10:00:00 Hermit huts in distance and c/u Music
Hermit hut and monk Coptic Christian monks have lived a monastic life in Egypt’s deserts for centuries.
Van driving After the arrival of Islam in Egypt in the 7th century the Copts were regularly persecuted for their religion, but they deny using the desert as a sanctuary from attack .
Father Angelus:Coptic Monk(in desert) History tells us that just in this area of Cirtus alone, that there were 3 major raids. During these sacks or raids thousands of monks were martyred and so the view that people fled from martyrdom and persecution to the desert is not a very precise one because persecution and martyrdom were present here as well.
01.17 Bells, Desert/ Monastery And today there is increasing Islamic hostility towards them and the suspicion is that attacks are driving Christians to retreat into the safety of their monasteries as they’ve done for centuries.
01.38 Mosque & Cairo - smoky high shots In Cairo the Coptic churches compete for space in a city which claims to have more mosques than any in the world.
Pan Church to Mosque There are about 8 million Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Montage Churches and Mosques(Music) And there’s a mosque very near most churches. They’re there to assert the domination in Egypt of the Islamic religion. Egypt’s law is based on Islam and the state refers to itself as Islamic.
02.12 Father Sadrak In the fifth century the monastery was attacked by the barbarians so the monks built a tower to protect themselves against the barbarians. So the fortress of the keep is from the 5th century. Later on in the 9th century the Bedouins started to attack the monks in the desert. The monks came to stay here. They built the walls all around and started to live within the walls.
02.48 Poor Cairo& Coptic pictures in shops In the poorer suburbs of Cairo the harder edge of today’s Islamic anger is being levelled at the Copts. In the suburb of Shubra up to 50% are Christian and many live beneath the poverty line. Christians come under great pressure to convert to Islam. If they convert they’re offered promotion, financial inducements, and a peaceful life.
03.26 Poor family A Coptic family, too frightened to be identified. The father of the house is sick and unemployed. He says there hasn’t always been tension between Christians and Muslims.
03.41 Poor father I am 61 years old now. I used to have more Muslim friends than Christians. They respected me and treated me like their brother. They were like brothers to me
Poor family Now he says a local group of fundamentalists have forced his 16 year old daughter to convert to Islam And he says that after his daughter disappeared he was summoned to the local police station.
04.18 Poor man who’s lost his daughter When I went out I saw her escorted by the police and she was crying. I saw her crying. Do you think I could go and hold her with the police all around her. They will beat me.
They told you to keep away because she became a Muslim? What happened?They told me that she declared her Islam. She liked the Islamic religion and declared her Islam. You sign this statement that you will keep away from her. For me, I am an old man and sick and could not resist. I signed and went home.
05.03 Set up anonymous interview. Market. The church and the Egyptian state are opposed to publicising the religious strife. If they’re caught speaking out about it Egyptians can be tried for treason. Activists say the situation across Egypt is critical.
Anonymous interview&Pictures In every village, every district and every region, along the length of Egypt, from the far north to the far south, no village had escaped the persecution of Christians. This terror is evident in the kidnapping, raping and forcing into Islam of their girls without their consent. These acts are committed with the full knowledge of the police.
05.59 Pyramids The pyramids have more direct links to the Christians than they do to the Muslims who came much later. Christians retain the most pure Egyptian ancestry, back to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt..
06.20 Choir girls sing - natural sound - St. Mark’s
06.47 Pope Shenouda in St. Mark’s Cathedral The head of the Coptic Church is Pope Shenouda III. Every Wednesday thousands of Copts gather at St. Mark’s Cathedral to hear him speak. Pope Shenouda believes that it’s not only Islam which is undergoing a revival. He says Christians are also becoming more devout, in reaction to the Islamic threat.
07.09 Pope Shenouda Head of the Coptic Church Whenever people face danger their prayers may be deeper, their fasting may be more spiritual, their contact with God becomes nearer and nearer because they feel the need of the help of God.
Pope v/o When we speak about Islamic revival we can also speak about Christian revival in Egypt but the difference is that the Christian revival does not use aggression or violence.
07.50 Marilyn TudrosCoptic writer and intellectual With Christianity it’s a bit different, they don’t aim at the state but they cocoon they still go back toGod - they cocoon around themselves, they close around themselves. They become isolated from the community. Both reactions cause a polarisation in the same community.
08.17 Church Service The Copts are most closely related to the old Orthodox churches which split from Rome in the early days of Christianity. Coptic Christians split in a dispute over the divine nature of Christ. It’s an argument which goes on today. Their isolation has protected their ceremony from most outside influences. Their rituals have changed little for well over a thousand years.
09.02 Setup Waitress It is a hallmark of the Copts that though they don’t like to speak out they are proud of their difference. Most Copts have a cross tattooed on their wrist. It asserts their identity and makes it hard to leave the faith.
Coptic waitressv/o We have to have a cross tattooed. When I grew up I had a second one done because I believe that this cross will always remind me not to do anything bad and to make a statement that I am Christian, and this cross makes it obvious that I am a Christian. This is my belief.
Coptic Waitress v/o I’m not harassed because I have the cross but there are a lot of questions. All those who see me ask me why I have the cross on, and they ask whether I’m a fanatic.
09.50 Coptic HQ At the Coptic headquarters at St. Marks Cathedral little is ever revealed of the troubles Copts face. Guards at the gate keep a close watch on all who come and go. Many churches have been attacked in recent years, though little is heard of this violence. During centuries of persecution Copts developed a tradition of silence and most refuse to speak out.
10.18 Marilyn TudrosCoptic Writer Of course you don’t find many prepared to speak out here or to campaign here. That’s because Copts by nature are the passive, the inactive, the enclosed. They don’t want any problems. Discriminated against, fine, but that’s nobody’s business.
Marilyn Tudros v/oOld Cairo Scenes It’s fine if we’re martyred. Blessed he who is martyred in my name. They find that why should I fight that. If I am martyred it’s all right - There’s God. I’ll go to God.
11.01 Pope greets people at doorway The reluctance of the Church to be more vocal about attacks on Copts may have more to do with the ordeal Pope Shenouda himself went through. In 1981 he was put under house arrest for 4 years for his battle for Coptic rights. Today he rarely speaks out.
Pope greets people outside his office Few get beyond the combination locks which cut the Pope off from the outside world. Privately many Copts accuse him of making deals with the government. On the rare occasions he agrees to see reporters his position is very similar to that taken by the government.
11.45 Pope ShenoudaHead of Coptic Church We don’t accept to be distinguished from other Egyptians and also we don’t accept the word minority in such a meaning for claiming for political rights or for foreign help. We are Egyptians, a part of Egypt, of the same nation, not to be distinguished in any matter.
12.29 Secret filming at ministry of inf. At the Egyptian ministry of information security is tight. This is where all journalists must come and also where the authorities try to stop reporting on Christian Muslim relations. Journalists must work with government minders who block anything that might damage Egypt..
12.26 Ossama Al BazPolitical Advisor to President Mubarak There is no feeling among the Copts that they are different. That they are a minority. They are part and parcel of the Egyptian landscape, the political map. In this sense we don’t like them to be looked upon as a minority. And they don’t accept it either.
13.14 Anonymous Copt What we read in the newspapers about national unity and that there is no persecution and so on is just nonsense. This is evident by the fact that there isn’t a single Christian representative in the People’s Assembly. How come, out of 465 members of the People’s Assembly, there isn’t a single Copt to represent all the Copts in the country? Who will defend me?
13.40 Cairo University Exterior At Cairo University, traditionally a secular stronghold, Copts and Muslims increasingly do not mix. Throughout Egypt ordinary Muslims and Copts are giving up their contacts with one another. Muslims are coming under pressure from extremists to have nothing more to do with the Copts and it’s this segregation which is of most concern.
14.08 Students Muslim students here do acknowledge that Christians in Egypt are being targeted.
Girls Speak It’s because the Islamic trend is very hostile against Christians. Sometimes they kill them. Sometimes they have very hostile attitudes to them. That’s why there is now an inclination to avoid Christians and to convince people that Christians are non believers and something like this. That’s why. Other girlAs well there are some Christians who are very rigid and very strict. For example in Upper Egypt Muslims are very rigid and Christians are very rigid so of course there will be a fight.
14.40 University Interior Twenty years ago few women students at Cairo University would have worn the hajab, or head scarf, which Muslim women are commanded to wear. In Egypt’s changing society no one escapes the pressure to conform to the Islamist demands but many of these young women, even moderates, say the Islamic trend is something they approve of.
15.03 Mosques The Egyptian government battles the Muslim extremists with all its fire power but in a predominantly Islamic country it still has to adhere to Koranic principles. In Egypt that means leaving the mosques free to rage against Egypt’s Copts, and the newspapers the freedom to castigate Christians. In contrast Copts would be instantly jailed if they spoke out against Islam.
15.35 DR Zakzuk setup Even more significantly few laws can be passed without approval from Egypt’s highest Muslim body, here at Cairo’s Al Azhar University. It’s a university which Christians are banned from attending.
15.51 DR ZakzukDean Al Azhar University All legislation concerned with Personal Law is naturally referred to Al-Azhar. Other laws also; because this is compatible with the Country’s Constitution. The Constitution states that any law should not contradict the Islamic Shariá. On the other hand, it declares that the principal source for legislation is Islamic Shariá
16.17 Government setup Many accuse the government of appeasement and giving way to the extremists’ demands. The government denies the accusation and says everyone in Egypt is treated equally.
16.29 DR Ossama Al Baz We have a responsibility to both Muslims and Christians. It’s not a question of appeasement because we cannot appease the extremists. We respect the sentiments of both Muslims and Christians. Any form of extremism is looked on by the Gov. as anti Egyptian activity and is unhealthy and we prevent it so far as we can do that.
17.01 Locked Church A locked and decaying church. There is no equality between the two religions. In the dusty back streets of Cairo Copts would agree. Christians are rarely given permission to mend or build new churches - the president would personally have to authorise their plans - and when they try to go ahead without this, as they did here, the police close the churches down. But no permission is required to build a mosque.
17.39 DR Ossama Al BazPolitical advisor to Pres. Mubarak The question relating to the building of churches - it isn’t a law, it is a decree, an old decree, to regulate the building of churches in areas where it might cause social turmoil. We would like to avoid tension as much as possible. We don’t like to create any feeling of animosity or hatred between Muslims and non Muslims.
18.10 DR Saad IbrahimSocial Scientist The Gov. thinks that it is keeping things calm, that timing is important. It doesn’t want to give a reason for communal tension or for anybody to misinterpret giving licenses for new churches for example, as pampering the Christians because of foreign pressure. The Gov. is very sensitive about this. I do not think our Gov. in this respect has a clear forceful policy as I wish it did.
18.55 Church Under Police Protection Today, because of the number of attacks on churches, the police provide protection Copts say the guards have helped keep churches safe but now the extremists are rather targeting them in their homes or work places.
19.18 Track in street And in Christian areas like Shubra few Copts escape persecution and the worst thing, they say, is here there is no police protection.
19.25 Up stairs into lawyers office In a poor part of Shubra works one of the few Coptic lawyers prepared to tackle sensitive Muslim Christian issues.
19.39 Woman with lawyer This woman explains how her sister was raped by a young fundamentalist in order to take a wife and make her change her religion.
Girl in Lawyer’s Office He lives with his sister and his mother. His sister used to invite my sister around. She always used to go. She did not understand what they were doing. Once when she went there I think a sleeping drug was put in her tea. And then this guy raped her. And this of course was with the knowledge of his mother and sister.
Morris Sadik Is this your sister?
Girl in lawyers office Yes
Lawyer’s Office The girl was told she must marry her rapist or go to prison - marrying the rapist means she must convert to Islam. She refused this, and with the help of her family, has gone into hiding.
20.46 Lawyer What do the police want now?
Girl in Lawyer’s Office They want to take the girl again from us and we are refusing. The police said if her father would not bring back the girl, we will do this and that. Last night they abused him and hit him and today he is also taken by State Security.
Morris Sadik How old is the girl?
Woman 17 years
Morris Sadik 17 years old. This is a case of rape. He should be taken to the criminal court. He should be immediately referred to the Attorney General to be charged with rape and tried in the criminal court, even if the girl had consented. According to the Egyptian law, this is a rape crime.
21.26 Lawyers Office Though he keeps a picture of President Mubarak above his desk. Lawyer Morris Sadik accuses the government of failing to take action. He says many Copts are living in a nightmare and that instead of helping them the local police are accused of working with the extremists.
21.44 Morris Sadik- CopticLawyer The police often favour the Islamic point of view - and believe the girl should be forced to change her religion - they are junior officers. The police ought to disregard religion but the prejudice is there.
22.12 Bahir al HaasanEgyptian Organisation for Human Rights Our state attacks the fundamentalists only when they attack its men; the policemen and so on. If they attack the Copts the local policeman think it’s OK. They say it’s a crime but we don’t need many troubles please, and so on.
22.39 Morris Sadiq - CopticLawyer The extreme Islamic ideology has now spread in all governmental departments. There is now a whole generation from these groups in leading positions. This is why we ask the government to increase the number of Copts. When there is a reasonable number of Copts in senior positions in all departments, the problem will be solved.
Music over montage
23.13 Churches/Mosque/City Egypt’s government insists there is complete freedom of worship in Egypt but it does admit that those involved in missionary activity are sometimes jailed. They say it’s to prevent Islamic unrest. Apostacy, or conversion from Islam, is central to the conflict. Muslims are free to encourage Christians to convert to Islam but not the other way around.
23.56 Bahir al HassanEgyptian Organisation for Human Rights How many Christians do you believe are in prison for reasons relating to apostacy?There are at least 300 people. Around this number. We have information about their cases. They are people who tried to bring people from Islam to Christianity. We have no law against this but under the emergency law the police say we catch them and put them in prison to protect them otherwise the fundamentalists will kill them.
24.41 St. Mark’s Cathedral In Egypt converting from Islam is deeply sensitive. The government does admit that people are put into prison for it.
24.50 Ossama Al Baz If you have a group of Muslims converting to Christianity after missionary activities that does not create the atmosphere we would like to have between the communities. Often this is accompanied by propagation of faith by foreigners and this creates social unrest. We are against that because we don’t like to create the impression that Islam is being fought by outsiders, or that there is a new wave of crusades.
25.28 Track through poor Cairo at night In the poorer areas of Cairo like Al Baba the police don’t come unless they’re in large numbers. Here most Copts have stories to tell of how they’ve suffered from the local extremist groups.
25.54 Pharmacy Many businessmen like this pharmacist have been killed for refusing to pay protection money or ‘itawa’. Most weeks shops are burned out for the same reason. Pharmacies like this one are so fearful they hide their Christian icons away from public view.
The pharmacist says that most Coptic businessmen he knows in this area have been attacked at one time or another.
Anonymous Pharmacist If you ask anybody, he will tell you that he is bringing up his children and teaching them to leave Egypt because it is not safe here for them. He does not feel safe. Any Copt today is vulnerable if a disagreement arose somewhere, even without him being involved, or even for knowing the Copt who disagreed with the Muslim. He would find his house burnt down without any reason other than that a Copt has quarreled with a Muslim
26.49 Mosque Moderate Islamic leaders deny that the situation is so bad and emphatically state that the Koran does not sanction any intimidation of Egypt’s Coptic people.
27.01 DR Zakzuk From my point of view and from personal experience, the Western media highly exaggerates the tension between the Copts and Muslims. In fact, there is no tension between Copts and Muslims in Egypt. But there are some incidents which happen in Egypt as in other places of the world. Therefore, we should not exaggerate a few incidents and consider that as a common phenomenon
27.30 Muslim Brotherhood clinic But Islam here is a force to be reckoned with. Muslim groups have won wide support in deprived areas through their extensive network of medical and social welfare centres. Here they provide cheaper and better care than that offered by the state. Their funding comes from mosques inside and outside Egypt.
27.59 Patient in clinic Do you know of any other health services such as hospitals and so on?There’s nothing here. We used to go to Al-Gasr Al-Ayni hospital and also go to private doctors. When we found this one near to us we came to it.
28.33 DR El RianMuslim Brotherhood All the resources are gone so the Gov. is blamed because there are no plans for supplying poor areas with health care, sanitation projects, education projects, housing etc. They have a lot of foreign aid and this foreign aid mostlyhas gone without any benefit for the people.
28.58 Clinic The Muslim Brotherhood’s social welfare system is just one more tool the Islamists can use to encourage Christians to change their religion. We were told that Christians are tolerated in the clinic for only so long before they come under pressure to convert to Islam or find other medical facilities.
29.22 Footage of lawyers rally It’s not just among the poor that fundamentalism is gaining support. This pro Muslim Brotherhood rally held in May last year was organised by the prestigious lawyer’s union who support the Islamists. They are a powerful force in Egyptian politics.
29.41 Tea party video Today the lawyers union relives the violent scenes of that day. They’re replaying video footage shot at the time..
Speeches Many of these lawyers were arrested at that protest and have only recently ended their prison sentences. They’re one of the most controversial organisations in Egypt.
Police Outside, the authorities monitor all who come and go.
30.08 Set up Montasser Montasser Azzayet is the reason for this celebration. He was released from prison today and is a lawyer generally recognised to represent the Jamaat Islamiya, the group responsible for most attacks on Christians. He defends the fanatics policy of targeting anyone who converts from Islam.
30.31 Question to Montasser Why should someone be killed who converts from Islam to Christianity?
Sof Montasser Ezzayet- legal representative Islamic group Jamaat Islamiya Islamic law on this issue is very clear. We are Muslims who follow the teachings of our religion. The issue is not debatable, questionable or to be discussed with the west in the first place. Our Islamic religion says that a Muslim is not allowed to convert to another religion. If he does he should be killed.
31.05 Night car In the hard-line suburb of Al Baba such words are put into action.
Family who’ve suffered attacks Jusef. says a local Islamic group tried to kill him for converting from Islam. He says teams of fanatics keep close tabs on the Christians in their neighborhood and he shows the scars he has from where they shot him. He only just survived.
31.49 Coptic victim. Christians don’t like problems - we do not like to get into trouble, but I was shot and the bullet cut away part of his liver, my mother was also humiliated.
Coptic victim’s mother Q. Are you afraid of the future?I am afraid of nothing. I am ready to die on the cross whatever happens.Q. And your son, aren’t you worried about him?Yes. I was worried about him. I used to pray and ask God. My husband died because of him.
32.27 DR Saad IbrahimSocial Scientist I think the government is partly to blame because when cases like this are rumoured the best thing to do is to investigate them, and make that investigation transparent. So I believe in transparency. We think it would be advisable to have community boards to investigate these allegations to ensure neutrality.
32.57 Coptic victims House Jusef’s attackers not only shot him, they also gouged out the cross tattooed on his wrist, and, he says, before they left, they sliced him up with swords. It’s turned him into a fundamentalist in his own right.
33.36 Coptic victim We live in a State that treats us with the sword. This country belongs to us. When they came, they lived with us by the sword. Who is the Christian that can talk? The Christians can’t talk.
33.55 Old Cairo Old Cairo is historically the original city. It’s where Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus are said to have stayed when they fled to Egypt ahead of King Herod’s armies. Today Old Cairo remains mostly Christian and people here speak of the good will that has, until recently, existed between Muslims and Christians.
34.36 Old Coptic woman speaks We used to live in Al-Isa’af, and our neighbours were all Muslims. We were the only Christians. Till today, when we go and visit, they welcome us with great enthusiasm and affection. They are like us and even better. Full of love and passion
34.57 Exorcist, small chapel Outside a small chapel in a corner of Old Cairo Muslims and Christians queue to visit an exorcist, women on one side and men on the other. This Coptic priest, who specialises in removing evil spirits, is revered by both Muslims and Christians..
35.43 Pause to exorcist. There used to be many such Coptic healers, now there are very few..
Copts take off their shoes Coptic Christians take off their shoes before they go into Church, just as the Muslims do before they go into the Mosque..
Church service in monastery Through coercion and convenience, the majority of Egypt’s Christians did convert to Islam. But in many ways a closeness also developed between the two faiths.
Men kneel on floor and women with covered heads Among other things Copts kneel on the floor to pray, and the women cover their heads. It’s the more subtle alliances that Copts are afraid of damaging if they campaign too loudly. Even so some believe they could do more to help themselves.
36.34 Saad IbrahimSocial Scientist Perhaps they are wise not to scream, but in other respects, perhaps not screaming - they should be more forceful in making demands and arguing their demands. They should be more active in organised politics. It is very hard for someone who is organised and articulate to be taken lightly.
37.04 St. Mark’s Cathedral An inherent problem the church has is it’s isolation. Perhaps in reaction to fundamentalism the Coptic Church is now negotiating to rejoin the mainstream Orthodox faith. Christology, or the spiritual definition of Christ, was the reason for the Coptic split in the 5th century. Now the Pope says that problem is solved.
37.33 Pope Shenouda III Thanks to God we have now solved this problem of Christology. Theologians from bothtwo fa,ilies of Christianity met at Wadi Natrun Monastery. They signed an agreement agreeing that we are one in faith. This agreement needs approval of church hierarchy. I think we are going in the way of unity.
38.09 Church service Reuniting with the mainstream Church would undoubtedly give the Copts more protection from extremist Islam. And though the government of Egypt would like to believe that keeping silent about the issues will make them go away it is clear that they too could do a lot more to ensure their Coptic minority is treated equally.
Director: Mark Stucke
Camera: Shane Teehan
Producer: Scott White
Editor: Keely Purdue