‘I do not want to return to Egypt in a coffin’ says Toronto man sentenced to death in Egypt for allegedly role in anti-Islam film

Nader Fawzy talks with Sun Media about being sentenced to death in Egypt in absentia, Thursday, November 29, 2012.



TORONTO - Nader Fawzy says he is a dead man walking.

The Cairo-born Toronto resident is one of seven Egyptian Coptic Christians sentenced to death in absentia Wednesday for their alleged part in making an anti-Islam film that sparked uproar across the Muslim world.

The father of three first learned in September of the impending charges being drawn up by the Egyptian government. They held him partly responsible for the video lampooning the Prophet Mohammed.

A death sentence on Fawzy was confirmed this week, meaning he joins his fellow Egyptian Christians and a controversial Florida-based pastor also sentenced to die.

Fawzy says his only crime is to be an outspoken critic of what he calls the "corrupt, lawless rulers of Egypt."

"I left the land of my birth in 1986 in fear of my life," Fawzy said, "and the Egyptian authorities have been pursuing me ever since because of my Christian faith.

"I had nothing to do with that film."

He believes his book, The Persecuted, looking at the fate of Christians in the Middle East, has upset Egyptian authorities.

"Anyone can see the breakdown of the rule of law in Egypt these days and how it threatens eight million Coptic Christians there."

Trouble with the Egyptian government of whatever hue is nothing new to Fawzy.

He filed a lawsuit in 2007 against then-president Hosni Mubarak on behalf of the families of 22 Coptic Christian activists who died in police custody.

That action is proceeding through the judicial system in Egypt even though Mubarak was ousted during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

Meanwhile in Canada, he says, nobody takes the fatwa and the death threats seriously. On Sept. 22, Fawzy asked Toronto police for protection but says he has heard little since.

"I do not want to return to Egypt in a coffin," Fawzy said. "I don't want to be drugged in a back alley and whisked away ... I am dead man walking on the streets of Toronto."

Toronto Police Const. Victor Kwong says police "have been in contact with Mr. Fawzy" since his first inquiry and remain "acutely aware" of the threats made against him.

"He should be reassured that we take these matters seriously," Kwong said.

A final verdict on the fatwa is expected to be issued in Egypt on Jan. 29.

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