Attack on church in Egypt draws condemnation
Following the attack at Saints Coptic Orthodox Church in the Sidi Gabr district of Alexandria, Egypt during a New Year’s Eve mass, a number of Global Ministries’ partners in the Middle East, the U.S., and around the world, have issued statements condemning the tragedy in which more than 20 people were killed and another 100 wounded.
Councils and coalitions of which the UCC and Disciples are members include the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, the Council’s General Secretary, said, “The perpetrators of this outrage are apparently so blinded by hatred that they have lost touch with the tenets of any known faith. It is simply agonizing to think that many around the world will mistake this horror as the attack of one religious community on another. Christians, Jews and Muslims around the world are united by their outrage and condemnation of this soul-less act. This is not a struggle between religions but between those who value the life of every neighbor and those who clearly do not,” Kinnamon said. Kinnamon wrote a letter to Sec. Clinton in the aftermath.
The World Council of Churches’ General Secretary, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, on behalf of the fellowship of WCC member churches and the entire ecumenical family, expressed profound sorrow as well as condolences and prayers for the families of the victims, for the wounded and for all the people of Egypt. He encourages Egyptians to stand firm and united through the many trials and tribulations that continue to threaten. Tveit stated, “In these difficult and challenging times, the WCC calls particularly on religious and national leaders to support the people in Egypt as they affirm life and engage in countering negative trends through peaceful means, such as proactive engagement in dialogue and partnership between Christians and Muslims in Egypt and throughout the world.”
In the United States, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), of which with UCC and Disciples are also members, also strongly condemned the bombing attack. “This horrendous act of violence comes only months after fatal attacks and intimidation against the Christian community in Iraq left dozens dead and forced the cancellation of some Christmas celebrations,” says the CMEP statement. “These attacks raise deepening concerns that anti-Christian violence in Iraq and Egypt may be connected.”
Two main North American Muslim dialogue partners of the UCC and the Disciples also issued condemnations. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) were both clear in their denunciation. ISNA’s President, Imam Mohamed Majid, stated, “”These bombings are absolutely reprehensible,” and ISNA’s statement is here. Dr. Zahid Bukhari, president of ICNA, said, “The bombing in Alexandria is an abhorrent act in the name of Islam by those who have no knowledge of the Islamic way of life.” ICNA’s statement is here.
Around the world, partners expressed their condolences and outrage. Judge Abbas al-Halabi, President of the Arab Group for Muslim-Christian Dialogue, and the Rev. Dr. Riad Jarjour, its General Secretary, asserted in the Group’s statement that “This sickening terroristic crime, targeting innocent people, is incompatible with the most basic of divine laws and human values, and contradicts the spirit of Arab and Islamic civilization.”
Several statements and letters were issued in Arabic, including from the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches, whose General Secretary, Mrs. Rosangela Jarjour, and President, Rev. Andrea Z. Stephanous, wrote a letter of condolence to H.H. Pope Shenouda, saying, “We stand with you always, and especially at this time, praying that the God of Glory show the strength of his presence and fellowship in your midst, and grant peace.”
H.G. Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, stated, “Here in the Middle East, where the three monotheistic religions affirm the core values of love of God and love of neighbor, it is utterly impossible to carry out such acts of violence with a valid claim that they are done in the name of religion. Such acts are only done in the name of hatred and division.” His statement is available here.
The Middle East Council of Churches’ General Secretary, Mr. Guirgis Saleh, expressed his hope that “peace and safety would return, so that Egypt would remain an oasis of love, security, and peace.” The Conference of European Churches stated its “sorrow and concern for those affected by the attack on worshipers” and that “Acts of terrorism such as this remind us all that we must stand united, Christians and Muslims, through these dangerous times.”