Thursday, 8 August 2013

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom highlighting the increasing incitement and violence threatening and claiming the lives of Christians in Egypt.

In the recent weeks and months there has been an escalation of attacks against Christians in Egypt, with unfounded, dangerous, and unlawful incitement emerging from various fringe Islamist leaders spurring on more violent acts and illegal behaviour that continues to injure and claim the lives of many Egyptian Christians.  

A number of Egypt-based human rights organisations, with Amnesty International UK, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), have spoken out regarding attacks on Christians since the ousting of the former president, expecting similar acts in the coming period if these matters are not sufficiently addressed.

Most recently a violent attack on the Church of St George was followed by the raising of an Al Qaeda flag on its premises while congregation members were locked inside the church building. Churches across Upper Egypt including Minya, Asyut, and Luxor have suffered violent and destructive attacks and serious vandalism, with Christian homes and businesses also set alight. Callers to current affairs programmes on certain television channels, using hate speech, have rallied for the attack on, and eradication of, Christians and Churches.  These acts and threats all contribute to a very real risk upon the life of every Christian, especially in the increasingly polarised and inflamed climate in Egypt. As a result of these threats, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II has suspended weekly public events out of concern over potential attacks on congregations.  

At a time where attempts are being made to move Egypt into a more unified state, and where there is opportunity for collaboration and reconciliation, we are instead witnessing, once again, a polarised society in which unprecedented acts against Egyptian Christians are being carried out without fear of reprisal.

Imbalanced media coverage depicts scenes of violence in one part of the community as victimisation, while ignoring or labelling the savage attacks against Christians, on what is developing into a daily occurrence, as ‘sectarian’.

It is important to value and protect every sector of a shared society, especially that which has been accused for decades of being unfaithful and resorting to foreign support, while what has been revealed recently is of course quite the opposite.
Egypt cannot move forward while state apparatus does not hold people accountable for these unlawful hate crimes that stand to divide the country further, promoting increased polarisation at every level. Proactive efforts must be made towards promoting social cohesion and inclusion for all members of society so that this new phase of Egyptian history can be built upon true unity, collaboration, and reconciliation. We pray for all those who have lost loved ones over the past few days, weeks, and months and for all Egyptians as they seek to reclaim a sense of national identity in these formative days.  


For the Press Release click here