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Bishops’ call to prayer for Egypt: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 21 2011 p 6. October 26, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, House of Lords, Persecution.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for an investigation into the killing of 24 Christians by the Egyptian security services during a pro-democracy march in Cairo last week.

On 18 October Dr Rowan Williams asked the Foreign Office to press the Egyptian government to ensure the review would be impartial and there would be a “proper distance of that inquiry from the military establishment.”

Government indifference was exacerbating the crisis, he said, telling the peers there had been a “prolonged failure by the security forces to guarantee the safety of Christian personnel and property” in Egypt.

Foreign Office minister Lord Howell responded that Dr Williams was correct as there was “recent evidence of a rising tide of extremism in the clashes that have occurred,” adding that “I can only reassure you that the dialogue continues, the pressure is on.”

In a letter sent to The Church of England Newspaper and other supporters on 11 October, the Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Anis said Christians held a three-day fast last week in solidarity with those killed on 9 October 2011.

“It is now clear,” Dr Anis wrote, “that the demonstrations started by the Christians were peaceful.

“Some Muslims joined in the demonstrations in support of the rights of the Christians. But, unidentified persons were able to infiltrate the demonstrations aiming to make these demonstrations violent. They gave a false impression that Christians were violent and they were the ones who attacked the army soldiers. In response, the army fired against the demonstrators and used their tanks to run over some of them. The price was the death of 24 Christians and the injury of over 318 Christians and Muslims.”

The Bishop said the demonstrations began as a “reaction to the burning of the newly built church of Mari Nab” near Aswan by “Muslim fundamentalists” who set fire to the church “after Friday prayers.” The police declined to stop the arson attacks, he said.

Egypt’s Christian and Muslim leaders held an emergency meeting last week under the presidency of the Grand Imam of the al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el Tayyib, and adopted a joint statement condemning the violence.

The interfaith council, the Beit el Aila – House of the Family – called for the government to deal with the root causes of “sectarian incidents”, and not seek “superficial and temporary reconciliations.”

They also asked the government fulfil its promise to permit the building of churches and to “investigate thoroughly these incidents and to bring to justice those criminals who were involved directly or indirectly … delay will only lead to a repetition of these incidents.”

Dr Anis added he was heartened by the goodwill of many Muslims towards Egypt’s Christians and thanked those who spoke out against their oppression. He asked Anglicans across their communion to pray for Egypt – for Christians and Muslims – and for peace.

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