Category : Egypt

(WSJ) Marlo Safi–Is Abdel Fattah Al Sisi Good for Egypt’s Christians?

Samuel Tadros, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, says Copts are blocked from nearly all important government positions: “Copts are excluded from Egypt’s intelligence service and state security, their percentage in the armed services and police force is capped at 1%, and they are similarly discriminated against in the foreign service, judiciary, education sector and government-owned public sector.” It’s no surprise, then, that the government hasn’t effectively responded to Copts’ pleas for better representation and prosecution of those who persecute their community.

Ms. Riad says neighbors are often doing the persecuting. Coptic homes are burned down. Some children change their names from conspicuously Christian ones such as George so they can play on private or national soccer teams. Coptic women face near-daily public harassment. “It doesn’t take ISIS to kill, and it could just be your neighbor because you’re Christian,” Ms. Riad says.

A 2016 law, implemented by Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s government, allows for the legalization of existing churches and the creation of new ones. The implementation of the law is another story. Mr. Tadros notes that the government has approved less than 17% of 3,730 requests submitted by the three major Christian groups—Coptic Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical Protestant. The law has instead fueled sectarian violence within Egypt.

Egyptians have rioted and protested against approved churches. In 2016, after Copts in the village of Manshiet El-Naghamish applied to build a church, locals organized and attacked the Christians. Egyptians looted and burned Coptic properties and assaulted Copts. This was only one attack in a string of many, which are often incited before a church is even built.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NYT) ISIS Claims Credit for Attack that Kills Christians in Egypt

Islamist gunmen killed at least seven Coptic Christian pilgrims in Egypt on Friday and wounded at least 16 in an attack later claimed by the Islamic State.

The attack — an ambush on two buses — ended a nearly yearlong lull in major attacks on Copts in Egypt, and may signal a resumption of the Islamic State’s campaign to sow sectarian divisions in Egyptian society.

It was also a setback for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has put security concerns at the heart of his autocratic style of rule and has repeatedly vowed to protect Christians, a minority in the country, from attack.

The shooting occurred as two buses carrying pilgrims left the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor, 85 miles south of Cairo, in Egypt’s Western Desert.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Death / Burial / Funerals, Egypt, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(WSJ) Egyptian Legislation treats social-media accounts with more than 5,000 followers as media outlets, opening Twitter and Facebook users to prosecution

Egypt’s parliament passed a law giving the government sweeping powers to regulate traditional and social media, a move critics say will boost the Sisi regime’s ability to crack down on free speech and dissent.

The measure allows authorities to penalize traditional media like television and newspapers for spreading what the government terms fake news. It also treats social-media accounts with more than 5,000 followers as media outlets, opening Twitter and Facebook users to prosecution on vague charges including defaming religion and inciting hatred.

Most prominent media outlets in Egypt are pro-government, and some analysts and rights groups see the law as an aggressive attempt to restrict social media, which remains one of the few remaining arenas of free expression in a country where independent news websites are often blocked and unauthorized street protests banned.

“These laws would legalize this mass censorship and step up the assault on the right to freedom of expression in Egypt,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa campaigns director at Amnesty International, commenting on the law and related legislation ahead of the vote.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Middle East

(ACNS) Bishop Mouneer Anis receives Archbishop of Canterbury’s award for peace and reconciliation

The Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis, has received an official award from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, for his “invaluable” contribution to the work of peace and reconciliation. The Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Inter Faith co-operation was presented to Bishop Mouneer last night (Wednesday) during a meeting of the Anglican Inter Faith Commission in Cairo. He was presented with the award by Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, on behalf of Justin Welby at Cairo Cathedral.

The citation for Bishop Mouneer’s award recognises his relationship with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the leading Islamic mosque and educational institution in Alexandria. It says that Bishop Mouneer “has made a unique contribution and example through his ability to establish deep relationships; this is largely because of his openness, creativity and ambition to move people towards reconciliation. At times, this inevitably makes him a counter cultural voice within his setting.

“Particularly of note is his role as a bridge builder between the most important official international Christian-Muslim dialogue that the Anglican Church has with al-Azhar al-Sharif and is a most highly trustworthy representative for Archbishop Justin to the Grand Imam himself.

“Moreover, Bishop Mouneer is incredibly generous with his time: cultivating relationships with those from different faiths and background whilst running the Cathedral in Cairo, all within a context in which Christians are a vulnerable minority. He also maintains good contact across different institutions, with charitable and political leaders and is able to bring together all of these networks for the common good.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Egypt, Inter-Faith Relations, Middle East, Pastoral Theology, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

(WWM) Egypt teenager’s murder ‘aimed to intimidate Copts ahead of Christmas’, says his pastor

The church’s pastor, Rev. Adel Rafaat, told World Watch Monitor: “Ishak was a very good young man, he was one of our church members. He was loved by all of us and he loved everybody. He always had a smile.

“Ishak was targeted and killed because of his faith, because he is Christian. They wanted to spoil the joy of our coming Christmas. Extremists chose a young man from our village specifically because our village is a big Christian village and their aim was to turn Christmas joy of the villagers to sadness.”

Read it all.

Posted in Egypt, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Violence

(WWM) Egypt: 21 churches receive long-delayed government approval to build

Twenty-one churches in Egypt’s southern rural Minya governorate can restore, expand and rebuild their churches after receiving approval from the Minya Governor.

Governor Essam al-Bedeiwi approved the 21 applications over the last six months. Some of the churches had been waiting for more than 20 years for a permit to come through.

On 17 November an evangelical church in Tama, Sohag governorate, also received permission to renovate its building.

Some analysts note that the approvals have preceded several visits by international evangelical delegations to Cairo.

Read it all.

Posted in Egypt, Middle East, Other Churches

Bishop of Egypt Mouneer Anis responds to the Terror Attack On the Al-Rawda Mosque

From there:

It was reported that a group of terrorists bombed the mosque, and opened fire on the people during the Friday prayers at 1.30 pm. It is said that most of the people killed are Sufis. It is known that militant Salafi and Jihadist groups consider Sufis as heretics. They used to target policemen, soldiers and Christians but now Muslims are also targeted. No group is exempt. This massive bloody attack is the largest during the last few years.

Many world leaders condemned the attack and expressed their support to Egypt in its war against terrorism. We, Egyptians, are determined to fight terrorism and support President Abdel Fatah El Sisi who is leading the war against terrorism in the region.

Terrorism is a great threat to the whole world. This fact puts the responsibility on the international community to stop all groups and organisations which financially support these terrorist groups. These organizations take advantage of the freedom in the European countries to raise funds to support terrorists to carry out their bloody attacks on human beings.

Please pray for the families who lost their loved and the injured.

Posted in Egypt, Islam, Jerusalem & the Middle East, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NYT) Militants Kill 305 at Sufi Mosque in Egypt’s Deadliest Terrorist Attack

 Militants detonated a bomb inside a crowded mosque in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday and then sprayed gunfire on panicked worshipers as they fled, killing at least 305 people and wounding at least 128 others. Officials called it the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history.

The scale and ruthlessness of the assault, in an area racked by an Islamist insurgency, sent shock waves across the nation — not just for the number of deaths but also for the choice of target. Attacks on mosques are rare in Egypt, where the Islamic State has targeted Coptic Christian churches and pilgrims but avoided Muslim places of worship.

The attack injected a new element into Egypt’s struggle with militants because most of the victims were Sufi Muslims, who practice a mystical form of Islam that the Islamic State and other Sunni extremist groups deem heretical. And it underscored the failure of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has justified his harsh crackdown on political freedom in the name of crushing Islamic militancy, to deliver on his promises of security.

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Posted in Egypt, Islam, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Christian Today) It is as if prayer is a crime: Egypt’s Christians appeal for help after church closures

Following the closure of a number of churches in recent weeks, Coptic Christians in the south of Egypt have renewed calls on local authorities for an end to discrimination.

Two churches in two separate villages in the southern province of Minya have been shut down by the authorities, a statement by the Minya diocese said.

It said worshippers were harassed at both churches and pelted with rocks at one of them.

‘We have kept quiet for two weeks after the closure of one of the churches, but due to our silence the situation has worsened … it is as if prayer is a crime the Copts must be punished for,’ said the statement, which was released on Saturday.

A third church was closed following rumors of a pending attack, but the diocese said no attack has taken place since and the church remains closed.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Violence

(CH) Coptic Priest Samaan Shehata Killed in Cairo Attack

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church says a priest has been killed in a knife attack in a poor Cairo district, the latest deadly assault on members of the country’s Christian minority.

The church says the attack took place on Thursday. The priest was identified in the media as Fr Samaan Shehata.

Security officials say the attacker struck the priest’s head with a cleaver and fled the scene, but was later arrested. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media.

The motive was not immediately known.

Bishop Angaelos, Britain’s Coptic Orthodox bishop, said Fr Shehata, a priest from the Upper Egypt region, had been visiting his family in Cairo and collecting aid for the needy in his parish. He had left his mobile phone at a church and was walking back to reclaim it.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Religion & Culture, Violence

(AAC) Canon Phil Ashey–Some Reflections on the Global South Primates Meeting

The Global South Primates are meeting their promise.  It is a promise, not a threat.  But as faithful members of the Anglican Communion, they can no longer wait for the Archbishop of Canterbury or the status quo structures to cure themselves.  In fact, at least three of the four Communion structures or “instruments” are at war with each other!  Consider the Anglican Consultative Council’s repudiation of the authority of the Primates over matters of doctrine and order at their April 2016 meeting in Lusaka (Zambia), and Canterbury’s deafening silence.

Since the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican status quo cannot heal the wound, the Global South will apply healing balm through a recovery of “enhanced ecclesial responsibility.”  What will these new structures look like in keeping with “faithful Anglican membership”?  How will the intensification of relationships around these new structures impact relationships around the current broken Instruments?  What charm offensive will we see from Canterbury to disrupt this work by the Global South?

Finally, the Global South Primates comments about the Church of England are also pointed.  They rightly praise Bishop Julian Henderson of the Diocese of Blackburn for coming over and reporting on “the challenges facing orthodox Anglicans in the Church of England.”  But it is noteworthy that they not only call upon faithful Anglicans to stand firm, but also to “speak up” for the central place of Scripture in the life of the Church.  Bishop Henderson came over and did so – but where are the other Bishops in the Church of England?  What does it mean to be an “evangelical” bishop in the Church of England these days if not to boldly speak up for the clarity, authority and centrality of the Scriptures in the life of the Church?  What challenge have the Global South Primates laid down to the Bishops of the Church of England in these carefully chosen words?

Oh, and by the way, who is “failing to walk together” when, as the Global South Primates note, the conditions for “walking together” were nullified by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, in his failure to see that the restrictions on The Episcopal Church were observed and respected?

As the Canterbury Primates meeting October 2017 draws near, how many more Primates will say, in the same spirit as Nehemiah did when facing dilatory meetings, “My work is too important to stop now and go there. I can’t afford to slow down the work just to visit with you.” (Nehemiah 6:2-3)

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Egypt, Global South Churches & Primates, Middle East

The Global South Primates’ Communiqué of September 2017

We express our sadness for the decision taken by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change its doctrine of marriage and are thankful for the faithful remnant of the Scottish Anglican Network that continues to contend for God’s Word. We are also saddened by the decisions of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada to allow same-sex marriage. If this decision is ratified it will further tear the fabric of the Communion.

We invited Bishop Julian Henderson, President of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), to address us about the challenges facing orthodox Anglicans in England. We commend the recent CEEC statements reaffirming the biblical definition of marriage. We encourage Anglicans in England to continue to stand firm in defence of the Gospel and to speak up for the central place of Scripture in the life of our Church, particularly in this 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

We are saddened that the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia, did not unequivocally accept the decisions of the last Primates Meeting. While we expressed a desire to walk together as a Communion, this was contingent upon our decisions regarding The Episcopal Church being respected and upheld. Unfortunately, this agreement was not enforced and The Episcopal Church has been allowed to take part in decision making regarding “matters pertaining to polity and doctrine.” They have also represented us in ecumenical meetings. This has led to a further breakdown of trust and confidence.

In light of this reality, we discussed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to the upcoming Primates’ Meeting. The conscience of some does not allow them to attend. Some intend to go in defence of the Gospel and some are continuing to discern what the Lord is asking of them in this hour. We have all agreed to pray that the outcome of the upcoming meeting will be decisive and lead to coherent and responsible action regarding the issues which continue to tear apart the fabric of the Communion, issues that have eternal consequences.

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Posted in Egypt, Global South Churches & Primates

(AI) Global South Leaders Meet in Cairo

Joining Dr. Anis at All Saints Cathedral were the Primates of Southeast Asia, Myanmar, Uganda, Congo, South America, Nigeria, Rwanda, West Africa and the Anglican Church in North America.

The primates of Uganda and Nigeria, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali and the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh have announced they will not attend the primates meeting scheduled for next month in Canterbury, England. However, the Global South leaders have not exercised a party line whip on attending the meeting, allowing each primate to decide.

Sources close to the primates tell Anglican Ink the Global South views attendance at the meeting to be a second order issue that does not require a uniform response. Where they stand united, however, is on issues of doctrine and discipline — are are opposed to the recent innovations of the American and Scottish Episcopal Churches and the Anglican Church of Canada.

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Posted in Egypt, Global South Churches & Primates, Middle East

(AP) Rights Group: Egypt Exerts Growing Control Over Local Media

Egypt’s privately-owned media are increasingly dominated by businessmen linked to the government and its intelligence agencies, a rights group said this week.

Reporters Without Borders, known by the French acronym RSF, said in a Tuesday report that “the regime’s domination of the media continues to grow and is even affecting pro-government media.”

Virtually all Egyptian media outlets are openly supportive of the government, which in recent months has blocked hundreds of websites, including many run by independent journalists and human rights organizations. Authorities have set up media watchdogs to monitor journalists’ work, made it a crime to report “false news,” and have arrested a number of reporters.

The suppression of independent media is part of a larger crackdown on dissent launched after the military overthrew an elected Islamist president in 2013. Since then, Egypt has ranked near the bottom of press freedom indexes.

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Posted in Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Middle East, Politics in General

(Reuters) Egypt’s Coptic Christians to halt activities after security threat, sources say

Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians have been told by church leaders to cancel all events and activities outside churches in July because of a security threat, church and security sources said on Thursday.

The warning followed an attack in May by Islamic State on Copts traveling to a monastery in central Egypt that killed 29 people. A month earlier, 44 people were killed in bomb attacks at a cathedral and another church on Palm Sunday.

Sources said the warning was given to individual church leaders by a representative of the Coptic Orthodox Pope. Copts on trips or youth camps had been told to cut short their activities and return home early.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(NPR) For Christians In Egypt, Building A New Church Can Set Off Violence

ARRAF: Samuel was 20, and Beshoy was 22. They’re considered martyrs now. That’s because they were among 20 young Egyptian workers beheaded by ISIS in Libya two years ago. To commemorate their deaths, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gave permission for a huge new church on the road to al-Our. Building churches is so controversial here, it took an ISIS attack to get permission to build one.

The village is 70 percent Muslim. Some of the villagers protested and threw stones when construction started on the church. Churches are a sensitive subject throughout Egypt, even though about 10 percent of the population is Christian. It’s hard to get permits to build them. In Minya, a poor province which has the biggest concentration of Christians, even talk of a church can be dangerous.

EBRAHIM FAHMY: (Through interpreter) They burned my house. They burned the house my brother was building and the houses of five other brothers. They thought we were going to open a church.

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Posted in Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Aleteia) The Coptic martyrs of Minya: poignant accounts of their final moments

While celebrating the liturgical feast of the Lord’s Ascension into heaven, as they made their way to the monastery of St. Samuel, 200 kilometers south of Cairo, dozens of Coptic pilgrims were murdered in a bloody ambush carried out by the Islamic State.

At least 29 persons were killed, and 25 wounded, as the terrorists opened fire on the pilgrims. It was the fourth attack against Christians in Egypt since December to be claimed by the ISIS, and comes in the wake of the suicide bombing on two churches in Cairo, in early April, that killed 45 Copts.

According to several witnesses, in the case of the Minya attack everything seems to indicate that the Egyptian Copts who were killed on Friday — many of them children — died as objective martyrs of the Faith. After robbing the pilgrims of their money, their jewels and other precious effects, witnesses say the terrorists told them to apostatize and pronounce the Islamic profession of faith: the shahada. The captives, kneeling, categorically refused. According to reports, they were immediately shot in the neck, head, throat or chest.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Terrorism

(Christian Today) Egypt’s Christians say they are proud to die for Jesus as ISIS continues its deadly attacks

Coptic Christians have said that they “take pride” in dying for their faith following the latest slaughterat the hands of Islamic State terrorists.

“We take pride to die while holding on to our faith,” Bishop Makarios, the top Coptic Orthodox cleric in Minya, said over the weekend, according to CBC News.

Reports have emerged revealing that IS gunmen forced Christians on their way to a monastery off a bus on Friday, where they asked them to denounce their faith and convert to Islam. The Copts, including children, refused, which led to the massacre of 29 believers, one of the chaplains comforting survivors revealed.

Thousands of Copts have been mourning the slain in the bus shooting, expressing their grief and rage at funerals for the victims.

Read it all.

Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Violence

Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, reflects on the recent Attacks on Copts in Egypt

We find ourselves once again at a time of pain during which words seem insufficient. I have previously addressed victims of terrorist acts; I have addressed their families; I have even addressed those who may have had an opportunity, even in some small way, to advocate for or support those most vulnerable. This time however, I feel a need to address those who perpetrate these crimes.

You are loved. The violent and deadly crimes you perpetrate are abhorrent and detestable, but YOU are loved.

You are loved by God, your Creator, for He created you in His Image and according to His Likeness, and placed you on this earth for much greater things, according to His plan for all humankind. You are loved by me and millions like me, not because of what you do, but what you are capable of as that wonderful creation of God, Who has created us with a shared humanity. You are loved by me and millions like me because I, and we, believe in transformation.

Transformation is core to the Christian message for throughout history we have seen many transformed from being those who persecuted Christ Himself and Christians, to those who went on to live with grace. We believe in transformation because, on a daily basis, we are personally transformed from a life of human weakness and sinfulness to a life of power and righteousness. We believe in transformation because the whole message of the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is to take humanity from the bonds of sin and death to a liberation in goodness and everlasting life. Our world is certainly suffering from the brokenness of our humanity, but it is our responsibility, personally and collectively, to encourage and inspire ourselves, and all those whom we meet along our path, to a life of virtue and holiness, and the love and forgiveness of all.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, England / UK, Terrorism

(NYT) “The terrorists waited on the road like game hunters”–Samuel Tadros-Coptic Christians: ISIS’ ‘Favorite Prey’

“At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed,” a friend wrote on Facebook as news broke of the latest bloody attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians. Less than two months ago, while attending church in Cairo on Palm Sunday, my friend told me she’d mused to herself that it was a blessing her daughter wasn’t with her: If there was a bombing, at least her child would survive. Forty-five Copts were murdered that day by the Islamic State in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. Such are the thoughts of Coptic parents in Egypt these days.

The terrorists chose today’s target well. The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, which I visited a decade ago, is very hard to reach. One hundred and ten miles on the Cairo Luxor desert road, you make a right-hand turn and for the next 17 miles drive on an unpaved road. The single lane forces cars to drive slowly, and, as the only route leading to the monastery, the victims were guaranteed to be Copts. Friday is a day off in Egypt, and church groups regularly take trips there. Outside of a few policemen stationed out front, there is little security presence.

The terrorists waited on the road like game hunters. Coming their way were three buses, one with Sunday school children. Only three of them survived. Their victims were asked to recite the Islamic declaration of faith before being shot.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(BBC) Egypt Coptic Christians killed in bus attack

At least 23 people have been killed and 25 wounded after gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, state media report.

The incident occurred in Minya province, 250km (155 miles) south of Cairo, as the bus headed to a church.

Read it all.

Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(FT) Sunni clerics in Sisi sights after Isis targets Christians

Days after twin suicide blasts at Christian churches rocked Egypt, the country’s media launched a wave of highly unusual attacks on al-Azhar, the institution that has for centuries provided religious guidance to Sunni Muslims around the world.

“If you are incapable, too tired or fed up, leave the job to someone else. Your passivity is killing us,” Amr Adib, a television presenter, yelled as he called on Azhar’s Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb to resign.

Such fiery criticism appears to reflect tensions between Egypt’s political and religious leaders, with pro-regime media alleging that Azhar’s leaders are failing to combat extremism and maybe even fuelling it. Pressure on Azhar — which Pope Francis visited last month — soared in the wake of April’s church bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, which were claimed by Isis and killed dozens of Christians.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Politics in General, Terrorism

(JE) Jeffrey Walton on the witness of Egyptian Christians–“How on Earth do you forgive like this?”

Islamic State also claimed responsibility for a December 2016 bombing at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Cairo, which killed 29 people and injured 47 others.

“They were Coptic Orthodox, but we are one Christian family,” the Anglican Archbishop declared. “One of the amazing things that happened is the forgiveness within the church – forgiveness towards the people who exploded themselves – was a great witness.”

Anis recalled one witness pondering aloud “from what substance are these Christians made? How on Earth do you forgive like this?”

“It was moving to many people,” Anis reported. During the funeral for Christians who died in the Palm Sunday attacks, the Coptic bishop who led the service prayed for the assailants.

“This was in all the newspapers, that the bishop prayed for the terrorists, that is amazing,” Anis noted, contrasting with a presumed response of revenge.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Egypt, Jerusalem & the Middle East, Middle East

(BBC) Egyptian Christians living in fear for the future

At the ancient Monastery of St Mina in the desert sands of Egypt, a low concrete tomb holds the remains of Christians slaughtered for their faith – not in Roman times, but earlier this month.
They were among almost 50 people killed in co-ordinated attacks at two churches. The bombings – on Palm Sunday – were claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS).
Priests at the monastery say persecution is as old as the faith.

“The history of the Christians is like this,” said Father Elijah Ava Mina, his flowing white beard contrasting with his black robes. “Jesus told us ‘narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way’.”

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(CT) Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable

Twelve seconds of silence is an awkward eternity on television. Amr Adeeb, perhaps the most prominent talk show host in Egypt, leaned forward as he searched for a response.

“The Copts of Egypt … are made of … steel!” he finally uttered.

Moments earlier, Adeeb was watching a colleague in a simple home in Alexandria speak with the widow of Naseem Faheem, the guard at St. Mark’s Cathedral in the seaside Mediterranean city.

On Palm Sunday, the guard had redirected a suicide bomber through the perimeter metal detector, where the terrorist detonated. Likely the first to die in the blast, Faheem saved the lives of dozens inside the church.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Terrorism, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Ancient Sinai monastery targeted by Islamic militants in Egypt a week after Coptic church bombings

Islamist gunmen attacked security forces near St Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt’s south Sinai yesterday, killing at least one police officer and injuring four others outside one of the world’s most important and oldest Christian sites.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on a police checkpoint about 800 metres from the entrance to the monastery, which comes just 10 days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Egypt.

The incident follows two deadly suicide bombings on Coptic Christian churches last week, which were also claimed by Islamic State and which plunged the country into mourning and marked one of the bloodiest days for the country’s Christian minority in decades.

St Catherine’s, founded in the 6th century and located at the foot of Mount Sinai, is one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world and a UNESCO world heritage site. It is part of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Terrorism

(AI) Bp Mouneer Anis–Please pray for us and for Egypt

Palm Sunday this year was a sad one. As I was going to celebrate Palm Sunday at All Saints Cathedral, Cairo, I heard the news of the explosions at Mar Girgis [St George’s] Coptic Orthodox Church in Tanta, in the middle of the Nile Delta area. During the Service, I heard of another explosion at St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. The outcome of these terrorist attacks is that 45 were killed and 129 injured, some of whom were Muslim policemen and guards. Sadness overshadowed all Palm Sunday celebrations all over Egypt.

Intensive security measures and regulations have been made since this last Saturday. This included security personnel emptying all the streets around the churches and cathedrals of cars with extra policemen and sniffer dogs checking all church buildings and worshippers before Services start. I believe these measures were done to safeguard all church buildings in the country. Although the security was very tight, the evildoers have their own ways and it is extremely difficult to achieve 100 per cent security. This was also the case behind the recent terrorist attacks in Sweden, Britain, Germany and France.

Both terrorist attacks were done by suicide bombers. In Tanta, the suicide bomber succeeded to enter the Church, while in Alexandria, the metal detector gates beeped as the bomber was going through and to avoid being arrested, he detonated the bomb.

As I am writing these words, the burial of the Coptic Orthodox martyrs from the Church in Alexandria are being held at Mar Mina Monastery in a mass grave.

Read it all.

Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Holy Week, Jerusalem & the Middle East, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Terrorism, Violence

Adrian Hilton–The Palm Sunday massacre targeted Pope Tawadros II – why the media silence?

If a suicide bomber had detonated himself in a pew at St Peter’s Basilica while the Pope of Rome was presiding over the liturgy, the world’s media would be talking about an assassination attempt on the life of Francis, which it surely would have been. When a bomb or a bullet gets within a whisker (that is to say, within a church compound) of a pope at prayer, it may reasonably be surmised that the target is that praying pope. Why else would a rather devout Muslim seek to outfox security to gain entry to an iconic church on that particular day? It’s not likely to be for inter-religious dialogue and ecumenical fellowship, is it?

But when a suicide bomber tried to gain access to St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria on Palm Sunday while the Pope of Alexandria was presiding over the liturgy, the world’s media seemed to ignore the presence of Tawadros II, for some reason, as though he were a bit player in a fringe play. To around 18 million Coptic Christians worldwide, he isn’t ‘a pope’; he is His Holiness the Pope, Patriarch of the See of St Mark in the Province of Alexandria, Egypt, Pentapolis, Libya, Nubia, Sudan and all Africa, with an apostolic lineage going all the way back to 42 AD. A bomb going off in his historical seat is an attack on him.

Alexandria’s pontiff doesn’t get as many column inches as Rome’s; perhaps he isn’t supreme enough. But you’d think an assassination attempt on his life – however amateurish and botched – would merit a few headlines, wouldn’t you? The mainstream media have condemned the Palm Sunday outrage with an outpouring of sorrow and sadness, compassion and prayers, and column inches dedicated to political assurances that more will (or must) be done. But no mention at all that Pope Tawadros II was the likely target.

Make no mistake, this was an attempt on the life of the Pope – not that Pope, but this one.

Read it all.

Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Media, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(AP) Egypt on edge as Christians bury the dead from the Palm Sunday church attacks

The Palm Sunday bombings struck churches in the port city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt, and the city of Tanta. The head of the Coptic church, Pope Tawadros II, had been inside St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria when the bomber struck there but was unhurt.

“We are seeing simultaneous attacks, based on strong information, targeting big churches across the country. This is a very dangerous development,” said Mina Thabet, a rights researcher focusing on minorities.

“Christians are in a state of shock,” he added. “Attacks are recurrent, victims are falling in bigger numbers, and people live in fear and these groups are growing in power, number, and resources.”

There were scenes of grief and anguish Monday as mourners wailed during funerals at the sprawling St. Mina monastery on the outskirts of Alexandria. Some collapsed near the caskets, which bore the word “martyr.”

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Terrorism

(BBC) Egypt Copt attacks: ‘I feel so scared’

In the wake of a deadly double-bombing at Egyptian churches, Ishak Ibrahim, a Coptic Christian from the non-governmental Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, tells of a climate of fear among his community.

It feels so scary at the moment, the picture is very grim. If the Coptic Pope [Tawadros II, the head of the Egyptian Christian community who narrowly escaped the blast in Alexandria], has been targeted, how can Christians feel safe? The message sent out to Christians is that you are vulnerable wherever and whenever.

Christians in Sinai were forced to flee after militant threats there, although the peninsula has been living under a state of emergency for years. The state of emergency didn’t protect them

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence