Defending our Christians in Libya


In yet another unspeakable atrocity, Libyan extremists killed seven Egyptian Christians after kidnapping them from their homes in a Libyan village on February 23.

This horrific crime impels me to reiterate that we need to do more to protect the church and the Christians in Egypt.

We need to make absolutely sure that no further assaults are carried out against them by extremist groups. Nearly one hundred churches have come under attack in Egypt. Many Christians have been assaulted or had their property vandalized.

The Egyptian Church and the Christians have prudently refrained from retaliation. Instead, their silence was a slap on the face of the cowardly assailants whose aim is to drive a wedge between Muslims and Christians in this country.

“We will not fall into this trap”, Pope Tawadros II said. Along with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the pope will always be a voice for reason and unity in this country.

Egypt is greatly indebted to its Christians. One example is Dr. Maged Riad, a prominent lawyer who lived in the US for many years. Riad created a lobby to defend Egyptian policies and denounce extremism. He helped organize demonstrations at the UN headquarters in New York to support the Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmi during his latest speech.

Riad was a friend of the late Pope Shenouda III. I will be honoured to participate in his New York memorial service on March 17th by having a message read in my name by Dr Maged Riad. Maged and I had a great regard for the late pope, whom I described during the memorial in Cairo as a “genius of love”.

I would like to see masses of people take to the Egyptian streets in defense of the rights of the Christian community. We need to speak out for our Christian brothers. We need to say it out loud: “Protecting Christians is a responsibility of the Muslim majority.”

Translated from Al Ahram

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