A Copt responds, on their not being Monophysites

I recently posted about the Lutheran video tribute to the 21 Coptic Martyrs of Libya, going on to address the accusation that the Copts are monophysite heretics.  Reader Ori Pomerantz shared the post with Medhat Ghabrial, a Coptic Christian, who wrote a fascinating comment on Facebook that I had to share with you (with his permission).

You can read it after the jump, but basically he says that the heresy charge was a political maneuver by the Church of Rome against its rival, the Church of Alexandria.  (Recall the prominence of Alexandria in the Early Church.)  Mr. Ghabrial points out that Alexandria was the center of Nicene orthodoxy.  After all, St. Athanasius was the bishop of Alexandria!  And the Copts to this day recite and consider authoritative the Athanasian Creed!  The Coptic Church is emphatically not monophysite, as the Roman Church itself now admits.

I still hear that charge, though, among Protestants, so Mr. Ghabrial’s point needs to be better known.  He also acknowledges that Coptic Christology is much like that of the Lutherans, a subject that needs to be better known as well! [Read more…]

A bold convert from Islam

Bishoy Armia Boulous converted from Islam to Christianity seven years ago and compounded his offense in the minds of most Egyptians by suing the government to give him a new Christian ID card.  Now he has been arrested–again–as a journalist for reporting on anti-Coptic violence and has been sentenced to 5 years in prison.  Christianity Today tells the story of this bold convert. [Read more…]

"Anti-Christianism" TV

Maria-TV is a new Egyptian television station, all of whose employees are women.  Though it’s getting attention in the West because all of its broadcasters wear the niqab, the total covering except for a slit for the eyes, the purpose of the station is to battle Christianity.  (The crusade for all Egyptian women to wear niqab, which the pre-revolutionary secular regime discouraged, itself targets women who are Coptic Christians, whose, of course, reject the veil, making them easily identified.)  This story includes a new word that, unfortunately, may get more and more currency:  “Anti-Christianism.”

Maria TV’s owner, Ahmed Abdallah, is a prominent Salafist preacher, well known in Egypt for his anti-Christian rhetoric. Abdallah and his son Islam, the channel’s chief executive, were arrested last month for burning a Bible during a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Sept. 11.

And while the women who work for Maria TV said they want to promote their belief that all Egyptian women should be covered, the channel also serves as a vehicle for what the chief executive said was an effort to dim the influence of Christianity in the Muslim-majority region. . . .

The all-female Maria TV launched July 19, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, broadcasting for four hours each day using al-Ummah’s satellite frequency. The channel takes its name from Maria al-Qibtiyya, an enslaved Coptic Christian from Egypt who became one of the wives of the prophet Muhammad. The name represents “transferring from slavery to freedom, from Christianity to Islam,” the chief executive said. . . .

The women at the channel say they find it ironic that the niqab is often seen as a symbol of oppression. “My freedom is Islam, my freedom to talk from my niqab, work in my niqab, go to university in my niqab,” the manager said. “So I am trying to bring across the idea that every human has a right to live and choose the lifestyle they find appropriate.”

During the interview, Islam Ahmed Abdallah stood up to answer a cellphone that had been ringing inside a plastic bag. After switching it off, he explained that it belonged to a former Coptic Christian his team had recently converted to Islam. New converts are not allowed to use technological devices during their first three months as Muslims, to prevent relatives or other loved ones from trying to make them reconsider, he said.

Makram-Ebeid, the Coptic woman who served in parliament, said some of her fellow Christians are terrified by what they see as a “wave of anti-Christianism.”

via Egypt’s Maria TV pitches strict vision of Islam – The Washington Post.

Shining with a painful love

Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute passed along a letter he received from his friend, a Coptic bishop in Egypt. It shows the spirit of the Christians there, as they endure terrible persecution (as we have been blogging about). They aren’t about preserving their Christian culture or taking vengeance or planning violence. They remain focused, through it all, on “painful love,” working forgiveness and praying for their persecutors:

Dear Friends,

Thank you for sharing our difficult time.

We are passing through a dark tunnel of violence, feeling grieve of death and injustice. The light of forgiveness is shining with a painful love. Trying to bring forgiveness and justice together is a big struggle, but we are committed to the love that never fails.

We are hardly pressed on every side, yet not crushed. We are perplexed but not lost, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. We do not lose heart and continue to work for justice to be fulfilled. We continue to love and declare forgiveness so the peace of God will overshadow all hearts. We continue to work on the healing and support of the innocent victims. And we continue to pray for the victims, for the offenders and for a better future.

Thank you all for your love, care, words and actions to bring justice and forgiveness together.

Bishop Thomas

Bishop Thomas Coptic Orthodox Bishopric
of Elqussia and Mair , Assuit ,Upper Egypt
& Anafora retreat farm Αnαφορα , Cairo , Egypt

Covering the massacres of Coptic Christians

Raymond Ibrahim details what is happening to Christians in Egypt and how the atrocities are covered–jargon for “reporting” but containing the metaphor of “hiding’– in our media:

Sunday [October 9], the Egyptian military opened fire on thousands of Christians protesting in Maspero, Cairo. In the words of one Christian eyewitness, armored vehicles “came at great speed and drove into the crowds, going backwards and forwards, mowing people under their wheels. The most horrible scene was when one of the vehicles ran over a Copt’s [Christian’s] head, causing his brain to explode and blood was all over the place. We got a clear message today that we are not first class citizens.”

Various numbers of casualties have been given; AINA asserts that at least 35 Christians were massacred, many beyond recognition, and over 300 wounded; hundreds are still missing. Graphic pictures of some of the slain can be seen here. [Go to the site for the link.]

Of course, you would not know any of this following the Western mainstream media (MSM). Conditioned to always appear “fair and balanced” — especially when the incidents being reported are neither — the MSM is giving the impression that the conflict consisted of equal violence and equal intolerance from both the military and “militant” Christians — or, to use the MSM’s favorite, and increasingly meaningless, euphemism, “sectarian strife,” conjuring up images of equally armed, equally militant factions fighting for supremacy.

Meanwhile, the MSM avoids the most obvious aspect of the conflict: religion, as Muslims — yet again — mow down infidel minorities for all to see.

While the military dictatorship cleanses Egypt of its Christian minority, the Egyptian media only depict images and “information” that comport with that agenda — all, of course, while naïve, gullible, or lazy Western reporters lap it up. State news, for example, asserted that armed Christians were on the offensive, killing three soldiers, injuring twenty, and burning state property — wanton lies, according to many eyewitnesses — yet perfectly in line with the MSM’s obsession never to portray Muslims as aggressors.

Accordingly, these distortions were unhesitatingly regurgitated by the MSM. The BBC’s headline was “Egypt troops dead after Coptic church protest in Cairo” [since changed] — as if that was the relevant news; the report’s opening sentence highlighted Christian protesters “clashing with security forces, with army vehicles burning outside the state television building,” again, portraying the protesters as the aggressors.

Even Fox News had its readers sympathizing with Egypt’s military, even as it was busy massacring Christian citizens: the report told of an Egyptian soldier “collapsing in tears” as Christians “attacked” his fellow soldier. Of course, watching nearly 20 members of the police beating, dragging, and kicking a Christian for protesting the burning of his church — all while shouting slogans like “You infidel son of a bitch” — might counterbalance Fox News’s weeping soldier.

After asking “Why have we seen an upsurge in sectarian violence this year?” a new CNN article titled “Egypt’s Tensions Explained” does anything but that. After stating that “the reasons are not clear” — code for “the reasons are not politically correct” — it blames “those opposed to democratic changes” and “efforts by extreme Islamist groups to resist attempts by the Copts to establish more churches” — again, careful to portray the Copts as somehow equally responsible as the Islamists who murder them.

And, as usual, while mentioning the numbers of dead and injured, the MSM devoutly refuses to indicate who the dead are: after all, the overwhelming majority are Christians, and that fact would throw a wrench in their “balanced” portrayal of equal culpability.

via VDH’s Private Papers:: The Egyptian Military’s Crimes Against Humanity.


How Christians are identified in Egypt

The Arab Spring in Egypt is resulting in riots and persecution targeting Coptic Christians, who make up some 10% of the population. This weekend some 17 were killed.  See  this.

So how can Egyptians tell if one of their countrymen is a Christian?  Well, in an act of defiance and self-identity and so everyone will know their religion, the Copts wear their faith on their sleeve, as it were.  They tattoo a Coptic Cross on their wrists.  (We blogged about this before, but I found a picture.)

Coptic tattoo