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Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christian Egyptian Dissident in Jerusalem Speaks Out

Nadene Goldfoot
Maikel Nahil was born in 1985, the year I left Israel to return to Portland, Oregon.  Who knew that such a baby would become such a political activist and blogger.  On the 4th of February, 2010 he was arrested by Egypt's military police and tortured, but luckily released 27 hours later.  It happened again on Mary 28, 2011 in his home in Cairo and he was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment on charges of "insulting the military" in his blog!   By December 14 of the same year his sentence was reduced by a year to serve 2 years.  He was finally pardoned on January 23, 2012.

Today he is known as one of Egypt's most famous human rights dissidents and democracy bloggers.  He's different in that he is Egypt's most outspoken supporter of peace with Israel.  Irwin Cotler was Mr. Nabil's international legal counsel, a Canadian MP, law professor and human rights advocate and  board member of UN Watch.

"After years of calling for peace,"  said Mr. Nabil, I have realized that practicing peace is more important than talking.  My visit is a message from the Egyptian peace community that we have had enough violence and confrontation and we want this to end."  Maikel was born into a Coptic Christian family but now is an atheist.  They make up 10% of Egypt's Muslim population.  He has finished his education for becoming a veterinarian but has also of late been studying law.  He could have taken his final tests but was in prison.

He has arrived in Jerusalem on a peace-building mission where he will speak at universities and meet with leading public figures and peace activists and visit the Palestinian territories.  He visited Yitzhak Rabin's grave on the 21st of December and has total respect for this Israeli Prime Minister who gave his life for Egyptians and Israelis to live in peace with his involvement in the Oslo Accords and even before.   He's an admirer of Israel and its accomplishments in such a short time.  One thing that had impressed him was when Sadat came to Jerusalem and was so warmly welcomed.  He wondered at the time if this could happen in Egypt.

This has been organized by UN Watch, a non-governmental organization that is Geneva based, works at the UN to promote universal human rights and Arab-Israeli peace.  It was founded in 1993 and is headed by Alfred H. Moses, attorney under Bill Clinton as ambassador to Romania and worked on the Cyprus Conflict.

This is all well and good, but 27 year old Nabil is not speaking for the majority party, the Muslim Brotherhood, who have a charter showing their goal is to destroy Israel.  The Christians of Egypt are in danger themselves.   Morsi's constitution disregards religious freedom.  The Copts are in deep trouble.  Maikel will be amazed to see how the 3 major religions are treated in Israel; the Jews, Muslims and Christians as well as others like the Baha'is located in Haifa.  Druze are active in the army but live in their own neighborhoods which is their choice.


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