Monday, October 03, 2005

Dept. of World Peace and Stuff

WARNING: The following articles do not come with barf bags.

No, this is beyond parody:

Karen Hughes with His Holiness Pope Shenou

Karen Hughes Remarks with His Holiness Pope Shenouda

Karen Hughes, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Cairo, Egypt
September 26, 2005

(1:15 p.m. local time)

UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: It's such an honor for me to meet with His Holiness the Pope the head of the Coptic Christian Church who is so beloved by millions of Copts here in Egypt and in America and across our world. His Holiness is a man who wants peace and so as he talked with me very frankly about some of his concerns about war. He's a man who believes in love and the power of love to prevail. He is a man who has set a wonderful example of -- here in Egypt of how Christians and Muslims can strive to work together and through your friendship with Sheikh Tantawi who I met with yesterday.

You've set a wonderful example for the rest of us. President Bush asked me when I began this job to try to find ways to foster and encourage interfaith dialogue and understanding and build bridges of respect and tolerance between people of different faiths and people of different countries. And I think I've seen an outstanding example Your Holiness of that right here in Egypt.

HIS HOLINESS POPE SHENOUDA: I am very glad to welcome such a distinguished and honorable lady in America working with President Bush. All of us want to maintain peace in the whole world and also to maintain values and principles in my own people. We welcome her for her visit to Egypt. And we wish that this visit may be successful as far as we can cooperate together. America is a great country in the world and also a great country of technology, of politics and we wish that the representative of America today may be successful in her missions with also her assistant Dina Powell.


Released on September 26, 2005

Pope Shenouda rarely ever makes public pronouncements regarding the persecution of Christians but for him to have recently publicly mentioned these kidnappings of Egyptian Christian women is one disturbing indication that the problem is escalating sharply. Since the Egyptian authorities do nothing to help, the Muslims involved in these forced conversions are emboldened to increase the scale of their operations. Much prayer is needed against this evil phenomenon."

In his speech, Pope Shenouda also referred to an incident where some young Christian men were travelling and carrying some Bibles. They were arrested and interrogated by the authorities simply because they were in possession of a few Bibles.

There are about ten million or more Christians in Egypt, making them by far the largest Christian community in the predominantly Islamic Arab world. For many years Jubilee Campaign has been warning the international community that this also makes Egyptian Christians a prime target for Muslim fundamentalists, who want to rid the Arab world of such a large Christian presence by either converting them to Islam, driving them out of the country or killing them.

One notable site of this persecution is Egypt. "I have received so many letters," said the patriarch of Egypt's Coptic Church, Pope Shenouda III, in a speech last week, "about what's happening to the Christian girls who go to supermarket stores to shop. At the store they tell them that they have won and have to go upstairs to receive their award or prize. After that we don't know what's happening to these girls upstairs."

Whatever is happening, they aren't being given free coupons. Pope Shenouda adds: We don't know where they took the girls. They could be anywhere." They most likely have been taken to places where they can be pressured to convert to Islam. Says Wilfred Wong of the Jubilee Campaign, a Christian human rights group: "The attempts to force Christians to convert to Islam in Egypt are on the increase and the methods are getting increasingly varied and well organized."

In fact, some of these forced conversions, Wong observes, "are being conducted by well funded groups. … It is common for money to be offered to Christians to convert to Islam ... but it also common for intimidation and force, including kidnapping and the threat or use of rape to be adopted as a method of making Christians convert to Islam. Christian women and girls are especially vulnerable to these attacks and the Egyptian authorities do nothing to protect the Christians. The Egyptian police even order the families of kidnapped Christian women to forget about their daughters and not to try to get them back."

Blogged by JC on 05.23.05 @ 11:22 PM ET

Text of My Resolution Regarding Religious Intolerance

I received a large number of comments, and quite a spirited debate, concerning my resolution opposing religious intolerance, including desecration of the Quran. I appreciate all of the comments, both those supporting and opposing my actions. I continue to believe that given recent events, it is worthwhile for the Congress to actually express its support for the freedom of religion. The resolution was drafted to oppose all religious intolerance. To the extent it mentions the Quran and Islam specifically, that is obviously to respond to those who believe our nation would tolerate disrespect of that religion or its holy book. Clearly we should not, at least in my opinion.

Anyway, below in the extended entry is the full text of H. Res. 288. I hope you agree that read in its totality, it is a fair and appropriate resolution.

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives condemning bigotry and religious intolerance, and recognizing that holy books of every religion should be treated with dignity and respect.

Whereas believers of all religions, including the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, should be treated with respect and dignity;

Whereas the word Islam comes from the Arabic root word meaning "peace" and "submission";

Whereas there are an estimated 7,000,000 Muslims in America, from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, forming an integral part of the social fabric of America;

Whereas the Quran is the holy book for Muslims who recite passages from it in prayer and learn valuable lessons about peace, humanity and spirituality;
Whereas it should never be official policy of the United States Government to disparage the Quran, Islam, or any religion in any way, shape, or form;

Whereas mistreatment of prisoners and disrespect toward the holy book of any religion is unacceptable and against civilized humanity;

Whereas the infringement of an individual's right to freedom of religion violates the Constitution and laws of the United States: Now, therefore, be it

1 Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

(1) condemns bigotry, acts of violence, and intolerance against any religious group, including our friends, neighbors, and citizens of the Islamic faith;

(2) declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith, should be protected;

(3) recognizes that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as any other holy book of any religion, should be treated with dignity and respect; and

(4) calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith.

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