Monday, October 24, 2005

Dangerous Rumors

Cairo Magazine looks at Copto-Muslim relations in Egypt:
"According to press reports, Eman Ahmed Saleh, 16, a Muslim girl from Ain Shams, disappeared from her home. Her neighborhood’s rumor mill soon pointed to a local hairdresser, who was accused of forcing her to convert to Christianity. Locals began to gather around the man’s shop to demand that he return the girl. When she reappeared two days later, newspapers gave differing accounts of her story. But one thing was clear: the hairdresser had nothing to do with her vanishing act.

"Although journalists may never learn about the true cause of the disappearance, the case illustrates the sensitivity of both Copts and Muslims to the idea of conversion—particularly conversion through seduction. According to Cornelius Hulsman, editor of the Arab-West Report, a publication that surveys the Egyptian media’s coverage of religious issues, in the past decade there have been 150 cases of Copts accusing Muslims of kidnapping and converting young women. All of these allegations have proved untrue...

"Such a furor took place again last week in Alexandria. Tabloids Al Midan and Al Osboa published an incendiary article in their 9 October edition alleging that the Mar Girgis Church in Alexandria staged a play about a Christian who converts to Islam and then back to Christianity. The newspapers deemed the play 'insulting to Islam.' A few days later, over 3,000 Muslims demonstrated in Midan Moharram Bey demanding that the church apologize for what happened.

"The church responded, issuing an official statement signed by more than 10 priests, which asserted that the play was performed two years ago and that it was banned after its first performance. It also accused Al Osboa and Al Midan of willfully stirring up sectarian tensions."


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