Following are excerpts from an interview with Muhammad Salim Al-Awa, secretary-general of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV, on September 16, 2010:
Interviewer: Even though, according to its religious belief, the Church should not intervene in political affairs, and even though the elections of President Mubarak, his son, or anyone else is a political matter, and not a matter pertaining to the Church – all these meetings and declarations, and the political role played by the Church...
Muhammad Salim Al-Awa: This is purely political activity, no question about it. This contradicts what they claim is the principle of the Church – “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” But when Father Bishoy says: “This is our country. You expect us not to talk about the politics of our country? The Muslims are our guests”... This declaration will have repercussions. It is extremely dangerous. This was only published today, but only God knows the extent of the fire fanned by it. I call upon Father Bishoy to deny or retract this statement...
Interviewer: The interview was taped.
Muhammad Salim Al-Awa: Yes. Let him deny it. Many religious leaders, politicians, and leaders deny things they say in taped interviews.
Interviewer: it seems that we are talking about a much more serious issue. On August 16, exactly one month ago, the Egyptian Al-Shourouq newspaper published a news item that the Egyptian security agencies had detained a ship from Israel, carrying explosives concealed in containers. The state security agency arrested the ship owner, Joseph Boutrus Al-Jabalawi, the son of the deputy head of the Coptic Church at Port Said. The prosecution decided to arrest him for four days for interrogation.
Many people say that the monasteries are full of weapons, and that they are not controlled by the state, which cannot enter them, while Muslims are arrested every day for extremism and the possession of arms.
Muhammad Salim Al-Awa: The weapons that the Copts bring and store in a church can have no purpose other than to be used in the future against the Muslims. Father Bishoy declared that they would reach the point of martyrdom, which can only mean war. He said: “If you talk about our churches, we will reach the point of martyrdom.” This means war. The Church and some of the clergy are preparing for war against the Muslims.
There is a continuous, organized, and systematic effort to prepare for the day when there will be a demand to split Egypt into two countries – one for Copts and the other for Muslims. Perhaps into more than two – perhaps the Nubians will want a state, as was claimed a few years ago.