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 

Egypt’s Christian minority in sombre mood for Easter holiday

Ragaay prays and lights a candle in front of a wooden figure of Jesus in her home at the Cairo suburb of MaadiMembers of Egypt’s Christian minority flocked to church on Friday but two church bomb attacks on Palm Sunday that killed 45 people have left many in a sombre mood over Easter.

Worshippers from the nearly 2,000-year-old Coptic Christian community attended church services, but the holiday to mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ was being observed in subdued fashion, according to church officials.

In the city of Alexandria, Christians congregated at Saint Mark’s Cathedral, historic seat of the Coptic Pope, to attend Good Friday prayers. Worshippers passed through a metal detector at the building entrance, where one of the bombs went off.

Rafiq Bishry, head of the church’s organizational committee, said he was surprised that so many people had come.

“We expected that people would be too scared to attend prayers but there was no need for our expectations because there are a lot of people here,” he told Reuters Television.

“This is a clear message to the whole world that we are not afraid,” he said.

Last Sunday’s attacks in Alexandria and the city of Tanta were claimed by Islamic State, which has been waging an insurgency against soldiers and police in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

The group has now stepped up assaults on Christians and warned of more attacks to come. It has claimed to have killed 80 people in three church bombings since December.

Maha Ragaay, a Coptic Christian teacher who lives in Cairo, said she had avoided watching television on Palm Sunday, afraid of seeing the bloody images broadcast after the bombings.

FULL ARTICLE FROM REUTERS

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 

News on the Bombings in Egypt from the Egyptian Press

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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.

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 

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 

At Weekly Exorcisms, Egypt’s Muslims and Christians Unite Against the Demons

av5a6742Cairo’s best-known exorcist may be Christian, but his weekly exorcisms provide an unusual space for interfaith cooperation