Voices from Russia

Monday, 28 January 2013

Investigators Say Fire at El Cajon CA Church Was Hate Crime



Another in a flurry of apparently unrelated incidents that investigators are looking into as hate crimes took place over the weekend in Southern California, when someone set a Greek Orthodox church ablaze. The fire at St Gregory of Nyssa Greek Orthodox Church in San Diego County broke out at about 04.00 PST (07.00 EST 12.00 UTC 16.00 MSK 23.00 AEST) on Sunday. Neighbours in the unincorporated area of El Cajon where the church is located reported the blaze to authorities. Fire-fighters from Cal Fire, San Miguel Fire District, Heartland Fire, and Lakeside all worked together to tackle the blaze. Officials said that crews were able to extinguish the fire within 45 minutes. There was no one inside the church at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

Investigators from the Sheriff’s Bomb/Arson Unit and a fire investigator from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives were called to investigate the cause and origin of the fire. According to the Sheriff’s Department, the fire caused about 250,000 USD (7.55 million Roubles. 186,000 Euros. 160,000 UK Pounds) in damages to the church. Investigators identified a person of interest in connection to the fire. Investigators immediately contacted suspect Darin Williams, 38, and they arrested him for suspicion of arson, burglary, and a hate crime. Williams was booked into San Diego Central Jail; he’s being held on 150,000 USD (4.53 million Roubles. 112,000 Euros. 96,000 UK Pounds) bail. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday. No further details were immediately released, as the investigation is still underway.

 28 January 2013

Monica Garske

Sharon Bernstein

4 NBC Southern California




Saturday, 29 September 2012

Local Copts Tired of Being Linked to Arrested Anti-Muslim Filmmaker


Fr Mauritius Mikhail of St George Coptic Orthodox Church in Bellflower CA acknowledged that the man known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula attended occasional services at his church three years ago. However, he added that most parishioners didn’t know Nakoula, an Egyptian Copt who also uses the name Mark Youssef. Fr Mauritius said that the man’s arrest this week on a probation violation didn’t surprise him, and he suspects that other Coptic Christians won’t be, either, saying, “I haven’t spoken, because his arrest is something very recent, I heard about it from the news just yesterday. However, the anger, or the disturbance, wasn’t because he was arrested, but because the movie itself was something very inappropriate”.

Two weeks of news headlines that connect Nakoula and his incendiary film, Innocence of Muslims, to Southland Copts have shed unwelcome light on a small low-profile immigrant religious group. Shortly after an Arabic-dubbed trailer for the film surfaced on YouTube, its producer also claimed that Israelis helped to finance the project. There’s no evidence to support that assertion. Fr Joseph Boules, a priest at Ss Mary and Verena Church in Anaheim CA, said that he’s had to explain repeatedly to journalists that the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles never endorsed anti-Muslim rhetoric like that found in Nakoula’s film.

Fr Joseph said that news outlets in Egypt and in the USA are equally responsible for offering false representations of Coptic Christianity, saying, “Everyone’s condemned the movie. It isn’t worthy of this attention at all. If we hold people responsible for their actions, then, we do away with the labels… they have no place in the conversation. However, what was behind putting these two words before his name, Coptic Christian? So, for that, I do hold the media responsible to a large extent”. Fr Joseph said that the intense media attention upset many of his parishioners, but he added that the opportunity Copts now have to explain their faith better may turn out, in the long run, to be a “blessing”.

28 September 2012

Ruxandra Guidi

Leslie Berestein Rojas

89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio


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?


Friday, 14 September 2012

Orange County Coptic Christians Watch Turmoil Over “Innocence of Muslims” Closely

Coptic Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles (1951- )


Fr Joseph Boules’ parish sits along a busy street in Anaheim, but the concern of his Coptic Orthodox Christian parishioners often reaches halfway around the world to Egypt. Relations between the Muslim majority and the Coptic Christian minority there have been historically tense, and violence between the two groups intensified after the Egyptian uprising. Fr Joseph’s concern peaked early Thursday morning, when he heard that a Southern California man who identified himself as a Coptic Christian had connections with the creation of a film that ridiculed Islam and sparked violence across the Middle East.

Sitting on a pew in Ss Mary and Verena along La Palma Avenue, Fr Joseph said, “A good Christian wouldn’t do that. He may very well turn out to be a Coptic Orthodox person, but I assure you, it’d be in name only”. Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, which oversees about 30 churches throughout the area, condemned the killings of the American ambassador and three others in Libya on Tuesday {actually, the rioters killed five Americans in total: editor}, and said he didn’t support the views portrayed in the video. Fr Joseph also condemned the video, and said that he was concerned that Coptic Orthodox Christians would not only be associated with the hateful video, but it would also place them in danger in Egypt. Fr Joseph noted, “This isn’t our line of teaching at all. We can’t control the actions of individuals or anyone who is misguided or has fanatical views. Certainly, the church condemns the video. We don’t condone this violent extremism at all”.

From the onset, the film’s origins have been murky. At first, a man identified as Sam Bacile was said to be the director of the film; that person said he was an Israeli who collected money from Jewish donors. However, on Wednesday, the AP traced the film back to 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a man from Los Angeles County with a history of financial crimes. Nakoula said that he’s a Coptic Christian. Fr Joseph observed, “I don’t know what the motives of the man were. I don’t know why he did what he did, but it’s important to remember our Christian faith first before we react”.

Christians have faced persecution and violence in Egypt, and parishioners often seek Fr Joseph’s advice for people looking to leave the region. On 1 January 2011, in Alexandria, a bomb killed more than 20 Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the Egyptian population. About a week later, reports stated that thousands of Muslims attended Christmas liturgy with Christians as an act of solidarity. However, tensions grew after the 2011 Egyptian revolution, when police used force to disperse Coptic demonstrators, and when the Muslim Brotherhood won the majority of parliamentary seats. As recently as last week, violence erupted when a Christian dry-cleaning business damaged a Muslim man’s shirt.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Southern California, in a narrow church with two lines of pews surrounded by the icons of saints, Fr Joseph stated that Coptic Christians and Muslims have left behind that hostility. He estimates that there are more than 20,000 Coptic Orthodox Christians in Southern California, and many more have arrived in the USA after the Egyptian uprising, saying, “People are saddened by the injustice that is dealt to the Christians in Egypt“, but he described the relationship between Coptic Christians and Muslims in Orange County as amicable. He made it clear that any friction in Egypt hasn’t been carried over here, saying, “I’d truly pray that it hasn’t”. For now, Fr Joseph’s concern is that the video may spark violence against Coptic Christians here. Police advised him to keep the Coptic church in Orange locked in case of retaliation. He said of the movie, “Christians don’t do that. It sounds to me like this person should be sitting in the confession chair, not the director chair”.

13 September 2012

Salvador Hernandez

Orange County Register


Editor’s Note:

Now, there’s much buzz that the film Innocence of Muslims doesn’t really exist… that it’s a Winnegan’s Fake, an internet hoax on YouTube. As for me, I doubted that Jews were involved… that sounded so like Der Stürmer and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It didn’t “sound right”… it smelt to high heaven, as far I was concerned. However, that does show you what happens when cretinish haters get their hands on technology. They use it to bad ends. However, don’t blame the technology… that’s neutral. YouTube’s a great site… I’ve posted vids there. For instance, hoaxsters, fraudsters, and general low-lifes and scummers use Photoshop to scam or fool people. Trust me, the vast majority of Photoshop users are like me… I use it to spiff up colour and lighting levels, to remove photographic artefacts (those annoying “dots” you can get in an image), or to create a nice photomontage (as I did with the Order of Honour and some of the Russian Paralympians). I used it to “video-edit” the above image, and one can see that it’s the original image, only with its levels polished up and some artefacts taken off Bishop Serapion’s robe. That is… technology is a servant… a “slave”, if you will. If you give it good orders, it’ll do good. If you give it bad orders, it’ll do bad. However… the responsibility for the good or bad is on YOU. After all, the technology’s only a machine… YOU gave it the orders, didn’t you?


Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.