Category : Egypt

(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.

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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.

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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.

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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

(USA Today) For Coptic Christians in New Jersey, another in a long string of attacks

The message delivered during Sunday’s morning service at the Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Mark in Jersey City was all too familiar: Pray for all of those killed by bombings at their churches in Egypt.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for two terrorist attacks on Coptic churches in the Egyptian Nile Delta town of Tanta and the coastal city of Alexandria that killed at least 44 people during crowded Palm Sunday services, the latest in a string of attacks against the Christian minorities in the majority-Muslim country.

The bombing in Tanta hit especially close to home at St. Mark, where many of the U.S. Copts have friends and relatives who died or were injured in Sunday’s attack. Joseph Ghabour, a deacon at St. Mark, the first Coptic church to open in the U.S, said the church used its morning service to pray for the dead, the wounded and their families. In what has become a common theme, clergy and parishioners also prayed for those who carried out the grisly attacks.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Coptic Church, Egypt, Terrorism

(WSJ) Palm Sunday Massacre: Why can’t Egypt’s government protect its Christian minority?

Islamic State claimed credit for both massacres, as it likes to do whether its minions were responsible or not. But the killings were the devil’s work, another case of the expanding jihadist campaign against Egypt’s Christian minority. Coptic Pope Tawadros had finished leading Palm Sunday services when the bomber struck at Saint Mark’s.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi denounced the attacks, but they raise more questions about his government’s competence in protecting the Copts. The jihadist assaults have become as regular as Easter or Christmas. Three policemen lost their lives trying to stop the bomber, but Egypt’s intelligence and security services appear to be on the back foot against the Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate, Sinai Province. Copts make up about 10% of Egypt’s 92 million people, but many are looking to emigrate amid the jihadist terror wave.

The attacks also cast doubt on Mr. Sisi’s ability to protect Pope Francis when he visits Egypt later this month.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Egypt, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

John Allen-Yesterday’s attack in Egypt is the latest strike in the war on Christians in the Middle East

…the world is witnessing the rise of an entire new generation of Christian martyrs. The carnage is occurring on such a vast scale that it represents not only the most dramatic Christian story of our time, but arguably the premier human rights challenge of this era as well.

To put flesh and blood on those statistics, all one has to do is look around. In Baghdad, Islamic militants stormed the Syriac Catholic cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation on 31 October 2010, killing the two priests celebrating Mass and leaving a total of 58 people dead. Though shocking, the assault was far from unprecedented; of the 65 Christian churches in Baghdad, 40 have been bombed at least once since the beginning of the 2003 US-led invasion.

The effect of this campaign of violence and intimidation has been devastating for Christianity in the country. At the time of the first Gulf War in 1991, Iraq boasted a flourishing Christian population of at least 1.5 million. Today the high-end estimate for the number of Christians left is around 500,000, and realistically many believe it could be as low as 150,000. Most of these Iraqi Christians have gone into exile, but a staggering number have been killed.

Read it all from The Spectator.

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

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, following two explosions in Coptic Churches in Tanta and Alexandria

Today, Egypt’s Christians experienced yet another targeted attack, with a bombing of the Church of Saint George in Tanta during what was meant to be a joyous day of families celebrating Palm Sunday. A few hours later there was a second bombing in Alexandria, killing innocent men, women and children as they left a Palm Sunday Liturgy that was officiated by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark.

While it is still too early to determine responsibility, what is undeniable is the senseless and heartless brutality that can lead a person or people to indiscriminately take innocent lives, especially at the most vulnerable hour of prayer.

Today we suffer with our sisters and brothers who have experienced losses in London, in Stockholm, and as well as those who continue to suffer on a daily basis across the Middle East. We pray for them and their families as well as their suffering and struggling communities.

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

(Al Jazeera) Explosion hits the Coptic church of Marjeres in Tanta, Egypt

At least 21 people were killed in an explosion inside a church in the Egyptian Nile delta city of Tanta, local media reports said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility and the cause of the blast was not yet known.

Egypt’s state television reported that at least 50 people were wounded in the blast.

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

(ABC Aus) Coptic Christians flee an unwelcome Egypt, seek refuge in Australia

A church in the middle of Cairo is bombed. A 70-year-old woman is stripped naked and paraded through a southern Egyptian village.

Military vehicles run over Coptic protesters, dismembering and mangling 27 people in the worst massacre of Christians in the country’s history.

Firebrand preachers shout incensed anti-Christian messages from the pulpit and mobs attack Coptic churches, businesses and homes.

This is now a daily routine for Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Coptic Church, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(ACNS) Egyptian Anglicans in peace building partnership with Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Egypt has announced a landmark partnership with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria Library) to advance co-operation in the art, science, culture, peace-building, dialogue and the combating of extremism. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a modern organisation designed to “recapture the spirit” of the ancient library of Alexandria ”“ one of the world’s earliest such institution.

The original library was founded by Ptolemy I in 288 BC; and suffered numerous attacks before disappearing in the seventh century. Julius Caesar is said to have set fire to it during a civil war in 48 BC; it was attacked by Aurelian between AD 270 and 275; the Coptic Pope Theophilus outlawed it as a pagan temple in 391; and there are claims that it was destroyed during the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 642.

The modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina was opened in October 2002 and has shelf-space for eight million books. It was created “to recapture the spirit of the original Library of Alexandria as a centre for learning, dialogue, and rationality,” Archbishop Mouneer said. Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast was chosen by Alexander the Great to be the capital of his empire in 320 BC. “It soon became the most powerful and influential city in the region,” Archbishop Mouneer said, adding that the original library “functioned as an academy, research centre, and library,” he said that “the great thinkers of the age flocked to Alexandria to study and exchange ideas.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Books, Egypt, History, Middle East, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Quartz) Egypt’s Coptic Christians are stuck between between ISIS and an indifferent government

“The church is in the [St Marks] cathedral complex signaling the vivid symbolism of the explosion,” says Ishak Ibrahim, a religious freedoms researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “It aims at terrorizing the heart of Coptic Orthodoxy in Egypt”.
The terrorist group vowed further attacks and declared ”˜a war against polytheism’ referring to the Christians’ belief in the trinity pejoratively in a statement.
This particular attack fits in with the pattern of ISIS’s notorious aim to shock and awe, hitting a minority religion and at women. It also shows the difficult position Coptic Christians find themselves in Egypt today, as the largest religious minority in the Middle East at around 10 million people. On the one hand an easy target for a callous terror group. But on the other, living as a second class group in their own country, under a different kind of threat from the authorities.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence