TORONTO – A Canadian Coptic Christian who fears for his life says he is breathing a bit easier after asking police to help protect him over allegations by Egypt that he was involved in a controversial anti-Muslim film.
Nader Fawzy, one of two Canadians named in Egyptian arrest warrants in connection with the film “Innocence of Muslims,” is worried the warrants make him and his three daughters a target for Muslim extremists, who have been encouraged by senior clerics in Egypt to kill all those connected to the film.
Fawzy, originally born in Egypt, gave a statement to Toronto police Saturday. He says police told him patrols around his home will be increased and that officers will occasionally check in on him.
“I feel a little bit (of) protection but, still, I have the same fears for my kids,” he told reporters outside a local police station.
A police spokesman says officers are investigating his case but did not confirm they are taking direct steps to protect him.
Jacques Attalla, the other Canadian named by the Egyptian government, said he has not sought police protection because he’s concerned details could be leaked to foreign states.
“I need (a) confidential guy who can I trust and (that) he will not share the information with some foreign countries,” he said.
Fawzy and Attalla both say there’s no evidence they were involved with the movie, which has sparked violent protests in several countries after a trailer translated into Arabic was posted to YouTube.
“I never saw more than four minutes (of the movie) … I have nothing to do with it,” Fawzy said, as he stood next to his MP, Liberal Jim Karygiannis, who is trying to help both men.
Fawzy, who described himself as a Coptic activist, said he has raised the ire of Egypt for his history of speaking out against the way Coptic Christians are treated by the country’s government — and that Egypt is seeking “revenge” by placing him on the warrant list.
Fawzy said he was not happy that Foreign Affairs responded to his concerns by advising him to keep quiet.
“I’m not here to seal my lips, I’m here to talk as everyone in Canada on Canadian soil has the right to talk,” he said.
Foreign Minister John Baird’s press secretary said the best way to get the men off the warrant list is through backdoor diplomacy — not public calls for action.
“Quiet diplomacy is often the most effective in these situations. This is something we will raise with the Egyptians, but ramping up rhetoric is often not helpful and counterproductive,” Rick Roth said in an email.
Karygiannis says he will raise the issue on the floor of Parliament next week.
Fawzy and Attalla were among several people accused by Egypt of offending Islam, insulting the Prophet Muhammad, inciting sectarian strife and jeopardizing Egypt’s peace and independence.
Hundreds demonstrated on Saturday outside the U.S. Consulate in Toronto over the film, but there were no reports of any major problems.