01/27/2012, 00.00
EGYPT
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Salafist threats against Christians must stop, says Mahmoud Salem

Mahmoud Salem, a moderate Muslim and a member of the Free Egyptians Party, filed a suit against Yasser al-Bourhami, a Salafist cleric, accusing him of inciting hatred against Copts. He is also against any outrageous and violent use of Islam. So far, the authorities have ignored other suits filed by members of moderate Islamic parties.
Cairo (AsiaNews/ Agencies) – For Mahmoud Salem, Islamist threats against Christians and other religious minorities are an outrage and must be stopped. A Muslim blogger and defeated candidate for the Free Egyptian Party (FEP), he spoke to a newspaper, Egypt Independent. Last week, he filed a suit against Yasser al-Bourhami, a Salafist cleric, for his hateful statements about Egypt’s Christian community.

“I filed this suit as someone who is a Muslim and who dislikes such claims being made about his religion as if they represent me,” he said. “I’m not the first person to file a lawsuit against them, but nobody follows up and investigates it,” he added.

The suit was filed with the General Prosecutors’ Office. Now, Salem will have to wait a week to get a response, and if nothing happens, he will have to follow up on the case with his lawyer.

During the elections, al-Bourhami and other Salafists called on Muslims to boycott Christian stores. Also during Coptic Christmas celebrations, Islamist clerics called Muslim politicians and religious leaders who expressed Season’s Greetings to Christians as heretics.

“Disdain for religion, specifically Christianity, is something the Islamists completely abuse as a tool to terrorize the people they disagree with,” Salem told Egypt Independent.

Salafists are the worst offenders in the anti-Christian hate campaign. Thanks to their good showing in the polls, they have 20 per cent of the seats in parliament.

Fear among Christians and moderate Muslims has increased since Islamists won. Together, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists took 73 per cent of the vote, for a total of 358 seats out of 498.

In order to avoid losing support, the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Freedom and Justice Party has tried to reassure religious minorities about their future, stressing that they would enjoy the same rights as Muslims.

However, emboldened by their good showing at the polls, the Salafists have continued to call Christians ‘infidels’, promising to throw them out of the country.

Sources told AsiaNews anti-Coptic slogans and statements are daily occurrences on TV, radio and the Internet.

In an interview on 17 January with Al-Ahwat, a British-based Arabic satellite TV network, Mgr Yohanna Golta, bishop of Andropolis and vice patriarch of Catholic Copts, said that Christian fears are real. In the future, radical muslims will exploit their electoral breakthrough.

“Salafists keep on saying that Christians must leave the country or pay the jizya, the poll tax imposed on non-Muslims or dhimmi.” If this passes, “Copts will become strangers in their own land.”

However, Christian salvation cannot and must not come from Western nations, but from moderate Egyptian Muslims, who were with many Christians the real architects of the Jasmine Revolution. They are example of an Islam that respects people, minorities and human rights.
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