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Gheit must apologize to Gazans [broken leg comment--Egypt recognizes Christian converts
Jerusalem Post ^ | 2-10-08

Posted on 02/10/2008 6:11:07 AM PST by SJackson

PFLP: Gheit must apologize to Gazans

A radical Palestinian faction on Sunday denounced a recent statement by Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in which he warned the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip not to cross the border into Egypt or else they would have their legs broken.

Anwar Raja, a member of the political bureau of the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General-Command, called on Aboul Gheit to retract his comments, made last week.

"The diplomatic courtesy and the brotherly (Egyptian-Palestinian) relations requires that Mr. Aboul Gheit be more responsible in his statements," Raja said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians crossed into Egypt from the Gaza strip beginning late last month during a 12-day breach of the border. The border has been resealed, and Aboul Gheit warned last week that anyone trying to cross illegally "will get his legs broken."

It was not known if Aboul Gheit meant what he said literally, but it illustrated the tensions that have flared between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Egypt.

Raja stressed that Aboul Gheit's statement doesn't reflect the opinion of the Egyptian people and requested that he apologize to the Palestinians for the "moral and psychological harm he has done."

There was no immediate comment from Aboul Gheit or the Egyptian government.

Raja said the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza should be reopened according to a new mechanism that ensures the freedom of passage for people and goods from and to the Gaza Strip. He did not elaborate.


Egypt recognizes Christian converts

Twelve Egyptian converts to Christianity have had their conversions officially recognized by an Egyptian court.

The 12 who were born Copts, converted to Islam and then converted back to their original faith.

The recognition of their new faith by the highest civil court in Egypt overturns an April 2007 ruling by a lower court forbidding them to convert to Christianity on the grounds that it would be apostasy.

The ruling is seen as a small victory for human rights advocates in Egypt.

"This is a very good step towards freedom of religion in Egypt," Ramsis Raouf El-Naggar, a lawyer representing most of the defendants, told The Media Line.

Many Muslims see abandoning Islam as an act of apostasy, which is punishable by death.

Under the new ruling, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior will update the religious status on their identity cards and register them as Christians. The ID cards will say they adopted Islam for a brief period.

Valid ID cards are essential in Egypt for such routine matters as children's schooling, job applications, and marriage.

One of the 12 converts, who asked not to be named, told The Media Line that he was "very happy" with the ruling which would allow his son to be officially recognized as a Christian too.

He originally converted to marry a Muslim woman, but later divorced her.

El-Naggar said there are usually three reasons for converting from Christianity to Islam in Egypt - divorcing a woman, marrying a Muslim, or for the monetary incentives offered to impoverished Christians.

Egypt does not execute Muslims for becoming Christians, but converts often face harassment and even death at the hands of the community or family members.

Most converts in Egypt practice their new religion in secret or leave the country.

The judge ruled that the 12 would not be considered apostates because they were born Christian.

However, the ruling does not set a sweeping precedent, because it does not apply to converts who were born Muslim.

El-Naggar said there is still along way to go before born Muslims who converted will have their rights recognized, but he is working on it.

The lawyer is also defending Muhammad Al-Hegazi, a born Muslim who converted to Christianity and is filing suit against the Egyptian government for refusing to recognize his new religion. Last year Hegazi was briefly forced into hiding following threats on his life.

"We're working on his case to establish his rights because we want to have freedom of religion in Egypt," El-Naggar said.

Egypt's Christians who are mostly Copts make up around 10 percent of the country's 80 million inhabitants.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events

1 posted on 02/10/2008 6:11:11 AM PST by SJackson
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; Lent; GregB; ..
If you'd like to be on this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.

High Volume. Articles on Israel can also be found by clicking on the Topic or Keyword Israel. or WOT [War on Terror]


2 posted on 02/10/2008 7:03:41 AM PST by SJackson (If 45 million children had lived, they'd be defending America, filling jobs, paying SS-Z. Miller)
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To: SJackson

How does on legislate belief? How does one even imagine that he can legislate belief?

3 posted on 02/10/2008 7:22:05 AM PST by Lonesome in Massachussets (Being an idealist excuses nothing. Hitler was an idealist.)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets

The people of Europe are about to find out...

4 posted on 02/10/2008 7:59:41 AM PST by Savage Beast ("History is not just cruel. It is witty." ~Charles Krauthammer)
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To: Lonesome in Massachussets
One can legislate legal status. In 18th Century England, Catholics had an inferior status, even Catholic nobles. Not until 1829 were Catholics emancipated.
5 posted on 02/10/2008 3:42:43 PM PST by RobbyS
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To: RobbyS

I understand how you can afford different creeds different legal status. It’s like the Nazis used to say to the dissenters, even if we don’t have you, we have your children (thanks to public education).

6 posted on 02/11/2008 4:29:54 AM PST by Lonesome in Massachussets (Being an idealist excuses nothing. Hitler was an idealist.)
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