Many readers are familiar with the Coptic priest Zakaria Botros, who risks his life by evangelizing for Christ on the “Life TV” channel, broadcasting in Arabic to the Muslim World. As Sheik Yer’mami said a couple of years ago, quoting Joel C. Rosenberg, “[Father Botros] is far and away the most-watched and most-effective Arab-American evangelist focused on reaching the Muslim world, and by far the most controversial. The Rush Limbaugh of the Revivalists, he is funny, feisty, brilliant, opinionated, and provocative. But rather than preaching the gospel of conservatism, he is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. And his enemies do not simply want to silence him. They want to assassinate him.”
Raymond Ibrahim published an in-depth account of Father Botros’ mission at National Review:
Though he is little known in the West, Coptic priest Zakaria Botros — named Islam’s “Public Enemy #1” by the Arabic newspaper, al-Insan al-Jadid — has been making waves in the Islamic world. Along with fellow missionaries — mostly Muslim converts — he appears frequently on the Arabic channel al-Hayat (i.e., “Life TV”). There, he addresses controversial topics of theological significance — free from the censorship imposed by Islamic authorities or self-imposed through fear of the zealous mobs who fulminated against the infamous cartoons of Mohammed. Botros’s excurses on little-known but embarrassing aspects of Islamic law and tradition have become a thorn in the side of Islamic leaders throughout the Middle East.
Botros’s motive is not to incite the West against Islam, promote “Israeli interests,” or “demonize” Muslims, but to draw Muslims away from the dead legalism of sharia to the spirituality of Christianity. Many Western critics fail to appreciate that, to disempower radical Islam, something theocentric and spiritually satisfying — not secularism, democracy, capitalism, materialism, feminism, etc. — must be offered in its place. The truths of one religion can only be challenged and supplanted by the truths of another. And so Father Zakaria Botros has been fighting fire with fire.
Now Islam’s Public Enemy #1 is paying a visit to Vienna on May 6, courtesy of Wiener Akademikerbund. Our Austrian correspondent ATM reports:
The political elite has tried to silence the Wiener Akademikerbund. WAB’s answer to the attempt can be described as a sensational coup: The renowned Coptic priest Father Zakaria Botros has chosen Austria as his first country to speak publicly on the topic of Multiculturalism and Islam. This event is hosted by the Wiener Akademikerbund, Pax Europa and the Oriental Christians Association.
AMT sent a copy of the official Akademikerbund invitation, and JLH has translated it for Gates of Vienna:
The AB/Vienna Akademikerbund
BPE/Citizens’ Movement Pax Europa
in cooperation with
The Community of Oriental Christians
Austria’s Lecture Sensation of 2010
He is a Coptic priest, high-ranking theologian, Islamic scholar, the most successful missionary in the Middle East, TV star, and the world’s most significant exponent of inter-religious dialogue. Public Enemy #1 in many theocratic-totalitarian countries.
For the first time in Europe and for the first time in a major gathering, this international media star makes himself available to a broad public in Vienna.
Date: May 6, 2010, 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:45 PM
Location: Vienna Christian Center
1030 Wien, Baumgasse 32
Personal registration required:
Tel: +43 (0) 650 56 130 73
Father Zakaria Botros
speaks on the subject
Diversity, Tolerance and Multiculturalism
finally, the Truth About Islam
Lecture and Discussion in English
Simultaneous translation: headphones on presentation of photo ID
Father Zakaria also writes books to enlighten Muslims and Christians about mutual misapprehensions, to give them useful answers to the essential questions in Christian and Islamic life.
Father Zakaria Botros
A Life for Muslims between Mohammed and Jesus Christ
Pater Zakaria Botros — known worldwide in English as Father (Fr.) Zakaria — was born on October 24, 1934 in Kafr al Dauar, a small village near Alexandria, Egypt and baptized with the given name Faiz.
He grew up in a Christian family. His father was already known for his unabashed profession of Christianity, even though this was no advantage for Copts, the original residents of Egypt, a fact constantly proven anew since the Arab conquest ca. 1,400 years ago. His sermons had a great effect on Muslims, even on the students of the Islamic Al-Azhar University in Cairo, something that Faiz found worthy of imitation.
Faiz Botros had his first negative experience in this regard in high school with the teacher of Arabic, who often used questions about Jesus and the Trinity to try to drive the uneducated youth into a corner and ridicule him. Faiz could not defend himself and began to study the Koran in order to be able to retaliate in kind. At the university, he studied and graduated in history.
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Subsequently, his parish wanted him as their priest, so he studied Orthodox theology and was consecrated for that post on February 8, 1959. Following his calling, he focused on his Muslim friends and compatriots as a target group, to convert them to Christianity and turn them aside from idol worship (kissing black stones on the Kaaba) and satanic acts of faith (murder of fellow human beings). Father Zakaria wrote and is still writing many books to explain to Muslims their theological misapprehensions and to give viable Christian answers to the great questions of Islamic life. His success as a preacher grew and so he moved to a Coptic church in one of the “better districts” of Cairo, where he continued with his sermons. Again there was word of mouth, his popularity grew and every Thursday masses of people crowded into the church to hear him. Soon the closest metro station got the nickname, “Zakaria-Botros-Station.” In his time there as pastor, from 1978 to 1981, Muslims converted by the dozen and were baptized by him.
His arrest followed. But even during his 10-month imprisonment, he did not stop his successful missionary work and he was simply beloved, so he was released. When the conversions from Islam to Christianity rose to the hundreds, the Egyptian government gave the Coptic church an ultimatum: for Father Zakaria’s safety, send him out of the country, i.e., into involuntary exile. In Australia, he distinguished himself as a competent specialist in Islamic questions and in the legalities in the umma — the Muslim (parallel) society.
In 2001, he moved to London, where he took up his missionary work via “Pal-Chat” in the internet. Instantly, he became known in all Arabic countries and now conducts a public dialogue with many thousands of participants from all over the world. Since 2003, he has combined his “Chat” with Al-Hayat (Life), an Arabic TV broadcaster which also broadcasts to Saudi Arabia, where Christianity is strictly forbidden. Even there, the number of converts to Christianity has risen to 5 figures through his missionary work. He would like to build a church for the quickly increasing number of converts in once-Christian Mecca.
His broadcasts have titles such as:
- “Questions about Faith”
- “Meeting Place” (“Confronting Problems”)
- “Discussion of the Truth”
They are of particular interest to Muslims, because Fr. Zakaria, through his solid comparative knowledge, initially stimulates his listeners but then, with human understanding and palpable warm-heartedness, “retrieves” their minds and souls. Is he afraid of revenge, attempts at retaliation? Of course, he sees himself as (no more than) a fragile clay figure, but he draws strength from his belief in Christ as Savior and is prepared to be a sacrifice. What makes him very happy is that, after being banished from his homeland, he can reach still more people who are geographically and/or spiritually removed, with the word of Jesus Christ from the New Testament. The rising numbers of converts, that is Islamic apostates, seem to confirm this.
Pater Zakaria Botros works in various countries, in the studios of several broadcasters, has public discussions with Islamic scholars, talks to journalists, manages his international network and even finds time to give lectures, as, for instance, in Vienna, Austria.
Anyone who is near Vienna on May 6 will want to visit the Vienna Christian Center to attend this historic event.
In fact, you may want to buy a train or plane ticket to Vienna and make the pilgrimage from the Bermoothes or the Far Hebrides especially for the occasion. It promises to be worth it.