JERUSALEM - In what Egypt's Christians fear may be a sign of things to come, a senior Islamic cleric asked Christians to bow in Muslim prayer in an act of submission to Allah.
On Friday, famed Egyptian theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a spiritual leader to the Muslim Brotherhood who hosts a popular Islam-themed television show on Al Jazeera, led the Islamic prayer services in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt's uprising.
While he repeatedly offered nods to Egypt's Coptic Christians, unmentioned in most news media accounts of the ceremony was that Qaradawi asked all in attendance, specifically singling out Christians, to bow in Islamic prayer.
A Coptic Christian at the event told WND the request was intimidating.
"Whether he meant to or not, this was asking Christian to bow in an act of submission to Islam and Allah," said the Christian, who asked that he named be withheld.
"There were maybe 250,000 people at the rally. Almost all were Muslims. So when we (Christians) are asked to bow, and we are in the extreme minority in the crowd, it is intimidating."
The Christian witness said thousands of Christians in attendance at the rally did not bow.
A Coptic Christian leader told WND he believes Qaradawi's request may reflect a larger emerging Islamic role in Egypt.
Qaradawi's speech was, in part, focused on political Islam, replete with his quoting verses of the Quran.
While he asked the entire rally to bow in Islamic prayer, he also used his speech to reassure the Christian minority of their place in Egypt, telling the crowd that "in this square sectarianism died."
He discarded the customary Islamic clerical opening of "Oh Muslims," in favor of "Oh Muslims and Copts."
He praised Muslims and Christians for standing together in Egypt's revolution and even hailed what he called the Coptic Christian "martyrs" who once fought the Romans and Byzantines.
Then he asked the Christians to bow in Muslim prayer.
"I invite you to bow down in prayer together," he said. ...
An article in Egypt's constitution that affirms Islam as the state religion likely will remain untouched despite hopes among the country's Christian minority that the recent uprising would usher in an era of greater tolerance for non-Muslims.
A committee considering amendments to the 1971 constitution said in a statement Sunday that article II would not be amended, the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported.
Article II reads, "Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic is its official language. Principles of Islamic law (Shari'a) are the principal source of legislation." ...
ASENDABO, Ethiopia -- Muslims have killed at least one Christian and wounded several others in anti-Christian violence in western Ethiopia, according to International Christian Concern, an organization that helps persecuted Christians worldwide.
ICC also is reporting that Muslims have burned down 69 church buildings, 30 Christian homes, a Bible school, a Christian orphanage and a church office.
The anti-Christian attacks started March 2 after Muslims allegedly accused Christians of desecrating the Quran, the Islamic holy book. Violence continues to affect residents of the area. During the initial days of the attacks 3,000 Christians were displaced; ICC reports those numbers now have climbed to 10,000.
Although Ethiopian Orthodox churches are predominant throughout the country, at least the first 55 churches burned belong to evangelical denominations, according to Sam Parkman* [Name changed] , a Christian worker who served in Ethiopia from 2007-10. ...
Islamabad, Pakistan - Pakistan's Minister for Religious Minorities and the only Christian cabinet member, Shahbaz Bhatti, was assassinated on 2 March outside his home in Islamabad. He was the second high-ranking Pakistan government official murdered this year after expressing opposition to the country's law that makes criticism of the Prophet Muhammad a capital crime. ...
Before escaping, the assassins dropped leaflets around the scene that stated Bhatti was murdered due to his opposition to the blasphemy law. The pamphlets said the Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaeda were responsible for the slaying. ...
4 Americans on hijacked yacht dead off Somalia
[...] The experienced yacht enthusiasts from California and Washington are the first Americans killed by Somali pirates since the start of attacks off East Africa several years ago. One of the American couples on board had been sailing around the world since 2004 handing out Bibles.
Their deaths appeared to underscore an increasingly brutal and aggressive shift by pirates in their treatment of hostages. ...
At least 65 Christians have been killed in attacks across the Muslim world in recent months, sparking sharp criticism from human rights groups that charge the U.S. government and media aren't doing nearly enough to speak out against the violence.
Full Report Posted on the Be Alert! Blog
BEIRUT - Extremist groups are waging a "genocide" against Christians in the Middle East, a former Lebanese president said Monday, after a New Year's suicide bombing of a church in Egypt killed 21 people. ...
"Massacres are taking place for no reason and without any justification against Christians. It is only because they are Christians," said [Amin] Gemayel, who leads Lebanon's right-wing Christian Phalange party. "What is happening to Christians is a genocide," he said. ...
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