Acton Institute Powerblog

Eritrea: Remember the Prisoners

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From OBL News (5/19/10):

Abba Seraphim will join a protest vigil to “Stand in Solidarity with Eritrean Christians” outside the Eritrean Embassy between 3-4 pm on Thursday, 3 June. The vigil has been organised by a number of Christian Human Rights’ organisations: Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Release Eritrea, Church in Chains, Release International and Open Doors. At a similar gathering in May 2008 Abba Seraphim handed in a petition at the Embassy calling for the resoration of His Holiness Abune Antonios, the canonical Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church and in June 2007 organised an Ecumenical Prayer Service in London for Abune Antonios. The British Orthodox Church also sponsors a website calling for the Patriarch’s restoration: Restore Patriarch Antonios to his throne. The Eritrean Embassy is at 96 White Lion Street, London, N1 9PF (near the Angel tube).

John Couretas John Couretas is Director of Communications, responsible for print and online communications at the Acton Institute. He has more than 20 years of experience in news and publishing fields. He has worked as a staff writer on newspapers and magazines, covering business and government. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Humanities from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.


  • Mark

    I just watched the video. In many many cases around the world including here in the U.S., religious figures are not just innocent teachers of the Bible, Koran, etc. Rather in many instances they have their own political agendas and use their power to lure innocent people towards their political beliefs who are just there in the first place to pray. So in watching this, the question I have is: are these religious figures really innocent? or have they preached dislike/hatred against the government or for a particular political agenda?

  • In the May 19 New York Sun:

    Killings of Egypt’s Christians Escalate In Ghastly Slaughter Nearly Ignored in the West

    By YOUSSEF IBRAHMIM, Special to the Sun | May 19, 2010

    At 11:30 p.m. on January 6, the Orthodox Christmas for millions of Egyptian Christians, gunshots rang from a drive-by car, killing 7 parishioners exiting evening mass. The Nagaa Hamadi Church Massacre, as it became known, left 26 seriously injured in the small southern town.

    During the funerals, greater mayhem erupted. In surrounding towns and villages some 3,000 Muslims broke into Coptic properties, agricultural plots, and businesses, looting and setting fires to shops. Across the country churches were burned. It took Egypt’s police three days to show up and six weeks to arrest a single culprit.

    As it has become customary, the government described the attack as ‘’an individual incident’’, another dispute among villagers. The phrase has become so habitual in describing attacks on Christians over the past 40 years, it is used as a practical joke.

  • Moheb Zaki the Wall Street Journal (HT: U.S. Copts Association):

    Egypt’s Persecuted Christians

    The state’s lack of regard for the Copts has encouraged anti-Christian feelings among many Muslims in all walks of life. Even Al-Azhar, the world’s preeminent Sunni Islamic institution, has contributed its share to this widespread hostility by publishing a pamphlet declaring the Bible a corrupted document and Christianity a pagan religion.

    Al-Azhar’s textbook for its high-school students, called “Al Iqna’,” states that killing a Muslim is punishable by death, but if a Muslim kills a non-Muslim he is not subject to capital punishment since the superior cannot be punished for killing the inferior (p. 146). It also states that the blood money (compensation for manslaughter) rates for a woman is half that for a man, but for a Christian or Jew it is one third that of a Muslim (p. 187); and that there can be no stewardship (such as a superior in work) of a non-Muslim over a Muslim (p. 205).

    Thus the hundreds of thousands of Azhar schools, which are monitored by the state, indoctrinate and then discharge annually into Egyptian society hundreds of thousands of young Muslims with an ideology of intolerance, contempt and hatred toward Copts (and even more intensely toward Jews).

  • Roger McKinney

    John, thanks for these posts about the plight of Christians in Muslim countries. Also, I highly recommend Brother Andrew’s book “Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ.”

    But this sort of thing isn’t new. Christians have suffered under Islam like this for the past 1,500 years, sometimes worse. Read anything you can find by Bat y’or on the subject.

  • I was so surprised to read Mark’s response to the video entitled “Remember”. Unless one is a blind supporter of one of the most brutally repressive regimes in the world, how can they blame the victim?

    If His Grace Antonios has committed any offense or violated any law to deserve the kind of treatment he has received, why isn’t he charged with any offense in a proper court of law? How can anyone be put away with the ability to defend oneself?

    You may find this surprising, but imprisonments, disapearances and killings are stocks in trade for tyrannical regimes. Blame tyranny, not its victims. There are thousands of people who are imprisoned in Eritrea for their religious faith. Not one has been charged in a proper court of law. The regime just lock them up and throw away the keys. These are victims. If you have any heart, your sympathy should lie with them.