Egyptian Christians, Muslims closer together in wake of martyrdoms in Libya, bishop says
March 20, 2015
The 21 Coptic Christians who were slaughtered by the Islamic State in Libya are “true martyrs” and will be recognized as such, an Egyptian bishop has said.
Bishop Kyrillos William Samaan of Assiut told Aid to the Church in Need that the Coptic Catholic Church will follow the Coptic Orthodox Church in recognizing the 21 martyrs. “Pope Francis himself recognised them as martyrs,” he observed. “They were killed because they were Christians.”
Bishop Samaan said that Egyptian Christians have been moved by the response of the government to the killings. Egypt’s President el Sisi visited the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros to express his personal condolences; the prime minister visited the town from which most of the slain Copts came. The governor of that province has announced plans to build a church in their honor, and their village has been renamed “Village of the Martyrs.”
“Egypt is on the path to renewal,” the bishop said, commenting on these gestures. He voiced his hope that the government’s expressions of sympathy would overshadow the inflammatory rhetoric of militant Muslims. In general, he said, “the murders have brought Muslims and Christians closer together. The prevailing sentiment is that Egyptians have been attacked.”
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