Tensions reach new climax in Egypt
The National Council of Churches in Australia has asked people of all faiths to pray for the restoration of peace and for increased religious tolerance amongst all people in Egypt.
Tensions are reaching a new climax in Egypt as Christians are attacked at the St Marks Cathedral in Cairo while burying their dead.
Religious tensions in Egypt regularly appear in the news.
In recent years attacks have taken place with churches bombed as worshippers attend Christmas services or welcome in the New Year. Coptic clergy are regularly reported missing or arrested and now violent attacks during funeral services.
“The safety of Coptic Christians is of increasing concern,” said the Rev. Tara Curlewis, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA).
“These latest attacks have taken place inside the St Marks Cathedral Complex which also contains the Papal residence of Pope Tawadros II. These attacks strike people when they are most vulnerable and at the place where they should feel safest. Attacking the Cathedral complex is actually attacking the Church and all it stands for.”
Reports from Egypt indicate Pope Tawadros has appealed for calm and that President Morsi has denounced the violence and called for an immediate investigation.
Curlewis said “President Morsi has a responsibility to protect all citizens of Egypt and uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which his country is a signatory. The Declaration states that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Even though the Coptic Christians represent less than 10% of the population they have the same rights as people of other faiths to practice their religious beliefs in safety.”
These persistent attacks on the Coptic Orthodox Church are condemned by Churches around the world.