Fanatical Drive Against Copts

Things have escalated rather rapidly.

It seems that the Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda has taken it personally that two wives of Coptic priests who allegedly converted to Islam have been ‘kidnapped’ by the Church, and have called for their immediate release. If not, they say, prepare to face some serious consequences. They have called on Muslims all over the world to put bombs in Coptic Churches.

Never mind that so far as the objective evidence shows, the two women in question NEVER converted to Islam. One of them not only went on national television to state that, but was also supported by an official statement from Al Azhar mosque that confirming that she never became Muslim (read here). The issues of these two women were patently of a personal and not a religious nature and seem now to have been more or less resolved. Given that these issues actually flared up some years ago (around 2004, I believe) one wonders why Iraqi Al Qaeda have suddenly gotten so worked up about private Egyptian matters years after the event? The answer is most likely that these ladies are just an excuse.

Consider the outright hypocrisy. Is Al Qaeda genuinely concerned that these two ladies should have freedom to practice the religion of their choice? Had that been the case, then why do they not protest against the hundreds, perhaps thousands of abductions of innocent Christian girls and their forced conversion to Islam? Surely what’s good for the goose is good for the gander?

No, Al Qaeda, and fanatics in general do not care for things like religious freedom. They not even really care about their own religion, Islam. What they care about is tribalism. They are simply living out the outdated culture of the Arabian desert, where one defended one’s tribe at any cost. And one strove by all possible means to make one’s tribe superior to others, to have control over others. No insult to the tribe could be tolerated, for it wounded the tribe’s reputation and honour, and had to be defended.

The service of Fr Zakaria Botros on the internet, through which he has inspired thousands of conversions from Islam to Christianity, has cut this desert sense of honour very deeply indeed. Muslim fanatics have tried everything to stop him, including putting a bounty of $60,000,000 on his head, but all to no avail as he continues to elude them, much like Osama Bin Laden himself continues to elude the West, in fact. The big difference between Bin Laden and Fr Zakaria is that one wins souls through love, rational argument and free conviction while the other strives bring his enemies to their knees through sheer brute force and violence. History will decide which strategy works best.

What has the world come to when a man of peace and love like Pope Shenouda has to have metal detectors at the doors of the cathedral to prevent him being attacked during his weekly sermon? Again, the question that begs to be answered is: Why is the decent minded Muslims majority silent? In a bizarre twist, it was the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who came out strongest among the Muslim community against the attacks in Iraq and the threatened attacks on Coptic Churches. The Egyptian Government also issued strong statements rejecting being held hostage to terrorist threats. For this, both are to be applauded. But the fact remains that terrorists and fanatics like those in Iraq can only thrive within a community that allows them to do so. There is a time-worn adage that bad things happen because good people allow them to happen. Sometimes, good people are silent because they fear violence themselves, but sometimes they are silent because they just think it’s none of their business. The Iraqi Al Qaeda fanatics could never have done what they have had they been pressured by the society around them not to be so fanatical.

Let all people of good conscience pray for the peaceful resolution of this crisis.

Fr Ant

More to read:

The pursuit of Fr Zakaria:

Update on events:

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4 Replies to “Fanatical Drive Against Copts”

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Fr Zakaria Botros has no formal ties with the Coptic Church, in fact he has been stripped of his priesthood, he just refuses to take off the garb. Although the Church has not formally excommujnicated the man, he has been accused of evangelical preaching and in the words of HE Metropolitan Bishoy, ‘we only continue to associate with him because he refuses to take off his preistly clothes, once he does so, the Church will sever all ties and make no further comment on his doings’.
    The Church’s hesitance to excommunicate him, I believe is purely motivated by the fact that the Church does not want to be seen in the Muslim world as denying what he is saying (because his excommunication would mean essentially that). But on the same token the Church does not condone or ‘agree with’ anything he has to say, and it has worned its people not to listen to his preaching.

    In actual fact, Zakaria Botros’ television program airs on the Arabic version of Joyce Meyer Ministries, a televangical network. You may notice he occasionally makes reference to the woman, while he always fails to make reference to the Coptic Orthodox Church and its heirarchal authorities who he is supposedly tied to.
    You may remember some years back, a Coptic deacon in the Diocese of Melbourne was excommunicated by the Holy Synod for preaching evangelical doctrine, and he ended up starting his own christian congregation (I don’t remember the name of the man or his following, I remember reading it in Keraza). This man is Zakaria Botros’ son! (While this may be beside the point I’m trying to make here, it’s still a point worth noting in any case).

    To be absolutely frank, I don’t like Zakaria Botros! I don’t like his mannerism or the way he preaches! A respectful clergyman is supposed to preach with love, not insulting intensity. On occasion when I’ve watched him, I’ve tried to imagine one of the priests from my parish preaching in the same way, only to further think how ridiculous that would sound if I heard one of them preaching from the pulpit in like manner. Zakaria Botros may be stating facts about Islam, but he is going about it the wrong way (I think so anyway) and if I were a Muslim I probably would be insulted. Actually, as a Copt I’m insulted that the world who sees him would think that his manner and his approach to ‘winning souls’ is typical of Coptic clergymen.

    So the problem here is this; while the Church has explicitly stated it does not condone his preaching, it has refused to excommunicate him, despite having the question posed by even Egyptian Muslim Clerics and Egyptian media. So it is no wonder the fanatics are enraged.
    Even though I can see that the Church is stuck between a rock and a hard place, in that if it does excommunicate him it will be seen as denying the things he states (which is something the Church obviously doesn’t want), while if it doesn’t excommunicate him it opens itself up to the fanatics; I think something needs to be done such that the Church formally distances itself from him, if for nothing more than for the sake of its own faithful, many of whom are Botros’ biggest followers exposing themselves to his evangelical thought.

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  2. Interesting article! I truly impressed to read the concept about the plan of salvation. Thanks đŸ™‚

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  3. “Let all people of good conscience pray for the peaceful resolution of this crisis.” – I understand where you’re coming from and I’m hoping and praying that this issue will be resolved peacefully soon… God bless you all!

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