Catholic World News

Grand imam condemns attacks on Coptic Christians, calls on Muslims to celebrate Christmas in solidarity

January 02, 2018

The Grand Imam of al-Azhar condemned recent terrorist attacks on Coptic Christians “in the strongest terms” and called upon Egypt’s Muslims to celebrate Christmas to show their solidarity with Christians.

The Coptic Orthodox Church (background) celebrates Christmas on January 7.

“All Egyptian people are urged to stand firm against this evil conspiracy” and to join “their Coptic brethren in celebrating the anniversary of Christ’s birth,” said Ahmed el-Tayeb, whom some Muslims regard as the highest Sunni Muslim authority.

On December 29, gunmen on a motorcycle attacked a Coptic Orthodox church in Helwan, a city of 640,000 near Cairo, leaving 10 dead, including security officers. Egyptian state media reported that one gunman was killed by security forces in a shootout, while the other was arrested.

That same day, two Coptic Christians were killed in an attack on their store in Helwan.Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, decried the “treachery and cowardliness of the evils that were the reason for this painful incident.”

“All condolences to their families and to the police, the church and to Egypt, which will still be strong and capable of defeating insensitive and dark and violent forces which have no conscience,” he added.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, condemned the attack, stating that “the sign that Christians can give to the world is that of a great faith, a choice of life lived in the mystery of Christ.” Referring to persecuted Coptic Christians, he said that “we can learn many things from these believers.”

“The government is doing everything possible to protect churches, but fear remains,” added Archbishop Bruno Musarò, the apostolic nuncio to Egypt.

Following the recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on December 31, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to Coptic Christians and prayed for the conversion of “all violent hearts.”

 
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