Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Reformist Blogger Linked to Boston Mosque Controversy "Disappears" in Cairo
Egyptian Moderate Punished for Fight Against Radical Islam in Hub
Boston, Mass - 01/06/2009
Dennis Hale, President of the Boston-based Citizens for Peace and Tolerance (CPT) - an interfaith group of Christians, Muslims and Jews - called on the American State Department and the international community to come to the aid of Reda Abdelarahman Ali, who was abducted by Egyptian authorities from his home in Sharkeya, Egypt last October.
Reda [pictured here] is an Egyptian follower of renowned Muslim reformer, Dr. Ahmed Mansour, who, as a member of CPT in Boston, protested against radical Islamist literature in an area mosque affiliated with the Muslim American Society's Boston branch, also known as the Islamic Society of Boston.
Reda, himself an Islamic reformist scholar and blogger, "has not been located since he was abducted in October," said Hale. His family and international human rights groups fear that he is being tortured and may be executed to cover up the case. Reporters Without Borders has taken up Reda's case, as has the Institute on Religion and Public Policy. The Egyptian High National Security Court ordered Reda's release two weeks ago, on the grounds that "arresting people solely on the basis of their religious beliefs is not acceptable." But Mr. Abdelarahman remains in custody at an undisclosed location, and his family has been denied access to him. His arrest appears to have been demanded by the religious authorities in charge of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the center of Sunni orthodoxy in the Middle East.
Dr. Mansour, founder of the "Quranists" - an Islamic reform movement which supports democratic reform inside Egypt and advocates a progressive interpretation of Islam - fled to the United States where he established the International Quranic Center (IQC), to articulate a vision of Islam as inclusive and peaceful. In 2004, Dr. Mansour, while a fellow at Harvard's "Scholars at Risk" program, found Islamist hate literature in a Cambridge mosque and through CPT made the matter public, sparking a controversy which has not ended.
"The Quranists in Egypt may be paying the price for their leader's struggle against radical Islam in America," said Hale. "Dr. Mansour's family members say that during the latest wave of arrests and torture of Quranists, Egyptian interrogators demanded information on Dr. Mansour's work with Citizens for Peace and Tolerance. After Dr. Mansour went public with his concerns, the Islamic Society of Boston retaliated with a defamation lawsuit against him and his colleagues, which they fought and defeated. His followers in Egypt were not so lucky."
The Quranists, who see themselves as waging a "war of ideas" against radical Islam have been persecuted since 1985, including three waves of arrest and torture in 1987, 2000, and 2007.
Hale said, "we call on the human rights community in the Boston area to take up Reda's plight."
For Immediate Release
Citizens for Peace and Tolerance (CPT)
Contact: Dennis Hale