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:firstname.lastname@example.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
The Ottawa Citizen 1101 Baxter Road, Box 5020 Ottawa, ON K2C 3M4 Tel.: (613) 829-9100; Fax: (613) 726-1198 Jennifer Green: email@example.com Kurt Johnson, Letters to the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 athttp://www.psepc-sppcc.gc.ca /abt/electronic-en.asp or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister for Foreign AffairsThe 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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.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: email@example.com
Your Member of ParliamentGo to: www.parl.gc.ca and enter your postal code to find your MP's contact details.