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Arab Fall, Arab Fail: Coptic Christians slaughtered in Egypt; Plus: Nadarkhani update

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 10, 2011 11:34 AM

One thing never changed after the so-called “Arab Spring:”

Christians remained in mortal danger among the sharia enforcers. The war on infidels never ends.

In Egypt over the weekend, the repression against Coptic Christians reared its bloody head again:

Egyptian Christians turned their fury against the army on Monday after at least 25 people were killed when troops crushed a protest using tactics that deepened public doubts about the military’s ability to steer Egypt peacefully toward democracy.

In the worst violence since Hosni Mubarak was ousted, armored vehicles sped into a crowd late on Sunday to break up a protest near Cairo’s state television. Online videos showed mangled bodies. Activists said corpses were crushed by wheels.

Tension between Muslims and minority Coptic Christians has simmered for years but has worsened since the anti-Mubarak revolt, which gave freer rein to Salafist and other strict Islamist groups that the former president had repressed.

The ruling military council called on the interim government to investigate the clashes urgently and said it would take necessary measures to maintain security, state TV said.

But much of the anger from Sunday’s violence targeted the army, accused by politicians from all sides of worsening social tension through a clumsy response to street violence and not giving a clear timetable for handing power to civilians.

From AP, more on the crackdown:

There is no precise breakdown of how many Christians and Muslims were among the victims, but the 26 are believed to be mostly Christian. Officials said at least three soldiers were among the dead. Nearly 500 people were injured. Egypt’s official news agency said dozens have been arrested.

Much smaller skirmishes broke out again Monday outside the Coptic hospital where many of the Christian victims were taken the night before. Several hundred Christians pelted police with rocks outside while the screams of grieving women rang out from inside the hospital. Some of the hundreds of men gathered outside held wooden crosses and empty coffins were lined up outside the hospital.

There were no word on casualties from the new clashes.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people, blame the ruling military council that took power after the uprising for being too lenient on those behind a spate of anti-Christian attacks since Mubarak’s ouster. The chaotic power transition has left a security vacuum, and the Coptic Christian minority is particularly worried about a show of force by ultraconservative Islamists, known as Salafis.

In recent weeks, riots have broken out at two churches in southern Egypt, prompted by Muslim crowds angry over church construction. One riot broke out near the city of Aswan, even after church officials agreed to a demand by ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis that a cross and bells be removed from the building.

Aswan’s governor, Gen. Mustafa Kamel al-Sayyed, further raised tensions by suggesting to the media that the church construction was illegal.

A three-day period of mourning begins tomorrow for the victims. Photos of the protests here.

***

Related: Updates on Pastor Nadarkhani in Iran…

Iran’s supreme leader to hear the case. Gulp:

The court case of an Iranian pastor facing a possible death sentence for apostasy is being referred to Iran’s supreme leader, the pastor’s lawyer told AFP on Monday.

“The court has decided to ask the opinion of Mr (Ali) Khamenei,” Iran’s supreme leader, in the matter of pastor Yusef Nadarkhani, lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah said.

Ayatollah Khamenei has ultimate authority in the Islamic republic.

However the move to involve him in the case is unusual, and suggested that a final verdict in the case — which has garnered international attention — could be delayed.

Nadarkhani’s lawyer had previously been expecting a verdict any time from last Saturday.

Nadarkhani, a 32-year-old pastor of a small evangelical community called the Church of Iran, was arrested in October 2009 and condemned to death under Islamic sharia law for converting to Christianity when he was 19.

Sharia law allows for such verdicts to be overturned if the convicted person “repents” and renounces his conversion.

The Indian Church weighs in:

The Indian Church has joined many international voices to condemn the conviction of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who is facing execution for refusing to convert to Islam from Christianity.

Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009 for apostasy and was sentenced to death under Islamic Sharia law. Before his arrest, the 32-year old pastor led a congregation of about 400 Christians in Rasht, a major business centre in northwest Iran.

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), in a letter to the Embassy of Iran in New Delhi, expressed concern over the arrest and scheduled execution of Nadarkhani, and appealed for his release.

NCCI is the apex body of the Protestant and Orthodox churches in India.

“Pastor Nadarkhani has been repeatedly persecuted by the Iranian authorities for his Christian religion and his refusal to renounce his Christian faith,” said the letter signed by the general secretary, Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad.

Gaikwad appealed that the Iranian authorities do not subject Nadarkhani to torture or other ill-treatment, and that he will be given access to family and any necessary medical attention.

While pleading to pursue all avenues to repeal the death sentence of Nadarkhani, Gaikwad also highlighted the continued persecution of religious minorities which he said was also a matter of grave concern.

“We urge to you that Christians and other minorities will be allowed to practice their choice of religion in Iran,” he said.

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