in our prayers and our hearts.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Faith and Baseball: Buck O' Neil, A Hall of Fame Chrsitian

Buck O' Neil. What does he do?

He makes me smile.
He makes me think.
He makes me laugh.
He makes me love.

Buck O'Neil is one of those men who stand out in a room because of the great joy and love of life that shines from him. He has spent his life in and around baseball. He has spent his time and energy getting people to remember all of those men who were denied a chance at the major leagues because of the color of their skin. He has been a driving force in getting them into the hall of fame.

And if you ask me, and many other people...he deserves to be there himself. But recently, in what may have been his last chance, he didn't get elected. What was his response:

“Don't shed any tears. You think about this: Here I am, the grandson of a slave. And here the whole world was excited about whether I was going into the Hall of Fame or not. We've come a long ways.”

“You know, people that think that about you, you know, it means everything in the world. (They're) showing their love for me because they know I love them.”

"But I think, you know, with me, my greatest accomplishment might have been starting the Negro League Baseball Museum here in Kansas City, which tells that story. So, if it's to be one day I might be in the Hall of Fame. But I just want to thank all of the people that felt the way that they are feeling right now. But don't weep for Buck. Just feel happy, like I am, being thankful, like I am, that I can do and have done the things that I did do."

Vintage Buck. The thing is, Buck is a guy you have to hear. A guy you have to see. A blog post or a book (other than his own) does not do him justice. He is a big reason why this year 17 former negro leaguers will go into the hall, including the first woman. He is a big reason why alot of them are there already.

Here's a story baseball fans don't know:

This was in Chicago, after Ruth came out of the major leagues. He was barnstorming, playing with different teams, and he played us. Satchel was pitching and Ruth was hitting. Satchel threw Ruth the ball and Ruth hit the ball, must have been 500 feet, off of Satchel. Satchel looked at Ruth all the way around the bases and when Ruth got to home plate, you know who shook his hand? Satchel Paige shook Ruth's hand at home plate.

They stopped the game and waited, he and Satchel talking, until the kid went out, got the ball, brought it back and Satchel had Babe Ruth autograph that ball for him. That was some kind of moment.

Imagine that moment.

His book, I was Right on Time can be bought from Amazon for between $2.06 and $12.50.

For those who read this blog, you know that is the first time I have ever promoted anyhthing commercial.

What was his favorite game ever:

"That's easy for me — 1943, Memphis, Tenn., Easter Sunday," he said. "The first time up, I double. Next time, single. Next time, I hit the ball over the left-field fence. The next time I hit to left-center. It looked like it was going over. It hit the top of the fence and bounced back. I got to third base and the coach was calling me for an inside-the-park home run. But I stopped at third — I wanted that triple. I hit the cycle."

At the hotel that night, he received a call to come downstairs. The wife of the man who ran the hotel's restaurant was a teacher. "They had invited some young schoolteachers over to meet the ballplayers," he said. "I walked straight up to a young lady and said: 'My name is Buck O'Neil.' We were married for 51 years. I hit for the cycle and met my future wife."

Hit for the cycle. Meet your wife. Good day. Easter Sunday.

Buck wrote once:

I have another reason for sticking around: Sometimes I think the Lord has kept me on this earth as long as He has so I can bear witness to the Negro leagues. I'm fortunate enough to be a member of the Veterans Committee for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Monte Irvin and I are the only Negro league players on the committee now that Roy Campanella has passed on, and for years I've been putting forward the names of the players I think belong in the Hall.

But how is Buck a Hall of Fame Christian, as my title above says? Because I do not doubt that Buck O' Neil loves everyone he meets. He may not agree with them, but I'm sure he loves them.

I am blogging before work, but I am here so I don't have my copy of his book. I work in a library with 4.5 million titles so I went to get it here. All checked out. I know he says some things about God in his life and wanted a quote.

But you know...Buck O'neil does not need a quote to show how he fits my series, he just needs to be Buck. His life is his speech and testament to God.

His love for his wife.
His love for his friends.
His love for others is worth more words that I can write.

Normally I'm a bit upset when I can't find a book I want, but today I thought: Good, people are getting to know Buck.

When I was a kid I wanted autographed baseballs of all of my heros. Schmidt, many others. I dreamed about a ball autographed by Ruth or Gehrig.

I'm an adult now. I have the money to buy a few baseballs (not Ruth or Gehrig). But you know, I have one. Just one. From my wife on Christmas a few years ago:

Buck O'Neil.

And if we are blessed in our life with children, they'll know about Buck O'Neil. They'll hear the stories he told of the great men of the Negro Leagues told with the love that Buck musters.

And they'll know that in my book he is a hall of fame baseball player. But more, a hall of fame Christian. We have something in common, Buck and I. If anyone asks me what the best day of my life was so far: The day I met my wife.

St. Simon the Tanner: Faith to Move a Mountain

A quite faith. A humble faith. But the faith to move a mountain. A faith in the heart of a man who worked in the heart of Christ.

To be exact...Muqattam Mountain (there are a few different spellings).

The story:

During the reign of Al-Muizz - who was the firat Fatimid ruler of Egypt - the Islamic government was ambivalent in its treatment of the Copts, alternating sympathy and tolerance with atrocity and brutallty. At that time, St. Mark's Seat had been vacant for about two years. Finally the bishops and Coptic community leaders assembled in the Church of St. Serguis in order to choose possible candidates. While they were convening, Abraam the Syrian, a man devoted to religion and piety, entered the church and they unanimously decided to elect him.

They took him to Alexandria where he was consecrated as the 62nd Patriarch.
Abraam was Syrian by birth. He was a wealthy merchant who visited Egypt several times, and finally stayed there. He was known for his goodness, devoutness and love of the poor.

After his ordinatlon, he distributed half of his wealth to the needy and used the other half for building churches throughout Egypt.
As for Al-Muizz, he was known for tolerance and interest in debates on religious matters. He had a Jewiah minister called Ibn-Killis who informed him that it is written in the book of the Nazarines (the New Testament of course) that "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to the mountain move from here to there, and it will move." (Matt. 17:20 & Mark 11:23) He showed this verse to the Caliph and persuaded him to challenge the Pope to order the Muqattam Mountain, east of Cairo, to move if he had as little faith as the small mustard seed.

The Caliph sent for the Pope and asked him if such a verse really existed. When Abba Abraam affirmed that it was true, Al-Muizz challenged him to prove it or else the Copts would be subjected to the sword. The Pope asked for a three-day respite.

The situation was dire. The lives of his people hung in the balance.

He went directly to St Mary's Church (A1 Muallaqa), sent for bishops and priests and exhorted them to fast and pray for the duration of those three days. Before the dawn of the third day, the Pope, exhausted by grief and the long vigil he had kept, dozed off.

The Virgin Mary came to him in his sleep and inquired: "What is with you?." "My lady, you surely know what is happening," he replied. Thereupon, she comforted him and told him that if he went through the iron gate leading to the market, he would meet a one-eyed man carrying a sack of water. This is the man who would move the mountain, she said.

With his own faith he went out and it was as Mary had said:

The Pope hurried out in the early morning to do as she said and he met Simon the Tanner. He asked Simon what he was doing at this early hour. To which Simon replied that he was carrying water to the sick and the old who could not fetch water for themselves. He said this was his practice every morning -- to carry on his back a sack of water for the needy -- before going to work at a hide tannery. When the Pope explained his purpose, Simon was reluctant at first but when he was told of the Pope's vision, he placed himself at his disposal.

A simple man. No great robes. No flashy gold or the glory of man, just the glory of God...taking water to the needy. Serving his fellow brothers and sisters. He was a man with whom Abraam shared the love of service to the poor. They shared a heart, these two. The heart of Christ.

The two led a large gathering of the faithful and marched to the Muqattam Mountain. Beside them were the Caliph and his minister who had already incited many people against the Copts. Abraam celebrated mass and the multitude chanted after him Kyrie Layson, pleading for God's mercy. They knelt down three times as the Pope made the sign of the cross with a sweeping gesture extending from one end of the mountain to the other. T

he mountain shook violently as if a strong earthquake had hit the land. Then it began moving upwards. Every time the worshippers rose from their prayers, the mountain lifted itself upwards. When they knelt down, it also came down with a big bang. This happened three times and every time the mountain moved upwards, the rays of the sun, which was behind it, swept through the space separating the earth from the mountain and became clearly visible to the assembled crowd.

At this awesome sight, Al Muizz proclalmed, "God is Great!" Turning to Abba Abraam, he said, "This is enough to prove that your falth is true." Naturally, this miraculous event caused a tumult among the crowd. When order was re-established, Abba Abraam looked for Simon, who had kept himself hidden behind the Pope throughout the prayers, but he was nowhere to be found.

Humble. Simple. I like to think that Simon thought to himself, "People need water." and continued his rounds to the suffering. Somehow, in my heart that fits.

After the moving of the mountain:

The Caliph, who was still shaking with fear, embraced the Pope warmly and this marked the beginning of a long friendship between the two. The Caliph asked the Pope to name his reward. After some hesitation, the Pope asked for permission to rebuild or renovate some churches, particularly that of St. Mercurius in Babylon in what is now old Cairo. That Church, which was partly destroyed, was being used as a sugar warehouse.

The Caliph offered funds from the state treasury for the reconstruction of the Church but Abraam turned him down. "He whose Church we are building does not need the money of this world and is capable of helping us until we finish the job," Abraam said.
The Pope also decreed that the three-day grace period which he had requested from the Callph, and which he and the bishops and priests spent in prayer and fasting, be a regular period of fasting to be observed by all Copts every year.

Those three days were added to the forty days of fasting before Christmas. Thus, the Advent fasting became forty-three days starting on November 25.
Shortly after the miracle took place, Al Muizz decided to convert to Christianity. A baptismal font, big enough for the immersion of a grown-up man, was built for him in St. Mercurius Church. This font continues to exist until the present day and is known as "Maamoudiat Al-Sultan" which means the baptistry of the Sultan.

Today the Copts can not build their own churches or fix the ones falling away. But those words ring out:

"He whose Church we are building does not need the money of this world and is capable of helping us until we finish the job"

He will help, if we have faith the size of a mustard seed. Faith, like Simon the Tanner. If we share the heart of love and service to each other like Abraam and Simon, our faith will be strong. Strong in the sacred and compassionate heart of Christ.

The Story of St. Simon (link)

Lessons of Faith in Baseball, Lessons of Being a Good Person: Ernie Banks

Mr. Cub.

One of the finest men to ever play the game. When once asked about never getting to play in a World Series:

Recently in a radio interview. Banks was asked how he could play at maximum level when there was little or no hope of playing in the World Series. He responded with a classic line: "You have to love the game itself and not love yourself in the game."

Banks went on to explain that he loved the game of baseball so much that he had to give his best effort every time. Yet he said some only love the game in the moment of play, and not for the love of the game itself. If a player plays with the attitude that his season will be over in August, he will simply go through the motions, even though he has to play another month or more of games.

And so is life. So is faith.

Ernie Banks gives us a few examples. He was constant. He played for the same team his whole carreer and played with love. But that line:

"You have to love the game itself and not love yourself in the game."

It is so easy for that line to apply to our relationship to God.

Add that to:

Yet he said some only love the game in the moment of play, and not for the love of the game itself. If a player plays with the attitude that his season will be over in August, he will simply go through the motions, even though he has to play another month or more of games.

And you have a way to live. If we love God only for what it feels like or what He does for us, then that is not deep. We love God, because He is.

Our season is not over in August. It is not over in Death. Just because we are Christian, the game does not end. Our faith must shine through our lives, through our works and how we treat people.

He has another quote:

"The only way to prove that you're a good sport is to lose."

The difficulties we face. The hardships give us a chance to be a better Christian.

"You must try to generate happiness within yourself. If you aren't happy in one place, chances are you won't be happy anyplace."

"Awards mean a lot, but they don't say it all. The people in baseball mean more to me than statistics."

Ernie Banks. Decent. Good. Loyal. Funny. Kind.

An example in baseball and an example in faith. As he put it:

"I was very fortunate as a professional athlete to spend my entire career in one city -- Chicago; with one mayor -- Richard J. Daley; with one owner -- P.K. Wrigley; in one beautiful ballpark -- Wrigley Field; and under one light -- God's light, sunshine!"

Very often, God's light also came out of Ernie and touched others. And at 75 it still does. Keep going Ernie. And from this Yankee fan, thanks for the lessons of love and "Let's play two!"

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

And just what the heck is a google bomb?

There is a movement to "Google Bomb" for Alaa, in an effort to raise awareness of his arrest. So, what is a google bomb?

Well, this (link).

A google bomb takes the links connected to a specific word and uses them to raise the topic higher in a google search. If places use the same anchor text, then a page moves up the page rankings. So if people link the word egypt to the link:

Then the info for the Free Alaa movement will be what shows up at the top of the google searches for the term egypt.

So whenever I mention egypt. It adds to the page ranking for the info. So If I say: egypt, oh egypt. I've wanted to go to egypt since I first heard about egypt. egypt is rich in history and culture. egypt has done much for the world outside of egypt. egypt. Just say it...egypt. egypt, egypt, egypt. There are so many problems in egypt, may the Lord protect egypt.

Or, I cold just go:





















Really, it is up to the blogger. Wow, fear the power of copy and paste.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Baseball, Faith and the Coal Region: When The Sun Only Came out on Sunday

My Grandmother would tell me the stories.

Miners given wages of pennies a day and charged for the equipment they used. They were in debt to the company at the end of an eighty hour work week. Famlies dreded the Black Maria, the horse drawen coach that heralded the death of a miner. Famlies would wait in the streets watching to see where the Black Maria would stop. They would wait to see whose body was being brought home.

My great grandfathers would get up before the sun had risen and go home after it set. This was their life saturday-saturday. But not on Sunday.

She would tell me, "The sun came up on Sunday."

And what did they do? On this one day, when they could take the small moments to remember the dead and celebrate the living...what did they do?

They went to Church as a family.
They had a long meal as a family.
They played baseball as a family.

The sun was out, and the Son was with them.

William Kashatus says, in his excellent book Diamonds in the Coalfields:

"After morning church services people would walk home to eat their dinner and then make their way slowly to the nearest ballfield to watch two of the local semi-professional teams play ball."
The games were underway by 2pm. These Anthracite Leagues existed well into the 1940's. Faith, family and fun. All on the one day. The holy day. The week revolved around this day, and the lessons of keeping the sabbath holy were clear.

My grandmother would tell me stories of these games. There was very little pitching until late in the game. Kashatus verifies this in his book. Scores of 20-19 were common.

But what did it mean, these Sunday games. Kashatus again echos my grandmother and her mother before her:

"For the old men, "Greenhorns" who were the earliest of the european immigrants, Sunday baseball was the highlight of their entire week. "Who ve going to play dis noon." They would ask in broken english. When they were satisfied that their afternoon plans remained intact the would encourage the young men of their congregation to, "Play hart and vin because ve going to voot for you gut today." It wasn't that these old greehorns loved baseball. In fact, they would spend most of the afternoon along the sidelines playing cards and trying to understand what was going on in the game. These immigrants attended Sunday afternoon baseball for the same reason they tried to speak english, it helped to identify their Americaness, thier sense of belonging to this country."

Or as my grandmother put it, "They played baseball because that's what they had together as Americans. They worked together from different countries and had God, baseball and the mines in common."

Two Great-Grandfathers, 14 uncles and great-uncles and dozens of cousins died in the mines and my father worked there all of his life. When I was 11 dad had a minor heart attack. He drove me to my baseball game, then went to work. He worked for a few hours and had a larger heart attack. He told me, years later when I asked, that he did that because if he had the heart attack at work then we would have the money to go to college.

That was how they all were.

I asked my grandmother once what they prayed for in Church and why they did all of that hard work. She said they prayed that their children and children's children could be free to worship as they wanted and not have to be miners. And that's why they worked hard.

Men and women who I have never met suffered and died for the hope of a better life for people they would never meet. Because of that, it has never been hard for me to understand that a man 2000 years ago, who was God come to us, did the same for us all.

When I was a kid, I practiced for little league on the same field that my Grandmother and Grandfather's parents had played on during those Sunday games. Down the way from the mine and a block away from the church. We didn't live in that town anymore, we lived a town over, but we practiced there.

I went to college. I Got an education. I Worship how I choose. And I played baseball more than one day a week.

And for me, the sun was out every single God given day.

My life, is a prayer answered. A prayer offered on the day the week revolved around.

God's day.

A day for Church, family and baseball in the coal region of Pennsylvania.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Christianity and Baseball. Lessons of Christ in the National Pastime

When I was young I wanted to be two things. A priest and right fielder/first baseman for the New York Yankees. I spent my days in right field thinking about Babe Ruth and God. Baseball and Jesus. I was thinking so much that I really didn't catch many balls. I could hit though.

It turns out I was not good enough to be a baseball player and I was not called to the priesthood. But to this day when I pick up a ball, a bat or a mit...something happens. I'm a kid again. And the basic lessons of both the national pastime and Christianity fill me on a summer day.

I plan to do a few posts over the summer on religion and baseball. The first one today is about a conversation that I read about that has always stuck with me. It was between Branch Rickey (owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers) and Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in baseball.

The lessons of Baseball and faith are not always easy. Baseball was the first industry in America to integrate. But the fact that it was not up until that point is a mark of shame. But when Rickey met with Robinson, their conversation came down to this point:

Rickey: "I know you're a good ballplayer. What I don't know is whether you have the guts."

Robinson: "Mr. Rickey, are you looking for a man who is afraid to fight back?"

Rickey, exploding: "Robinson, I'm looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back."

And here is the lesson of Christ. Robinson was fighting. He was just doing it peacefully. He was the man Rickey was looking for who had the courage. The man with the courage to take abuse and turn the other cheek at every step. The abuse Robinson took is epic.

Death threats.
Threats to himself.
Threats to his family.
Threats to the innocent members of his race in the stands.

Abuse was hurled faster than the pitches and thrown from every corner. Robinson stood tall. And because of his courage he did not stand alone. His courage inspired others. Pee Wee Reese, the great and well loved Dodger made a stand too :

He refused to sign a petition that threatened a boycott if Robinson joined the team. When Robinson joined the Dodgers in 1947 and traveled with them during their first road trip, he was heckled by fans in Cincinnati, Ohio. Reese, the captain of the team, went over to Robinson and put his arm around his shoulder in a gesture of support which silenced the crowd. The gesture was especially telling because Reese was born and raised in then-segregated Louisville, Kentucky.

A crowd of hate silenced by a gesture that says, "this is my brother."

Most experts, and more importantly the people who knew Jackie Robinson, agree that he died young due (in their opinion) to the strain of not fighting back.

But Robinson did fight. He fought as Christ taught us to: With love and open arms while letting our actions change the hearts of others.

Other people with good hearts came to his aid against the abuse. Love inspired love.

Did Jackie Robinson fix the world?
Did he end all hatred?


Did some people accept him only because he was good at baseball and made their team win?


But by having the courage to not return hate for hate, Jackie Robinson began a fundamental change in people's hearts. Baseball was integrated before the U.S. military. And at times, when there was opposition to equality for every race, people could look to baseball. A place where it worked because one man chose not to return hatred with hatred.

Buck O'Neil once said:

before President Truman desegregated the military, before the bus boycott in Birmingham, before the civil rights marches in the South, before Rosa Parks, before Brown v. Board of Education, and before anyone had ever heard of Martin Luther King Jr., there was Jackie Robinson.

Where did he get this courage? Robinson said:

“I had a lot of faith in God….There’s nothing like faith in God to help a fellow who gets booted around once in a while.”

His wife Rachel said:

"Jack did feel that God was on his side, Jackie believed that he was God's creature, and he saw his opportunities as a way of carrying out God's plan."

I am not the potter, but the potter's clay.

Be it done to me according to your word.

Robinson, I'm looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back.

So is Christ. He is looking for people with the courage to love and not hate. To fight back in a way that sets an example of love.

Happy Mothers Day Mary, and all Mothers.

May the love of Christ and the love of Mary, the Mother of God. Protect and guide all mothers throughout the world.

A most prayerful wish for a blessed day to my mother-in-law and all mothers I know. My friends at work and Bent over at the Nefertetti blog, a prayer for a blessed day for you, your family and your children.

May all mothers in heaven (mine included) smile upon the world's mothers today.

May the Mother of God, acting as always in the love and power of her Son, bless today:

Mothers everywhere.

Guide those who wish to be mothers, to the realization of love.

Guide those who struggle with their children, to the patience of love.

Guide those who are making difficult decisions about pregnancy, to the courage of love.

Guide those with sick children, to the healing of love.

Guide those with children who have died, to the comfort of love.

May the Lord protect all mothers in their difficult times and bless them with uncounted joys.

Finally back to my normal schedule

I work at a college, so during exams my work schedule is very busy. Then my daily hours change during the week or so between the spring and summer semesters. We're finally back to normal, so I should be able to post at my regular pace.

Now, if the Yankess could manage to beat the Red Soxs everything would be back to normal :)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sites of the Holy Family in Egypt falling into disrepair

Those who read this blog know that I have a very personal devotion to the Holy Family. This article touched me deeply. (link)

The article focuses on what a boom to the Egyptian economy these sites would be if they were fixed. I understand that. And I understand that if they get fixed, this is likely to be the reason. But at the very basic level they are falling into disrepair because the Copts are not allowed to build churches or fix existing ones. Fixing them for the stated reasons will not fix the reasons that have caused this.

It is the lack of religious freedom that is doing this. These sites, places so very precious to all Christian faiths, are being disrespected. There is a dull ache when I think of this.

But these sites, no matter how they are falling away. No matter what condition they are currently in, are precious for reasons that go far beyond the state of a building.

It is not the state, but the fact that they are, that makes them precious.

Pilgrims come, as the Holy Family did, and they do not have luxury. Neither did the Savior.

Pilgrims come, as the Holy Family did, and they do not have basic necessities. Neither did the Savior.

It is not that these sites are in such a condition that brings tears, but that the Coptic people and the Christians who come are not safe.

In Egypt, the shield of our Lord that protected the infant Christ and His family, those who love Him are not safe.

This is reflected in the state of the buildings. It is not the disrepair of these great and holy places that is painful, but the disrepair of love. The article states:

“These locations can be very appealing to people, but the Ministry of Tourism has to launch a heavy publicity campaign to raise more awareness,” says Yasser Taha, head of public relations at Nile Egypt Melody travel agency. Concerned that, beyond the physical discomforts, the lack of development might actually cause danger to clients, he simply says, We cannot risk losing our guests.”

What you can not do is let the land that was a shelter for Christ, be a grave for His people.

What you can not do is let the land whose history speaks to the world of greatness, be devoid of freedom.

What you can not do is let the land that calls to it's dispersed children like a mother, be a place they fear to go.

This is what you can not do.

Movies and promotion are all well and good. The creation of jobs to improve the state of people's lives is excellent, but it is all a coat of paint on a faulty structure if the Copts are not allowed to worship freely.

This is very bad: Violence at demonstrations in Egypt

Sandmonkey has on-going coverage (link). Today there is a protest for the judges in Egypt. I'll quote Sandmonkey's post so you have an idea of how bad it is getting:

Today's demonstration has about 2000 people so far, MB mixed with Kifaya and union members, and they were demonstrating in support of the judges today.For the first 20 minutes or so, the police just let them demonstrate peacefully. And then, all of a sudden, all hell broke loose.

The Riot Police, alongside thugs and plain-clothed police officers went and attacked the demonstrations with batons on Adly street, and then started arresting them. A group of protesters got trapped in front of the engineer's syndicate on Ramsis street, and the police is beating them up, dragging them on the street and arresting them. The Police also reportedly beat up another group of protesters from the pharmacists syndicate and also attacked some US journalists who were taking pictures and broke their cameras. Another group of MB that was demonstrating at the Al Fatah mosque is currently also getting beat up and in the process of getting arrested. This is bad!

Plainclothes policemen dragged away cameramen from news organisations, including Reuters and Al Jazeera television, and confiscated their cameras.

An Al Jazeera cameraman was badly beaten, an Al Jazeera correspondent said.

Plainclothes police dragged 15 demonstrators from a
crowd of around 300 marching in Cairo in support of the judges and beat
them badly. At least one activist was seen bleeding from the face after
he was held against a wall and beaten.

Other demonstrators dispersed when the security
forces began their crackdown. The demonstrators had included supporters
of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood and secular activists.

The security re-enforcments have arrived. There are about 10,000 of them in downtown cairo, and they still can not contain the situation. The demos are still spreading like wildfire, and the moment they put one out, 2 more prop up in 2 different locations in its place. The Police got so frustrated, they shut down all the doors to the Metro (The Underground) at the Ramses station stop, except one, to stop more people from coming thorugh there and joining the protests.

Keep checking Sandmonkey for updates. I'll do my best with my strange work hours this week to stay on top of it as well.

More updates from Sandmonkey (link)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Teen Killed Just for Being Catholic, Says Priest

The story:

Boy, 15, dies after sectarian gang attack

A Catholic schoolboy who was cornered in an alley in Ballymena and beaten with a baseball bat in a sectarian assault has died, inflaming sectarian tensions in the town and reviving concerns about community relations across Northern Ireland.

Michael McIlveen, 15, was attacked by a gang of youths after buying a takeaway pizza on Saturday night. The youths trapped him in an alley, struck him repeatedly and stamped on his head. He staggered home and was taken to hospital. His family remained at his bedside until his life support machine was switched off at 8pm on Monday.

Michael's uncle, Francis McIlveen, told the BBC's Nolan programme yesterday that the family wanted to ensure such attacks never happened again. "The family's distraught at the minute," he said. "They just can't believe that wee Michael's gone, a wee child, 15 years of age, lying in that bed, dead."

Politicians in Ballymena, County Antrim, asked the community not to retaliate. There have been frequent sectarian clashes in the town.

A 19-year-old man was charged after a separate attack on Sunday. An attempt to ease tensions by removing loyalist and republican flags, and painting over paramilitary murals last month led to accusations from both sides of bad faith.

Ian Paisley, the local MP and Democratic Unionist party leader, said yesterday there should be no revenge attacks. "As we move towards the marching season, I would appeal for calm," he said. "Any reprisal or upping the ante would serve no purpose other than to make matters worse. I would call on all sides to pull back from the brink before tragedy is multiplied by catastrophe."

The Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain, said he was appalled by the killing and urged the public to assist the police. "This was a sickening sectarian attack that has taken the life of a teenager with his whole life in front of him," he said. "Everyone will condemn this murder, which drags Northern Ireland back to the dark days of the past."

Five young people were being questioned yesterday in connection with the killing. Ballymena's police commander, Superintendent Terry Shevlin, has urged community leaders to improve relations between Protestant and Catholic communities.

"We're quite clear that the motive for this assault was of a sectarian nature," said Supt Shevlin. "I'm making a clear appeal to civic leaders, community leaders and others with influence in the Ballymena to not only condemn this ... but to exercise whatever influence they can to prevent any retaliatory attacks."

Detectives have studied CCTV footage, and are monitoring websites where youths have posted allegations about the attack.

Sean Farren, Social Democratic and Labour party assembly member for North Antrim, said: "Unfortunately we have witnessed similar attacks in Ballymena and elsewhere in the past and each one has brought pain and tragedy to the families and friends of those affected."

Philip McGuigan, Sinn Féin assembly member for North Antrim, blamed a "loyalist mob" for the killing. (Source).

Going out for Pizza with friends. Now he is dead. My prayers are with the family and all those touched by this, both Protestant and Catholic.

In addition:

On Tuesday, Michael's mother paid tribute to her son as "popular" with Catholic and Protestant friends.

Young people have been holding vigils in the teenager's memory and flowers have been laid at the spot where he was attacked.

For all those who feel this loss, may the Lord comfort you. And may he lead them out of hatred and into love.

Canada states recognition of Armenian Genocide. Thank you Canada, for your courage in saying the truth

All too often in this world the truth is not stated because it is inconvient. When the issue is recognizing the Armenian Genocide that is very true. Turkey reacts very badly when this happens. An example is occuring right now with Canada.

The Armenian Affiars blog has the post on the story (link).

A quote:

Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Canada as the country plots an official response to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's recent acknowledgement of the 1915 Armenian genocide -- one of the most disputed and politically fraught events of the 20th century.

Harper's three-paragraph statement April 19 to mark the "sombre anniversary" -- the first time that Canada has made such a statement -- barely caught the attention of most Canadians, but it ignited a furor in Ankara that appears set to boil over.

An official at the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa told CanWest News Service that Aydemir Erman has not been formally withdrawn from Canada over the prime minister's comments, but he has been "called back" to Turkey to discuss with government officials what steps will be taken to express displeasure with the remarks.

These strongarm tactics show just how far apart Turkey is from the rest of the world. Often I have heard it said that Turkey is the most progressive of the Muslim states. I think even a quick survey of the facts would show that as one of the biggest distortions in this century.

Just on this blog in the past we have seen:

More than just a minor behind Fr Andrea Santoro’s murder (link)

Fr. Santoro and the inaction of Turkish Authorities (link)

A priest is beaten in Izmir, to the cries of “we will kill you all” (link)

Pope: May Fr Santoro “become the seed of hope for building authentic brotherhood”(link)

When the children of the Black Sea are taught to hate priests (link)

The last line of the next part just blew me away.

"The ambassador is now travelling to Turkey because our authorities have asked him to join them for consultations and, indeed, it is related to what's been happening here in the last week or so here in Canada with the prime minister's declaration," said Yoney Tezel, a counsellor with the embassy.

Ottawa's official position that 1.5 million Armenians were killed in a "genocide" adds Canada to a group of about 25 other countries, including France, Russia, Poland and Argentina.

"For us, this is a serious matter," Tezel said. "The Armenian claims are a direct attack on our identity, on Turkey's history. We feel it's unfair. That's why when these claims find some recognition we always consider that something negative."

Harper's statement, delivered on the 91st anniversary of the bloodbath, noted that both the Senate and the House of Commons have adopted motions acknowledging that a genocide took place.

"My party and I supported those resolutions and continue to recognize them today," he said.
On April 25, Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing Harper of exhibiting a "gravely prejudiced attitude."

A "gravely prejudiced attitude". Words fail. A nation who attempted to wipe out a group of people is calling another gravely prejudiced. These leaders in Turkey are not the ones who performed the genocide, but by this aggressive hatred they are supporting the actions of their ancestors.

The truth will cause problems. The truth always does. Truth and love are often not a part of this world, but they reflect a higher love...not because God does not extend them for us. It is not because humans do not hunger and desire these things. It is because the leaders of nations like Turkey are "gravely prejudiced" against the truth.

Thank you Canada for stating the truth boldly and without fear.