Mar 11, 2017 / 04:02 pm
Despite being victims of harassment and violence, Egypt’s Coptic Christians have set a standard of forgiveness that everyone should imitate, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the U.K. has said.
Egypt’s Christians have been loyal, peaceful, and forgiving amid a recent spate of violence that has driven hundreds from their homes, Bishop Anba Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the U.K., told CNA in an interview.
“I take a huge pride in their witness and in their example,” he said.
“And I think that really has given a substantial example for all of us to follow. If they can live with this grace and graciousness in that volatile setting, then in our day-to-day lives and in our day-to-day struggles, we should be able to do the same.”
In the last three months around 40 Egyptian Christians have been killed, including in a bombing of St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo in December that killed 29.
Local Islamic State affiliates in Egypt’s Sinai region have been targeting Christians, intending to drive them out of the area. Attacks in al-Arish, a city in the Sinai region, have resulted in seven deaths, with hundreds of Christians leaving their homes.
Their needs are “provided for,” Bishop Angaelos said, from his conversations with local Coptic bishops, and the government is working to provide education for the children.
“Of course they want to go back,” he said of Sinai’s Christians. “No one ever wants to leave their home. Leaving one’s home is traumatic, and especially when this isn’t just leaving. They’ve left sometimes with the very bare necessities, to have left their whole lives behind.”
Yet, he added, “they won’t go back unless the problem has been resolved.” The perpetrators of the attacks are still in the region and could strike again.
Life in Egypt is not easy for its Coptic Christians, who trace their roots as a community to St. Mark, who first evangelized the area. Christians make up 15 percent of the Egypt’s population.
Yet in many ways, especially in the country’s rural areas, they are treated as second-class citizens as they are victims of discrimination or even violence, and their churches have been attacked. Yet the crimes have not been properly investigated and punished by local authorities. …
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