The horrifying incident in which Salafis or Islamic fundamentalists, have implemented for the first time in Egypt the Islamic penalty or Hudoud on a Christian Copt by cutting-off his ear for allegedly renting his flat to a Muslim prostitute, has sent shock waves throughout Egypt. The Salafis in the southern town of Qena, 490 KM from Cairo, took all the authorities of the State in their own hands; they arrested the victim, judged him and applied what they saw as the appropriate punishment on him. After that they called the police to take away the victim saying "We have applied the law of Allah, now come and apply your law."
It turned out since that similar incident took place, which raised concern and alarm, not only among the Copts, but among the majority of Egyptians who are aware of the seriousness of these trends on the future of Egypt and the civil State.
Free Copts advocacy reported this week that according to Bishop Cherubim of Qena, three incidents took place in Qena alone during the last fortnight in which Salafis implemented Hudoud on Christians.
Bishop Cherubim said that besides applying the Hadd (plural Hudoud) on the Copt Ayman Mitri by cutting-off his ear, two other Copts were victims of Salafi Hudoud.
One of them was Ibrahim Fouad Botros who was killed after a dispute with a Muslim neighbor in the market because of the assault of a Salafi group on him, and the
Second victim was Matthias Talat Asham who was accused by the Salafis of having a love affair with a Muslim girl. "He was dealt a fatal blow by the Salafis and was
Thrown from his flat on the fourth floor where he fell to the street unconscious and died later at Qena General hospital," said Bishop Cheroubim. He added that he has been serving in Qena for over twenty years and no such incidents ever took place there.
The ordeal of Mr. Ayman Anwar Mitri, an employee at a school in Qena, whose ear was cut-off by Salafis allegedly for renting his flat to two Muslim prostitutes started when he was called at dawn on March 20 by another tenant in the building called Khaled, advising him that the vacant flat where the Muslim women lived was on fire.
When he went to the burning flat, a group of Salafis in the street shouted insults at him. He went down to the street and explained to them that his flat was let through an estate agent and he knew nothing about the private life of his tenants who have meanwhile vacated the flat upon his request.
The Salafis asked him to go with them somewhere quiet to clear the misunderstanding between them, however, when they went to the flat of Mr. Mitri's friend Khaled, a policeman, he found another twelve Salafis waiting for him there. They started beating him and saying "We will teach you a lesson, Christian" and "This serves your right for renting your property to prostitutes."
The assailants asked him to call his ex-tenants so that they deliver them to their father. When they refused to take Mitri’s calls, the Salafis asked a female Muslim neighbor to set a trap for them to come under the pretext that some of their belongings left over in the flat had to be collected.
When one of the ex-tenants, Sabrin Saif Al-Nasr, came over, she was beaten and asked to say that she had an illicit affair with Mitri. "At first she refused, but with continuous beating, she finally agreed," said Mitri. Sabrin later told the police she had to accuse the Copts because she was afraid of the Salafis.
Mitri's ordeal included beating him to convert to Islam which he refused, wounding him in several bodily parts, before sitting him on a chair and one of the Salafis named elHusseiny cut his right ear off. "I felt so shocked that I do not even know what tool he used." They also made a 10cm cut at the back of his neck, injured his other ear, his face, head and arms.
Mr. Mitri said the Salafis wanted to throw him off from the fifth floor, but Khaled objected, saying he would get into trouble for just being there, as he was a policeman.
The Salafis then called the police and told them “We have applied the law of Allah, now come and apply your law," said Mitri in an interview for the Egyptian Human Rights Organization. The police came and Mitri was taken to hospital.
The way the army handled the incident infuriated many Copts and moderate Muslim alike, viewing the forced reconciliation they initiated as a crime against the victim and an encouragement to the assailants to repeat their deed since they came away from the incident scot- free. Moreover, Copts view the role of the army in this reconciliation as another proof that the army appeases the Muslims and sides with them against the Copts.
Pro-government newspapers published the story on the "reconciliation meeting" initiated by the army between the victim Mitri and the Salafi elHusseiny who cut-off his ear. The photo (attached) was touched-up to show Mitri's mutilated ear as a normal one, with Colonel Ahmed Masood, vice military ruler of Qena in the middle. This humiliating “reconciliation meeting" was forced on Mitri "after Salafis threatened to kidnap the female children in our family, “said Mitri sobbing in an interview on Coptic TV channel CTV. According to the agreement, a copy of which was distributed by the Salafis all over Qena, Mitri relinquished all his legal rights.
Youssef Sidhom, editor-in-chief of the Coptic weekly "Watani” heavily criticized the army. In his article 'The Salafis humble the State' dated April 3, he wrote "Colonel Masoud said he was eager to attend the session to bridge the gap between the disputants’ viewpoints and fold the page on the incident, since the two parties wished that the minor incident should be granted no more weight than it warranted."
Sidhom continues "What viewpoint is he talking about: That of the criminals who cut the victim’s ear and burned his home and car, or that of the victim who experienced such agony? Then he says the objective of the session was to “fold the page on the incident”. Such a declaration is, by all measures, calamitous. He claims the two parties wish that the minor incident should be granted no more weight than it warrants. Small incident! The words insult our intelligence, deny the truth, and deal a blow to the rule of law."
Attorney Dr. Naguib Gobraeel. Head of the Egyptian Union Organization for Human Rights presented on March 31, a communication to the Attorney General, requesting him not to recognize or accept the reconciliation agreement between the offenders and the victim as this is a crime directed against the community.
Gobraeel added that leaving this crime unpunished and accepting the reconciliation agreement is recognition of the Salafi Hudoud, the end of the concept of citizenship, violation of the law and the Constitution. He said that it was necessary to bring the offender before the Supreme Military Court for being guilty not only of a felony of disfigurement, but also of thuggery and of terrorizing the innocent.
The public prosecutor has issued a warrant for the arrest of the Salafi perpetrators. However, no action was taken by the police and witnesses have reported that they walk freely in town without any hindrances.