Dr. Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of the Copts a human right organization with offices in USA and Italy - recently spoke at the first congress of SION in New York City on September 11, 2012.
Egypt’s Coptic Christians suffered another fatal attack on its churches during this morning’s (April 9) Palm Sunday celebrations. Many parishioners were killed and maimed in a dual-church attack during the Palm Sunday services.
North of Cairo, a terrorist bomb struck the Church of Saint George in Tanta claiming the lives of more than 40 worshippers and injuring at least 65 attendees.
My name is Ashraf Ramelah, and I am an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian. I am the founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a non-profit human rights organization. Egyptian Copts, who are the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, are praying for your continued success. So are the Iraqi and Syrian Christians.
Members of the Voice of the Copts community offer sincere condolences to the Coptic families mourning today for the loss of loved ones as a result of Sunday’s (Dec 11) bombing of the Botrossia Church in Cairo that killed at least 25 people attending mass.
We grieve with our brothers and sisters and pray that those responsible for this heinous, cowardly crime will be arrested and made to stand trial. Once again, Christian Copts are made the scapegoat in an ongoing struggle between Egypt’s government and Islamic religious leaders.
Egyptian Copts in the diaspora of New York and New Jersey must decide to obey a call by Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Egypt for a NYC rally at the UN General Assembly in support of President Al-Sisi’s speech on September 20. An official statement by the Coptic Church indicated that Bishop Beeman of Nakada and Qus and Bishop Yuanis of Assuit were sent to the US to arrange and promote Coptic crowd support prior to the president’s arrival.
The statement said that “We, all Egyptians loyal to our home land, must welcome the president and strengthen him in all the work he does for the good of Egypt.” Because “the Pope has great interest in the success of this visit,” the message urged that Copts do everything possible to ensure the success of this visit, adding, “It is good for Egypt and all Egyptians.” The statement concluded by saying that “Egyptian leaders of evangelical churches in America demand the same support of their followers and should rally for the president.”
Mocking Islam or mocking the prophet of Islam spells doom. In Egypt you will be arrested, have home and property confiscated, and be coerced to “force emigrate” from your town. Then count on a five-year prison term. This was exactly the penalty for four Coptic Christian school boys, ages 14 through 17, and their teacher.
Modernity grazed the 7th century when a lost cell phone turned up in the hands of a sectarian street thug ready for Sharia justice against its owner. The sim card showed a video of a 36-second skit mocking ISIS terrorists praying to Allah. Away from home on a school trip, the boys used their teacher’s phone to record the funny scene they acted out, thinking ISIS was fair game and knowing that Islam was not. Unfortunately for them, the cell phone was lost or stolen and missing for a solid year. Found by Muslims who became offended by the “blasphemy”, the Egyptian courts overlooked the violent retaliation by the gang prompted to attack homes and businesses and instead arrested the boys and their teacher.
I grew up in an Islamic country within the Coptic Christian community of Egypt. On September 11, 2001 I was already a free man living between two nation-state democracies – Italy and the USA. I must admit I never looked back. I never again thought of tyrannical rule and persecution – the words and actions of a cruel, irrational dictator and his minions. I escaped bigotry and hatred. I chose a future for myself and left my family and country behind – radical but necessary. I never spoke of my origins thereafter – the persecution Copts suffer. In a sense, I tacitly endorsed Egypt’s official “democratic” image projected to the West.
The horror of 9/11 broke my heart and my silence, giving birth to Voice of the Copts (a human rights organization) as a response to Islam’s expression here in America. Memories of my childhood flooded back, and I was suddenly compelled to speak out for the Copts of Egypt—explain our plight as a warning to America. Unlike the Coptic community of 20 million in Egypt that has no military, no soldiers, and no political leaders, America could and would strike back. I wasn’t worried about that kind of warfare.
The ancient Greek Olympiad, the origin of today’s Olympic Games, was held in honor of Zeus. The games were used as a political tool between rival city-states. It was all about victory and the assertion of dominance. The inception of the Olympiad dates back to nearly nine hundred years before the moon god, Allah, whispered his special message into humanity through the angel Gabriel. So, it is not odd that upon completion of the August 12 judo match of the Rio Olympics between Egyptian competitor, Islam el-Shehaby, and Isaeli champion, Or Sasson, that the devout Salafi publicly observed his god by refusing, according to Quranic commandment, to shake the extended winning hand of Sasson, the Jew.
When the match was over, Shehaby ignored Sasson, following the Quranic verse 2:65 (And will ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: “Be ye apes, despised and rejected”). This was not the case of a sore loser. The devout Muslim was paying homage to Allah. Deference to Allah is why Egyptian Copts are barred (unofficially) from Egypt’s Olympic training camps at an age when children are singled out for athletic talent. Christian family ancestry (the name of one’s great-great-grandfather) or simply the mandatory Egyptian ID card indicating Christianity will shut any candidate out.
For the first time since your installation as president, Copts in the United States protested the persecution of Copts in Egypt. The protest in Washington, DC on August 2 against your regime was symbolic; no one really expects a response from the Obama administration. If the past is an indication, the American president is deaf to the cries of suffering Christians.
After Egypt’s 2013 mass uprising where more than 30 million men and women fighting for freedom stood up against the fascist regime of the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohammad Morsi, you appeared as a “savior”—promising democracy, freedom of religion and law and order.
In the ongoing jihad against Egypt’s Coptic Christians one Bedouin tradition adopted by Islam keeps jihad in business. After every terrorist act, the victim is bullied into an “arbitration” hearing and the criminal courts are circumvented. No serious investigation is ever made nor any evidence gathered because the local government conducts the meeting of “reconciliation” without any need of the facts. Here’s how it works: A regional government official from the office of the governor (currently an Al-Sisi appointee) “offers” the victim a chance to apologize to the perpetrators of the crime. A Muslim official and the Muslim mayor enforce “peace” between the non-Muslim victim and the Muslim attacker.
In the aftermath of bloodshed, the victim apologizes to the perpetrator(s) and drops all rights to press charges of assault, rape, arson, or murder. In many cases, the victim and family are forced to leave town permanently, abandoning property and home. The victim turns over all possessions to the jihadists who divide the spoils among them. With almost no exception an intricate narrative is scripted to reach the news agencies. It characterizes the victim as guilty—deserving of the assault under the code of Sharia divine law. Since every Christian belongs to a parish, a Muslim official coerces the church into the process so that the priest or bishop is forced to submit to the authority of Sharia law along with the victim. This surrender of conscience is the final humiliation.
Pope Francis, who is “building bridges to build peace” around the world, has naturally reached out to embrace Sunni Muslims. Last month, for the first time after years of Vatican silence, Pope Francis summoned to his private library in Rome grand imam Ahmed El-Tayeb of Cairo’s Al-Ahzar Mosque Institute. Absent a press release before this event, the Pope was quoted as saying, “this meeting is the message” – leading all to dwell on the meaning and purpose of their 25 minutes together. Christians, especially Egyptian Coptic Christians, have observed the Catholic pope give the “sign of peace” to the grand imam who has yet been unwilling to denounce ISIS. Unity existed between the two religious branches previous to former Pope Benedict XVI condemning Islam’s inclination to violence.
Egypt’s deep state is a bureaucratic theocracy. This network forms the infrastructure of the official government. It is accountable to the doctrines put forth by the powerful Islamic clerics of Al-Ahzar Institute. The religion of Islam, when merged with the state, can better exert Allah’s powerful hold over the individual. Only then can it fulfill its destiny. While controlling Egypt, Islam’s elite, in turn, have control over its whole world of believers. Their race for world domination begins in Egypt.
Brave Egyptians resisting the system and exposing ideological underpinnings will eventually erode Islam’s backward concepts and entwinement with the state. It can rob power from religionists and lead to the release of followers around the world. Believers can then be inspired to replace blind obedience and fear with individual thinking, free will and assimilation into Western societies – a hopeful scenario.
When the subject is Israel, passions flare. In Egypt last week, a hornet’s nest of reactions surrounded Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II’s decision to go to Jerusalem upon the death of the Coptic Church’s second-in-command, Bishop Abraham, who was head of the Jerusalem and Near East Orthodox Diocese in Jerusalem since 1992. Respectful of the bishop’s last will and testament designating Jerusalem as his final resting place, Tawadros II led a delegation of clergy from Cairo to Israel.
When the church announced the news of Pope Tawadros II’s trip to lead the bishop’s funeral, angry reactions flooded the Egyptian media—writers, intellectuals and politicians ran the gamut of speculation and opinion over the “real” reasons for the pope’s visit. In order to go to Israel, Tawadros II had to disobey the Coptic Orthodox 1980 Holy Synod Resolution inherited from his predecessor, Pope Shenuda III even though he pointedly upheld the resolution upon his installation three years ago. The edict forbids Orthodox Christians to travel to Israel without exception.
Just three weeks ago the Egyptian court sentenced Egypt’s former Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, to the death penalty after evidence presented from Egyptian intelligence documents proved him guilty of spying for Qatar, Iran and Turkey.
There are more than one hundred names on the list with him who are all convicted of the same crimes: murdering protesters, transferring top secret military documents to foreign countries, and burning the museum library which destroyed rare manuscripts and ancient artifacts.
The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner,
Please allow me to congratulate you on your tremendous success in having Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu address Congress. The world needs to hear the truth from our friend, Israel. For decades Israel has suffered terrorist aggression from neighboring states.
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