Coptics distance themselves from controversial film

September 14, 2012 11:39:18 PM PDT
A local Coptic Christian church is trying to disassociate itself from the man who made the film mocking the prophet Mohammed. The man, himself a Coptic Christian, is said to live in the Los Angeles area. Now there is fear there may be a backlash against Christians here in the U.S.

For the past 13 years St. Mary and St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church has been part of the Concord community. Friday's morning service allowed followers to reflect upon the latest violence in their native Egypt.

"Sad, it's very sad because Egypt is now not the country that it used to be," Fr. Anthony Hanna said.

Egypt's Coptic Christians make up about 15 percent of that country's 85 million people. Since the revolution in 2011, that community has experienced discrimination from religious extremists.

Now there are reports linking the infamous anti-Islamic movie, "Innocence of Muslims," to a Coptic Christian living in near Los Angeles.

"If we have some Copts, one Copt did something bad it doesn't mean you label the whole Coptic Church that they are bad," Hanna said. "We are not behind this person; we were not behind this movie."

In fact, Anthony and his church have condemned the film. Still, they fear there will be retaliation resulting in violence and persecution against Coptic Christians.

Muslims in the Bay Area also fear a backlash, even though they too have been critical of the attacks on the U.S. embassies and the violence in Egypt, Libya and in parts of the Middle East.

Ameena Jandali of the Islamic Network Group in San Jose says kids seem to suffer the most.

"Son of Bin Laden, daughter of Saddam; every time an event happens overseas it's translated on the playground or in the school halls," Jandali said.

Friday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee led an already planned event aimed at discussing ways to stop the bullying in Bay Area schools. Promoting knowledge of American Muslims and their faith was also part of that summit.

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