Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Condolences for Al-Qiddisin Church in Alexandria and Copts everywhere

I write to express my profound sorrow beyond words, and to extend condolences to the families and friends of the 22 martyrs killed and to more than 90 people who were wounded in the bomb attack on Al-Qiddisin (The Saints) church in Alexandria on New Year's Eve.

I also extend my condolences to the whole Coptic people, and the Coptic church and its leaders, including a community of over 100,000 Copts living in Australia.  As an Australian Anglican priest, I wish particularly to express my support for Pope Shenouda at this time, and also for  Bishop Suriel of the Diocese of Melbourne and Affiliated Regions, and for Father Tadros, Vicar General of the Diocese of Sydney and Affiliated Regions.  These leaders carry a weighty burden of care for their people, as they prepare to lead them in celebrations of Christmas this Friday, January 7, 2011.

So many have been deeply affected by this shocking atrocity, which targeted peaceful worshipers in a way intended to exact maximum casualties. People came to pray, seeking peace for the new year ahead, and were instead subjected to an inhuman act of cruelty and hatred.

The Alexandria attack is the worst in recent memory of a series of assaults on Copts and their places of worship.  Indeed the year of 2010 began with a shooting massacre of Christian worshipers outside Nag Hammadi Cathedral on January 7, the occasion of the Coptic Christmas Eve.

Although this latest attack has been denounced by Egyptian authorities, it has taken place in a climate of growing official discrimination against the Christians of Egypt, including against converts to Christianity.

I deplore the lack of freedom of religion in Egypt,  the authorities' apparent unwillingness to protect the indigenous Christian minority and its places of worship, and the lamentable track record of the Egyptian justice system in securing criminal convictions against those who have targeted Christians for attack.  I call upon Egypt's leaders to respond to these abuses honestly and with integrity, without making excuses or indulging in denial.

I also deplore the complicity of some Middle Eastern community leaders and media organizations, who have inflamed a climate of incitement against indigenous Christians, one of the worst recent examples being the interview of Mohammad Salim Al Awa by Ahmed Mansour on Al-Jazeera TV, which went to air on September 115, 2010.  This interview made repeated outrageous and false allegations against the Coptic church and its leaders, which have subsequently even been invoked by Al-Qa'ida in connection with deadly attacks on Christians elsewhere in the Middle East.

The Copts are the direct continuation of the indigenous Christian community in Egypt, founded by St Mark.  They have maintained a faithful witness to Apostolic Faith in Christ through two thousand years of trials and persecution.  I am confident that this latest attack will not shake their will to maintain this witness in their ancestral land.  In the spirit of Matthew 10:42, I call upon Christians throughout the world to offer compassion, practical support and prayers for the Copts, which they sorely need at this most painful of times.


  1. Thank you so much Mark! Your strong stand for the the truth and justice brings healing to our wounds, and comfort to our souls in this difficult time.
    Rich Blessings!

  2. Dear Rev. Mark Durie

    I have received your comforting message regarding the heinous attack on Copts of Alexandria, Egypt, through an Australian Coptic lady, with great appreciation and admiration. It is a message of meaningful condolences because it explained eloquently the circumstances of this incident and the whole sufferings of the Coptic people at the hands of the Egyptian state itself. Indeed, violent attacks against the peaceful Coptic indiginous minority in an environment of hatered and instigation against them, which have been going on for the past 30 years with impunity, constitute a kind of undeclared religious war against Christianity in Egypt. It seems, however, as the persecution of Copts is heightening they get stronger in their belief and Christian witness. Coptic history attests to this spiritual behaviour, and the current behaviour seems to be a continuation of a Coptic tradition.

    Again, many sincere thanks for your moral support to the Copts of Egypt and particularly for your call to Christians throughout the world to offer compassion and practical support to the persecuted Copts.

    Nabil A. Malek, President
    Canadian Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
    Quebec, Canada

  3. Thank you for your support and kind words, God bless you.