Egypt

U.S. Muslims Worry About Fall-Out from Libya Attacks

Alex Wong/Getty Images

An American flag flies at half staff outside the State Department September 12. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Muslim Americans condemned violence in Egypt and Libya that left four Americans dead, but remain concerned that the deaths could rekindle anti-Muslim sentiment just as post-9/11 resentment was starting to ebb.

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three embassy workers were killed on Tuesday when fundamentalist protestors attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in response to a low-budget film that attacks Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, reportedly made by an Israeli real estate developer who lives in California. 

Imam Talal Eid, the Islamic chaplain at Brandeis University near Boston and a former member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, predicted the violence would lead to “more resentment” against Muslims, who he criticized for not doing enough against terrorism. 

U.S. Muslims and Coptic Christians Petition Egypt Not to Include Shariah

Photo: Egyptian Copt pilgrim visit the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem

Photo: Egyptian Copt pilgrim visit the church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem: Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

Muslim and Coptic Christian leaders in the U.S. are calling on the Egyptian government to exclude any mentions of Islamic law or language that discriminates against minorities in its draft constitution.

In an letter released Tuesday, the leaders urge the constitution writers to "recognize the equality of all Egyptians and to reject any language that would discriminate against any citizen of Egypt on the basis of that citizen’s religion or gender.”

Because Egypt is home to millions of Christians, attempts to describe Islamic law, or Shariah, as the source of the country’s law should also be rejected, the letter said.

Jimmy Carter Tries to Pull the Log from America’s Eye

Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/GettyImages

President Jimmy Carter in Egypt last month. Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/GettyImages

Earlier this week, former President Jimmy Carter critiqued the United States for its (read: our) deteriorating record on human rights and rule of law in the last decade.

But those responding to Carter's New York Times Op-Ed (“A Cruel and Unusual Record”) have largely missed his main point. In the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, Carter wants to lead America in removing the log from our own eye in hopes of honoring God and regaining our position as champions of human rights and rule of law.

During his visit to Cairo for the Egyptian elections, Carter met with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar — the most authoritative voice in Sunni Islam. Discussing human rights, religion, and the historic election that was taking place outside, Carter exhibited a rare humility in articulating his convictions. I feel that a whole range of human interactions might be improved if we would each remove the log from our own eye before trying to remove the speck from our neighbor’s.

Sitting with women’s rights activists and top Christian leadership; in private briefings and press conferences, this self-critique proved central to Carter’s efforts to build trust and advance human rights in Egypt and around the world.

After decades of lectures from the White House and U.S. State Department, much of the world has grown tired of the West’s wagging finger and “holier than thou” attitude. There may have been an era when this posture had a greater effect, but the U.S. has lost too much of its moral credibility in the wake of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and drone strikes carried out against the President Obama's “Hit List”.

Coptic Christian Ex-patriots Keep Wary Eye on Egyptian Elections

RNS photo courtesy St. Mary & St. Verena Coptic Orthodox Church

Rev. Joseph Boules performs a service at St. Mary & St. Verena Coptic Orthodox Church in Anaheim, Calif. RNS photo

The fate of Copts looks as tenuous as ever as Egyptians struggle to determine who won this weekend's first-ever democratic presidential elections. Presented with what many saw as a lose-lose proposition, Egyptians had a choice between Ahmed Shafiq, former prime minister of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, or Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who many fear will turn the country into an Islamic state.

Though final results are not yet in, the Muslim Brotherhood has projected its candidate as the winner. Within hours, Egypt’s military caretaker government, which is seen as sympathetic to Mubarak's old regime, issued an interim constitution that granted itself broad power.

Carl Moeller, who leads the Southern California-based Open Doors USA, an organization that works with persecuted Christians worldwide, estimates that approximately 100,000 Coptic Christians abandoned the country for the U.S. or Europe last year following the turbulence of the Arab Spring and attacks on Coptic churches.

Egypt Court: Parliament Dissolved, Elected Illegally

CNN reports on worrying developments in Egypt:

"Egypt's highest court on Thursday declared the country's parliament invalid and cleared the way for a member of former President Hosni Mubarak's regime to run in a presidential election runoff this weekend.

The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that parliament must be dissolved, state TV reported. An Egyptian constitutional law expert told CNN that following the court's decision, a political decision would be made about whether to dissolve parliament.

Following the ruling, Egypt's interim military rulers claimed to have full legislative control of government. Parliament had been in session for just over four months."

Evangelicals, Muslims Seek to Shape Common Values in Post-Revolution Egypt

Christianity Today reports:

17 Coptic evangelical leaders met with five Muslim Brotherhood counterparts at the Brotherhood's headquarters on February 28, and crafted a joint statement of common values that both sides agree the new Egyptian constitution and government should uphold. Evangelicals comprise a minority of Egyptian Christians, almost 90 percent of whom are Coptic Orthodox.

Read more about this story here

Pope Shenouda Mourned in Funeral (Video)

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian Christian Copts wait in the queue at St. Mark's Coptic Cathedral. (GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of Coptic Christians mourned the death of Pope Shenouda III in a funeral mass at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. Thousands more, unable to get inside, crowded the streets outside the Cathedral. The rite was movingly chanted by bearded, black-robed priests and monks as mourners joined in and wept.

Following the mass, The Pope’s body was flown to Wadi al-Natroun, a fourth-century monastery in the northwest Nile Delta for internment.

Remembering Pope Shenouda III: 'A Heart for Unity'

Pope Shenuda III leads Christmas midnight mass, 2010. (AMR AHMAD/AFP/Getty Image

Pope Shenuda III leads Christmas midnight mass, 2010. Photo by AMR AHMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Shenouda led what many would call a biblical and spiritual life — the heartbeat of this ancient church. He loved the Bible, studying it thoroughly, memorizing vast passages, and teaching classes on its content — something unusual in the practices of this liturgical church. After becoming Pope in 1971, for many years he would teach from the Bible on a weekday night (I think it was always Wednesday) in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo. He would schedule his world travels to be back in time for these Bible studies. The cathedral would be packed, and Pope Shenouda would patiently answer the questions raised by those coming to listen and learn.

When I first met Pope Shedouda in 2004, I was general secretary of the Reformed Church in America, leading a denominational delegation to the Middle East. At the close of our “audience” — a time of rich conversation — I presented him with a small travel Bible which had been printed by the RCA. It was the NRSV translation. He took it gracefully, but immediately looked up a particular verse in the New Testament that was of concern, and promptly announced that the NRSV’s translation was inaccurate.

The Bible Society of Egypt, which loved Pope Shenouda’s biblical emphasis, is using the occasion of his funeral this week to reach out to the society. Pope Shenouda’s call to ministry came in 1945, when he read a passage from the Bible in the window of a bookstore of the Bible Society of Egypt. The organization has prepared a pamphlet summarizing his life and love of the Scriptures, and printed 1,000,000 copies for distribution. 

Today’s funeral will provide a focus of national attention of the extraordinary life of this church leader.

Coptic Christians Mourn Death of Pope Shenouda III

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian Christian Copts wait in the queue at St. Mark's Coptic Cathedral. (GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Egyptian Christians are mourning the death of Pope Shenouda III, the longtime leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who died on Saturday (March 17) at the age of 88.

His funeral will be on Wednesday (March 21) at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, where his body has been sitting in state on a large wooden throne.

Tributes have come in from around the world, with Pope Benedict XVI offering prayers and President Obama praising Pope Shenouda as an "advocate for tolerance and religious dialogue."

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