On Wednesday morning, October 20, 2010, Dr. Monir Dawoud, president of the American Coptic Association, led a rally in front of the United Nations’ New York headquarters to “demonstrate [against] the impending massacre and ethnic cleansing of our people — the Coptic-Christians of Egypt — by the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood groups helped by the Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak.”
Dr. Dawoud stated in his press release that the aim of the rally was to “protest the recent attacks against His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, and the threats by Muslims to kill him, as well as denounce the bloodshed, murder, abducting and Islamizing of young Christian girls. “Additionally, this rally is aimed at publicizing “the murder of six young men while getting out of church after their Christmas mass on January 6, 2010, and the Egyptian court’s continued delay in the killers’ trial.”
Dr. Dawoud explained that “Copts are afraid to venture out of their homes in fear of being attacked,” and added, “Ten attacks of this type have taken place in the last five weeks, an average of two such attacks a week. “
The latest campaign against the Copts (the original inhabitants of Egypt preceding the arrival of Arab Muslims and one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East) began on September 15, when Muhammad Salim al-Awa, the ex-secretary general of the International Union of Muslim Scholars and a prominent Egyptian voice, appeared on Al Jazeera and accused the Copts of “stocking arms and ammunition in their churches and monasteries.” In this same interview, the interviewer mentioned that a month earlier, according to the Egyptian newspaper Al Shurouk, the Egyptian security agencies apprehended a cargo ship laden with explosives from Israel. The authorities arrested the ship owner, Joseph Boutros Jabalawi, son of the deputy head of the Coptic Church in Port Said.
In an angry tirade, al-Awa made obscure and unfounded charges including the claim that the Pope had said that Egypt was “our [Christian] country” to the exclusion of Muslims. Al-Awa accused the Pope and the Coptic church of “political activities” and warned that “fire would spread throughout the country.” He then surmised that the alleged weapons the Copts are hoarding “can only have one purpose – to be used against Muslims,” and he asserted moreover that the Coptic-Christians want to “split Egypt into two states,” namely Muslim and Christian.
Al-Awa also inferred that the Copts are a “fifth column” and that Israel, the alleged heart of the Coptic cause, is preparing to wage war against Muslims. He made the outrageous claim that Egypt’s security agents cannot enter the monasteries to investigate or uncover the weapons. In Mubarak’s dictatorship, the Coptic churches are at the mercy of the authorities who regularly deny permission to repair churches or build new ones in Egypt.
Following al-Awa’s lead, Muslim leaders began to inflame the Muslim population by circulating rumors that the church and Pope Shenouda III kidnap Coptic women who willingly converted to Islam, and then trap the women in desert monasteries, all the while torturing them and re-indoctrinating them back to Christianity.
On October 8, 2010, 500 Egyptian Salafists (fundamentalist Muslims who follow the examples of the early Muslims) demonstrated in front of the Ibrahim Mosque in Alexandria after Friday prayers and demanded that the alleged “Muslim” women, held against their will by the Coptic Church, be released and allowed to be interviewed on TV. They also charged that Father Bishoy, Secretary of the Holy Synod, be put on trial regarding alleged comments questioning the authenticity of the Koran.