Extremist Iraq attack: Much ado over the wrong thing
When the Al-Qaeda group, Islamic State of Iraq, took hostage the Our Lady of Deliverance Assyrian Catholic church in Baghdad Oct. 31, (which resulted in 58 dead and more injured), two reasons were cited for the attack.
The first reason was the scrapped plan of a small church of 50 members in the U.S. to burn the Quran. The second reason was a demand for the freedom of Camelia Shehata, whom they claimed is a Muslim woman who is being held prisoner in a Coptic monastery in Egypt.
However, the Quran burning plan of the small church had long been scrapped. And Camelia Shehata says she never converted to Islam. She is a Christian and has always been, the Pakistan Christian Post reported.
This renders the violent hostage takeover of the cathedral in Iraq, and the succeeding punitive violence in Iraq by the ISI (many of whom are not even Iraqi), much ado over the wrong thing.
Shehata never dreamed she would be the focal point of the Al-Qaeda ISI violence in Iraq. The only thing that really happened (according to the official version of State Security) was that she had a fight with her husband, Father Tedaos Samaan, a priest in Deir Mawas, Egypt, the Pakistan Christian Post said.
On July 19 she disappeared, which triggered Coptic demonstrations in Egypt demanding the help of State Security to find her. She was with relatives in Cairo, and State Security returned her to her husband, the Pakistan Christian Post reported.
Shehata chose, however, to stay with her 18-month-old son in a church home for women, rather than go back to her husband. This in turn sparked a rumor spread by a fundamentalist shaikh who claimed that Shehata had converted to Islam, according to the Pakistan Christian Post.
Muslim TV channels called for her return and demonstrations were held in front of mosques seeking her “freedom from captivity” by the Coptic church and Pope Shenouda, the Pakistan Christian Post said.
To clarify matters, Shehata appeared on a video where she said she had never even thought of converting to Islam and that she is a Christian. The minister of endowment, Hamdi Zakzouk also reiterated Shehata’s explanation in a lecture at Cairo University, according to the Pakistan Christian Post.
By then however quite a furor had been raised in Egypt, and every Friday afternoon for 14 weeks, thousands of fundamentalists went to the streets after praying at the mosque to demand that “our Muslim sister” is set free, Pakistan Christian Post said.
Deaths in Iraq
The ISI also cited Shehata as one of the reasons for the attack on the cathedral in Iraq and the violence against Christians that took place in the succeeding 10 days. In fact, the ISI announced that all non-Muslims are fair game and legitimate targets, Pakistan Christian Post reported.
All this, despite the fact that Egypt’s State Security had arranged for the video of Shehata to be filmed and aired two months before. When Muslims claimed it was not her in the video, State Security even issued a statement and required TV stations to air it to confirm that Camelia was the woman in the video, according to Pakistan Christian Post.
Magdi Khalil, a Coptic activist, told the Pakistan Christian Post, “The similarity between the statement issued by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and those issued by the fundamentalist organizations in Egypt on the subject of Camelia Shehata, as well as the threats shouted during the weekly demonstrations in the mosques of Cairo and Alexandria, suggests that there is a highly coordinated campaign to empty the Middle East of its Christians.”