Islamic forces have called for a million-man demonstration on Friday [September 14] in protest of a film that insults the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. A number of Coptic Egyptian immigrants in the United States took part in the production of the amateur Youtube video.
Muslim Brotherhood youths announced on their Facebook pages their solidarity with calls for the demonstration, saying they would participate in it despite a formal decision made by the party not to call for protests. Coptic priests nationwide rejected the offensive film, stressing that religious symbols are a red line.
In a statement released yesterday [September 11], the US embassy in Cairo condemned the insulting film, describing it as a continued effort by “misguided individuals” to hurt the feelings of Muslims. The statement declared the United States’ firm rejection of hurting the religious beliefs of others.
In reaction to the film, hundreds of followers of Islamic movements yesterday surrounded the entrances leading to the American embassy in Cairo to denounce the film that offends the Prophet Muhammad, which was produced in collaboration with Coptic Egyptian immigrants in the United States. The US embassy had a heavy security presence in order to protect the premises.
The protest was attended by leaders of Islamic movements, most notably Mohammad al-Zawahiri, brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri; a number of sons of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the Emir of the Gamaa Islamiyya group; Sheikh Gamal Saber, coordinator of the Hazimoun movement and Sheikh Abu-Yahya al-Masri, spokesman for the Salafist “Voice of Wisdom Coalition,” which called for the protests.
Zawahiri said that the US government's response — by issuing a statement through its embassy in Cairo condemning the producers of the video that insults the Prophet — was not enough. He added that the filmmakers should be arrested and brought to trial, like Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who was falsely accused of slander and inciting violence.
Gamal Saber, coordinator of the Hazimoun movement and co-founder of the Egyptian Umma Party, said that there is ongoing coordination between Islamic and revolutionary forces to organize a million-man demonstration in the event of the film being aired in the United States. He said that the forces are demanding that US citizenship be revoked from the Coptic Egyptian immigrants involved in the production of the film and that they be prevented from entering Egypt.
They also called for the severing of all relations with the United States and withdrawing the Egyptian ambassador from Washington, since the United States has once more allowed pastor Terry Jones — who had previously burned the Koran three times — to insult the Prophet.
Ahmad Khalil, spokesman for the Salafist Nour Party, said that the party supports all escalatory measures against the offenders of the Prophet, adding that the party will stand in the face of anyone who tries to insult Islam anywhere in the world.
For their part, Muslim Brotherhood youths announced via official and unofficial websites their participation in the million-man demonstration. Ali Khafagy, secretary-general of the youth committee in the Freedom and Justice Party, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, denied that the party made a formal decision to take part in the demonstration.
He said, “[Participation in] the million-man demonstration is still being discussed, but the Brotherhood supports all escalatory measures against the film and the Coptic immigrants involved in producing it.”
Gamaa Islamiya hailed the honorable position of the loyal patriotic Copts who rejected this slander, calling on Coptic institutions and churches in Egypt to take the right position in order to expose the liars who sought to incite sedition.
Nader Murkos, member of the Council of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, said that the church condemns pastor Terry Jones’ claims, rejects insults against any prophet, and respects all religions and prophets. He criticized the Coptic immigrants’ move to produce a film that offends the Prophet Muhammad.
Radi Atallah Iskandar, pastor of the Attarine Evangelical Church in Alexandria, said that pastor Jones’ promotion along with some radical Copts of a film that offends the Prophet of Islam is inconsistent with the spirit and teachings of Christianity. He added that religious symbols are red lines that no one is allowed to cross.