Six days after he appealed publicly for government and police protection, a Scarborough man said he’s not aware of any steps taken by authorities to keep him safe.
Egypt has published an arrest warrant for Egyptian-born Nader Fawzy, naming him, along with several other U.S. and Canadian citizens, as a producer or distributor of an anti-Muslim film, Innocence of Muslims.
He denies any involvement with the film but said he’s convinced he and the other men were named because they are Coptic Christian activists Egypt’s government wants to “shut up.”
In an interview Friday, Sept. 28, Fawzy said he believes he’s being targetted because of his involvement with the Middle East Christian Association, a group he founded in 2004, and his efforts to expose the ill-treatment of Egypt’s Christian minority.
“Now it’s time to take their revenge on me,” he said.
The online posting of Innocence of Muslims and its depiction of the Prophet Mohammed has triggered riots in several countries in which dozens have died.
Though the charge of insulting religion carries a three-year penalty in Egypt, Fawzy said a government-controlled newspaper which published the arrest warrants said the death penalty would be sought against him.
Religious edicts have also been issued against Fawzy and another Canadian, Jacques Attalla of Montreal, calling on Muslims to put them to death.
Fawzy said the Egyptian government doesn’t have the resources to find the film’s real producers and said he doesn’t know Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the Californian man, also a Copt, whom media reports say is connected with the film. “He never was an activist,” Fawzy said.
Saying he feared for himself and his family, Fawzy appealed for protection through Scarborough-Agincourt MP Jim Karygiannis, who last Saturday staged a press event across from Toronto Police 42 Division in Scarborough.
Police there promised him extra protection, Fawzy said, though “I never saw it.”
Karygiannis asked the federal government to act and said he was shocked by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird’s comment he would work privately with the Egyptian government to resolve the issue.
The Liberal MP accused the federal Conservatives of trying to sweep the matter “under the rug” instead of persuading Egypt to remove Fawzy’s name from the list of men accused of responsibility for the film.
Saying he is still watching the situation, Karygiannis sounded more hopeful but guarded this week about the Conservative government’s response, saying “movement has taken place” in the right direction.
Fawzy, however, said no federal representative except Karygiannis has ever tried to contact him.
“Maybe they did something but they didn’t inform me,” he said, adding the U.S. men on the list have been moved to “safe houses.”
Fawzy said he has not asked for this measure on his behalf - “I ask for protection. They should decide what they have to do,” he said - but noted this left only Attalla and himself as “clear targets” for harm.
Does Canada, Fawzy asked, set a lower value on its own citizens?
It is the second time Egypt has issued a warrant for the arrest of Fawzy, who left Egypt 26 years ago and now holds Swedish and Canadian citizenship.
Five years ago, he published a book, The Persecutions, a history of the Copts in Egypt, and was accused of damaging the country’s reputation.
“They always deny they do anything wrong to the Copts. I expose all their lies,” he said.
That time, however, Fawzy wasn’t worried because there was no fatwa issued against him. “It was just an issue between me and the government.”