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By Deacon Keith Fournier

10/4/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We have regularly covered the plight of our Coptic Orthodox Christian brethren in Egypt and will continue to do so

The persecution of Coptic Christians escalates. If this is an indication of the attitude of the government of Egypt, the so called "Arab Spring" is a fraud. Authentic freedom recognizes the fundamental human rights of others, including religious freedom.

Coptic Orthodox Christian woman in prayer

Coptic Orthodox Christian woman in prayer

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

10/4/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Coptic, Orthodox, Egypt, Salafi, Jihadi, militant, Muslim, persecution, Deacon Keith Fournier


CAIRO, Egypt (Catholic Online) - The history of Christianity in Egypt goes as far back as the visit of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. (Matt. 2) To the Christians who live in this historic land, the history of the Christian Church is the history of Egypt. According to Christian Tradition, the Evangelist Mark brought the Gospel to Egypt in 61 A.D. and it has a proud and inspiring Christian heritage.

The majority of Christians in Egypt are Coptic Orthodox. The very word "Copt" comes from an early Greek name for Egypt. After all, Christianity and Egypt have a long and holy history. Perhaps that is part of the reason why the persistent persecution of Christians in Egypt is so appalling. It strikes at the very foundations of the Christian Church.

We have regularly covered the plight of our Coptic Orthodox Christian brethren in Egypt and will continue to do so. They are heroic witnesses in the ancient land into which the Holy family journeyed, a land which is vitally important to all Christians. Their suffering to the point of shedding their blood for the ancient faith should draw every Christian to their knees. It also demands a response of support and solidarity from those of us who can help.

We have also repeatedly urged our global readership to pray for Coptic Orthodox Christians and for Catholic Christians in Egypt in this critical hour. The presence of Coptic Christians in this ancient and holy land is vital. Their presence precedes any Muslim claims. Their heroic Christian witness is an inspiration. They are our brethren, joined to us in the bonds of Baptismal communion.

Now, there is distressing news out of this land of the Holy Family. Over 3,000 militant Muslims, identified with the Salafi movement which seeks to enforce a strict construction of Shariah law, have gone on a rampage burning homes and businesses owned by Christians. Even worse that than these acts of terror, this mob of militant Muslims set fire to Mar Gerges Coptic Orthodox Church.

Witnesses told Compass news that the attacks began after the Muslims offered their afternoon prayers. Michael Ramzy, a villager in Elmarenab, told a local news source that "Imams in more than 20 mosques called for crowds to gather and destroy the church and demolish the houses of the Copts and loot their properties."

This is the third Church in seven months which has been destroyed by mobs of militant Muslims. It is reported that Salafi Muslims were enraged that any symbols of the Christian faith could be seen on the outside of the Church. After a September 2 meeting with the leaders of the military and the village, Coptic clergy agreed to modify the outside so that visible crosses, bells and Christian symbols would not be as visible.

That effort to bring peace did not placate the Muslim terrorists. They blockaded the entrance to the Church and began to threaten the Christians in their home. Next, they demanded that the domes, so integral to Orthodox Church architecture, also be removed. Further meetings were held with the priests in an effort to reconcile with the Muslims and build bridges of peace which would allow the Christians to worship freely. The Muslims then burnt the Church.

We urge our global readership to pray for Coptic Orthodox Christians and for Catholic Christians in Egypt in this critical hour. We must join the growing global pressure on the new government in Egypt in the wake of all of the continuing persecution of Christians in Egypt. If this treatment of Christians is an indication of the attitude of the government of Egypt, the so called "Arab Spring" is a fraud. Authentic freedom recognizes the fundamental human rights of others.

The presence of Coptic Christians in this ancient and holy land is vital for many reasons. Their presence also precedes any Muslim claim. The heroic Christian witness of these Copts is an inspiration to us all. We must join with them in solidarity, pray for them regularly and join in their heroic struggle to protect their fundamental human right to Religious freedom.

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