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 

Explosions rock 2 Egyptian churches, killing dozens and injuring scores more

05899031A reminder why the development of positive inter-religious relationships is so crucial as a counter to the violence that finds too easy justification with the radical fringe. 

 Two bombs rocked churches packed with worshippers in the Egyptian cities of Tanta and Alexandria on Sunday, killing at least 36 and injuring scores more. The assaults were the latest in a spate of attacks targeting Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority and come ahead of a scheduled visit by Pope Francis to Egypt.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for both bombings through the Amaq news agency, which is affiliated with the Islamist militant group. Egypt’s Christian minority, who make roughly 10 percent of the population, have increasingly been targeted by Islamist extremists.

The first blast in Tanta, 80 miles north of the capital, Cairo, unfolded around 9.30 a.m., during a Palm Sunday service at St. George’s Church. The bomb, police said, was planted in the pews of the church.

Less than three hours later, a second blast erupted near Saint Mark’s Church in the northern city of Alexandria. The head of Egypt’s Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, was presiding over the Palm Sunday Mass at the church, and his fate remained unknown.

The Health Ministry says 36 people have been killed in the attacks, 25 in Tanta and 11 in Alexandria, but the death toll is widely expected to rise.

Both churches were packed for Palm Sunday services. After the attack in Tanta, photos appeared on social media, showing bloodstained walls and shattered wooden pews. Many of the dead were believed to be children, according to initial local media reports.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Coptic (Christian) Bishop: ISIS Targets Us in Egypt to Divide Christians and Muslims

HG_Bishop_AngaelosBishop Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox bishop and advocate for religious freedom, said Christians everywhere offer the world a response that reflects the Christlike witness of their brothers and sisters in Egypt.

LONDON — More than 40 Christians in Egypt, known as Copts, have been deliberately slaughtered for the faith in the past three months alone by militants aligned with the Islamic State terror group, which has been waging a brutal five-year war against Egypt’s forces in the Sinai Peninsula.

As ISIS’ self-proclaimed “caliphate” collapses in Syria and Iraq, it has whipped up its supporters in Sinai to persecute Coptic Christians, their “favorite prey,” forcing many to flee their ancestral homeland, where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the Holy Family fled, seeking refuge from the terror of Herod the Great.

Egypt’s government has called for national solidarity and condemned these attacks on its Christians. In December, President Fattah el-Sisi and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II walked together in a state military funeral procession ordered for 29 Copts, mainly women and children, brutally murdered by a suicide bomber at St. Peter’s Church in Cairo.

Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church of the United Kingdom and a spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, as well as an advocate for religious freedom, told the Register in an interview that Egypt’s Christians need the solidarity of their fellow Christians around the world.

He explained Christians elsewhere also need to honor and embrace the Christlike witness of Egypt’s Christians in the face of these terrorist attacks, which are aimed at destroying Christian-Muslim cohesion, and pray for the conversion of their persecutors.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER 

Muslims condemn ‘evil attacks’ which killed 24 Christians on the Coptic Church in Egypt

ramzy-jpg-galleryMUSLIMS in Oxford have condemned the ‘evil attacks’ on the Coptic Church in Egypt which killed 25 people.

Dr Hojjat Ramzy, director of Oxford Islamic information centre, gave his ‘sincere condolences’ on behalf of Muslim community of the city to the families affected.

Egyptians are holding prayers for the 24 Christians killed at a church next to main Coptic cathedral in Cairo.

The bomb went off during Sunday Mass at a chapel adjacent to St Mark’s Cathedral in the capital. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Today, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi identified the bomber as 22-year-old Mahmoud Shafiq Mohammed Mustafa.

He said three men and a woman had been arrested in connection with the attack.

The president spoke after Health Ministry officials revised down the number of victims to 24, suggesting that the 25th body belonged to the bomber.

Dr Ramzy told the Oxford Mail: “I believe this was an evil act of people who have no respect for sanctity of life.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE OXFORD MAIL

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 Coup: Muslim and Christian leaders back military roadmap

A protester holds a cross and Koran during a protest demanding that President Mohamed Mursi resign at Tahrir Square in CairoJust hours after the Egyptian military removed President Mohamed Morsi from office on Wednesday leading Muslim and Christian clerics announced their support for an army-sponsored plan to suspend the constitution and hold early elections according to Egypt’s state-controlled Ahram Online.

Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb, one of the highest authorities on Sunni Islam, and Pope Tawadros II, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Church, sat beside one another in a symbolic gesture of sectarian unity as General al-Sisi announced the transition plan on Egyptian State Television.

The general was also surrounded by other noteworthy Muslim, secularist and liberal political leaders in a show of consensus that could help Egyptian military leaders garner support for their plan in Washington.

Reactions from the White House and the State Department have been ambiguous, although President Barack Obama expressed deep concern over the removal of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president and called for a quick return to civilian leadership.

In May Secretary of State John Kerry quietly approved $1.3 billion in military assistance to Egypt despite the country’s failure to meet congressional democracy standards. U.S. law requires non-humanitarian aid to be cut-off to any country “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’etat.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE EXAMINER 

On Coptic Christmas, Egyptian Christians voice guarded hope for the Future

copticThe reported failed attack on a church in Rafah on Monday, coinciding with Coptic Christmas, is not the kind of news that Father Mikhail wanted to wake up to. on Monday, coinciding with Coptic Christmas, is not the kind of news that Father Mikhail wanted to wake up to.

“It’s very sad that our church is still under attack and that Coptic families of Rafah are still being threatened by militant extremists,” said Father Mikhail of the Rafah Church. “But we have to be thankful for the good news: the army foiled the attempt.”

This Christmas morning, the Supreme Military Council’s Facebook page announced that army units stationed in Sinai had foiled an attempt to destroy the Rafah Church, which had faced repeated attacks by Islamist extremists within the past two years.

News of the foiled Rafah attack was disturbing for many Copts – even those far from Rafah. On his way to his parents’ house for Christmas lunch, local resident Ayman said he was “really disturbed” by the incident. “It’s a good thing the army is on alert and that it protected the church, but it’s sad that churches are still under threat.”

Attacks on churches have occurred intermitently during the past decade, especially in Alexandria and Upper Egypt. An attack on the Upper Egyptian Nagaa Hamadi Church on Coptic Christmas Eve four years ago left six Copts dead.

However, since ousted president Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in early 2011, several churches have been attacked and burned. The most troubling of these were two consecutive attacks on churches in Imbaba, a low-income neighbourhood in Giza with a considerable Coptic presence.

These attacks were aggravated by the 9 October 2011 carnage in which military vehicles ran over and killed Coptic demonstrators protesting repeated attacks on churches and Copts.

“Sad as this attack on the Rafah Church is, and sad as the memories of 9 October and Nagaa Hamadi are, the fact remains that we’re here in our country celebrating Christmas among what I believe is unprecedented sympathy and warmth from Muslim friends and neighbours,” said Ayman.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AHRAM ONLINE