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Egypt: Islamists Demand Placing Coptic Church Funds Under Egyptian State Control

09/02/2012 Leave a comment

So that they can then invent reasons to withhold it, deny it, or spend it elsewhere …

AINA – “Demands raised this week by Islamists in the Constituent Assembly, which is drafting the new Egyptian constitution, for placing the Church’s funds under state financial control were categorically rejected by church leaders and Copts at large. Anba Pakhomious, Acting Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, condemned the action of Salafist groups. ‘The mere submission of such a proposal is totally unacceptable, and if it is approved, this proposal has only one meaning, that Copts are clearly persecuted.’ He added that the church will not accept the monitoring of its money or donations by any entity, and should not pay taxes to the state because all its activities fall within the provision of the needs of orphans and needy Copts, and therefore the state cannot claim taxes because they are not investment projects.

Counselor Edward Ghaleb, one of the three Coptic Orthodox Church representatives in the Constituent Assembly, said that if the government does not fund the church in any way, how can it demand monitoring its resources. He said that it was illogical to take permission from Central Auditing Authority to budget for the food for the monks in monasteries, and in the ordination of priests, as well as the numerous services provided by the Coptic Church, which are completely funded by collections from Copts.

Father Matthias Nasr, priest of the Church of the Virgin Ezbet el Nakhl, said the state has never funded churches, unlike mosques, which get funding from the taxpayer money paid by Muslims and Christians. He said this new Salafist proposal is aimed at allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to dominate all institutions and exercised control on churches and Christians.

Khaled Saeed, spokesman for the Salafist Front, said the proposal of state monitoring of church funds came after the ‘insistence by some people’ to monitor funds of the Muslim Brotherhood, stressing that the Salafist front does not interfere in the religious beliefs. ‘There should be control over church funds,’ he said during a debate over the issue with Ramses El-Naggar, legal adviser to the Coptic Church, which was aired on the Egyptian independent TV Channel Al Hayat on August 28.

Saeed said the smallest monastery in Egypt is larger than the Vatican or Al-Azhar Mosque, which leads to concerns over the presence of a ‘church state within the Egyptian civil state.'” Read more.

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Egypt Shuts Down Last Jewish Synagogue, ‘It Seems This Is Really The End Of Jewish Life In Egypt’

09/02/2012 1 comment

The Jewish Press – “For the first time in 2,000 years, there will be no Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services at the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria in 5773, reports Daniel Greenfield in ‘In The Point.’

This was the last active synagogue in Egypt. The Egyptian authorities’ excuse for the shut-down, effectively outlawing High Holiday services in the country, were ‘security’ reasons.

Levana Zamir, head of the International Association of Egyptian Jews in Israel, said: ‘It seems this is really the end of Jewish life in Egypt. The authorities have found a way to take over the last Jewish bastion, since all the remaining synagogues are already archaeological and tourist sites. It is very sad.’

This is yet another example of the fact that Jewish life is becoming extinct in the Muslim world.” Source – The Jewish Press.

Kansas City Star: Christianity Faces A Middle Eastern Exodus, ‘Fear Is A Reality’

09/02/2012 1 comment

By Darryl Levings, The Kansas City Star – “The final outcome of the Arab Spring will not be known for years, perhaps decades, but in the meantime Christian communities across the Middle East continue to wither.

The latest to face a possible exodus are Syrian Christians, many of whom are on the wrong side of the deepening civil war there.

The birthplace of Christianity has held populations of denominations that predate Islam: Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Armenian Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Roman Catholic, Chaldean and Assyrian Christian.

But theses churches have never stopped shrinking, in early times because of conversions to Islam to escape discrimination or worse, and more recently from emigration, low birth rates compared to their Muslim neighbors and violence by extremists among them.

A century ago, Christians made up perhaps 1 in 5 of Middle East peoples. Today it’s not even 1 in 20.

Though criticized for their human-rights records, some authoritarian and secular regimes, such Syria’s Assads, ironhandedly crushed most religious strife.

But the toppling of Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt exposed a tragic result: resurgent Muslim radicals making life harder on the Christians of those lands.

Iraq is the most extreme example; two-thirds of its original 1.5 million Christians have fled homes and churches since U.S. forces invaded nine years ago. In Tunisia, a mob in June beheaded a convert to Christianity. A recent news story reported: ‘Dozens of Gaza Christians staged a rare public protest … claiming two congregants were forcibly converted to Islam and were being held against their will.’

The Syrian Christians may regret allying with President Bashar Assad against the majority Sunni Muslims. Assad belongs to the ruling Alawite minority, a sect out of mainstream Islam seen by fundamentalist Sunnis as heretical. Alawites make up about 12 percent of the Syrian population, same as Christians.

Some Christians have refused to take sides or have already fled to Lebanon. In Wadi al-Nasara, or the Valley of the Christians, west of Homs, some are fighting beside Alawite loyalists.

‘Many Christians in Syria believe that there’s no alternative to the Bashar Assad regime,’ Jesuit Father Paulo Dall’Oglio told the Wall Street Journal after being expelled by the government in June. Retribution is expected from the rebel groups supported by radical Wahhabist Muslims in Saudi Arabia.

‘We have been leading a life that has been the envy of many,’ said Isadore Battikha, who until 2010 served as the Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop of Homs, Hama and Yabroud. ‘But today fear is a reality.'” Read more.

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