10/20/2010, 00.00
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Islamic fundamentalism rising in Egypt, government suspends 12 TV channels

The decision is taken because channels were broadcasting shows that incited religious hatred, including murder. Pro-Coptic associations complain about an atmosphere of growing intolerance.

Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Egypt's state-owned Nilesat has temporarily suspended 12 television channels for promoting religion hatred, violence and quack medicine, the information minister said on Tuesday. "This decision was taken after extensive study that indicated a near doubling of these channels over the past year and a recent spike of extremist religious discourse," Anas Al-Feki said in a statement.

“Among the most egregious of these violations are repeated broadcast calls by extremist presenters for the excommunication, banishment and murder of Shiites and the promotion of so-called 'herbal cures' for cancer and hepatitis B and C," he said.

An additional 20 channels were given citations. The move comes after Nilesat dropped five channels it said promoted religious intolerance.

Upcoming elections in November are contributing to a tense situation in terms of inter-faith relations.

US-based Coptic Solidarity noted an “alarming upsurge of significant anti-Coptic activities over the recent weeks”.

The Coptic rights group is concerned that daring incitements might turn into a wave of generalised violence.

The incidents include a series of “wild demonstrations" in Cairo and other cities, the latest on 8 October, in which demonstrators demanded the delivery of a Coptic priest’s wife, whom they claim had converted to Islam.

Despite “vehement affirmations” that the conversion rumours are baseless, leaders of the demonstrations vowed to carry on with more mob outbursts and “other daring means” until the woman is handed over.

In another recent incident, an Islamic book publisher printed a "forged Bible" that the Coptic Church said amounted to blasphemy and religious intolerance.

The owner of the Islamic Enlightenment Publishing House, Abuislam Abdullah, wrote in the introduction of the publication that the goal of printing the text was to “prove” there are multiple versions of the Bible and that Christians had “forged theirs.”

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