Included in this post is an article titled “Egypt's atrocities can't be hidden forever” and a Video of the Melbourne Coptic Christians protesting their Egyptian resident co religionists slaughter at the hands of “Pious Muslims”
Observing Islam equally as important as skill for Egypt boss
January 15, 2010
Egypt coach Hassan Shehata wants only players who observe Islam, and says team selection is based equally on religious piety and skill.
Shehata's comments, published in Egyptian newspapers, show how sports and religion are increasingly mixing in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation of some 80 million.
Egypt coach Hassan Shehata, in traditional “Pious Muslim” in ya face “I’m a Loon Muslim Rage Boy, Rage Coach” pose
The intrusion of religion into sports is part of the country's gradual movement toward religious conservatism over the last few decades, with more people praying at mosques, most women adopting the Islamic veil in public, and diminishing tolerance for secular Muslims or minority Christians.
There are no Christians in the squad defending its title at the African Cup of Nations in Angola.
For years, Egyptian athletes have demonstrated their religious piety in front of fans and the media - kneeling down to offer a prayer of thanks after scoring or winning, or praying before games to implore God to come to their team's aid.
But Shehata's comments take religion in sports to a whole new level.
He was quoted by Cairo newspapers as saying skill alone won't guarantee anyone a place on the national team.
He said "pious behaviour" was the main category for selection.
"Without it, we will never select any player regardless of his potential," he said.
"I always strive to make sure that those who wear the Egypt jersey are on good terms with God."
One newspaper, the independent al-Shorouk, quoted Shehata as saying that striker Ahmed "Mido", on loan from England's Middlesbrough to Cairo's Zamalek, was cut after his initial selection because he did not fit the manager's prerequisite for piety.
Mido was cut four days after his selection last month in a surprise decision given that Egypt was already missing Amr Zaki, formerly a striker with England's Wigan, through injury, as well as attacking midfielder Mohammed Abu Trekka.
Mido, who enjoys a reputation for hard partying, said he was insulted by his exclusion.
Shehata, a former Egypt international best remembered for his midfield creativity, has not made a secret of the big role religion plays in what he does.
He is consistently seen by millions of fans and TV viewers murmuring prayers during games. He often asks supporters to pray for the national side.
In Thursday's comments, Shehata boasted of how he convinced Egypt striker Mohammed Zidan, who plays for the German club Dortmund, to pray.
"I did not like how he used to be aloof and not mix with the rest," Shehata said of Zidan.
"I convinced him of the need to pray and how important it is. He has been praying since."
Shehata is looking for his third straight African Cup title after leading six-time champion Egypt to victory in 2006 and 2008.
Egypt began its title defence on Tuesday with an emphatic, come-from-behind 3-1 win over World Cup qualifier Nigeria.
However, Shehata failed to take Egypt to this year's World Cup finals in South Africa, losing to Algeria 1-0 in a make-or-break decider last year. Egypt last qualified for the World Cup in 1990.
Egypt's atrocities can't be hidden forever
January 13, 2010
In his mainstream best seller The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown fuses fact and fiction in a panoply of adventure-riddled conversations and quasi-mythical fabulations. However, he correctly – albeit fleetingly, mentions the small town of Nag Hammadi about 65 kilometres from Luxor in Egypt as the site where the Gnostic Gospels were discovered.
Brown, within the narrative of the novel, reveals that these "lost gospels" compiled allegedly by St Thomas ultimately hold the clues to Christianity's aversion to the feminine divine and the source of its fragility by not addressing the Freudian sexual ghosts present in its formation as a world religion. However, Brown's Western-centric beef with the Catholic Church ends up ignoring the continuous indigenous history of Coptic Christianity present since Mark the Apostle's arrival in Egypt and other repressed ghosts lurking behind religion and politics.
It was at Nag Hammadi that eight Coptic youth and a security official were murdered in a drive-by shooting by extremist Muslim gunmen after they had just celebrated the midnight Orthodox Christmas Eve mass. Government officials suspect that the attack, where gunmen haphazardly started shooting at a crowd injuring many, was in retaliation for the alleged rape of a 12-year-old Muslim girl by a Coptic man in the town in November. The spill over from the attacks has resulted in riots and arrests that have engulfed Christian and Muslim communities in a wave of sectarian passions. These aggressive acts in poor rural towns in southern Egypt have been common in recent years and the ferocity of sectarian violence has recently escalated in larger metropolises such as in Alexandria last year.
However, these latest attacks need to be contextualised beyond the facile claims of sectarian carnage. Coptic Christians are the indigenous peoples of Egypt and have been maintaining their traditions, rites and customs since the 1st century despite centuries of repression under Roman and Muslims rulers. They represent about 10 per cent of Egypt's 80 million people and generally have co-existed along with their Muslim compatriots in an atmosphere of tense yet liveable amicability. Yet, with the decades of governmental oppression and quashing of civil liberties since the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser and extending to the current policies of President Hosni Mubarak and corruption on local levels, cadres of Islamic extremists have sprung up to retaliate and restore a more equitable social order through a brutal mix of lethality and religious misinterpretations.
Melbourne's Coptic community Protest “Pious Muslims” Murdering Copts in Egypt
In most cases of these hostilities, the victims have been Coptic Christians due to a combination of reasons. Coptic Christians are a minority and within the psyche of the state they remain problematic in terms of citizenship because of their religious status as the largest non-Sunni Muslim minority along with other discriminated minorities such as Bahai's, Yezidis, Catholics etc. Moreover, within daily Egyptian popular representations, Copts are stereotypically seen as elitist and bourgeois because of their economic leverage through entrepreneurial successes of Coptic businessmen such as Naguib Sawires – the founder of Orascom, the biggest telecommunications network in the Middle East and Africa.
The fundamentalist voices of some Copts living in the West, especially the US and Canada, pressuring Western governments to interfere in Egyptian domestic politics, leads to a scenario where Copts in Egypt are seen as Western colluders and in turn bear the brunt of disgruntled local elements as well as blatant institutional discrimination. Nonetheless, these depictions do not fully explain why these violent incidents persist.
As renowned anthropologist Arjun Appadurai succinctly explains in his book The Fear of Small Numbers : "the existence of even the smallest minority within national boundaries is seen as an intolerable deficit in the purity of the national whole . . . Minorities being a reminder of this small but frustrating deficit, thus unleash the urge to purify."
The predominantly rural south of Egypt has historically languished through mismanaged policies of economic advancement of various governments and has been depicted as racially and technologically backward in Egyptian and Western popular imaginations.
The demographic make-up of towns such as Nag Hammadi have large minorities pitted against each other where Christians and Muslims roughly represent the same number of inhabitants but political power resides with corrupt local authorities intent on subverting any notion of justice. The climate of economic disenfranchisement in these towns plus the venomous diatribes of some extremist religiously untrained Muslim clerics presents a fertile ground for young Muslims – especially men – to express their rage in violent ways.
The Egyptian Government is complicit in trying to present a picture of religious harmony to allay Western fears of human right violations but the ugliness and fissures of these local disputes dispel the cosmetic attempts of a cowardly government dealing with its domestic politics and its international image especially in relation to Gaza.
In an interview broadcast on Egyptian national TV a few hours before this fateful incident, the head of the Coptic Church, Pope Shenouda III, urged a return to the ideals of the 1919 Revolution against British colonial occupation. He implored Egyptians to a secularist ethics of citizenship based on mutual respect for difference beyond the dead-end of religious labelling. It is these wise words that must be heeded now more than ever for Nag Hammadi not to continue being a site where ghosts continue to dwell.
Farid Farid is a doctoral candidate at the University of Western Sydney. His research deals with the politics of exile, race and religion.
A rally in support of Coptic Christians in Egypt will be held in Melbourne today. Melbourne's Coptic community march to the Egyptian consulate in the city. And in Sydney, supporters are to gather St James Station end of Hyde Park (corner St James and Macquarie streets) at 11am on Tuesday, January 19.
To think that as well as training to play Soccer in the Egyptian National Team, you are also expected to find time to act like a “Pious Muslim”,where do they find the time?
“Pious Muslims” occupy themselves as follows:
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