Monday, August 21, 2006

Christian Cobbler killed in Cairo

This is only on a pay site at the moment I'll be trying to find out more as the day goes on. (link)

My prayers. It comes to mind that the first convert of St. Mark was a cobbler.

This is what I've found in addition to the pay article:

A Muslim ex-convict stabbed and killed a Christian cobbler northeast of Cairo in June, confessing that he had planned to murder him because he was an ‘infidel’ who had made an offhand comment that offended him. Hossam Hafez Ahmad Attaya knifed Fouad Fawzy Tawfik on June 27 as the shoemaker was bending down to take the Muslim man’s foot measurement near his shop in Zagazig, provincial capital of Sharkeya.

“I want to kill him because he is an infidel, let me kill them all!” Attaya was heard to shout as he sunk an eight-inch blade into the Christian’s left lung and stomach, according to Tawfik’s family.
“My brother was clearly victimized for being a Christian,” Noshe Fawzy Tawfik told Compass. Restraining Attaya from stabbing Fouad Tawfik a second time, bystanders called an ambulance.

The shoemaker died minutes later from loss of blood before he could reach the hospital.
Attaya admitted during questioning that he had planned the murder in response to a joke Fouad Tawfik had made several days before, lawyer Fady Nabil Labib told Compass. Labib, who is representing the victim’s family, quoted Attaya from official investigation records as saying he was specifically angered by Fouad Tawfik’s offhand comment that “tomorrow America is going to invade Egypt and kill everyone in it.”

On June 27 Attaya visited his cousin’s shoe shop, located only 50 meters (165 feet) away from Fouad Tawfik’s store, and pretended to be interested in buying shoes. The Muslim man had his cousin call Fouad Tawfik to take measurements and then attacked him with a concealed knife.

Labib told Compass that a case against Attaya is due to be heard in a criminal court but that no date has been set for the hearing. Labib and Zagazig church leaders are confident that Attaya will be fairly prosecuted, though not necessarily because the ex-convict has pled guilty in initial interrogations. “If there is any kind of fairness in this situation, it is because of his past crimes, not because he killed a Christian,” Father Daniel Habib, priest of St. Antonius Coptic Orthodox church, told Compass.

Fouad Tawfik’s funeral was held at the church.
Attaya is a follower of the strict Wahhabi Islam, which views the creation of human images as a form of idolatry. The Muslim was sentenced last year for attempting to destroy an ancient statue of Ramses II located at the entrance of Zagazig University and for burning a picture of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Legal Loopholes

Recent events have made Egypt’s Coptic Christians, estimated to number between 8 million and 15 million, particularly wary of legal loopholes used to acquit those who carry out periodic attacks on Christians.
Last month Egypt dropped charges against a Muslim for his April knife attacks on churches in Alexandria – which killed one churchgoer and wounded more than a dozen others – after a committee of psychiatrists published a report that he was mentally imbalanced. In Zagazig, Christians are confident that Attaya will not be acquitted on the pretext of insanity. “They can’t say he is insane, because he was already tried for burning a picture of Mubarak,” Fr. Habib commented. “He can’t be sane one minute and not the next.”

Double Standard

The disparity between police treatment of Hossam Attaya and treatment received by Christian murder suspects in the nearby village of Kafr Salama Ibrahim has angered church leadership and lawyers.
Certain interpretations of Islamic tradition demand that a murderer or his family pay compensation to the family of the victim.

Police invoked this extra-legal “blood-money” settlement last December by detaining 11 Christians without trial in Kafr Salama Ibrahim and insisting that they pay 1 million Egyptian pounds to the family of the Muslim man they were suspected of killing.
After four days in police custody, the Christians gave law enforcement officers deeds to five of their homes as compensation. All 11 had expected to be released, but police kept five.

Their case has yet to be heard in Masoura’s Criminal Court (See Compass Direct, “Egyptian Copts Lose Homes, Freedom over Murder Charge,” August 14).
Christian lawyers involved in the Kafr Salama Ibrahim case agreed that the Christians had been blackmailed into accepting the extra-legal settlement. Though Article 2 of the Egyptian constitution designates shariah, Islamic law, as the basis for country’s legal system, it does not give police the power to impose Islamic law verdicts on citizens without granting them a fair trial.

“After Tawfik was murdered, we demanded compensation because of Kafr Salama,” Father Habib said. “Police told us, ‘Okay, the victim and the killer’s families should sit down together and work out an agreement.’ But soon they forgot all about it and no compensation was ever given.”

Christian lawyers were skeptical that there was any legal recourse for pursuing the same type of extra-legal settlement that they said police had unilaterally imposed upon Christians in Kafr Salama Ibrahim.
Fr. Habib noted, “The real injustice is how police acted differently in these two cases. “In Kafr Salama they enforced Islamic law, but in this situation [the murder of Fouad Tawfik], it was just a suggestion.”

With the death of her husband, Fouad Tawfik’s wife, Abeer Magdy Mekaye, now faces the challenge of raising her two small children alone.
“I want to be a good mom and to help my kids grow up in a Christian home and to know their faith,” said the mother of 6-year-old Batul and 3-year-old Fawzy. “I need God’s help, because I have problems in my spine and leg. Please pray for my physical healing and the ability to heal from the loss of my husband.”

An observation is that this happened on June 27th and the first news article in the west is August 17th.

Here are links to story coverage (link) and (link)

From the article:

Christians are confident that Attaya will not be acquitted on the pretext of insanity. “They can’t say he is insane, because he was already tried for burning a picture of Mubarak,” Fr. Habib commented. “He can’t be sane one minute and not the next.”

Oh yes, they can. And oh yes, they will.

The first person to show kindness to St. Mark was a cobbler. He was the first convert in Egypt. The cobbler, so many centuries ago, was a sign to St. Mark that Christ was in the hearts of the Egyptian people. This cobbler, and recently Hani Sarofim, are still signs that no matter what the cost God is still in the hearts of the Egyptian people.

I pray that the compassionate heart of God embrace and care for the suffering family left behind. As the Lord, through St. Mark, healed the cobbler so long ago...may he heal and protect all who suffer for the love of Him.

Chaldean Catholic priest kidnapped in Baghdad

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Chaldean Catholic priest was kidnapped in Baghdad, Iraq, just after celebrating Mass Aug. 15 for the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, church leaders said.

Masked kidnappers forced Father Saad Sirop Hanna, 34, to stop his car, then they took him away, Vatican Radio reported Aug. 18. Father Hanna works at St. Jacob Parish in Dora, one of Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods.

Father Philip Najim, the Rome-based representative of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Baghdad, confirmed the report.

"It is truly a very sad situation because he is a young priest who was continuing his studies. In fact, he was supposed to come here to Rome to study. He is a young priest who has dedicated his life to serving both the nation and all the Christian faithful he encounters," Father Najim said.

"Given the situation" of violence and confusion in Baghdad, especially in Dora where various militias have been fighting each other for months, "it is difficult to identify who took him," Father Najim said.

The priest said Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Emmanuel-Karim Delly of Baghdad met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki after the kidnapping and was assured that "everyone is trying to resolve this situation as soon as possible and to secure the release of our priest."

The Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni political organization, immediately condemned the kidnapping, Vatican Radio said.

"This demonstrates how united the Iraqi people are and that they are not trying to make divisions, because we are one people trying to live in peace," Father Najim said. "It does not surprise me that the Islamic party issued this statement.

"The Catholic Church in Iraq suffers daily, like the rest of the Iraqi people," he said. "Water and electricity are lacking. There are not enough hospitals but, more than anything, there is no security."

(Source: Catholic News Service)

"Honor Killing" in Italy Condemned

The archbishop of Lahore condemned the "honor killing" of a young Pakistani woman in Brescia, in northern Italy, for refusing an arranged marriage.

Mohammed Saleem cut his daughter's throat on Aug. 11 for having purportedly dishonored her family by refusing the arranged marriage, and by working in a bar and living with a 30-year-old Italian man, reported AsiaNews.

In Pakistan "honor killing" remains a widespread phenomenon -- some 1,015 cases were reported last year.

Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore told AsiaNews that "there is no justification of such killing for the sake of the family's honor."

"It is an old and unjust feudal practice in Pakistan that denies women the right to make decisions on their own," explained Archbishop Saldanha, who also heads the Catholic bishop's conference of Pakistan.

"Because of such a practice, honor killings often occur. Although it is rare, it even happens among Christians," he said. "Once they reach a certain age, freely choosing one's spouse is a fundamental right and we cannot deny it."

The archbishop added: "This type of incident is earning Pakistan a bad name.

"People who go to foreign countries should accept to live in an international culture, adhere to international values based on universal human rights. And if they cannot adjust to international values and norms, they should come back to Pakistan."


According to Peter Jacob, executive secretary to the National Commission on Justice and Peace, honor crimes are commonplace in Pakistan and the government is not doing enough to discourage them.

"If this murder happened in Pakistan," he said, "the grandfather or the mother of the killed girl would have gone to the police station to report the case against the murderer."

"This would make them both plaintiffs as well as guardians of the accused. The murderer would be arrested, sent to jail, and after some time, he would be forgiven. This way within a couple of months he would be free."

Jacob and other groups have been campaigning to abolish laws that are discriminatory toward minorities and women.

He said, however, that "the government doesn't really listen. Although it implemented some changes in 2004 so that honor killings are now considered common murders, it has failed to apply them."

According to Madadgaar, an organization set up by Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid (LHRLA) and UNICEF, 1,015 honor killings occurred in 2005 compared with 1,349 the previous year.

But for LHRLA president Zia Ahmed Awan, the figures do not paint the actual picture since it is estimated that only one honor killing in 10 is reported.

New values

Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni-Narni-Amelia in Italy, and president of the Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the Italian bishops' conference, said on Vatican Radio that "without a doubt it is necessary for someone entering a country to accept the institutional framework that governs the life of such a country."

"This episode, sadly, is not the first and this case forces us to reflect on the complexity of the different planes on which this problem should be addressed," he added.

The bishop also reflected on "the relationship between immigration and resident citizens."

"If on one hand it is necessary to clarify the juridical framework," he said, "on the other it is necessary to have the great courtesy to work for a positive integration," which requires effort and commitment.

Bishop Paglia also underlined that, given this incident, "the condemnation should be clear and firm, because ... there is no reason at all in the world that can impede or attenuate the condemnation of a murder."

(Source: Zenit News Agency)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Months of Harassment Force Copt Blogger to Censor Herself

here is the story (link):

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the months of harassment by the authorities in Qina (near Luxor, in central Egypt) that forced Hala Helmy Botros to close down her blog Aqbat Bela Hodood (Copts Without Borders) about the persecution of the Christian Coptic minority, and to stop writing on this subject for other websites.

Botros, 42, who wrote under the pseudonym of Hala El-Masry, is now the target of a judicial investigation and is banned from leaving the country.

"We are outraged by the practices used by the Egyptian authorities to intimidate and silence Botros," Reporters Without Borders said. "With relations between Christians and Muslims off-limits in the traditional media, all she did was write posts on the Internet about the fate of the Coptic minority. It is unacceptable that freedom of expression and movement should be restricted in this fashion. We insist that the authorities guarantee Botros' basis rights."

In articles, interviews and video reports online, Botros had accused the political authorities and police of complicity in the attacks against Copts on 19 January when they tried to restore their church in the village of Edyssat (near Luxor). Houses were burned and the church was destroyed in the course of this violence, in which two Copts were killed and several others injured.

Her posts clearly irritated the authorities as first her phone line was cut and then her Internet connection, forcing her to go to her father's house to continue posting. The authorities also placed her under surveillance. One night, her father was beaten by two strangers who told him, "This is a present from your daughter."

When he went to the police station to report this, the police got him to sign a blank sheet to which they added a statement in which he appeared to accuse her of being responsible for the attack. Botros reacted by filing a complaint against the police officer concerned, Mahmoud Sabri, accusing him of bringing false charges, but the case was not pursued by the authorities.

On 15 June, she tried to fly to the United States to attend a conference about the Copts in Newark, New Jersey, but the authorities removed her from the airplane before it took off, on the grounds that she was banned from the leaving the country. She was questioned for several hours at the airport and ordered to report to a state security court in Cairo on 25 June.

Security agents raided her home on the night of 22 June with the apparent intention of arresting her, but she was in Cairo at the time. Her husband was forced to go with them and to sign a statement guaranteeing that she would report to the court three days later.

Botros went to the court with two lawyers, Mamdouh Ramzy and Naguib Gobraeil, on 25 June. She was questioned about her Internet posts and accused of "spreading false news" and of "disrupting social harmony between the Muslim and Christian communities." She was released the same day after paying 3,000 Egyptian pounds (400 euros) in bail, but was questioned again the next day.

Fearing for her safety and the safety of her family, Botros finally decided to shut down her blog. She is being watched by plain-clothes police, her telephone is tapped and her e-mail is being monitored.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Blood of Martyrs

Neferteeti has the story of a young man killed for refusing to renounce Christianity (link).

Eternal rest Grant unto him O'Lord and may perpetual light shine upon him.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:3-12

May the words of our Lord give us comfort and guidance.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Alot of stuff to miss

The Free Copts has a good article on the fact that the persecution of the Copts (and Christians in general) was left out of the Amnesty International report (link).

I'll quote from the post (the sum up here is very well done):

As we will see, this Coptic problem is only part of a worldwide problem that no one really cares about, with the exception of a few Christian organizations that focus on human rights issues. And in the following we will not employ an emotional writing style, but rather numbers and percentages that constitute undisputable facts.

1. The largest persecuted group in the world today are the Christians.

2. 75% of the persecuted people around the globe are Christians, and 75% of these Christians are persecuted by Muslims. Communists are the second most meaningful group that persecutes Christians.

3. Experts estimate the number of persecuted Christians today to be around 200 million, in addition to another 400 millions that suffer from discrimination.

4. 82% of those killed in 1998 because of their religion were Christians .

5. Experts estimate that, since the beginning of the twentieth century, the average number of Christians killed annually has been between 130,000 and 170,000 .

6. Since the year 33AD, the number of Christian martyrs has been around 69,420,000, which represents about 0.8% of the total number of Christians throughout history. More than half of these martyrs (about 45,400,000) were martyred in the twentieth century alone.

7. The higher the religious rank of a Christian (bishop, priest, monk, nun, preacher etc), the higher the chance of his/her martyrdom. Thus, the percentage of martyrdom increases to about 2% of all Christian leaders throughout history.

8. The first genocide in the twentieth century was that committed by the Turks when they killed 1.5 million of the Christian Armenian nation, among which were 4000 bishops and priests between 1894 and 1923. This genocide is known to the world as the massacres of the Armenians.

9. In Southern Sudan, between 1963 and 1999, Muslims killed about 2 million people, most of whom were Christians. Another 4 million were left homeless.

10. In the year 1998 alone, Muslims burned 500 churches in the Indonesian island of Java.

11. In November 1998, Muslims burned 22 churches in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and killed 13 Christians.

12. Amidst the Christmas celebrations in 1998, Muslims destroyed 180 houses belonging to Christians in Indonesia.

13. The myth that Christianity is the religion of the white man, no longer exists. Today about 60% of Christians do not live in the West, but rather in third world countries. Furthermore, 80% of practicing Christians do not live in the West.

The good news are few, and include:

1. Christians in China (who are persecuted) who attend services on regular basis outnumber those who attend services in all the following countries combined: France, Spain, Germany, Italy, England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria.

2. The countries where Christians face persecution are the same countries that witness the conversion of new people to Christianity. For instance, in China where the persecution is quite fierce, the number of Christians has increased within 25 years from a few millions to 80 million.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


So what is it? This event that seems a bit intimidating. This small glimpse of Christ as the Son of Man. As God incarnate. A brief flash of glory that is such a favorite subject of artists.

For a moment, the apostles see (as much as they can understand) the Glory of their friend and master. It is a glimpse of the glory of Easter. The glory of salvation. A glimpse of the Risen Christ.

This scene from the life of our Lord is, as I mentioned above, one of the favorite subjects of artists throughout history. It is a moment that seethes with power. But what we sometimes fail to realize is that it is also one of the works of the Divine Artist.

God, the divine artist, has painted this work into our hearts. Into our forms. For someday we too will have a risen form. For Christ, our savior, has defeated death and gives us life.

Do we pay enough attention to the spark of the divine un us? The grace from God that helps us share in divine life?

The feeling in prayer of closeness to God.
The warm heart when you help your fellow human being.
The divine life imparted through the Eucharist.
The beauty of Scripture.
The love of God and each other.
The smile of a child.

These daily transfigurations that God gives us in our own life. If for but a fleeting second we feel the love of God reach out to us, do we nurture it and share it so it may be a transfiguration to others?

Christ showed His transfigured form to Peter, James and John so they would understand that He would conquer death. To understand that there is a tomb between Good Friday and Easter, but that tomb is eventually empty because it can not stand against what they see before them in the glorious Christ.

Christ shows us this too. In His Word. In His love. And in Each other.

In this world today, torn apart by hate, may the love of Christ transfigure our hearts and may the love we share, by the Grace of God, transfigure others.

Soup kitchens face closure in fight against beggars

You have got to be kidding me. This is just plain stupid. Here is a link to the story (link.

A quote:

Dramatic new measures to clamp down on beggars are planned in central London.

Westminster says it may try to shut charity soup kitchens that attract hundreds of homeless men and women to the area.

"We firmly believe soup kitchens are not the best way to deal with rough sleepers," said councillor Danny Chalkley.

"These organisers are helping to sustain life on the streets for homeless people when they should be concentrating on getting them off the streets."

I'm sure they do all they can to help get them off of the streets. Most church run charities are not just have some food and go away. They are a ministry. They help these people all they can.

And this line:

"Of course we understand the problem and have empathy for them but the noise can be heard above the television and it has got to the stage that the young and the elderly cannot walk outside their homes without being abused."

Now, If some people are harassing or hurting people that is one thing. But notice how that is added on after the line:

but the noise can be heard above the television

Ah, Well I'm sorry that the crying and hungry child made you miss a moment of Dr. Who. This put's it in a different light than if they were suffering in total silence where you would not have to notice them.

From the Church workers:

Jacqueline Messih, 20, a volunteer for the church, defended its work. "Fundamentally we want to do this to help people. It’s not right that there are mothers in so much need of milk for their children, or pensioners that need us to feed them because they are too scared to go into sheltered accommodation. We try our best to be fair to the residents. Sometimes people do get rowdy but we quieten them down. We always finish by 10pm and we always clear up afterwards."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Baby Born At Abortion Clinic Killed

I'll expand on this later, but for right now I am speechles.

The Story (link)

Our prayers to the Lord.