Church Bombing in Libya Kills Two

By Heba Girgis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa

TRIPOLI, Libya—On Monday, December 31, Libya’s Christian community was in shock after a Coptic church was attacked near the city of Misrata. Two Egyptians were killed n the bombing and fear continues to grow of rising extremism. The priest of the church, Markos Zaglul Boules said, “When we were praying we heard the explosion which struck a side room of the church used for services.” “I am very sad for this cowardly and criminal act and the loss of our sons,” he continued.

The scene of the blast. (Photo Courtesy of World News Australia)

The church is located in the Mediterranean town of Dafinya. It was built between 1936 and 1937 during the Italian colonial rule. The church is popular among Egyptians living in Libya. Libya, as a whole, has a small Christian population that is composed mainly of foreigners. This group includes migrant workers from Egypt, where Coptic Orthodox Christians are the largest religious minority.

Pastor Dominique Rezeau of the St. Francis Catholic church in Tripoli, noted that, “This is the first time we see such an attack. Christians never had a particular problem in Libya before or after the revolution.” “Everyone should be concerned. Especially if you look at the trend in northern Nigeria,” the pastor continued.

With the recent series of attacks against diplomatic missions and aid agencies, attacks against Sufi shrines and mosques, the country begins to fear the growth militant extremist groups. Before the uprising that overthrew Kadhafi, the country had a population of around 6.3 million, including about 1.5 million African immigrants many of whom fled during the fighting—these numbers included 97 percent Muslim and only about 3 percent Christian.

Karim Bitar, an expert, analyzed the situation finding that, “the worry is that Christians in Libya…be but the first to suffer from the Libyan central government’s endemic weakness and the proliferation of armed militias.” “We in Misrata consider this act a crime, an un-Islamic and inhumane crime,” noted Colonel Hadi Shaklawun, who is the head of national security in Misrata. He also said that no one has been detained so far, but the investigation continues until those responsible are accounted for.


For further information, please see:

Catholic World News – 2 Dead Following Church Bombing in Libya – 2 January 2013

World News Australia – Deadly Church Blast Rocks Libya – 1 January 2013

Kuwait News Agency – Qatar Condemns Egyptian Church Bombing in Libya – 31 December 2012

BBC News – Libya Coptic Church Blast Kills Two Egyptians – 30 December 2012

Egyptian Satirist Could Face Prosecution for “Insults” Against Morsi

By Ali Al-Bassam
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

CAIRO, Egypt — Popular Egyptian satirist Dr. Bassem Youssef was investigated by prosecutors on Tuesday for allegedly insulting President Mohamed Morsi.  A judicial source said that prosecutors initiated their investigation when his show, Al-Barnameg, poked fun at the issue of Morsi’s extensive power creation during the months of November and December.  The charges in the formal complaint brought against Youssef state that he made the jokes with the purpose of “undermining the standing” of Morsi.

Egypt filed a complaint against Bassem Youssef for “insulting” Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. (Photo Courtesy of Al Arabiya)

The case is likely to come under public scrutiny, as Egypt has been heavily criticized because of its lack of press freedoms.  The case was transferred to a Cairo prosecutor after Ramadan Abdel Hamid al-Aqsari, a lawyer, filed the initial complaint.  This is not the first time he raised a complaint against an entertainer.  In the past, Aqsari tried to sue a range of media personalities and politicians.

Aqsari brought forth his complaint because of separate sketches in which Youssef portrayed Morsi as a pharaoh, nicknamed him “Super Morsi” for retaining both executive and legislative powers, and, for putting the president’s image on a pillow that was used to parody his speeches.

Youssef, a doctor, rose to fame after creating a satirical online program following the Egyptian uprising that resulted in the overthrow of ex-President Hosni Mubarak.  Youssef’s program has been compared to the Daily Show in the U.S.

Youssef has been the subject of a number of complaints in the past, none of which resulted in his prosecution.  It is possible that the most recent complaint will follow the trend.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, Youssef said that his show is merely satirical, and that it is not his aim to criticize anyone.  “I don’t criticize, I satirize.  I make fun, which is even more shocking.  Whoever is in authority will have to deal with our program,” said Youssef.

He acknowledges the criticism that he receives from the Muslim Brotherhood, whom he considers to be Egypt’s right wing.  “Our right wing here in Egypt is different from the U.S. because people here are more emotional about religion, they can’t differntiate between politics and religion.  The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis are the right wing, I don’t deal with them as religious groups but as political groups,” he said.

Human rights activists believe that the State’s complaint against Youssef is only “the latest in a series of criminal defamation cases that bode ill for free speech as Egypt reshapes its institutions after Mubarak was toppled.”  Heba Morayef, the Egypt director of Human Rights Watch, believes that there will be an increase in the number of cases similar to the one against Youssef.  “The problem is now we are more likely to see an increase in this because criminal defamation is now embedded in the constitution,” she said.

For further information, please see:

Al Arabiya — Egyptian Comedy Show Host Investigated Over Mursi Insult — 2 January 2013

Al Bawaba — Egyptian Political Satirist Under Scanner for ‘Mocking’ Morsi — 2 January 2013

Al Jazeera — Egypt Cracks Down on Satirists and Media — 2 January 2013

BBC News — Popular Egypt Satirist Accused of Mocking President — 2 January 2013


Kneeling Hitler Statue Causes Anger In Warsaw

By Alexandra Sandacz
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

WARSAW, Poland – Italian artist, Maurizio Cattelan, revealed his latest work of art, a statue of Adolf Hitler praying on his knees, in the former Warsaw Ghetto. The statue is placed in an area where so many Jews were murdered under Hitler’s regime.

Kneeling Hitler statue causes mixed emotions throughout Europe. (Photo Courtesy of The Jerusalem Post)

Cattelan’s new exhibition, “Amen,” displays most of the exhibits inside a museum, which is elsewhere in Warsaw. However, only the praying Hitler has been placed in the middle of the former Jewish ghetto.

The figure depicts a body of a schoolboy kneeling in prayer, and the head resembles Hitler’s. The statue is visible only through a hole in a wooden gate.

Before the statute was installed in Poland, the statue was shown in galleries. The statue was strategically placed at the end of a long hallway with its back to viewers. Viewers could only see Hitler’s face when they approached the artwork.

Cattelan’s work has drawn many visitors and sparked various conflicting reactions. Historians and artists attempt to decipher whether Cattelan’s controversial art piece is a legitimate art exhibit or an offensive provocation.

Some believe the kneeling statue is actually vulnerable. However, others believe the kneeling Hitler might evoke sympathy in the viewer.

A Jewish advocacy group stated the statue is “a senseless provocation which insults the memory of the Nazis’ Jewish victims.” Furthermore, Efraim Zuroff, the group’s Israel director, said, “As far as the Jews were concerned, Hitler’s only `prayer’ was that they be wiped off the face of the earth.”

Fabio Cavallucci, director of the Center for Contemporary Art, said, “There is no intention from the side of the artist or the center to insult Jewish memory. It’s an artwork that tries to speak about the situation of hidden evil everywhere.”

Cattelan’s exhibit aroused great interest from all over. Hundreds arrive every day to look at the praying figure. Two women stated, “We want to believe that the statue is intended to show Hitler repenting or apologizing for his evil actions.”

Another viewer commented, “Why did the artists decide to put a praying child here? Is he praying for those who lived here? It must be a Christian, because Jews do not pray on their knees.” However, when this particular viewer was told that the “child” was in fact Hitler, she said angrily, “Hitler did not have the right to ask for forgiveness.”

The Hitler figure has raised such high emotion that regardless of there being no public access to the exhibit, the museum’s management has mounted 24-hour security around it.

For further information, please see:

NBC News – Statute of Hitler praying is displayed in former Warsaw ghetto to controversy– 29 December 2012

The Guardian — Controversy over Adolf Hitler statue in Warsaw ghetto – 28 December 2012

The Huffington Post — Maurizio Cattelan’s Statue Of Praying Hitler In Ex-Warsaw Ghetto Sparks Emotion – 28 December 2012

The Jerusalem Post – ‘Kneeling Hitler’ placed in Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto – 26 December 2012