Coptic Christians

The Case for Egypt

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Dear Friends and Partners, You have seen much in the news once again these past days about the situation in Egypt. As a result, we would like to take this opportunity to share with you the heart of the Egyptian people because much of the western news coverage is avoiding the real issues.

The press casually refers to the military’s removal of President Morsi as a “coup” while many governments are trying to avoid the term, all the while finding ways to express support for the ousted president in the name of “democracy”. Yet unlike a typical military coup where an army acts on its own agenda, this action by the Egyptian army was taken in fulfillment of the will of the people and deserves our support.

Mohammed Morsi was elected one year ago in elections that the press praised as Egypt’s first-ever “free and fair” elections. We did not believe these elections were free and fair then and we do not believe so now. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters used threats and other undemocratic methods to get the Egyptian people to vote for him, and in some areas they actually prevented Christians from voting. But his election is really a side issue – the critical point is that even if Morsi had been elected in truly free, democratic elections, he has since lost his legitimacy and the mandate of the people.

The people of Egypt, through demonstrations and petitions backed by millions of citizens, have demanded the removal of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies because they have turned their backs on the people. Together they have been quietly busy for the last year taking measures to transform Egypt into an Islamist state and seizing unlimited power for the president in a show of authoritarianism at least equal to anything President Mubarak ever attempted. All this time, they have ignored the country’s economy and allowed – even encouraged – attacks on minorities, particularly the large Coptic community, to increase with impunity. All this time the international community and the West have ignored these anti-democratic moves, but the Egyptian people have noticed and their quiet protests have grown, culminating in the mass demonstrations of the last two weeks. In the result, the pope of the Coptic Church and others, including the leadership of the influential Muslim al-Azhar university, have openly supported the army’s actions, leading to cries for violence from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Most Egyptians – Muslim, Christian, or others – want peace. They want jobs and education for their children and a role in shaping their future and the country they love. Unfortunately, however, there is a large portion of the population, represented by the Muslim Brotherhood and even more radical groups, who believe that the only future for Egypt lies in imposing their restrictive and intolerant brand of Islam on all Egyptians, using whatever means necessary. Just to drive home their point, since Morsi’s removal a priest and a number of other Christians have been murdered and Christian homes, businesses, and churches have been attacked and burned in four major cities to date.

OFWI is greatly concerned over the increasing violence and open calls by the Muslim Brotherhood for attacks against Christians. The international community that supported the people of Egypt two years ago when they rose up against President Mubarak must not now be silent when those same people demand the removal of his successor who cares even less for democracy and his people. We must speak out and support the people of Egypt and help them work toward truly free and fair elections as soon as possible.

At the same time, we must never forget that democracy is not an end in itself or democracy will become the new tyranny. As we and many others have repeatedly pointed out, even Hitler came to power through truly free and fair elections. Rather, democracy is simply a tool whose purpose is to enable us – all of us – to live peaceful and quiet lives in the pursuit of happiness or godliness or holiness, according to our choices. True democracy is not exercised on election day once every four or five years; true Democracy proves itself as it is lived out every single day between elections. In this, last year’s Egyptian elections have failed. Let us stand up for Democracy and let us stand with the Egyptian people.

Please pray:

• for peace and security for all Egyptian people, and especially for the Christians and other minorities, at this difficult time of division, uncertainty, threats, and violence; and,

• that democracy, human rights, and religious freedom would win the day over all forms of tyranny and intolerance in Egypt, and that the military and interim leaders would be guided by the best interests of all the Egyptian people and not be sidetracked by the taste of power as they move forward on the road to democracy and the defeat of religious extremism.

ACTION:

The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):

• to your Prime Minister and Foreign Minister or your President and Secretary of State, demanding that they support the principles of true democracy and not just the appearance of democracy and that, accordingly, they stand behind the Egyptian people as they did two years ago and support the actions the Egyptian army has taken to try to keep the course toward democracy on track; and,

• to the ambassador of Egypt in your country, expressing your support for the people of Egypt and for the army’s actions in supporting the principles of true democracy; ask them to ensure protection for minorities in light of the threats from the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic extremists and don’t forget to inform them that you will be watching with great interest the progress of their country as soon as possible toward truly free and fair elections guided by the principles of democracy and human rights.

Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at:

info@onefreeworldinternational.org

Remember that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling.  They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.

"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.

Be with God and may God be with you.

Rev. Majed El Shafie President and Founder One Free World International El Shafie Ministries

CONTACT:

In Canada: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street Ottawa, ON   K1A 0A2 Fax: (613) 941-6900 Email: pm@pm.gc.ca

The Honourable John Baird Minister for Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs Canada 125 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON   K1A 0G2 Tel.: (613) 996-0984; Fax: (613) 996-9880 Email: john.baird@parl.gc.ca

His Excellency Wael Aboul-Magd Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt 454 Laurier Avenue East Ottawa, ON   K1N 6R3 Tel.: (613) 234-4931; Fax: (613) 234-4398 Email: egyptemb@sympatico.ca

In the United States: President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Tel.: 202-456-1111; Fax: (202) 456-2461 Webform: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Secretary John Kerry U.S. Department of State 2201 C Street NW Washington, DC  20520 Tel.: (202) 647-4000 (Main switchboard) http://contact-us.state.gov/app/ask

His Excellency Mohamed M. Tawfik Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt 3521 International Ct. NW Washington DC  20008 Tel.: (202) 895-5400; Fax: (202) 244-5131 Email: embassy@egyptembassy.net

Reverend El Shafie Under Attack

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Reverend El Shafie Under Attack

Dear Friends and Partners,

Reverend El Shafie has been attacked by the Egyptian Ambassador to Canada as One Free World International continues its struggle on behalf of Coptic Christians seeking refugee status in Canada. On April 28, 2007 the Ottawa Citizen carried an excellent piece by Jennifer Green, Senior Writer, Faith and Ethics, on how the Canadian refugee system is failing Coptic Christians fleeing persecution in Egypt (“The Persecuted”). Ms. Green highlighted several of the cases we have been working on, focusing on the case of Atef Botros and his wife who face deportation even though their two young children were born in Canada. The article, which covered most of the first two pages of the Observer section, was well-researched and balanced with comment from all sides, including Rev. El Shafie, refugee advocates, the Egyptian Ambassador, and a spokesperson for the Immigration and Refugee Board.

On May 1st, the Egyptian Ambassador responded to the article with a letter to the editor (“Zero tolerance in Egypt for persecution of Copts”) criticizing the Citizen for publishing “fantastic alleged stories” and a “collection of hearsay anecdotes without a shred of proof”. Claiming that Copts and Muslims live in peace and harmony, the Ambassador stated, “In Egypt, there is zero tolerance for terrorism or persecution of Copts.”

The Citizen published Rev. El Shafie’s response on May 4th (“Christians are being persecuted in Egypt”) in which he refuted the Ambassador’s claims with specific examples of persecution and government inaction, including the 2006 Easter attack in Alexandria. Beyond the persecution of Christians, he showed how the treatment of Bahá’í’s and rising anti-semitism demonstrate the general lack of religious freedom in Egypt and challenged the Ambassador to ensure that truth, justice, and human rights prevail in Egypt.

The ambassador replied on May 7th (“Egypt guarantees freedom to practise your faith”) with a letter attacking Rev. El Shafie stating, “For several years, [Rev. El Shafie] has been the main source of a campaign to blemish Egypt's image.” Rather than face the claims of persecution directly, he called them “wild allegations”, offered feeble excuses for the violence, and claimed that the refugees are simply trying to circumvent Canadian immigration procedures.

Refusing to be intimidated, Rev. El Shafie responded on May 9th (“Envoy offers insults over facts”), pointing to specific facts about the Easter attack and to well-documented incidents to highlight the truth. In the meantime, and as if to prove our point, seven Christian shops and several houses were set on fire and destroyed when clashes erupted this past Friday, May 11th, in the village of Behma south of Cairo. At least 10 Christians were injured, suffering burns, head injuries, or broken bones. News agencies quoted security sources that the clashes resulted when Muslim anger was sparked by rumours that Christians did not have a permit for a church they planned to build. The imam of the local mosque, a religious official paid by the government, further incited the crowd during Friday prayers. Police watched the violence but did nothing to intervene and, while several people were arrested in the aftermath, they were released immediately.

In the face of fierce opposition, One Free World International will continue the struggle for truth, justice, and religious freedom. We will not be intimidated by insults or attacks on our character which only highlight the weakness of those who seek to justify the unjustifiable.

 

Please PRAY:• that the media attention would galvanize the Canadian government to finally take action on behalf of Coptic Christians and the refugees would experience the victory of the Lord;

• pray that the Christians in Egypt would be strengthened and encouraged in their faith and would have the boldness to stand up for their faith in the midst of oppression;

• for Rev. El Shafie’s continued safety and for wisdom and boldness in pressing ahead toward victory; and,

• that the Egyptian Ambassador would recognize the truth and justice of the Coptic Christians’ claims and that he would experience the love and forgiveness of the Lord.

 

ACTION:The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):

• to Jennifer Green, Kurt Johnson (Letters Editor), and the Ottawa Citizen, thanking them for the courage to take on this issue and bring attention to the plight of Coptic Christians in Egypt and seeking refuge in Canada;

• to the Ministers of Immigration and Public Safety, the Honourable Diane Finlay and the Honourable Stockwell Day, as well as your Member of Parliament, urging the government to take immediate action to stop the deportations and ensure that the refugees’ right to asylum is respected;

• to the Ambassador of Egypt insisting that Egyptian authorities respect and enforce religious freedom and human rights for everyone in Egypt, regardless of their religion, and put an end to the discrimination, persecution, and attacks against Christians and other religious minorities; and,

• to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, encouraging the government to take the situation of Christians in Egypt seriously and to use its trade and aid relations with Egypt to pressure the Egyptian government into securing true religious freedom for all Egyptian citizens.

Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at:info@onefreeworldinternational.org

Remember, that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling.  They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.

"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.

Be with God and may God be with you.

One Free World International El Shafie Ministries

CONTACT:

The Ottawa Citizen 1101 Baxter Road, Box 5020 Ottawa, ON   K2C 3M4 Tel.: (613) 829-9100; Fax: (613) 726-1198 Jennifer Green: jgreen@thecitizen.canwest.com Kurt Johnson, Letters to the Editor: letters@thecitizen.canwest.com

Minister for Citizenship and Immigration The Honourable Diane Finley Citizenship and Immigration Canada Ottawa, ON   K1A 1L1 Tel: (613) 996-4974; Fax: (613) 996-9749 Email: Minister@cic.gc.ca

Minister for Public Safety The Honourable Stockwell Day House of Commons Ottawa, ON   K1A 0A6 Tel: (613) 991-2924; Fax: (613) 998-9589 Email: use the form at http://www.psepc-sppcc.gc.ca /abt/electronic-en.asp or ds@parl.gc.ca or days@parl.gc.ca

Minister for Foreign Affairs The Honourable Peter MacKay Foreign Affairs Canada 125 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON   K1A 0G2 Tel.: (613) 992-6022; Fax: (613) 992-2337 Email: MacKay.P@parl.gc.ca

Embassy of Egypt In Canada: His Excellency Mahmoud F. El-Saeed Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt 454 Laurier Avenue East Ottawa, ON   K1N 6R3 Tel.: (613) 234-4931, 4935 Fax: (613) 234-9347 / 234-4398 Email: egyptemb@sympatico.ca

In the United States: His Excellency Mohammed Nabil Ismael Fahmy Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt 3521 International Ct. N.W Washington, DC   20008 Tel.: (202) 895-5400 Fax: (202) 244-5131 / (202) 244-4319 Email: embassy@egyptembdc.org

In the United Kingdom: His Excellency Gihad Mohammed Mady Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt 26 South Street, Mayfair London, England   W1Y 6DD Tel.: (44 207) 499 2401 / 499 3304 Fax: (44 207) 355 3568 / 491 1542 Email: info@egyptianconsulate.co.uk

Your Member of Parliament Go to: www.parl.gc.ca and enter your postal code to find your MP's contact details.