Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Egypt's Regime Orders Church Restoration (ANS)

With so much negative news in the Middle East especially religious persecution of Christians by Muslim extremists, it is so wonderful to get this news item, which I think needs to be highlighted as another example of courageous Egyptian Muslims who refuse to be influenced by Islamic extremists.

I think it is very significant to read about Muslim craftsmen helping repair Christian religious icons!

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA
Visit our web site at: www.assistnews.net -- E-mail: assistnews@aol.com

Friday, May 27, 2011

Egypt's Regime Orders Church Restoration
Many Muslim craftsmen are helping

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST MinistriesCAIRO, EGYPT (ANS) -- CBN News (www.cbn.com/cbnnews) is reporting that some Egyptian Muslims are helping Christians rebuild a church building attacked by radical Islamists earlier this month.

Egyptians gather as firefighters extinguish a fire at St. Mary's Church after clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo on May 7, 2011 (Photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)
Militants set St. Mary's Church on fire May 7, 2011, in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba. The building was heavily damaged by the fire and the entire ground floor was left in ruin."The church restoration was ordered by Egypt's military government. The work is expected to be completed in about three weeks," said CBN.
"Muslim craftsmen are helping to restore burned icons and paintings in the church to their original condition.
"Many of Egypt's Christians, who make up only 10 percent of the country's population, currently fear further attacks. However, Egypt's ruling military council has vowed to protect Christians by increasing security around churches."
The story concluded by saying that critics fear the military rulers will struggle to ease interfaith relations. They wonder if the regime will be able to keep the peace without resorting to violent tactics that former President Hosni Mubarak used.
In a separate story from www.dawn.com, it said that one of those Muslim volunteers is Mohammed Fathi who, "worked his brush gently over an icon of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, removing soot from its surface inside a church gutted in an attack by Islamist militants this month."
Fathi was quoted as saying, "It takes a lot of careful work to do that. We have to do a lot of tests with chemicals to try to restore the icon to its original condition."

Another Muslim volunteer, Ahmed Ibrahim, a restoration specialist, works over a painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus inside St. Mary church in Imbaba, Cairo May 25, 2011 (Photo by Reuters)
The 26-year-old is one of a vast group of mostly Muslim craftsmen tasked with restoring St Mary's Church in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba after militants set it on fire on May 7."Attacks have triggered protests and pose a challenge for Egypt's new rulers, under pressure to impose security while seeking to avoid the tough tactics against Islamists used by deposed President Hosni Mubarak," said the DAWN story.
"The ground floor of the four-storey church was gutted in the fire, destroying 10 out of 27 old icons beyond repair."
On Wednesday, a team of mostly Muslim restorers - working for one of Egypt's biggest construction firms known as The Arab Contractors - huddled in one corner, using special chemicals, paint and brushes to rescue the remaining paintings.
"My job is to restore historic art pieces, be they Muslim, Coptic or Jewish," Fathi said.
DAWN said that Malak Gerges, a 56-year-old church driver who was inside the church at the time of the attack, recalled how bearded Islamists led a group of young men into St Mary's, opened fire on icons and set the building ablaze.
He said he and his younger brother Saleh tried to hide in the corridor behind the altar but the militants found them.
"They dragged me out and threatened and abused me," Gerges told Reuters.
He said he did not know what happened to Saleh, an attendant who helped look after the church, until rescue workers found his burned corpse inside the church. According to an investigation report, there was a wound on Saleh's throat, he said.
Abdel-Aziz Mohammed, working on another icon, said he was angry at the people who burned the church. "I felt this was an act of vandalism," he said. "Islam does not distinguish between church and mosque - both are houses of God."
"Egypt's ruling military council has vowed to punish those behind sectarian violence and promised to protect Christians by tightening security around places of worship," said DAWN.
"Sectarian tension grew during Mubarak's three decades in office and accelerated in the chaos that followed his overthrow.
"Many Christians say the military-led government is being too soft on the Islamist radicals who whip up inter-faith hatred."
The governorate of Giza, where Imbaba is located, has pledged to pay for restoration of St Mary's church, expected to cost around 6 million Egyptian pounds ($1 million USD).
For now, the DAWN story continued, workers are busy plastering and painting its walls and sweeping out the dust, pushing to finish their work as quickly as possible.
"This work would normally require up to three months. We are doing it in 21 days," Ibrahim Mahlab, chief executive of The Arab Contractors, said while inspecting the work. "We want to show that no intruder can create a rift between Muslims and Christians."

Dan Wooding, 70, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 47 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC. He now hosts the weekly "Front Page Radio" show on KWVE in Southern California which is also carried on the Calvary Radio Network throughout the United States. The program is also aired in Great Britain on Calvary Chapel Radio UK. Besides this, Wooding is a host for His Channel Live, which is carried via the Internet to some 200 countries. You can follow Dan on Facebook under his name there or at ASSIST News Service. He is the author of some 44 books. Two of the latest include his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, press this link. Wooding, who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, has also recently released his first novel "Red Dagger" which is available this link.

** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

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