Originally published in Christian Today
As Coptic Christians continue to flee for their lives from the threat of ISIS in Egypt, the head of the Coptic Church in the UK has called out the ‘horrific attacks’ that have claimed 40 Christians in the last three months.
His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom today released a statement addressing the ongoing crisis.
Forty Coptic Christians murdered over three months
He said: ‘In the past three months alone 40 Coptic Christians have been murdered in targeted attacks in Egypt. From the terrorist bombing on St Peter’s Coptic Church in Cairo that claimed the lives of twenty nine mainly women and children, to the murders of individuals across the country since, the one common denominator is that these innocent children, women and men have had their lives brutally and tragically ended for no other reason except that they are Christians.
‘Incitement by terrorist groups that calls for the killing of Christians in Egypt has spiralled over the past weeks to the extent that lists of churches and individuals have now been released as desirable targets.’
Attacks have escalated in recent weeks following the release of an ISIS video which incited fellow jihadists to target the ‘infidel’ Christian community. Hundreds have now fled from El-Arish in Sinai, Northern Egypt, and as His Grace told Christian Today yesterday, specific lists of Christian targets have been circulated among militants.
‘These horrific attacks have gone largely unnoticed by the international community, but Copts continue to suffer tragic violations daily. The attacks against them are anti-Christian and religiously-motivated, demonstrated in many cases by the circulation of flyers within villages urging Christians to ‘leave or die’.
‘Similar events have tragically occurred far too often over the past years, and there is unfortunately little deterrent to prevent them from reoccurring.’
Too easy for atrocities to become incidents
Angaelos added: ‘In our fast moving world that is filled with so much news of tragedy, war and death, it is all too easy for atrocities to become ‘incidents’, and for individuals suffering them to become mere statistics, very quickly pushed aside by the next item of news.
‘In the eyes of the perpetrators they are a viable target, and in the eyes of the world they become a regrettable phenomenon; yet what is actually left behind is traumatised individuals, families and communities that have lost loved ones, living the reality of themselves being targeted.’
The bishop highlighted the resilience of the community that has remained steadfast, and forgiving to its persecutors, despite constant opposition. He said: ‘After the destruction of over 100 places of Christian ministry and worship in August 2013, the bombing of various churches across the country in the last decade, and the targeted killing of clergy, families, women and children, purely for their Faith, the community and individuals within it remain non-violent and resilient.’
Coptic Christians represent about 10% of Egypt’s majority Muslim population. Angaelos added that Christians have not been the only target, noting that ‘scores of Egyptian civilians, soldiers and police officers have lost their lives as a result of this wave of terrorist activity’.
The prelate concluded: ‘We pray for those who perpetrate these crimes, that they once again become conscious of the true value of every life that appears to be dispensable in their eyes’.