July 27, 2005 Special Dispatch No. 943

Coptic TV Show Causes Controversy in Egypt

July 27, 2005
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 943

The weekly show "Questions About Faith" on the Egyptian based Christian Al-Hayat satellite channel features an Egyptian Coptic priest residing in the United States. Father Zakaria Boutrus, the show, and Al-Hayat TV itself, have come under harsh criticism in the Egyptian press. Boutrus and his show have been accused of attacking Islam; of being supported by the U.S. to sow division and strife; and of "mocking the verses of Allah."

Al-Hayat TV has been accused of being the work of foreign agents collaborating with the U.S., and Pope Shenouda III reportedly announced his opposition to the station's broadcasts, and denied that the station was in any way connected with the Egyptian Church. [1]

One episode which aired on July 4, 2005, discusses anti-Christian verses that, according to Boutrus, should be struck from the Koran. Another episode aired on June 27, 2005, discusses a Hadith, which according to Boutrus, is "reminiscent of Hitler." An episode from June 16, 2005, talks about how Islam is spread by the sword.

Clip 1 - Coptic Priest Zakaria Boutrus: Verses Must be Struck from the Koran; I Demand an Official Apology from Muslim Governments to Christians


Boutrus: "I live in a country (the U.S.) that respects freedom of speech. I exercise my freedom of speech and talk, and no one can deny my free will. Gone are the days of the sharp sword that cut off the tongues of our people and forefathers to prevent them from speaking in the Coptic language. Gone are the days people's heads would be chopped off if they did not convert to Islam."

Interviewer: "What should the Muslims do to make you stop saying these things?"

Boutrus: "My demands involve ten important issues. Let's call it ten demands. The first demand... They are not for my sake, but for the sake of truth, belief, and Jesus. First, striking out all the Koranic verses that deny the divinity of Jesus and the revelation of God in him. Second, acknowledging that Jesus is the spirit and word of God, as they truly believe, without hiding this fact. Third, striking out the Koranic verses and hadiths that incite to kill Christians, like in the Al-Tawba chapter, v.29: 'Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in Judgment Day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His messenger have prohibited, nor do they follow the religion of truth' – that is, Islam. Among whom? 'Among the People of the Book.'

Interviewer: "Who are..."

Boutrus: "The Christians and Jews. 'Until they pay the Jizya poll tax in submission.' This is murder. Number four, striking out the Koranic verses and Hadiths that incite to terrorism and oppression in all their forms."

Interviewer: "What do you mean by terrorism and oppression?"

Boutrus: "Terrorism – 'Urge the believers to fight,' and the hadith: 'I was commanded to fight people until they say: There is no God but Allah.' All this is terrorism and murder. Number six:Stopping the attack on Jesus and the Holy Book in mosques and in all the media. Number seven: Giving people and Muslims the freedom of... You may ask what do I care about the Muslims? No! They must have the freedom to choose their religion and the freedom to express their belief. Number eight:To abolish the punishment for apostasy, to stop torturing people who convert to Christianity, and to stop imprisoning or even killing them. Number nine:Formal apologies must be made by leaders throughout the Arab world for the murder of Christians in countries invaded by Islam. Number ten: Leaders throughout the Arab world should make formal apologies for the insults directed against our faith throughout Islamic history. The viewers may say: 'Is this priest crazy, or what? These demands could only be made by an insane man... To strike out Koranic verses... Does this make any sense? What is he going on about?' OK, if you cannot change (the Koran), why are you asking us to change our beliefs? Why do you demand that we say what you say, or else - the sword?

"(Al-Halabi) says: ' If the Prophet wanted an available woman...' – in other words, an unmarried woman, a widow, or a single woman – '...he was allowed to enter her...' I don't like to use the word i-n-t-e-r-c-o-u-r-s-e. '...without her guardian and without witnesses...' Without witnesses. '...and against her will.' Against her will. 'If he desired a married woman, her husband had to divorce her for him. And if he desired a servant-girl, her master had to give her to him. He can even marry off the woman to whoever he wants, against her will.'"

Interviewer: "We know that the Prophet is allowed what others are not."

Boutrus: "Why? Is he made of different stuff than the rest of mankind?"

Clip 2 - Coptic Priest Zakaria Boutrus: The Prophet Muhammad's Hadith Is Reminiscent of Hitler


Boutrus: "A hadith by the Prophet Muhammad says: 'Two religions will not exist together in the Arabian Peninsula.'"

Host: "Is this not a type of racism?"

Boutrus: "This is Hitler. This is Hitler, whom we despise. Who destroys entire nations? The (Jewish tribes of) Bani Qureiza and Bani Nadhir, and Najran... It is forbidden. Murdering people because they don't have the same beliefs as you..."

Clip 3 - Coptic Priest Zakaria Boutrus on the Spreading of Islam By the Sword


Boutrus:"Islam, as portrayed in the encyclopedia of Islam, in the Koran and the Hadith, was spread by means of the sword. 'The sword played a major role in spreading Islam in the past, and it is the sword that preserves Islam today. Islam relies upon Jihad in spreading the religion.' This is very clear in the encyclopedia. This appears in section 11, page. 3,245. It says: 'Spreading Islam by means of the sword is a duty incumbent upon all Muslims.' Thus, Islam is spread by means of the sword.

"Another thing is the punishment for apostasy. 'The punishment of killing any Muslim who abandons Islam is one of the most important factors terrifying all Muslim. He does not dare question the truth of Islam, so that his thoughts will not lead him to abandon Islam. In such a case, he would receive the punishment for apostasy: He would lose his life, and his property and wives would permitted for all.'

"This reminds me of a true story that I heard about the preachers who spread Islam in Africa. They reached a certain place in order to spread Islam, and they asked one of the locals: 'Do you prefer to worship one god and have four wives, or to worship three gods and have one wife?' We, of course, don't worship three gods, but that's what they said. The African said 'I like four women, and I don't care which god. I want four women.' So they told him to say the shahada, and he did.

"Then they told him he had to be circumcised in order to become a Muslim. He asked: 'Do I really have to? I am a grown man.' They answered: 'Yes, you have to, in order to get the monthly stipend, and you can marry four wives.' The man agreed, and underwent the pains of circumcision despite his advanced age. They began to pay him the monthly stipend, and after a few months they cancelled the stipend. The man went and asked: 'Where's the money?' They told him: 'Now you are deep in Islam, you don't need the monthly stipend any more.' He threatened: 'I will abandon Islam.' They said: 'If you leave Islam, we will carry out the apostasy punishment on you.' He asked what it was, and they said: 'We will chop off your head, and cut you into pieces.' This African man began to mumble: 'What a strange religion: when you go in they cut off a little piece of you, and when you go out, they cut you into little pieces.'

"This is the punishment for apostasy that keeps people afraid. Even when they reach the truth, they're afraid to express their opinion. There are other factors, such as upbringing from a young age. Children are brainwashed that Islam is the truth, that Mohammad is the last prophet, that the Christians are infidels and that the Jews are infidels. They repeat it constantly.

"Since early childhood, he cannot think properly, because a certain way of thinking is forced on him. In addition, the religion of Islam satisfies the human urges, just like our (African) friend who said he preferred four wives. 'Two, three, four, or however many you can.' It satisfies the sexual urges and man's desire for ownership. It goes hand in hand with human nature. It does not exalt human nature, but reduces itself to the level of human nature."

[1] For an Arabic-language site, see; For a limited English-language version, which contains some articles critical of Islam, see

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