President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi last Thursday 21 July commented on the recent wave of attacks against the Copts in Egypt [http://en.wataninet.com/coptic-affairs-coptic-affairs/sectarian/the-copts-painand-bitterness/16916/] by saying that he trusted Egyptians would be vigilant to attempts to divide the nation. “In this motherland,” he said, “there is no Muslim or Christian, only Egyptians who are all one before the law in rights and duties.” He said Egypt is a country where the rule of law prevails; “The law applies to all,” he said, “starting with the president of the republic. No one should ever doubt this.”
Judging from comments on social media, however, many Copts are not so sure.
Pope’s evening of prayer
Responding to the severe Coptic pain at the wave of violence against them that began on 24 May and is as yet ongoing Pope Tawadros II gave up his weekly Wednesday evening public sermon and decided instead to hold an evening of prayer for Egypt and the Copts.
The prayer evening was held at the 4th-century Muallaqqa, literally ‘Hanging’ Church in Old Cairo, the historic Coptic quarter of Cairo. The church is among the oldest in Egypt and earned its nickname owing to its being built over a gatehouse of the 2nd-century Roman fort known as Babylon Fort. It was the seat of Coptic popes from the 7th to the 13th century.
Copts could not fail to see the symbolism carried in the choice of site for the prayer evening. Even though the Hanging church had been chosen beforehand to host Pope Tawadros’s Wednesday 20 July sermon, that choice was later regarded by the Coptic public as highly auspicious. It is no secret that the church which is dedicated to the Holy Virgin, stood witness to centuries of persecution of the Copts in Egypt, and was also the site where many miracles were worked.
Pope Tawadros said he was closely following up on the recent events in which the Copts were victimised. He said he was in contact with the Egypt’s top officials; he had been talking in talks with the prime Minister the day before. “We hold prayers today for every martyr or injured; for us to regain our authentic Egyptian spirit.”
The prayers lasted for a full two hours during which Pope and congregation were united in prayer. Pope Tawadros prayed for the Lord to forgive all sins, lift all suffering, and to fill us with His peace and love towards all. “Lord, save our land, forgive whoever hurt us in the villages and towns, in the length and breadth of the land,” he said. He prayed for those who lost their lives, the injured, and those who lost loved ones; also for those who lost property or belongings, and for the attackers and offenders, that the Lord should help us love them and that His peace should finally prevail.
22 July 2016