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596Four Christians arrested in Egypt

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  • aggreen1
    Apr 1, 2004
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      Four Christians arrested in Egypt -31/3/04

      Four Christians have been arrested in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt after
      police found that they had Bibles and Christian music tapes in their
      possession, according to reports received by the Jubilee Campaign.

      The four Christians - Peter Nady Kamel, Ishaq Dawoud Yassa, John Adel
      and Andrew Sa'id - all University students at Cairo or Minya
      Universities. They had gone together to the beach resort town of
      Sharm El-Sheikh, by the Red Sea, for a Christian retreat and stayed
      at a hotel.

      They were arrested in their hotel rooms by local police at 9 a.m on
      January 26th 2004. Their rooms were searched and all their
      possessions confiscated. The four Christians have been charged with
      forming a group that threatens the national unity, social peace and
      national security. They appeared before the District Prosecutor on
      January 29 and March 28. Their next appearance before the Prosecutor
      is scheduled for May 8 and their detention has been extended at least
      till that date.

      Jubilee Campaign believes it is highly likely that the Christians
      have been wrongly accused of having the Bibles and Christian tapes
      for the purposes of evangelising Muslims, since such actions are
      often condemned by the authorities as "threatening national unity".

      Pope Shenouda the Third, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church in
      Egypt, mentioned briefly the arrest of the Christians in a speech,
      but did not say who the detained Christians were. In that same speech
      Pope Shenouda publicly condemned the kidnapping of Christian girls at
      supermarkets. These girls are falsely told that they have won a prize
      and to go upstairs to collect it. When they go to collect it, they
      are kidnapped for forced conversion to Islam.

      The families of the kidnapped girls met with Pope Shenouda on Sunday
      March 21st and had a second meeting with him on Thursday March 25th.
      At the second meeting, Colonel Ahmad Mostafa, a police officer with
      special responsibilities for affairs of the Christian community, was
      present. He listened to the families' accounts regarding the
      kidnapping of their family members but did not make any comments.

      The Christian human rights organisation, Jubilee Campaign, has been
      campaigning for kidnapped Egyptian Christian girls for several years
      and believe that the forced conversion of Egyptian Christians to
      Islam is an escalating problem, fuelled by police and government
      indifference to the plight of Christian kidnap victims.

      Jubilee Campaign's Researcher and Parliamentary Officer, Wilfred
      Wong, said; " While Jubilee Campaign welcomes the police officer's
      willingness to meet with the families of kidnap victims, we know that
      the Egyptian authorities have in the past shown apparent concern for
      the problems of Egyptian Christians, only to end up doing nothing
      concrete about it. We therefore intend to continue lobbying the
      Egyptian government regarding the kidnapping of Christians until they
      actually ensure that the victims are returned to their families and
      the kidnappers are punished.

      "We are also campaigning for the release of the four detained
      Egyptian Christians. It is unusual for Egyptian Christians to get
      into trouble just for having Bibles and Christian tapes in their
      possession and these arrests signify an increasing willingness by the
      police to detain Christians on the slightest pretext."

      The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the
      views of Ekklesia

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