Reposted from Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese. See here.
who stand for 80,000 Christian Egyptians in Australia are deeply
saddened by events and the tragic loss of life in Egypt on Wednesday. No
matter the difference in our political or religious stance, it is
unacceptable to see such bloodshed and the destruction of public
buildings and churches throughout Egypt," the leaders of the Coptic
Orthodox Church of Australia, Bishop Anba Suriel and Bishop Daniel said
in a joint statement this morning.
Egypt is under a
state of emergency and facing a humanitarian disaster with security
forces firing on protesters supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsi, a
member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Heavily armed police have opened fire
on men, women and children in Cairo and regional centres.
Morsi's short time in power was marred by continuing unrest and deadly street clashes as well as economic turmoil.
took to the streets at the end of June calling for his removal. This
was accomplished with a military coup in early July.
interim military government then ordered a crackdown on demonstrators
which has seen tear gas bombings and widespread sniper fire. The Muslim
Brotherhood retaliated by urging Egyptians to take to the streets to
denounce "the massacre". As a result nearly 50 Christian churches were
destroyed along with monasteries, schools and hospitals.
Foreign Affairs has said all Australians should leave Egypt as soon as
possible and have also declared the trouble-torn country a no-go zone
Australian Egyptians, many of whom have relatives in Cairo and
surrounding areas are mourning what appears to be the collapse of the
government and the violence. Some fear relatives may be among those
killed in the street battles.
Tomorrow, Saturday 17
August an ecumenical service will be held at the St Mary & St
Mina Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, Bexley at 1.30 pm to enable the
Australian public, Christians of all denominations and Sydney's Coptic
Christian community to pray as one for peace in Egypt.
Melbourne a similar service to pray for peace, mourn the dead, reflect
on the current atrocities in Egypt has also been organised, Bishop
Suriel says. Tomorrow's prayers for Egypt and for Egypt's persecuted
Coptic minority will be held at 9.00 am at Melbourne's St Paul's
Cathedral. As with the Sydney liturgy, the public, those of all
Christian denominations as well as Victoria's Coptic community are
While the Bishop Suriel and Bishop Daniel are
in deep mourning for the dead and thousands injured by the army and
security forces, they have also condemned the barbarity and ferocity of
attacks by the Muslim Brotherhood on Coptic Christians.
the world focussed its attention on the atrocities and bloody events
unfolding in Cairo on Wednesday, Islamic extremists went on a 12 hour
rampage in cities and towns across the country, simultaneously
destroying Christian churches and setting fire to monasteries, schools,
hospitals, Coptic homes, businesses, hotels and bookshops in cities.
Coptic Christians were also killed with many others assaulted and injured.
Nuns and priests were also attacked and a Christian pastor and his wife kidnapped.
was clearly a planned and systematic attack by Islamic terrorists
against the Copts and their churches in Egypt, and is unprecedented in
modern times," Bishop Suriel says.
Copts have suffered increasing persecution from Islamic extremists over
the past few years. Almost all of these have unchecked and been
perpetrated openly in front of law offices in the knowledge there would
be little danger of arrest or of being made accountable for these crimes
include rape and murder.
But this week's 12 hour
rampage against the Copts by Muslim Brotherhood supporters of outsted
President Mohammed Morsi in towns and cities across Egypt is
unparalleled in recent times both in the range and extent of the attacks
as well as the ferocity of the destruction.
unchecked violence against Egypt's Copts was further fuelled last week
when al-Qaeda's Egyptian leader, Ayman Zawahiri accused Coptic Pope
Tawadros II of conducting a "Crusade" to overthrow Morsi and the Muslim
Brotherhood, claiming spiritual leader of world's Copts intended to
create a Coptic state in Egypt.
As the oldest ethnic
group in Egypt, the Copts trace their history back to the days of the
Pharaohs and in 50 AD became some of the world's first Christians.
However making up just 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million predominantly
Muslim population, and under their teaching as Christians dedicated to
peace, the idea of Coptic overthrow should be greeted with incredulity.
Instead it is being used to further inflame Islamic extremism and incite
Portrayed by the Muslim Brotherhood
as the instigator in Morsi's overthrow, Pope Tawadros has received
numerous death threats and is at increasing risk of assassination.
Brotherhood has made serious threats against his life. Since 28 June,
His Holiness has been forced to live in seclusion at his Papal residence
in Cairo and unable to leave. Filthy language and graffiti has also
been scrawled across the outside walls of the residence and he is unable
to preside over Mass at the Cathedral for fears he will put the lives
of his congregation in danger," Bishop Suriel says.
Muslim Brotherhood's systematic 12 hour rampage destroyed more than 47 churches across Egypt yesterday
to Bishop Suriel and Bishop Daniel, it is important the West understand
that whatever the Muslim Brotherhood may claim, democracy is not a
priority and what is seldom reported in the media in Australia is the
fact that when in power Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-backed
Government not only began to create what they hoped would eventually be
an Islamic state, but appointed known terrorists to high-ranking
positions in the Government.
Adel El Khayat, a member
of the Islamic terrorist organization, Jamaar Islamiah and one of those
who was involved in the massacre of 67 tourists at Luxor in 1997 was
appointed by Morsi to become governor of Luxor.
was outrage as well as alarm throughout Egypt when the appointment was
announced and made Morsi and the Brotherhood's intentions clear," Bishop
However Morsi's removal from office was
sealed when 33 million signed a petition. This was many times the number
of those who had voted for the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president a
year before, and included the vast majority of Egypt's moderate Muslims
and the millions who had fought for democracy and freedom during the
so-called Arab spring.
The millions of Egyptians who
called for Morsi to stand down followed news last November that Morsi
wrote Sharia law into Egypt's constitution. There was further alarm
earlier this year when it became obvious he intended to impose Sunni
ideology on the entire population, and to eventually create an Islamic
state under strict Sharia law.
Founded 85 years ago in
Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was banned as a terrorist organisation in
Egypt throughout deposed President Hosni Mubarak's long rule. Today the
Muslim Brotherhood not only continues its strong links with terrorist
group Jemaah Islamiah but has also forged strong ties with al-Qaeda.
week al-Qaeda's distinctive black flag was hoisted above several of the
destroyed churches including the ruins of the Coptic Church of St
George in Sohag.
There are not only groups of Muslim
Brotherhood fanatics in Australia but there are now fears of retaliation
by these extremists against Australia's Coptic Christian community.
Father Shenouda Mansour from the St Antonius & St Paul Coptic
Orthodox Church, Guilford recalls the terror threats against four of
Sydney's Coptic churches in January 2011. The four Sydney churches were
among 60 Coptic churches targeted worldwide by an unnamed Islamic
extremist group. While the group was unnamed the threats were serious
with the churches needing special protection, bomb squads being
employed, police protection stepped up and celebrations for the Orthodox
Christmas on 2011 cut short.
persecution of Christians is intensifying worldwide. Australia and
Sydney are not immune," Fr Shenouda warns and says with Egypt's
extremists claiming His Holiness Tawadros II is responsible for Morsi's
overthrow Copts in Australia may be in danger.
this Holy Fast of St Mary we ask our Coptic communities across both
dioceses to lift up their hearts in prayer and fasting and that the Lord
Jesus Christ may bestow His peace upon Egypt and all who dwell
therein," Bishop Suriel and Bishop Daniel said in their joint statement
this morning and asked Christians everywhere to pray for peace and to
pray for his homeland.
The death toll is climbing every
hour in Egypt and although the official toll is said to be just over
500 the unofficial toll is claimed to be around 2000 with up to 10,000