Canadian linked to anti-Muslim film asks for police protection
Published Saturday, September 22, 2012 1:33PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 22, 2012 6:09PM EDT
A Coptic Christian living in Toronto is urging the government to provide him with protection after he was named by the Egyptian government as being involved in an anti-Muslim movie that has sparked violent protests worldwide.
Nader Fawzy is one of two Canadians linked to the film “Innocence of Muslims.” Jacques Attalla was also named in the warrant, but both men say they have nothing to do with the film.
Fawzy suspects he was singled out by the Egyptians because he is a Coptic activist who has written about the treatment of the minority Christian population in Egypt by the government.
“I think it’s the right time now to take revenge, to put my name from nowhere to this list,” Fawzy told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
He said he has lived in fear ever since he was linked to the controversial movie.
“When this fatwa is published, anyone can come to kill me or my kids or even my family in Egypt,” Fawzy told reporters earlier on Saturday, as he stood next to his MP, Liberal Jim Karygiannis. “There’s no safety at all.”
Fawzy and Karygiannis said they were disappointed in the federal government’s response to the warrants.
On Friday, the spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said it does little good to discuss the issue publicly.
"We'll certainly be working on this issue privately with the Egyptians," Rick Roth told The Canadian Press.
An official later said that the government is not asking Fawzy to stop speaking out for what he believes, but simply commenting on the approach that is most likely to get results.
Karygiannis said the government’s response has offered his constituent little comfort.
“That does not assure my constituent, that does not assure me, or his (Fawzy’s) children, that the government is stepping up to the plate,” said Karygiannis. “This government is certainly not taking this in a serious tone.”
The veteran MP said he was disappointed that officials from Baird’s office didn’t contact Fawzy directly.
“These are the people we have to reach out to and say this is what we’re doing.”
Following a meeting with Toronto police, Karygiannis said officers have assured Fawzy that they will keep a close eye on his home.
Fawzy, who has lived in Canada for 10 years, said he has only watched four minutes of the film.
He added that he denounced the film in a statement on behalf of the Middle East Christian Association.
“I said I refuse this movie and I apologized to the Muslims because the Muslims in Egypt they are my friends, they are my neighbours, and I have no problems with them… How come I make a statement and refuse this movie and four or five days later I find my name on this list?”
Fawzy said he hopes the Canadian government will urge the Egyptians to remove his name from the list of those associated with the film.
“If they found I have nothing to do with it, if there is no evidence, please remove my name,” he said. “That’s the only thing we can do.”
Egypt's prosecutor general has issued arrest warrants for a number of Coptic Christians, primarily living in the United States, for alleged involvement with the film.
Fawzy said he fears he is now a target for Muslim extremists, who have been encouraged by senior clerics to kill all those connected to the film.
“My kids are everything in my life,” said Fawzy. “I’m a Coptic activist, they’re not. They don’t need to get punished for something I am doing.”
Meanwhile, an estimated 2,000 protesters gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Toronto on Saturday to urge the American government to prosecute the film’s maker, allegedly a Coptic Christian who lives in Los Angeles.
With files from The Canadian Press