Washington, DC, October 12 (iviews.com) An American Coptic Christian organization that today published a full-page ad in The Washington Times newspaper alleging "a new wave of violence" against Christians in Egypt, has ties to an anti-Muslim hate group, an iviews.com investigation reveals.
In the Washington Times advertisement, the International Coptic Federation (ICF) claimed that "feelings of hatred inside many Muslims in Egypt" towards Christians have resulted in a "serious lack of tolerance towards followers of religions other than Islam." The federation, which bill itself as "a consortium of human-rights organizations," lists as its telephone number the home phone of Los Angeles-based Coptic activist Mounir Bishay.
Bishay is president of the Christian Copts of California (CCC), a member organization of ICF. Bishay is also connected to http://www.islamreview.com/, a notorious anti-Muslim Internet hate site that says it aims to expose "the rosy picture Muslims are painting about their religion, and the truth they try to hide." The site is registered to a group called "The Pen vs. The Sword," whose listed mailing address is also the address of CCC. The Los Angeles phone number given for "The Pen vs. The Sword" in the site's registration documentation was Bishay's home phone number at the time the site was registered.
Following a disclaimer that "nothing in this site is written with the intention of offending anyone," the author launches into a fierce attack on the faith of Islam. Islam "invaded our shores under the protection of freedom of religion, and spread in every direction," the site says. "My fellow American, the threat of Islam is real...more so than communism ever was," warns the author. "Don't be deceived by its propaganda."
The site's articles attack both sacred Islamic beliefs and Muslims themselves. One article mocks the Prophet Muhammad and the Islamic concept of God: "Allah conveniently intervenes to satisfy Mohammed's sexual desires, to support Mohammed's opinions, to justify Mohammed's actions, and to take Mohammed's side whenever he is in trouble."
Ignoring atrocities committed by Christians in Bosnia, Lebanon, Ireland, and elsewhere, the site states: "violence committed by Muslim extremists exceeds the violence of all other groups combined."
Muslim participation in American public life is seen as a particularly sinister development:
"Their new strategy lies in trying to be accepted, included and involved in all activities; religious, social and political...They make full use of their voting power to get concessions in their favor. They try to be represented on educational programs to go in line with their beliefs. Can Islam, someday, force these values on us here in America?Just give it time!"
In one article, the author asks: "Did you become alarmed enough? I was hoping that you would...We dread the thought that Islam might take over America, then our children or grand-children would have to flee..."
The site even warns American women against marrying Muslims: "While your motive may be love, his motive could be just to obtain a 'Green Card.' Even if this is not his motive, marrying a Muslim is asking for trouble."
In the "Links" section, the reader is directed to the web site of the Truth Seekers, an organization known for promoting hatred of Islam. The author of a February 1998 Truth Seekers fundraising letter wrote:
"Islam is like a cancer eating away at the planet earth...That is why we, at Truth seekers, have launched a new crusade to combat the forces of Islam before it is too late...Muslims in America pose a clear and present danger to our lives, liberties, and property..."
"This type of anti-Islamic hatred has no place in the American public square," said Dr. Ihsan Bagby, a professor of International Relations at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. "It is ironic that Bishay's group would accuse Egypt's Muslims of a 'serious lack of tolerance,' while he himself helps promote hatred and fear."
In a review of the web site, the editors of MSA-News said it "will produce revulsion for any sane person bent on understanding of a different creed, a different civilization, and open to the world."
The "Islam Review" material is also published as photocopied tracts. In February of 1997, a student at Southern Connecticut State University reported that a Coptic Christian professor handed her a pamphlet titled "Save America" during a counseling session. The university sponsored a series of educational workshops about Islam as a result of the incident.
Bishay denies that he is behind the "Islam Review" material, and claims that "The Pen vs. The Sword" simply uses his group's e-mail address, PO box, and telephone number. Bishay draws a distinction between the publications and his advocacy group.
"The Christian Copts of California are a human rights organization," Bishay told iviews.com. "Maybe there are some common issues between both [CCC and The Pen vs. The Sword], but this doesn't mean that they are one group." Bishay adds that he does not oppose Islam or Muslims, but "extremists"--a distinction that is blurred by the fierce rhetoric of the material he helps publish.
Asked whether he approves of what "The Pen vs. The Sword" publishes, Bishay said, "Yes, of course. Of course I approve of what they do."
And while Bishay distances himself from the Islam Review material, the CCC created the "Mark Harding Defense Fund" for a Canadian man convicted in January of violating the Hate Propaganda Section of Toronto's criminal code.
Harding, who was arrested after passing out anti-Muslim hate literature near a Muslim worship service, was sentenced to perform 240 hours of community service on behalf of the Islamic community, as well as a three-month conditional sentence followed by a further 100 hours of community service during a two-year probationary period.
The judge in the case described Harding's pamphlets as "false allegations about the adherents of Islam calculated to arouse fear and hatred of them in all non-Muslim people."
The International Coptic Federation has published similar full-page ads in The New York Times and The Washington Post.