Egyptian police voice fears for controversial Coptic bishop’s life, says source

Egyptian police have warned the Coptic Church of the possibility of an attack on prominent Coptic Bishop Bishoy by Islamist fundamentalists following remarks made in August in which the bishop questioned the authenticity of certain Quranic verses related to the Christian faith, a church source said on Monday.

The source told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Egyptian security agencies had informed the church of their fears concerning Bishoy, who is also secretary of the Coptic Church's Holy Synod.

The source, who requested anonymity, said Bishoy had rejected suggestions to employ a personal bodyguard or station a security detail at his place of residence. Bishoy stressed that he was “a major defender of Muslims in the Middle East and Egypt," viewing the latter as "brothers and partners in the homeland," according to the source.

The source added that Bishoy had also rejected a request by Coptic Pope Shenouda III that he use a bulletproof car for transportation.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq, meanwhile, reportedly warned the Coptic Church on Monday that it could become a potential target if it did not release “the Muslim women held hostage in its churches."

Salafi groups claim that church authorities are holding Camillia Shehata, a Christian woman who converted to Islam, against her will. A woman claiming to be Shehata–the wife of a Coptic priest in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya–appeared in a video in September in which she denied having converted to Islam. Many observers, however, have challenged the video's authenticity.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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