20 October 2017
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas




  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia


  • » 04/14/2017, 19.30

    EGYPT

    Despite concerns, churches are full, says Egyptian Catholic Church spokesman



    Fr Rafic Greiche describes the situation in the country as "calm". Christians "are not intimidated" and flock to church. Liturgical services continue, but other events have been cancelled. The victims are remembered. Western Christians are asked to visit as pilgrims and tourists. The attacker in Tanta has been identified. Al-Sisi reiterates commitment to the anti-terror struggle.

    Cairo (AsiaNews) – Holy Week in Egypt has been marred by attacks against the country’s Coptic community. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the bombings in Tanta and Alexandria. Some 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

    Yet, the “situation is calm for now. People are flocking to the churches, and won’t let themselves be intimidated. There is no climate of fear but there is widespread concern,” said Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church.

    Indeed, "Christians are not intimidated,” he noted. “Even so, we decided to cancel the activities associated with the celebrations. “Liturgical functions and services for Easter will go ahead as planned. Other public events and activities, like receptions for lawmakers and government officials, have been cancelled out of respect for the victims.”

    Armed police guard the entrance to St Mark's Church with an imposing security ring to filter people trying to enter the building for Mass, with only regular worshippers allowed in.

    In every city, churches and other Christian places of worship are closely guarded. However, some diocese, especially in Upper Egypt, have cancelled celebrations. Services will be limited to "simple prayers”, organisers said. A mix of fear, pain, grief and distrust of the authorities prevails in many communities.

    Yesterday evening, the Egyptian Interior Ministry announced that it had identified the suicide bomber who blew himself up last Sunday at the Mar Girgis Church in Tanta, northern Egypt, killing 28 people.

    The suicide bomber’s name is Mamdouh Mohamed Amin Baghdadi, born in 1977 in Qena, Upper Egypt where he lived. He was a "cadre" in a terrorist cell; three other members were arrested.

    The authorities had already identified the suicide bomber who blew himself up in Alexandria’s St Mark’s Cathedral, seat of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, killing 17. Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II was in the building at the time. This is the second attempt at his life after the Cairo attack in December.

    During his visit to Coptic Pope Tawadros II on Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged to hunt down the perpetrators of last week's twin church bombings, his office said.

    Sisi said that "state agencies were exerting their utmost effort to chase down the perpetrators of those vile acts". In the meantime, he declared a three-month state of emergency and called on the army to protect "vital" installations around the country.

    "Christians are not scared,” Fr Greiche said. “We are accustomed to violence, and we live with our martyrs. There is no fear, but some concern about what will happen if things escalate.”

    In fact, for many, the latest attacks have revived the idea of emigration, especially "among the more affluent Christians", middle and upper class families who can "afford a different choice."

    The Egyptian government "is doing its best," said the Catholic Church spokesman, "but guarding churches and places of worship with soldiers and police is not enough. We must do more to prevent terrorism, and, in this context, intelligence work is crucial. Only then will we prevent new attacks."

    In addition to Easter, Egypt’s Christian communities are also concerned about the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Egypt on 28-29 April, which the Vatican confirmed in spite of the attacks.

    Organisers are vetting security measures for the pope and the faithful. “People are worried, but still happy that they will be able to see the pope close-up".

    "At this time, we are preparing to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord,” Fr Greiche said. “For this reason, we must maintain a strong faith. After a dark period, there is always new life. We should not be afraid but always be ready."

    "For the faithful, it is natural to be stronger than fear,” he added. “Christians in the West and in the rest of world should come to Egypt, as pilgrims and tourists, to support us and make us feel your closeness." (DS)

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version










    See also



    Editor's choices

    MYANMAR
    Rohingya not only group persecuted in Myanmar, Christian minorities are as well



    Ethnic Kachin, Chin and Naga endure suffering. Religious discrimination is in some cases even institutionalised. Christians are seen as the expression of a foreign religion, outside of the nationalist view. For years the military regime has applied stringent discriminatory measures.


    VATICAN - ASIA
    The world is in urgent need of the Church's mission

    Bernardo Cervellera

    October is a month devoted to awakening the call to mission among Christians. In the world there is indifference or enmity towards God and the Church. Religions are considered the source of all wars. Christianity is the encounter with a Person who changes the life of the believer and places him at the service of the wounds of the world, torn by frustrations and fratricidal wars. The example of the Patriarch of Baghdad and of the President of South Korea.


    AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!

    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.
     

    SUBSCRIBE NOW

    News feed

    Canale RSScanale RSS 

    Add to Google









     

    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®