April 18, 2013

Egypt – Serious allegations following unrest in Cairo


Following attacks made on a Christian funeral service in St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo,
representatives of the Catholic Church in Egypt have made serious allegations against
the authorities for their actions during the attacks.

Father Rafik Greiche, media spokesman of the Egyptian Catholic Bishops’ Conference,
told international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN):  “When 
severe interreligious unrest took place in Khusus on April 6, and four Christians lost 
their lives,  Islamic fundamentalists threatened to attack the church in Khusus if a 
funeral service for the dead were to be held there.  Therefore the service was trans-
ferred to the cathedral in CairoThe police must have been aware of the situation. 
So why were the police not in front of the cathedral?  They only arrived two hours 
later, and then they protected the attackers.”

On April 7, at the headquarters of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, there were attacks
on Coptic Christians attending the funeral of their brethren who had died the previous
day in Khasus, near Cairo. Unknown persons attacked the mourners with stones and
Molotov cocktails. Two people were killed and more than 90 injured.  In speaking to
ACN, the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Asyut, Kyrillos Samaan, condemned the assault,
in stating, Nobody could have imagined that anybody would attack such an impor-
tant symbol for all Egyptians as St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo.  It is shocking.  But 
we will never learn the real motives for these attacks.”

A few hours after the attacks, President Muhammad Morsi, who belongs to the Muslim
Brotherhood, declared his solidarity in a telephone call with Coptic Orthodox Patriarch
Tawadros II.  Father Greiche commented on this, “But what had the President done to 
protect the Christians?”  Encouraging, in the words of Father Greiche, is the solidarity
and sympathy of moderate Muslims:All of our Muslim friends told us that the events 
make them feel ashamed.  I recently visited Azhar University, the most important Sun-
ni institution.  Sheiks with whom we are in contact there assured us that such attacks 
are not compatible with Islam.”  Fr Greiche continuedWe are in permanent contact 
with the Protestant and Orthodox Churches.  We find much agreement.  That is a bless-
ing.”

Especially significant, in the view of Father Greiche, is the rapprochement between the
Coptic Orthodox and Coptic Catholic Churches since the election of Tawadros II as the
new Coptic Orthodox Patriarch at the beginning of November 2012:

The atmosphere between Catholics and Orthodox Copts has been completely trans-
formed.  Tawadros is very open.  For example, he attended the enthronement of the 
new Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac.  That had never happened before,”
Father Greiche said.  “But in particular, the Coptic Pope intends to visit the Pope
in Rome.  There has been a real change here.” ____________________________________________________________________

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