Egyptian Muslims rage against two Christian boys

Coptic Christians, who have been present in Egypt since apostolic times, are increasingly marginalized and frightened by Muslim violence.

Coptic Christians at prayer.


The Egyptian Prosecutor General ordered the release of the two Coptic Orthodox boys on October 4 who had been arrested and then kept in custody at a juvenile detention facility in Egypt. They had been accused by a local Muslim imam have allegedly urinating on sheets of paper on which were inscribed verses of the Koran in a village in the southern province of Beni Suef.
A court case has not yet been filed. But sources of the Coptic Orthodox community - such as attorney Aguib Gebrail - say that the swift release of the two boys was facilitated by a direct intervention of the President of Egypt, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, at the urging of his Coptic Orthodox assistant Samir Marcos. The boys may yet stand trial for the blasphemy charges.
Formally, the detention of the two children did not appear to comply with international conventions on children's rights signed by Egypt. In fact, Nabil Nagui Rizq (10) and Mina Nadi Farag (9) were placed in detention by security forces out of concern for their safety since a mob had been whipped up into anger by a local Muslim religious leader. The local police station was surrounded by the mob upon the news of the children's arrest. 
"The release of the two boys is good news, but the Egyptian media have not put a strong emphasis on the case," said  Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Botros Fahim Awad Hanna of Alexandria, the religious leader of Catholic Copts. A lack of attention by local media to the plight of Coptic Christians is no accident, said the bishop, who said "...often, allegations of offense against Islam always triggers an uproar, with great mobilization of groups that stoke the fire. When, at times, these allegations deflate, the accused persons are released on the sly, and no one knows anything."
Accusations made by Muslims against Christians for supposed blasphemy have steadily increased, especially since the release of a controversial YouTube video that was made by a Christian Egyptian that has been blamed by the White House and various Muslim governments for sparking violence and protests throughout the Muslim world. Bishop Fahim, however, sees that the reaction to the video remains a mystery. "Behind that movie," said Bishop Fahim to the Fides news service, "there was a political game. We have yet to understand who did it, who financed it, who put it online, and what purpose one wanted to obtain with that operation." 

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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