Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Coptic and Muslim Leaders Denounce Violence Over “Innocence of Muslims”

Dr Maher Hathout, senior adviser of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California, and Coptic Orthodox Bishop Serapion (1951- ) of Los Angeles at a news conference in Los Angeles CA USA condemning the violence surrounding the film Innocence of Muslims. Now, THIS is the real deal. THIS is what relations between REAL Orthodox and Muslims are like. God bless this.


On Monday, Muslim and Coptic Orthodox leaders stood together to condemn the anti-American violence that broke out in several countries following the release of an anti-Muslim film allegedly made in Southern California. In a news conference at Los Angeles City Hall, they said that the creators of Innocence of Muslims need not fear retribution from them. The movie, whose trailer was posted on YouTube, is considered blasphemous by Muslims because it mocks the Prophet Muhammad. Maher Hathout, senior adviser of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California, called the movie “hate speech” and “instigation”, but added, “We don’t go after people for what they say. If he’s hiding from us, he’s wrong. Hide from somebody else. We aren’t interested”. Hathout was referring to Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, an Egyptian Coptic Christian and naturalised American citizen living in Cerritos purported to be one of the makers of the film.

The movie was linked to protests that resulted in the death of the American Ambassador in Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other State Department employees. Hathout condemned those behind the violence, saying, “Those are neither Muslims nor Copts… those are people who are psychologically diseased, with hearts full of hate, and minds full of ignorance. There should’ve been no bloodshed. As a matter of fact, there should’ve been no reaction to such an insignificant production”. Bishop Serapion, the spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox church in Los Angeles, said neither should the movie trigger violence against Copts, noting, “We find there’s no justification to make such a movie, so, there’s no justification to retaliate or attack the Coptic community”. He also released a statement, “The actions of a few ignorant individuals don’t represent the collective Copt diaspora, nor do they represent the collective Muslim community”. Both religious leaders said they hope recent events would draw the Muslim and Coptic communities of Los Angeles closer.

17 September 2012

Christina Villacorte

Press-Telegram (Long Beach CA)



On Monday, the spiritual leader of about 120 Coptic Christian families who live in the Portland OR metro area issued a statement critical of the film that’s sparked violent protests in Muslim countries. Fr Mekhail Hanna, pastor of St Antonious Coptic Orthodox Church in Southeast Portland, said the movie Innocence of Muslims is “inappropriate”. Also on Monday, The Los Angeles Times reported that the filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who claims to be a Coptic Christian, is in hiding with his family.

According to Fr Mekhail, the film, which sparked a riot in Libya, in which four Americans were killed, and several other violent protests, doesn’t reflect the teaching of the Coptic Church, saying, “The Coptic Orthodox Church respects equally all religions and doesn’t agree or like to see any religion treated with disrespect. We’re commanded in the Bible to deal with others with love, kindness, and respect, and we adhere to that. The behaviour of an individual in our community doesn’t reflect the opinion of our Church, and we should deal with such individuals through the legal channels according to the current laws”. Fr Mekhail, who’s been pastor of the Portland congregation since 2006, said Coptic Christians “disagree with the killing of innocent people”, including those who “disagree” with freedom of speech or don’t know about the film, observing, “We hope that the sound of peace will cover the spark that was ignited by this inappropriate movie”.

17 September 2012

Nancy Haught

Oregon Live


Editor’s Note:

With all the rightwing bloviation out there, THIS is refreshing. By the way, Dr Mathout said this:

Home is not where my grandparents are buried; home is where my grandchildren will be raised.

Hear, hear! This story wins the laurels as the story that I’ve most enjoyed covering in a long while. It DOES restore faith in humanity, doesn’t it?



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