Category : * Economics, Politics

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’s Beyond Belief–How Islamic is the So-Called Islamic State?

In claiming responsibility for the Paris atrocities, the so-called Islamic State described the attacks as “a blessed battle whose causes of success were enabled by Allah”. Last year, when the group’s self-imposed Caliphate was declared, hundreds of Muslim leaders and scholars from across the world wrote an open letter to the self-professed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, accusing him of heinous war crimes and a violation of the fundamental principles of Islam. So how Islamic is ‘Islamic State’? Why have mainstream interpretations of Islam so far failed to provide an effective counter-narrative? What needs to happen for the group to be defeated?

William Crawley discusses the beliefs which underpin the so-called Islamic State in the light of the Paris terrorist attacks with Sheikh Dr Salah Al Ansari, an Imam, theologian and academic; Haras Rafiq, Managing Director of the anti-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation; and Dr Katherine Brown, an expert in Islamic Studies at King’s College London.

Listen to it all.

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

(WSJ) Sohrab Ahmari–How Nationalism Can Solve the Crisis of Islam

Then again, the 19th-century marriage of liberalism and nationalism ended in a very ugly divorce in the first half of the 20th century. What about the dangers of reviving nationalism today? “There is no a priori guarantee that it could not devolve into something nasty,” Mr. Manent says. “But if we don’t propose a reasonable idea of the nation, we will end up with an unreasonable idea of the nation. Because simply: However weakened the idea of the nation, nations do not want to die.”

Then there is the example across the Atlantic. Like Tocqueville, Mr. Manent sees much to admire in the American experiment. Even as Europeans have sought to pool or even abandon their sovereignty, he says, “Americans remained very much attached to the idea of a people making its laws to protect itself.”

True, “this people was open to the world, since of course it was formed by immigration. But people came from all over the world, not to be human beings but to be citizens of the United States, which had a keen sense of its exceptionalism and unique character.” In the Second Amendment, the persistence of the death penalty, and the reluctance of U.S. courts to follow foreign precedents, Mr. Manent sees “not a proof of American barbarism” but of democratic vigor.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Europe, History, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Fulcrum) Colin Chapman–Christian Responses to Islamism and Violence in the name of Islam

Max Warren, General Secretary of the Church Mission Society from 1942 to 1963, used to tell a story from his time in hospital after returning from service in Nigeria with a serious illness. One day he was examined by a medical student as part of his final examinations in front of his professor. After the examination the student gave his diagnosis of Warren’s illness to the professor. Warren knew that the diagnosis was wrong. So when he saw the professor the following day, he said to him, ‘I suppose that student failed because he got the diagnosis wrong’. ‘Oh no!’ replied the professor. ‘The diagnosis was wrong. But he would have got there in the end because he asked all the right questions’.

While we have been living with Islamism for some years, the creation of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in June 2014 no doubt took all of us by surprise. And if there’s been a variety of responses among national governments, academics and journalists, there’s also been a variety of responses among Christians. So if none of us can claim to give a definitive answer to the question of how Christians should respond to Islamism and ISIS, can we at least attempt to ask some of the right questions? These would be the ten questions that I would want to ask.

(1) What do we Mean by ‘Islamism’ and How does it Differ from Other Kinds of Islam?

I hope we are past the stage of speaking about ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ and are starting to use terms like ‘Islamism’, ‘political Islam’ or ‘radical Islam’. I am not talking about ordinary Muslims who may have a political agenda of one kind or another, but Muslims who have a clear agenda about creating some kind of Islamic polity. It is important to recognise, however, that Islamists are not all the same. Some believe in democracy, pluralism and human rights, while others do not. Some believe that violence is sometimes justified in pursuing an Islamic agenda, while others reject the use of violence. They all want to see Islamic principles applied in the public sphere; but they recognise the huge differences in the political make-up of states all over the world and have different ideas about how a particular state could be more Islamic….

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) We will repair damage done to our city and its people, Bishop tells Manchester

The killing of 22 people in a suicide bombing in Manchester on Monday had provoked “proper anger and rage” that must be directed into a “force for good”, the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said this week.

In the worst terrorist attack in the UK since the London bombings of July 2005, a lone attacker, Salman Ramadan Abedi, detonated an im­­provised explosive device at Man­chester Arena at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert. Among those killed were children, and parents waiting to collect their children. In addition to the deaths, 59 people were injured. Many are being treated for life-threatening conditions.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced that the threat level in the UK had been raised to “critical”, indicating that a further attack might be “imminent”. For the first time since 2003, troops were being de­­ployed to join the police’s armed patrols. “It is a possibility we cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack,” Theresa May said. On Wednesday afternoon, the Manchester police chief, Ian Hopkins, said: “I think it’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating.” Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, 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.

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

(WSJ) Remembering the Manchester Victims

Some were teenagers—and younger children—excited to see a favorite pop star. Some were parents coming to pick up concertgoers. The Monday attack outside Manchester Arena claimed 22 lives, some of whose stories are below. Some ages are as reported in local media accounts.

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Posted in Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(PPG Editorial) Congo chaos: Another ‘president for life’ in this African nation?

Three recent disastrous events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, indicate that it may be approaching another meltdown point, not at all the first in its history.

The highly contagious disease Ebola, the outbreak of which in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa in 2014 became a global concern, has reappeared, not for the first time, in northeast DRC, in the region of Kisangani, formerly known as Stanleyville. The area where it has appeared is so remote and devoid of infrastructure that even Doctors Without Borders is having a hard time getting personnel and supplies into it.

The second event, potentially catastrophic in its implications, is the killing of two human rights workers, one Swedish and the other American, who were inquiring, on behalf of the United Nations, into reports of other killings, perhaps even by DRC soldiers, in the south-central region of the country. Other deaths, of Congolese colleagues of the two international workers, may also have occurred although neither they nor their bodies have yet been found.

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Posted in Politics in General, Republic of Congo

Please Join us in praying for Manchester, UK, as they seek to recover from the recent terrorist attack

Posted in England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC) Manchester attack: Vigil finds city defiant in the face of terror

The silence held for a full five minutes before the Lord Mayor Eddy Newman began to speak.
His was a message of thanks for the emergency services and defiance in the face in the terrorism, words that were met with cheers and loud applause.
He was followed by others with equally unbending speeches.
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker, spoke of the city’s unerring belief in diversity and unity and said those who would seek to destroy such things were “the very few, but we are the many, we are Manchester”.

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Posted in England / UK, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

PM Theresa May’s Statement this Morning on the Manchester Attack in Full

At terrible moments like these, it is customary for leaders, politicians and others to condemn the perpetrators and declare that the terrorists will not win. But the fact that we have been here before, and the fact that we need to say this again, does not make it any less true. For as so often while we experience the worst of humanity last night, we also saw the best. The cowardice of the attacker met the bravery of the emergency services and the people of Manchester. The attempt to divide us met countless acts of kindness that brought people closer together. And in the days ahead, those must be the things we remember. The images we hold in our minds should not be those of senseless slaughter, but of the ordinary men and women who put concerns about their own safety to one side and rushed to help, of the men and women of the emergency services, who worked tirelessly to bring comfort, to help and to save lives, of the messages of solidarity and hope of all those who opened their homes to the victims, for they are the images that embody the spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain. A spirit that through years of conflict and terrorism has never been broken and will never be broken.

There will be difficult days ahead. We offer our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of those affected. We offer our full support to the authorities, the emergency and the security services as they go about their work. And we all, every single one of us, stand with the people of Manchester at this terrible time. And today let us remember those who died, and let us celebrate those who helped, safe in the knowledge that the terrorists will never win and our values, our country and our way of life, will always prevail.

Please take the time to read or watch it all.

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Andrew Graystone’s Thought for the Day the day after the Manchester bombing

Thousands of excited young people gathered last night for a concert in the Manchester Arena, just a couple of miles from where I am now. For some, their tickets were a birthday or Christmas present. For others, perhaps a quick break in their revision schedule. Many of those young people saw and heard things they will never forget. For them, and for countless friends and family members of those who were killed or injured, the course of their lives has changed forever

An event like this tears through the ordered fabric of our lives. We can find ourselves overwhelmed by anger, fear or deep sadness at the fallenness of our world, and the sinfulness of human hearts. If, as police are currently assuming, it was some sort of terror attack, then that was the precise intention. Random violence can’t win any followers – but it has the power to destabilise us, even those of us who aren’t affected directly. It can stoke the flames of fear or alienation.

But that response is not inevitable….

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Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology

A (well-crafted) Prayer for Manchester from Sam Wells

Posted in England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

A Statement from the Manchester Police about the Latest–22 Dead, 59 injured

You may find the BBC live feed there.

Posted in England / UK, Music, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence