Cairo (AINA) -- Christian in Egypt are up in arms this week over a controversial book issued as a free supplement with this month's Al-Azhar magazine, describing Christianity as a Religion of "idolatry" and claiming that the Holy Bible is a misquotation of the original one. The book was published by State-owned corporations that are financed by taxpayers, Christians as well as Muslims.
The controversial book is titled "Scientific Report" and authored by Dr. Muhammad Imarah, a member of Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy (IRA), which is affiliated with the Ministry of Religious Endowments. The book discusses Christian dogma, casts doubts over it, and asserts that Christianity is a "religion of polytheism."
Coptic lawyer Naguib Ghobrial, president of the Egyptian Union of Human Right Organization, has filed a complaint with the Attorney General against Dr. Mohamed Imarah, accusing him of adopting a systematic approach to "ruin Egypt by inciting sectarian rifts between the sons of one nation and defamation of a divine religion recognized by the Egyptian Constitution."
Ghobrial added that what Imarah wrote "defames the Christian dogma, in contradiction with Article 98 of penal law dealing with derision of religion."
Ms. Elaine Kellini, Coptic member of the People's Assembly, said she has ordered a copy of Imarah's book and would take legal action against him, if it was proven that he defamed Christianity.
The Egyptian Newspaper Al Destoor in its December 7 issue reviewed the controversial book, saying Imarah published his book in reply to a proselytizing book called "We Are Ready To Answer" by an unknown Christian author who took the alias name of Dr. Samir Morcos. Imarah said the book was presented to the Islamic Research Academy (IRA) to obtain permission for publication, which the IRA duly turned down, "as it contained many false allegations regarding Islam, making of the Koran a lie, therefore promoting hatred towards Christians," and that he was obliged to answer back.
In a second statement to Al-Destoor, Imarah said that the Islamic Academy approved unanimously in its 25 June 2009 his "Scientific Report" and approved the recommendation to have it published as a supplement to Al-Azhar Magazine. He also changed his assertion about the origin of the alleged anti-Islam book, saying it was likely issued by foreign entities wanting to tamper with the tenets of Islam and harm national unity.
Yesterday Al-Destoor wrote that "Islamic Research Academy announces support for Mohamed Imarah in his attack on Christianity," stressing that Aly Abdolbaqi -- Secretary of the Islamic Research Academy -- said that the Academy supports Imarah in his "Scientific Report" response, and that he is ready to stand by his side on this issue.
In the first chapter of the book Imarah cites eleven reasons why that the Bible, with its Old and New Testaments, has been distorted from its original version.
In the second Chapter Imarah accuses Christians of making Jesus a God with all the functions of God Almighty, a substitute for the Father and "Creator of all things." "They have gone beyond the Trinity and the multiplicity of gods, to reach idolatry, in which Jesus takes the place of the Father." He went on to attack the Gospel of St. John, saying: "this Gospel alone takes one on the path of idolatry and polytheism, makes the 'Word' -- Christ -- as a substitute for God."
In the third and last chapter Imarah criticizes the anonymous Christian author about infallibility, sin, and miracles, which is denied to all prophets and messengers with the exception of Christ alone. "This book goes as far as denying Mohamed, the Prophet of Islam, of miracle-making," writes Imarah.
Most Christians in Egypt, believe that no such Christian writer or proselytizing book ever existed or was presented to the Islamic Academy, and that this imaginary book was used by Imarah, whom has a history of defaming Christianity, as a pretext to defame Christianity again. Many have questioned the usefulness of the laws of defamation of religions adopted by the State, when they are not applied uniformly
In December, 2006, Dr Imarah wrote a book called "The Sedition of Takfeer [apostasy]," which published by the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, which is under the auspices of Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy (IRA), It included a paragraph which "explicitly described Christians as infidels, just like Magus and idol-worshippers, who are destined to eternal hellfire in the afterlife and whose property and lives can be lawfully seized during their lifetime."
The defamation of Christianity and the incitement of Muslims against Egyptian Christians was so grave in this book that Dr. Imarah was threaten by a barrage of lawsuits. At the time, Imarah apologized, explaining that the paragraph in question was no more than a quote from a century-old book by the grand Islamic Imam Mahmoud Hamed El-Ghazali, defining faith and atheism. His excuse was that he quoted the old text without "thinking." The book was recalled and later printed with the derision of Christianity removed.
None of the Muslim scholars interviewed wanted to give their opinion about Imarah's new "Scientific Report," except the controversial Sheikh Youssefel Badry, who told Freecopts "what came in Imarah's book is the truth as advocated by the Koran, Imarah brought nothing new," adding "the Bible is not the word of God, and God never pledged to save it (from distortion)"
According to Free Copts, the Coptic Orthodox Church has no intention of responding to the new book, so as not to give it undue importance, especially that "Imarah brought nothing new to what he previously wrote, and we have answered him several times in the past."
Dr. Safwat Bayaadi, President of the Anglican Communion in Egypt, told Copts-United that he is writing to Grand Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, expressing his disappointment. "This book is attributed to Al-Azhar, and when a prestigious and official state institute like Al-Azhar does that, we have to ask how could this happen?"
By Mary Abdelmassih