A radical Islamic cleric forced out of the United States is finding trouble in Egypt, after uploading a video calling the late head of the Coptic Church the "head of infidels."
Wagdy Ghoneim's remarks prompted three lawyers to file a complaint alleging he defamed Christianity, Al-Ahram reports.
Coptic Pope Shenouda III died Saturday after serving for decades as spiritual leader to Egypt's estimated 10 million Copts. Ghoneim attacked Shenouda by blaming him for inciting sectarian violence and calling all Copts "infidels."
Ghoneim has exhibited hostility toward other faiths in the past, most notably with a series of anti-Jewish screeds while he lived in the United States. "They killed the prophets and worshipped idols," he said in a 1998 speech to the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) held at Brooklyn College. His remarks also included leading the audience in a song with the lyrics, "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes."
A year earlier, he told the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) that violent jihad was the only way to liberate Palestine.
"The Jews are scared by the word 'jihad,' Ghoneim said. "We have to prepare ourselves for jihad against Jews and to liberate Aqsa Masjid. This is a must whether we accept it or not."
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested Ghoneim in November 2004, citing "his past speeches and participation in fund-raising activities could be supportive of terrorist organizations."
American Islamist groups rallied to his defense, saying he was being treated unjustly.
"The whole Muslim community today is under a microscope of scrutiny," Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Southern California chapter said at the time.
"There is a perception in the community that there is selective targeting and enforcement, and that is a widespread perception," echoed CAIR-Anaheim public relations director Ra'id Faraj.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) also took up Ghoneim's cause, arranging meetings with homeland security officials and U.S. Rep. Chris Cox, R-Cal., who headed the House Select Committee on Homeland Security to protest Ghoneim's detention.
"To use Muslims as scapegoats for political agendas, that is not helping us win the war on terrorism," said MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati.
Ghoneim agreed to leave the country voluntarily in December 2004. Ayloush called his departure "a dent in our civil rights struggle" and lamented the "high level of fear" in the community.