"A very difficult day for the whole of Egypt" says Bishop Mouneer

Posted by Sarah Caughey on Wed, 12 Oct 2011 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

“Ya Rab, Ya Rab…” (“O Lord, O Lord!) was the thunderous shout of ten thousand Christians gathered at St Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo for the funeral of 24 Christians who died last Sunday (9th October) in Cairo. These cries shook my heart, and all the bishops who were standing beside me at the funeral. I found myself crying with the crowds the same words, “O Lord, O Lord!”.

The cry of “O Lord” was not just a word or a cry, but it contained many other unsaid words and meanings. It was as if the crowd who cried out wanted to say:

“O Lord” Look at our pain and suffering.
“O Lord” Look at this bloodshed.
“O Lord” Look at our restricted freedom.
“O Lord” Look at the burning of churches.
“O Lord” Look how ware unjustly charged while we are victims.
“O Lord” Come and rescue us!

Today the Christians in Egypt started a fast for three days as a response to the Coptic Orthodox House of Bishops which met after last Sunday. (Editor: See below for an answer to prayer!)

I found myself crying with the crowds the same words, “O Lord, O Lord!”.

It is now clear that the demonstrations started by the Christians were peaceful. Some Muslims joined the demonstrations in support of the rights of Christians. But unidentified persons were able to infiltrate the demonstrations aiming to make these demonstrations violent. This gave a false impression that Christians were violent and were the ones who attacked the army soldiers. In response, the army fired against the demonstrators and used their tanks to run over some of them. The price was the death of 24 Christians and the injury of over 318 Christians and Muslims.

These demonstrations happened as a reaction to the burning of the newly built church of Mari Nab near Aswan. Muslim fundamentalists burned the church after Friday prayers. The security police and local authorities did not move to guard the church which had been built according to an official building licence from the Province of Aswan.

In the midst of this painful time, it is encouraging to see many Muslims who have denounced the use of violence against the demonstrators and who fully support the need to treat Christians without discrimination…

These incidents have been repeated since the beginning of the year when the bombing in Alexandria resulted in the killing of 24 Christian worshippers on New Year’s Eve. This was followed by the demolishing and burning of other churches. Four months ago, the government promised to pass a new law for building churches instead of the current one which severely restricts the building of churches. But, we are still waiting.

In the shadow of all these painful incidents, the House of the Family (Beit el Aila) met under the chairmanship of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed el Tayyib. Heads of Christian denominations as well as Muslim leaders and thinkers attended the meeting. We made several recommendations including:

- The necessity to deal with the original causes of these sectarian incidents, not just seek superficial and temporary reconciliations. Such temporary reconciliations are behind the repetition of these incidents.

- The importance of issuing a new law for building churches that can be applied firmly to avod such bloody incidents in the future. For years, the government has promised to produce such a law.

- It is important for the government to investigate thoroughly these incidents, and bring justice to those the criminals who were involved directly and indirectly. The delay of such investigations will only result in the repetition of such incidents.

In the midst of this painful time, it is encouraging to see many Muslims who have denounced the use of violence against the demonstrators and who fully support the need to treat Christians without discrimination as full citizens of Egypt.

We here in the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt have decided to fast for three days with the Coptic Orthodox. We are also holding a special prayer service every day at midday at All Saints Cathedral so that the Lord may intervene with a mighty hand to protect his church in this difficult time.

Please join with Bishop Mouneer and others in praying for Egypt at midday.

I do appreciate your prayers for:

- All the people of Egypt: Christian and Muslim

- The investigations of this incident – that they be fair and just.

- Government leaders – that the Government would take seriously the recommendations of the House of the Family and work on them.

May the Lord bless you!

Acts 4:24-31

+Mouneer Egypt

UPDATE: AN ANSWER TO PRAYER!

After three days of prayer and fasting, the Most Rev Dr Mouneer Anis shares an answer to prayer and give thanks for our Lord who can move mountains!

Today I have seen a miracle. It was very much like moving a mountain. I went this morning to visit the Grand Imam of Al Azhar. I arrived a bit early and I waited at the office of his advisor. While waiting I saw a bearded Muslim man in his 50’s who came to present a proposal to the Grand Imam’s advisor. He said, “I am a Muslim and I live between Tahrir Square and Maspero. I came here to witness that the spirit of hatred against Christians has increased a lot. On the night of 9th October when the killing of Christians took place, I met a group of people who were searching for Christians to beat after they heard that Christians attacked the army.”

The man added, “Hatred is on the rise and I came to witness for this.” He proposed then that Al Azhar must respond to all the thoughts that promote this hatred towards Christians. He also said that, “I and a group of Muslim writers and artists are happy to devote our time in order to combat this hatred against Christians. We have a list of books we must respond to and correct the false teachings towards Christians.”

The advisor of the Grand Imam said to him, “This is a very good idea. Why don’t we have the idea written and I will present it to the Grand Imam.”

I did not believe my ears! A group of Muslims are disturbed by hatred of Christians and want to combat this hatred!

To me, this was a miracle.

Who moved the heart of these people? Certainly it is God who hears our prayers!

Let us continue to pray!

+Mouneer Egypt

For more information about Egypt, please click here.

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