WCC condemns terror attacks on churches in Egypt, calls for end to violence

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Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

The World Council of Churches (WCC) condemns the vicious attacks on innocent worshippers in St George (Mar Girgis) Coptic church in Tanta and in front of St Mark´s church in Alexandria, Egypt.

At least 25 people were killed and more than 70 were wounded by an explosion at a Coptic Christian church in northern Egypt during a service to celebrate Palm Sunday, state television reported.

Several hours after the bombing in Tanta, another explosion hit in front of St Mark's church in Alexandria, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than 30, the health ministry said. Coptic Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Church, was inside the Cathedral, at the time of the explosion, presiding over Palm Sunday celebrations.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expresses profound sorrow and offered condolences and prayers for the families of the victims, for the wounded and for all the people of Egypt. He encourages Egyptians to stand firm and united through the many trials and tribulations that continue to threaten.

Tveit said, “In the face of this brutality, the human family, all people of faith and of good will, must stand together to recommit to respecting and caring for one another, to protecting one another, and to preventing such violence."

The World Council of Churches appeals to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, to religious leaders and to governments across the region “ to act swiftly and boldly to safeguard the fundamental religious rights of worshippers of all faiths, to ensure security in the face of violence and to guarantee justice for all people. Places of worship representing many different faith traditions have been targets of violence by extremists. “

Tveit said, “Government action must be matched by solidarity among Muslims, Christians and people of all faiths as they interact at the local level and together denounce any violent attack.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni Islamic authority in Egypt, issued a strongly worded statement condemning the attack.

"Coptic churches and homes have been set on fire, members of the Coptic minority have been physically attacked, and their property has been looted," rights group Amnesty International reported in March.

“In these difficult and challenging times”, Tveit added, “ the WCC calls particularly on religious and national leaders to support the people in Egypt as they affirm life and engage in countering negative trends through peaceful means, such as proactive engagement in dialogue and partnership between Christians and Muslims in Egypt and throughout the world.”

A bombing at Cairo's largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded 49 in December, many of them women and children, in the deadliest attack on Egypt's Christian minority in years. Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt's population of 91 million.

WCC general secretary mourns lost lives, calls for end to violence (WCC press release 11 December, 2016)

In wake of Cairo attack, return to Christian roots inspires hope and forgiveness (WCC press release 14 December, 2016)

WCC member churches in Egypt