LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Muslim and Coptic Orthodox Christian leaders will join forces in downtown Los Angeles tomorrow to condemn violence sparked by an anti-Islamic movie apparently made in Southern California that has set off violent demonstrations in North Africa, including the deadly siege of U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
Dr. Maher Mathout, an Egyptian-born physician who speaks for the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California, and Bishop Serapion, the spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox church in Los Angeles, are expected to be the main speakers at the news conference set for 11 a.m. on City Hall’s South Lawn.
“Our religions teach us to respond to hate speech with good speech and good work,” Hathout said in condemning overseas violence directed at Americans.
“The behavior exhibited does not speak for the majority of Muslims and are the actions of a small group,” Mathout said. “This irrational behavior cannot be allowed to spread, and this movie cannot be allowed to dictate our actions.”
U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other consulate staffers died Sept. 11 in a fire when the building was stormed by a mob, apparently angered by an Arabic translation of a movie trailer for “The Innocence of Muslims” posted on YouTube and considered blasphemous by some Muslims, because it mocks the Prophet Muhammad.
Violent demonstrations also broke out in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, where tensions among Muslims and Orthodox Christians were already high since the 2011 revolution that removed President Hosni Mubarak, who later died in prison, and replaced him with President Mohamed Morsi, a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood who took office June 30.
The apparent filmmaker, who was in hiding Sunday after being taken from his Cerritos home for questioning by federal agents early Saturday, is apparently a naturalized U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent and a Coptic Christian. Coptic Christians are a major influence in Muslim-majority Egypt where they number around 12 million and make up 10-20 percent of the population.
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