Sunday 7 April 2013

Press Release: Statement by HG Bishop Angaelos following the attack on the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Cairo on 7 April 2013

For immediate use
7 April 2013

The Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom following the attack on the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Cairo on 7 April 2013

While the Arab Spring and uprising in Tahrir Square were expected to bring about a fresh start for Egypt, the only true difference is that the situation seems to have become progressively worse for many millions of Egyptian citizens. 

Today, Egypt saw an unprecedented attack on the See of the Pope of Alexandria, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Cairo, by mobs, with the police arriving far too late and doing very little, if anything at all, to prevent them. 

Reports have indicated that Egypt’s president, Mr Mohammed Morsi had made telephone contact with the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, saying that ‘the protection of the lives of all Egyptians, Muslims and Christian, is the responsibility of the state.’ It is now clear that the state needs to take that responsibility far more seriously.

We have seen escalating and increasing attacks on Christians, Christian communities, churches and now the Patriarchate during this past period of expected improvement, and so questions must be asked. What are the authorities waiting for? More bloodshed, violence, hostility, alienation, marginalisation, division, or just more anarchy? It is clear that without intentional, pragmatic and proactive leadership by the state, and the effective law enforcement by its security forces, that this pattern of increasing violence and lawlessness is the only possible outcome. With these incidents being dealt with in this way, we see a growth of expectation of impunity and thus encouragement by some to continue breaking the law while assured that they will not be held accountable. 

Last year, the streets of Abasseya around the Grand Cathedral of St Mark saw many thousands of Egyptians, Christians and Muslims alike, standing to pay their respects at the departure of our late Pope Shenouda III. Now those streets see an attack on that same Cathedral. So what has changed, and how can we return to the collective pride, passion and faithfulness of Egypt that we saw in Tahrir Square in 2011 with the thousands flying Egyptian flags, and calling for a unified state for all Egyptians? 

We pray for Egypt because we believe that Egypt, as blessed by God, still has a chance. This chance however, hinges on faithful, pragmatic and visionary leadership, otherwise these coming months and years will only introduce more heartache, bloodshed and division that will inevitably lead to the decline of the nation, that was once the birthplace of civilisation, and its individual members.