Dozens of Salafis staged a protest in front of the al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque in Alexandria following Friday prayers. The protest was held to call for the release of allegedly “Muslim women held against their will by churches” and also for the trial of Father Bishoy, secretary of the Holy Synod, for his comments questioning the authenticity of Islam’s holy book, the Quran.
Sheikh Mahalawy, a prominent Salafi preacher, led the demonstration, in his first public appearance since 2006.
There was a heavy security presence during the protest.
The Coptic Church has urged the Ministry of Awqaf–religious endowments–to intervene to stop such demonstrations.
The protesters carried banners calling for the removal from office and the prosecution of all those who incite sectarian tensions and the freeing of all Copts who had tried to leave the faith and been held against their will.
Meanwhile a number of Coptic Bishops expressed their sadness at demonstrations in which the Church and Pope Shenouda III have been humiliated.
Father Bassanti, Bishop for Helwan and Masaara, called on Minister of Awqaf Hamdy Zaqzouq to prevent the protests, “because of the danger posed to national unity, and especially because Pope Shenouda has prevented protests from taking place at the Coptic Cathedral.”
In a statement to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Father Bassanti said that the Friday sermon could have included references to the joint statement issued by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar and Pope Shenouda, which calls for peaceful coexistence and the mutual respect of beliefs.
Abdel Rahman Nasser, Imam of al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque in Alexandria, said the protest was staged outside the premises, while the mosque was closed. He said that he would not allow protests to be staged inside the mosque.
Salafis are followers of a strict Sunni Islamic movement that takes the pious ancestors, or “Salaf”, of early Islam as exemplary models, and preaches strict adherence to the Quran and the sayings and deeds of Prophet Mohamed and his companions. Alexandria is one of Salafis’ stranglehold in Egypt.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.