Unlike the rest of the websites selected in this study, www.copts-united.com, does not have a high number of visitors, when compared to the rest. However, because it is considered one of the essential websites tackling Coptic and Christian issues, we dealt with it as one of the most influential websites for the Arabic reader.
a) The importance of Copts - united
Copts United is one of the Arabic websites that speak in the name of Christians in Egypt. The website is sponsored by the Zurich based Copts United Organizations, which is headed by Adly Abdeer. The idea for the website began during a conference held in Switzerland in November 2004 on the rights of the Copts. It was launched in November 2005. Since then, the website began to pose itself strongly as a channel expressing Copts and Christians.
b) Promotion tools:
* The website is designed to be interactive with its audience. It has a forum, readers' mail, and opinion polls.
* The website has an RSS Feed service.
* The website depends to a large extent pictures, videos and cartoons.
* The website lacks links to other websites. The website's homepage only contains links to the Coptic Compound in the United States, the Adly Abdeer website, and the Samuel Polos websites.
The Copts United website has both Arabic and English pages. The Arabic language website is renewed on a weekly basis - every Monday. The website is designed to look similar to a newspaper.
The website has many sections, including: opinion, chosen articles, reportage, varieties, e- press, today's agenda, the forum, readers post, and the last page.
The website covers many issues, content includes material under the following titles: "With the Law", "She and Her Rights", "Egyptian Studies", "The Street's Beat".
Weekly content includes material under the following titles:
"Frankly", "We Read for You", "From the Egyptian Inspiration", "The Sports Encyclopedia"
The website showed interest in human rights and specified With the Law section to human rights issues. This section is one of the permanent ones. In this section we can find several human rights related material and documents, such as:
* Universal Declaration for Human Rights
* An introduction to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
* The ICCPR
The website also dedicated a space for women's issues, which are found on pages entitled, "her reportages", "Her Diaries", "Creative in the shadow".
d) The search engine:
The only way you can search for material on the website is through its archive and searching by date.
2 -Human Rights on Copts - United:
a) Publishing rate:
The advanced search on the website covered material posted on the website over a limited two months period. During this period the website published 0.5 human rights related materials on a daily basis.
b) Issues covered by Copts United:
Similar to other websites, the Copts-united website gives priority to political rights, such as political participation and freedom of expression. However, the website showed special interest in enforced disappearance.
c) Content Coverage:
Like the case with the other websites, most human rights related materials on the website were news on human rights violations.
d) Political and geographical scope:
The website has a special focus on Egypt.
e) The four rights:
News on minorities and tolerance ranked first, similar to Islam online and Elaph. Attention given to these rights is considered natural when putting into consideration the nature and message of the website.
According to the website staff, Copts United publishes violations against minorities, especially in Egypt. The most covered violation is enforced disappearance of Christian women, forcing them to convert to Islam.
3- Analysis of the four rights:
a) Minorities and tolerance:
The website's stance towards the Western World varies. In some cases it calls for the possibility of resorting to the West to bring democratic reform and an end to discrimination. In other cases, the website focuses on the religious and moral differences with the West and shows the willingness to open dialogue and coexistence between the Muslim World and the West.
The website found in the Pope's statements an opportunity to open the debate on reform in the Muslim World, particularly with regards to ending discrimination against minority groups as a basis for reform.
The website posts some material that can be considered to be inciting to hatred. It has taken the political position of considering the Muslim Brotherhood as an extension to the Saudi Wahabi movement.
The Danish Cartoons crisis:
The Muslim Brotherhood falling down
On 21 December the websites posted the article of Alexander Nortof in which he discussed how the US is using the Muslim Brotherhood in its dirty war against its enemies while taking advantage of the MB's mistakes to serve American interests.
The writer sees in his article, which clearly incites hatred, how the reaction to the Danish cartoons was barbaric. He sees that the cartoons only reveals the truth of the Muslim Prophet, Mohamed, as to the writer he was a killer, executioner and instinctive sexual driven.
The writer also confirms the differences between Christianity and the American administration, emphasizing the fact that Bush does not represent Christianity.
Nortof warned his readers from American attempts to use religion for its war. To him the United States is seeking to "drive people into internal fights".
The Pope's speech
The foundations for dialogue and coexistence between religions
On 18 November, the website posted an article written by Magdy Khalil that dealt with the pope's statement. He also delivered his personal apology to millions of moderate Muslims whose feelings were hurt because of the statement made by the Pope about Islam. However, the writer still saw a division in the world between the Muslim World and the Christian West. He put forward conditions in which the two religions can co-exist. These are:
4-respecting the differences between religions
5-unconditioned recognition of international covenants
He also argued that any inter-religious dialogue must include an agreement to respect international human rights covenants.
The writer added that the problems of Muslim countries are their attempts to void these covenants from their essence through reservations based on the importance of the Islamic Shari'ah. This is why, the writer argues, there is a continuous conflict between the international community and the Muslim countries with regards to human rights standards, especially with regards to four main dimensions: religious freedoms, women's rights, non Muslim minorities' rights, and the humane treatment of all human beings.
"The statements of Vatican pope and the conflict between the east and the west"
On 20 September, the website published a report on the statements of the Pope and its consequences. The report covered the reactions of some Christian clerics and human rights activists, acknowledging that there is a public rejection of the statements of Vatican, and confirming the existing differences between western Christians and eastern Christians; the Orthodox and Catholics. At the same time, they denounced violent reactions to the statements in the Arab world, which included the burning of churches in Iraq.
The website showed more interest to the Bahais cause than the other selected websites included in this study. The word "Bahais" was mentioned in 34 different articles.
The website followed the judicial cases related to the Bahais struggle for their right, the decision reached by Egyptian courts, and the reactions that followed. The Copts United website is the only website that interviewed Bahais. It is the only website that tackled the case from all its dimensions based on the fact that Bahais are Egyptian citizens and that they should enjoy the right to belief. The website also tackled the case within the context of relations between the Muslim brotherhood and the Egyptian state and the spreading of Wahabi ideas in Egypt.
The website compared the case of Bahais in the world with their case in Muslim countries, warning against discrimination practiced against them and confirming that Bahais and Christians are minorities suffering from human rights violations.
The strayed Bahai and the lost pound
On 26 December the website published an article criticizing the decision made by the high administrative court of Egypt canceling the decision made by the first degree court to grant Bahais the right to mention their religion on their identification cards. The article tackled the social problems that Bahais face and the economic loss as a result of this court decision. It also covered the NGOs' position that considered the sentence a step away from assuming the rights of individuals and international standards for human rights. The writer warned against repeating the tragedy of Iranian Bahais who were violently persecuted when the state considered them apostates. The writer also talked about the situation of Bahais all over the world, stating that Bahaism is recognized as a religion and thus Bahais have the right to practice their religion. On the other hand he talked about their situation in Egypt and Arab countries where their rights are not respected.
The article stressed that Egyptians should guarantee all rights their without any discrimination based on gender, religion, language, race or belief.
Let's expel Bahais from Egypt and Muslims from the entire world
On the occasion of the decision made by the high administrative court in Egypt not to enlist the Bahaism as a religion in official documents, the website published an article on 23 December criticizing the court decision and religious discrimination in Egypt. The article considered the court decision as one consolidating a religious state.
The writer imagined a scenario where secular western countries turned to religious Christian states, as Muslims claim. In this case they will not recognize Islam as a religion, thus depriving Muslims from any civil rights whether they carry the nationality or not. This way, Muslims will not find any way but to leave those countries forever; a situation similar to which the Bahais in Egypt find themselves today.
At the end of the article, the writer asked the administration of Copts United to give a special interest in the Bahais cause, considering the suffering of Bahais similar to that of Christians under the cruelty of the Islamic system.
Religious authority calls for the elimination of Bahaism
On 26 July the website published a report written by Magdy Malak reviewing the book "Bahaism, its doctrines and colonial targets". The book, which is published by a religious authority in Egypt, calls for the elimination of Bahais.
Egyptian NGOs call to delete religion from IDs and constitutional amendments
On 19 December the website published a report from the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (Middle East) Newspaper. The report tackles a statement issued by NGOs calling to remove the religious status from official documents. The statement also considered that the denial of Bahais basic rights, while they are Egyptian citizens, is an indicator to the expansion of discrimination on the basis of religion. According to the statement, discrimination takes place through security harassment and media campaigns against Shiites, Copts and Bahais. The statement also refers to the harassment of intellectuals who have different interpretations of religious texts.
An interview with Egyptian Bahais; a hard choice between religion and a homeland
On 3 September, Copts United published an interview with Egyptian Bahais, tackling the civil problems that face Bahais as Egyptian citizens. The interviews concluded that Egypt is taking a route away from granting full citizenship to all Egyptians without discrimination. The officials refused to issue IDs for Bahais and this way they cannot move safely, they cannot register their marriage contracts, or obtain birth certificates for their new born, and cannot even issue death certificates their lost ones.
As the website advocated Christian issues, it focused on criticizing Islam, considering the religion to be the roots of terrorism. The website used phrases such as: we are the best- we are more religious and well mannered- we are more sophisticated and civilized in describing itself compared to Muslims. Maybe this radical stance comes as a reaction to the hostile media with regards to Christianity. The website also called Christians to stand together against Muslims, introducing the different secular powers in Egypt either from the right or left wing. It called Christians in Egypt to effectively participate in the political life and use the opportunity of having international pressure exerted against the Egyptian government to respect international standards for human rights.
Roots of Islamic terrorism in Egypt
On 23 August the website published an article discussing Islamic terrorism. For the article terrorists are not only murderers such as Osama Bin Laden, Zawahry, Zarkawy, Omar Abdulrahman, Abu Hamza Almasry and Yasser Serry, but also elite of the Islamic society, the scholars and students, as any Muslim, according to the article, who studied Islam profoundly becomes a terrorist, as he is expected to apply the rules of Islam as mentioned in Quran, Hadith (Prophet's sayings) and scholars, such as Emarrah, Zaghloul, Hwidi, AlAwa, Karadawy, and Safinaz Kazem, who interpreted the Quran. Those are real Muslims and when they speak against Copts demanding their humiliation, torture and murder, these Muslims are applying the rules of their religion.
The article describes the Muslims' discourse on human rights, justice and equality as lies aiming at deceiving the world.
The article is clearly inciting hatred against Muslims.
The mosque and the church or schools and hospitals
On 21 August the website published an article by Dr. Hassan Hanafi in which he discusses the issue of building mosques and churches. He considered that going around building mosques and churches is not a genuine act of expression of faith. For him, this is an attempt to bring disunity and disharmony in the Arab society. Hanafi continues saying that loyalty for homeland disappeared in favor of small fragmented identities thought to bring protection for minorities, but it is really a tool for foreign interference.
For him, people should build schools and hospitals and rebuild public establishments that benefit all people regardless of their religion. People should also put interest in teaching the common religious values such as loving thy neighbors, tolerance, social justice, human rights, individual freedom and helping people. The writer explained that the rise of religious identities is a result of the weakness of the state. As the political system weakens, religious divisions take place as alternative identities.
Religion police... do they have diplomatic bags?
On 29 August the website published an article that was published before in Elaph website. The article is written by Iman Alkahtani. The writer criticizes the role of the religion police in Saudi Arabia. Through the article the writer stated many human rights violations committed by these policemen.
The religious police in Saudi Arabia have 460 centers in the Saudi kingdom and 5000 staff members with 351 million Riyals as a budget. This money would have been better spent on humanitarian development and fulfilling reform demands to merge this department to the police and make it an internal department for general manners instead of insulting citizens and turning the streets into religion gang wars.
The united Arab Islamic states
On 28 August the website published an article by Suzan Kustandy in which she replies to the dream of Sheikh Safwat Hijazy to establish a union between Arab countries named the Arabic Islamic states similar to the United States of America. She explained the difference between the two states. The union he tries to imitate is based on secularism, while he wants to build a racist state.
She argues that the political unity between countries does not succeed if it is built on a religious basis and added that the success of America and Europe is based on the fact that the unification was not founded on discrimination between their citizens on the basis of religion.
At the end, she advised him to learn accepting the other and realize that this is the simplest and highest of human principles.
The party of all Egypt
On 25 August the website published a general call to establish a political party for all Egyptians and take the crescent as a symbol for the homeland, with three stars as a symbol for the three main religions in Egypt.
An interview on liberalism
In a reportage published on 31 August Maged Samir discussed the present and future of liberalism in Egypt. He interviewed many characters who confirmed that western liberalism was established after the society completed its economic, social and political formula, unlike the social situation in Egypt.
The reportage argued that one of the major mistakes of the Egyptian liberals is that they made their liberalism synonymous to westernization .This mistake led to the existence of opposing movements calling for the Islamization of the society.
On the issue of the rights of minorities, there are several other titles on the website, including the following:
* Egypt replies to the accusations of violating minorities' rights
* A report by the US state department confirms discrimination against Copts and Bahais in Egypt.
* US state department: there is religious discrimination in Egypt.
* A surprise coalition between the government and the Muslim Brotherhood to stand against the elimination of religious identity on official documents.
Copts- United is interested in poor oppressed women generally and in particular kidnapped Coptic girls. The accidents of disappearance of Coptic girls or their marriage to Muslims or converting to Islam had its influence on the website's treatment to woman's issues.
Generally, the website tackled the cause of women as an oppressed minority under Islamic rule. It is interested in criticizing Islam's violations to women's rights and the denial of Christian women's right to choose.
It published material criticizing Islam and criticized the position of the security system and media in dealing with the disappearance of Coptic women.
Copts: live free or die as real men
On 1 September and after the disappearance of the Coptic girl, Mona Yaaqoub, from Fayoum (governorate south of Cairo), the website covered the disappearance of Coptic girls.
The writer suggests the establishment of a committee composed of representatives from Al Azhar, the church and human rights organizations, to ensure that the process of converting from one religion to the other is administered away from the security.
The article compared between the support given to those who convert to Islam and the oppression and imprisonment of those who convert to Christianity.
At the end, the writer calls "all churches in Egypt to launch trips all over the country to support the Christians of Fayoum who gathered in the church to protest". And also called the Copts outside Egypt to go to the Egyptian embassies and hold demonstrations inside the headquarters till Mona returns to her father.
It is halal for a man to marry his daughter, and forbidden (haram) for our society to marry democracy
On the 1 September the website published an article by Gawad Albashtiti, taken from civilized dialogue website. The article tackled a Fatwa by Dr. Mohammed Al-Masseir one of Al Azhar famous clerics, in which he said it is allowed according to religion for a man to marry his illegitimate daughter, and for a son to marry his illegitimate sister.
The writer argued that religious scholars have focused their attention on what he considers to be trivial matters while avoiding important matters for the society. According to the article, the best thing these scholars can do is to issue fatwas on democratic reform, and find the religious proof that Islam is in favor of rights and freedoms not against them; in favor of individuals and communities at the same time; in favor of human rights and civil rights and freedoms.
Security continue to lie and manipulate a mother's feelings
On 5 September the website published a call made by the family of the kidnapped girl from Fayoum, Mona Yaaqoub, which they directed to the president and human rights organizations, asking them to interfere to solve the crisis.
The case of Mona Yaaqoub
On 3 September the website introduced the case of "Coptic girls kidnapping" in an article. The article criticized the role of satellite TV channels "Al Mehwar" and "Dream" in what it considered to be "covering the kidnapping case" as they were afraid to loose the businessmen money who established those channels. The article argues that the reporter of Al Mehwar falsified information surrounding the incidents, neglecting the truth and published the message which the country wants to deliver.
Responding to what has been said to be Mona's will to leave her family and convert to Islam, the article defined "will" as the ability to act. It continued saying that all Egyptians do not have that ability to do what they want as the state's official media pushes the girl to convert to Islam.
The article gave some racial advices on raising children such as: "we should raise the awareness of our kids and clarify to them the differences between Christ's freedom and the dark danger waiting for them with the other religion".
The article urged the church to raise the awareness of young men.
In what seems to be a clear disrespect, generalization, and hate speech, the article advises every Egyptian Christian not to allow anyone to say that any Coptic girl converted to Islam or ran away willingly, as there is no will to any Coptic girl to leave the light and go to darkness.
Converting girls to Islam between forcing, free will and the nullity of informal marriage
On 2 September the website published an article on what it describes as the phenomenon of Coptic girls' disappearance and then their appearance on satellite channels as informally married women to Muslim men. The article talked about the security systems' role and introduced the concepts of enforced disappearance according to the definition of the 1992 UN declaration and the International Agreement to Protect All People from Forced Disappearance. The writer applied the definitions to Coptic girls who disappeared and its legal effect on informal marriage contract.
Counselor Najib Jubraeil: It is necessary to send the file of Coptic girls' disappearance to human rights committees Mona Alhoussini: it is nothing more than kidnapping for ransom
On 23 August the website introduced the opinion of Najib Jubraeil who thinks that the accidents of Coptic girls' disappearance in Egypt are within the context of a funded plan to breakdown national unity.
Women are being blackmailed
On 21 August the website published a reportage written by Maged Samir on women's work as police Agents. He considered poverty and oppression the main reasons for women to accept this kind of work.
The writer referred to the opinion of human rights organizations who believe that the role of a female police agent is not only in robberies, prostitution, drugs and political accusations, but also they work at different ports. The writer concludes that despite of the bright slogans on equality between men and women, women are usually weak creatures who easily submit to blackmail, force and oppression. The reason here is that in many cases women are less educated, less able to earn enough money, physically weaker and need protection more than men.
Did Islam really honor women?
On 21 April Copts United published an article on women's rights and the relation between those rights and Quran. The writer argued that Islam gave women some of their rights during the period of the prophet, which was a revolution by all means during that age. Islam eliminated the habit of killing baby girls, gave women half the heritage and half the testimony. It could not do more at that time as it gave her all the rights the Arabic Bedouin community would have never accepted it. Now it is time to rethink about giving women all their rights.
The writer stated many Hadith (prophet sayings) and verses from the Quran that make women less than man and asked to eliminate those verses the same as the first Caliphate, Abu Bakr, did when he cancelled the share of weak believers in Zakat (the Islamic concept of tithing and alms). Also the second Caliphate, Omar Ibn Al Khattab, cancelled the right of warriors in the lands of countries they invade though there is a clear direct verse saying that they have that right. He considered all lands should go to the general financial administration telling the warriors that if they take all the land then there will be nothing left for those who come after them.
The writer finally asks Al-Azhar and other Muslim scholars to convene and frankly declare the deletion of specific verses for the sake of Muslims.
The website did not cover any stories related to the rights of refugees.
The sanctity of the private life
Copts United did not tackle the right to privacy.
4- Following Copts United coverage
The research team followed up on the material posted on the website of Copts United during the period of 21 April to 21 May 2007. During that period, it was found that human rights movement came as the website's first priority. In the second rank comes freedom to belief, then the right to protection from discrimination. Egypt was the focus of the website's coverage. The website focused mainly on covering human rights violations.
Copts united focuses on human rights violations committed against minorities, with a special focus on Egypt. The most covered violation by the website is enforced disappearance of Coptic women and their conversion to Islam. The website resembles other websites included in the study in its focus on civil and political rights, mainly political participation and freedom of expression. Above all it is interested in protection from enforced disappearance.
Revealing human rights violations perpetrated by the state against individuals or communities is the focus of the website's material. Again, the website focuses on violations in Egypt. As is the case in Islamonline.net and Elaph, Copts United focuses mainly and firstly on the rights of minorities and tolerance.
Copts United has a varying stance towards the world. In some cases it calls for taking advantage of the West to impose democratic reforms and bringing an end to discrimination. In other cases it concentrates on the religious and moral differences which separate it from the west, expressing a willingness to hold dialogue and coexistence between the Islamic countries and the west. The website took advantage of the Pope's statements to discuss the necessary reforms in the Muslim World with equality and non-discrimination as a foundation for reform.
The website showed more interest in the Bahais' cause than any of the other selected websites. The word Bahais was mentioned in 34 different articles. Copts United covered court cases before the decision of the high administrative court in Egypt was made and the reactions that followed the decision. Moreover, Copts United is the only website that held interviews with Bahais. It tackled the case from all its dimensions, showing that Bahais are Egyptian citizens who should enjoy the right to belief and full citizenship in Egypt.
The website was mainly interested in the situation of Christians in Egypt. It criticized Islam and considered that the roots of terrorism go back to the religion itself. While doing so, the website had adopted hate speech, thus contradicting itself as it uses the same methods that itself criticizes. The adoption of this speech could be a result of the already hostile discourse against Christians in the Media.
The website dedicated a space to introduce the secular forces in Egypt either from the right wing or the left wing and called upon Egyptian Christians to participate in political affairs. It also saw that there is an advantage in international pressures against the Egyptian government to adopt and respect international standards of human rights.
Copts United showed interest in poor oppressed women, particular kidnapped Coptic girls. The incidents of disappearance of Coptic girls or their marriage to Muslims or converting to Islam had its influence on the website's treatment to women's issues. Generally, the website tackled the cause of women as an oppressed minority under an Islamic rule. It was focused on criticizing "Islam's violations" to women's rights and the denial of Christian women's right to choose.
The website published material that incited hatred and considered the Muslim Brotherhood as the symbol of all Muslims.
The website did not show interest in the rights of refugees or the right to privacy.