Originally published in The Christian Times
Bishop Anba Angaelos, the head of the Coptic Church in Britain, has recently told Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) militants who killed 100 Christians in Egypt in the past year that they are “loved by God” despite their horrible crimes.
“You are loved by God, your creator for he created you in his image and according to his likeness, and placed you on this earth for much greater things,” the bishop said in a message to the terrorists.
“You are loved by me and by millions like me because I, and we, believe in transformation,” he added.
Angaelos, who recently hosted the Coptic Pope Tawadros II, encouraged the terrorists to “look at our world through the eyes of God.”
He said he knows that his message may not be fully accepted, but “it may create at least a shadow of doubt in the minds of those intent on inflicting harm and pain.”
At least 117 Coptic Christians have been murdered in Egypt since December, with ISIS claiming responsibility for most of the killings.
ISIS took credit for the Palm Sunday bombings that resulted in the deaths of 45 Christians. The terrorists also warned at the time that they are planning to carry out more attacks. “The Crusaders and their apostate followers must be aware that the bill between us and them is very large, and they will be paying it like a river of blood from their sons, if God is willing,” the jihadists stated at the time, as reported by The Christian Post.
In May 29 people were killed, including a 2-year-old girl, when masked gunmen ambushed Christians who were traveling on two buses and a small truck on a road leading to the monastery in Minya. A survivor of the attack recounted that the extremists forced women to get off the bus and ordered them to renounce their faith in Christ, but they refused.
Experts believe that attacks on Christians were part of the extremists’ mission to unravel the entire nation.
Sinai Province, the name of the ISIS affiliate in Egypt, is seeking to implement its strict interpretation of Islam in the north African country.
In a recent interview with Japanese television network Asahi, Tawadros called for prayers for those who carry out terror attacks on churches and murder Christians. He expressed his confidence in the power of prayer, “which can change hearts,” and said that “the Coptic Church has prayed for all,” even for “the evil people” who persecute Christians.
Churches in Egypt have canceled their plans for various religious activities such as pilgrimages, school camps for young people, or crowded spiritual meetings, on the advice of police and civilian authorities following the series of targeted attacks by jihadists against Coptic Christians.
Some places of worship have expressed their willingness to reopen their doors to visitors and pilgrims, but Church authorities continue to advise caution.