Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable

76535Twelve 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.

“I’m not angry at the one who did this,” said his wife, children by her side. “I’m telling him, ‘May God forgive you, and we also forgive you. Believe me, we forgive you.’

“‘You put my husband in a place I couldn’t have dreamed of.’”

Stunned, Adeeb stammered about Copts bearing atrocities over hundreds of years, but couldn’t escape the central scandal.

“How great is this forgiveness you have!” his voice cracked. “If it were my father, I could never say this. But this is their faith and religious conviction.”

Millions marveled with him across the airwaves of Egypt.

So also did millions of Copts, recently rediscovering their ancient heritage, according to Ramez Atallah, president of the Bible Society of Egypt which subtitled and recirculated the satellite TV clip.

“In the history and culture of the Copts, there is much taught about martyrdom,” he told CT. “But until Libya, it was only in the textbooks—though deeply ingrained.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

Advertisements

News on the Bombings in Egypt from the Egyptian Press

lknys_lbtrsy
The pace of violence has returned to escalate again following a decline for a while, with three terrorist attacks, blown by terrorist groups against the Egyptian state.
The first attack targeted a security checkpoint in Haram area, Giza, killing 6 policemen on Friday; secondly, an explosion hit a police vehicle in Kafr el-Sheikh governorate, on the same day, killing a citizen and injuring three policemen; and thirdly, a terrorist attack targeting Botroseya Church, in the vicinity of Saint Mark Cathedral on Sunday, killing 25 martyrs and injuring 53 people.
Observers link the 3 incidents to the final verdict against prominent Islamist militant Adel Habbara, the arrest of Osama, son of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, the killing of terrorist Abdallah Azzam in Qalyubiya, and killing of three members of the terrorist group Hasm in Assuit.
The attack on Botroseya Church is also regarded as a punishment to Copts for supporting President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Other analysts reject linking the arrest of Osama Morsi and the verdict against Habbara to the terrorist incidents, as these attacks have been planned previously; and they are taking advantage of a big security flaw, the perpetrators having studied the target for a while and implementing the attack after they found a security hiatus.
Some have put forward a different vision, as the incident comes in response to the accusations by terrorist groups to the Church of supporting President Sisi and the nation in all crises and fighting terrorism — doing so in order to destroy the unity of the nation and to try to suggest that the situation in Egypt is unstable.

Egypt’s Christians Say They Are at a ‘Breaking Point’

xxcopts2-master768MINYA, Egypt — The Egyptian government has appointed Imam Mahmoud Gomaa, a Muslim cleric, to keep the peace between Christians and Muslims in this corner of upper Egypt. “Everything is good,” he insisted in an interview, citing Christian participation in his official peace-building initiative.

But just a few hours later, the local bishop, Makarios, offered a very different view. “I have nothing to do with Mahmoud Gomaa,” he said.

Once again, Egyptian Christians are feeling under siege, at least in Minya, a city on the banks of the Nile where about 40 percent of the population is Christian. And once again, Christian leaders are divided over how to respond.

At the highest levels of the Coptic Orthodox Church, there is an effort to not make waves and to work with the central government to present an image of unity and calm. After a series of attacks on Copts this summer, the Coptic pope, Tawadros II, pleaded with his followers in the United States not to go ahead with planned demonstrations outside the White House intended to bring international attention to the violence.

“Please, for Christ’s sake, avoid this behavior,” he said.

But in Minya, where violence against Christians often flares, local Coptic leaders are reluctant to go along.

“We are at a breaking point,” Bishop Makarios said. “People can’t put up with any more of this.”

Egypt’s Christian community, an estimated 10 percent of the population, has long had a symbiotic relationship with the state. The government provided security in an increasingly hostile environment, and the Christian leadership helped present a face of tolerance and religious freedom to the West.

 

That compact frayed badly in the waning years of Hosni Mubarak’s presidency and seemed to come undone altogether after he was toppled from power and an Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, was elected. Attacks on churches, led by Islamist youths, surged.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

Egyptian Christians, Muslims closer together in wake of martyrdoms in Libya, bishop says

topicCatholic World News – March 20, 2015

The 21 Coptic Christians who were slaughtered by the Islamic State in Libya are “true martyrs” and will be recognized as such, an Egyptian bishop has said.

Bishop Kyrillos William Samaan of Assiut told Aid to the Church in Need that the Coptic Catholic Church will follow the Coptic Orthodox Church in recognizing the 21 martyrs. “Pope Francis himself recognised them as martyrs,” he observed. “They were killed because they were Christians.”

Bishop Samaan said that Egyptian Christians have been moved by the response of the government to the killings. Egypt’s President el Sisi visited the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros to express his personal condolences; the prime minister visited the town from which most of the slain Copts came. The governor of that province has announced plans to build a church in their honor, and their village has been renamed “Village of the Martyrs.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC CULTURE 

Christians and Muslims Gather at Egypt’s al-Azhar University to Condemn Islamist Terrorism

topicCairo/Aleteia (Aleteia.org/ar) – Muslim and Christian theologians agreed to promote the concept of brotherhood among Christians, Muslims and adherents of other religions in the face of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam.

Last week, Al-Azhar, the highest authority for Sunni Islam, convened an international conference on terrorism at al-Azhar University in the Egyptian capital on Wednesday and Thursday (12/10 and 12/11). The conference brought together 600 Islamic and Christian theologians from 120 countries and included several patriarchs or their representatives. The conference was led by both Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Mosque, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyib.

Participants stressed a priority of applying the “moderate way” of Islam. The meeting centered on the necessity of teaching the correct concept of “Jihad” and opposition to brainwashing the youth who are fighting alongside the Islamic State group.

Though the conference condemned terrorism in the name of Islam, which distorts the true face of the religion, al-Azhar issued a statement formally rejecting the labeling of Islamic State fighters as apostates. The publication Asharq al-Awsat explained that the practice of one Muslim declaring another to be an apostate–takfirism–is controversial within Islam. “While this is something that is actively practiced by Islamist groups like ISIS, it is generally rejected by adherents of mainstream interpretations of Islam,” the publication said.

“Al-Azhar rejects the takfirism of ISIS…. Because takfirism cannot be applied to any believer, regardless of his sins,” Al-Azhar said in a statement in response to comments made by the Mufti of Nigeria during the counter-terrorism conference.

In their closing statement, participants said that “terrorizing the safety of civilians, killing the innocent and attacking holy places are all crimes against humanity, and Islam severely condemns such acts.” Muslims, Christians and followers of any other religion in the Middle East are brothers and citizens who are caretakers of the same land, the conference concluded, noting the long history of coexistence in the Middle East. The conference pleaded with Christians not to leave but to stand steadfast until the current storm passes. Hostilities against Christians and the faithful of other religions through false piety are considered disobedience to the true teachings of Islam, it said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM aleteia.org

Situation Has Improved for Christians in Egypt, Says Open Doors CEO

Dr. David Curry is the CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization which advocates for persecuted Christians around the world. In part one of CP’s interview with Curry, he discusses ISIS’ surge in Iraq and its implications for Iraq’s remaining 500,000 Christians and its effects on neighboring Syria. This is part two of the interview where he shares with The Christian Post why 2014 has generally been a more peaceful year for the Egyptian church than 2013. Curry had recently returned from Egypt.

Bishop-General Macarius, a Coptic Orthodox leader, walks around the burnt and damaged Evangelical Church in Minya governorate

 

Bishop-General Macarius (R), a Coptic Orthodox leader, walks around the burnt Evangelical Church in Minya governorate, south of Cairo, August 26, 2013.

CP: What’s the situation like in 2014 for Egyptian Christians?

Curry: The situation has improved for Christians in Egypt.

CP: What do you attribute that to?

Curry: It’s been due to the willingness of the new government to protect Christian areas to allow for free expression of faith for Christians, for people to attend church in safety, to be able to associate themselves with their faith. I am encouraged; this is not a political statement for the government because I’m not an expert in political situations, but I can tell you that this is an improvement for Egyptian Christians; it’s stability that they welcome.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

Egypt’s Christian minority rally behind charter

622x350AZIYAH, Egypt (AP) — Hymns echoing from the new church in this village in Egypt’s southern heartland could be heard well after sundown, a reminder of the jubilant mood as Aziyah’s Christian residents voted on a new constitution.

Outside in the dusty streets, volunteers hurriedly arranged for buses to transport voters to polling stations before they closed on Wednesday night. In past elections, Islamists used fear or intimidation to stop Christians from voting against them.

This time around, Aziyah’s Christians faced no obstacles on their way to the ballot box.

“I cast my ballot as I pleased. I am not afraid of anybody,” said Heba Girgis, a Christian resident of the nearby village of Sanabu, who said she was harassed and prevented from casting a vote against the 2012 Islamist-backed constitution. “Last time I wanted to say no. I waited in line for two hours before the judge closed the station.”

“This time we said ‘yes’ and our opinion matters,” Girgis added as she walked home with a friend after casting her vote. “This is for our children, for all those who died and suffered. Our word now carries weight.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE