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    » 01/08/2010, 00.00


    Coptic bishop real target in Christmas attack in Egypt

    Mgr Kirollos had received several threats in preceding days. Crowd at the funeral of the six Christians killed throw rocks at police who respond with tear gas. Security forces are accused of negligence.
    Cairo (AsiaNews) –  Coptic bishop Anba Kirollos was the real target in last Wednesday's drive-by shooting against a Coptic church in Nag Hammadi. Meanwhile, police has found one of the car used by gunmen in the attack on the Eve of Orthodox Christmas, but thousands of Christians attending the victims' funeral slammed law enforcement and pelted police cars with rocks.

    "I was the one intended to be assassinated by this plot, and when it failed the criminals turned round and started shooting and finishing off the young ones," Bishop Kirollos of the Nag Hammagi Diocese told Middle East Christian Association (MECA) today in an interview.

    In the evening of 6 January, at the end of the Christmas vigil, at least three gunmen began spraying bullets from two cars against people filing out of the church.

    A security guard and six Christians were killed, mostly young men in their early 20s. A young couple and a 14-years-old boy were also among the dead.

    Bishop Kirollos said there had been threats in the days leading up to the Christmas Eve service, a reason he decided to start Mass an hour earlier than normal. "For days, I had expected something to happen on Christmas Eve," he said.

    The bishop left the church minutes before the attack. "A driving car swerved near me, so I took the back door," he said. "By the time I shook hands with someone at the gate, I heard the mayhem, lots of machine-gun shots."

    For the prelate, Egyptian security forces were negligent. Even though that they had been warned of the tense situation, they did not provide adequate protection to the church.

    Tensions between Christians and Muslims in Nag Hammadi have been rising in the past few months after a young Christian man was accused of raping a 12-year-old Muslim girl.

    For Copts, the rape charges are a pretext, and point to the fact that police has not arrested the accused. However, because of the accusations, which were made in November, Christians have been attacked in Farshout, Abu Shusha, Aerky and Alshokeify, which are part of the parish of Nag Hammadi.

    According to Egypt's official news agency, police have recovered one of the two cars used in the drive-by shooting and identified the three perpetrators.

    However, during yesterday's funeral, attended by at least 5,000 faithful, police had to use tear gas to stop people from stoning them.  Some ambulances were also attacked.

    "People are angry and worried," Bishop Kirollos said. Some Copts point out that for years TV, radio and newspapers have preached intolerance towards  Copts.

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    See also

    07/01/2010 EGYPT
    Nag Hamadi: armed commando attacks Coptic Christians, seven dead and three wounded
    The incident happened at midnight last night, after Christmas Mass which the Coptic Church celebrates Christmas on January 7. The attack was revenge for an alleged case of sexual assault against a twelve year old, which occurred last November.

    27/04/2006 IRAQ
    Solidarity with Italy as many others die each day in Iraq, says Chaldean Patriarch
    In the wake of the recent attack in Nasiriyah, Patriarch Delly calls on people to pray for peace and remember all the victims, whatever their nationality, who die in Iraq's 'chaos'.

    01/01/2011 EGYPT-ISLAM
    Massacre of Christians in Alexandria. Car bomb explodes outside a church
    The attack was carried out shortly after midnight on January 1, 2011, as mass was ending. The death toll is currently of 21 dead and 43 wounded. A possible connection with threats from Al Qaeda after the massacre of the Syriac Catholic cathedral in Baghdad.

    15/03/2010 ISLAM - EGYPT
    Muslim leader condemns violence against Christians in Egypt
    Asghar Ali Engineer points the finger at "some imams" who foment hatred and sectarian divisions. Analyzing the Koran and the life of Muhammad, he emphasizes the defence of human life and respect for minorities. He adds: Muslims must reflect "on their failures," and return to "values enshrined in the Koran."

    13/03/2010 EGYPT
    Crowd of 3 thousand Muslims attack a Coptic Christian community, 25 injured
    Faithful were gathered in prayer when attack occurred. There were four priests, one deacon and 400 parishioners in the building, women and children also targeted. Fundamentalists fury, egged on by the imam, unleashed by the rumour that the Christians are building a new church. In reality it is a hospice.

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