Pray that Egypt will be a 'safe place'

Img_4014 Posted by David Gough on Mon, 16 May 2011 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

It was with great sadness that the Most Rev Dr Mouneer Anis, Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt, issued a statement about the situation in Imbaba, Giza – a densely populated area just a few kilometres south of Cairo. At the beginning of the week there were clashes in Imbaba between Christians and Muslims. The result of these clashes was the death of 12 people, with more than 232 injured, and the burning of many homes, cars and shops, as well as the Church of St Mary which suffered a great deal of fire damage.

The Bishop reports that this outbreak of clashes and violence was due to a rumour that a Christian woman who converted to Islam was being hidden by a Coptic Orthodox Church. This prompted a group of Muslim fundamentalists to gather around the church who wanted to enter the church to search for this woman. Young people from the church prevented them from entering, fearing that they may burn the church.

The situation escalated and attempts by moderate Muslims and church priests to calm the demonstrators on both sides failed. When shots were fired and Molotov cocktails thrown, the army became involved and things quieted down. However, the Bishop reports that the following day extremist Muslims came and burned several blocks of flats and shops owned by Christians.

Bishop Mouneer is part of Beth El-Eila (House of the Family), a new group which gathers together the heads of Christian denominations, several Muslim leaders and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. An emergency meeting was called by the Grand Imam on Tuesday. He reports,

“We all agreed that this incident should be taken very seriously by the authorities, and that those who caused these destructive clashes must be brought to justice. It is worth mentioning that previous clashes between Christians and Muslims have always been solved through community reconciliation. The meeting also appointed a committee to go and visit Imbaba, and report back. I was one of this committee, and we spent eight hours today [Tuesday] visiting and listening…

“The damage we saw was indescribable. The area looked as if it was a battlefield, because of the many tanks and soldiers. I was moved by the story of one of the guards of St Mary’s Church, who refused to denounce Jesus Christ… “

In closing, the Bishop makes an appeal for prayers for Egypt,
“This is at least the fifth tragic incident since the first day of the year, when a church was bombed in Alexandria. There is no doubt that inter-religious tension is growing in Egypt, and this needs a real strategic plan to combat it. This is what we are trying to do through Beth El-Eila.

“I very much appreciate your prayers so that the Lord may transform this difficult situation. We all hope the Egypt will be a safe place for all Egyptians.”

The Bishop said, “I’m extremely thankful for the prayers of all those in Ireland and especially for the support shown by our Partners CMS Ireland and those who pray regularly for the work of the Diocese of Egypt.”

Please join with us in praying for the tensions in Egypt. Give thanks for the work of the Beth El-Eila Group, and pray that reconciliation efforts would be fruitful, bringing lasting peace and stability.

If you would like more information about CMS Ireland’s link with Egypt, “click here”: http://www.cmsireland.org/work/countries/egypt.

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