It was not the first time in our modern history that churches were the targets of attack, but never so many in such a short time. In less than a week after the dispersal of the sit-ins of Rabaa al-Adawiya in Nasr City and Nahda Square in Giza, sixty churches were violently attacked. The methods used also varied from past attacks.
For the first time, churches and Christian-owned properties were attacked simultaneously. This also coincided with criminal acts of arson, assault with weapons, demolition of public and private property, and other acts of sabotage directed against all Egyptians by the MB, after their refusal to accept the will of some thirty million Egyptians who called for Mors’s resignation.
After Morsi broke laws, alienated the media and the police, violated the constitution, especially the separation of powers, the Egyptian people decided that the legitimacy of their will should prevail over the legitimacy of the ballot box. Morsi then clashed with the military, when they decided to end the conflict and reinstate legitimacy. The army turned over the governance of the country to the Constitutional Court, a civilian government was appointed, and a specific roadmap was approved by the representatives of political factions and social movements.
But the MB could not forgive Egypt’s Christians for exercising their legitimate right as Egyptian citizens to express their opinion and join the overwhelming majority who rejected the MB’s flaunting of hard-won freedoms and the independence of state institutions. As part of their plan for turmoil and sedition, the MB took barbaric revenge by abusing the human rights, the sanctity, and the property of the Copts of Egypt.
The reaction of our fellow Christians was measured. The words of Pope Tawadros II reflected his deep wisdom and faith as he said: “the hand of evil burns, kills and destroys, but the hand of God, the strongest and greatest, protects and builds, and the eyes of God are on Egypt.”.
The Pope also emphasized a key principle the Coptic Orthodox Church adopted under the wise guidance of the late Pope Shenouda III, that of rejecting foreign interference in our domestic affairs.
The Council of Egyptian Churches condemned the continued attacks on churches and Christian property, and urged the armed forces to support the police in their efforts to restore security and stability. The Council, which includes representatives from the Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, Evangelical, Episcopal and Greek Orthodox churches, also rejected foreign interference in domestic affairs. In a statement issued on Saturday evening the Council: “affirmed the right of citizens to defend themselves against terrorism.”
Our stance as Muslims towards attacks on churches and assaults on our Christian brothers is clear, as it is dictated by the principles of tolerance and moderation emphasized in verses of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith (the Prophet’s sayings). These instruct us to love and respect Christians as they are an integral part of the family of followers of the monotheistic religions.
Not long ago Pope Tawadros II honored me with the following words: “I want you to continue working with me as you did with His Holiness Pope Shenouda III.”
That day, I promised myself to redouble my efforts to serve my religion which taught me to love the other, and to serve my country for which the blood of Muslims and Christians mixed on the ground in Sinai as we liberated our homeland, by continuing to convey a message of unity and respect between us.
I call on those responsible for the religion textbooks used in classrooms to highlight these religious and moral principles and to make them part of Egypt’s education philosophy. In this way the school system can contribute to the important task of encouraging our youth to be good citizens.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to Egypt’s army who has patriotically begun re-building our churches to erase the effects of aggression, criminality, terrorism and ignorance.
translated from Al Youm 7