Citizens worldwide join Egyptians in condemning attack on Coptic Church

An Egyptian Coptic Christian in Amman prays for victims of the January 1st attack on the Coptic Church in Alexandria. [Reuters/Ali Jarekji]

An Egyptian Coptic Christian in Amman prays for victims of the January 1st attack on the Coptic Church in Alexandria. [Reuters/Ali Jarekji]

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Mirna Abdel Massih is still in disbelief about what happened on New Year's Day and wishes it was only a dream.

Mirna did not accompany her brother Michael to midnight mass at the Qiddissine church in Alexandria because of an illness. Michael went to church alone.

"Shortly after midnight I heard a loud explosion. I heard screams in the street saying that the church was blown up," she told Al-Shorfa.

"I ran with my mother to Church. My father went ahead of us and began searching for my brother. We soon found him lying dead and soaked in blood," she said.

Despite the reported tension between Copts and Muslims, Mirna says she holds no grudge towards Muslims. She said her Muslim friends stood by her side in the past few days.

"I am angry with the criminals who do not differentiate between a Muslim and a Christian," she said.

Christian and Muslim religious leaders join in condemning attacks

Anba Martiros, General Bishop of the Churches East of the Railroad, shuttles regularly between visits to hospitals and families who lost someone during the attack.

He told Al-Shorfa the "perpetrators are not Muslims, but they are a group of terrorists even if they act in the name of Islam".

Anba Martiros echoed the views of Pope Shenouda, the patriarch of the Coptic Church, who called on Copts to stay calm and express their feelings without resorting to violence.

"I am glad that many Muslims joined in the [protests against the attack]. This shows that everyone is against terrorism and sectarian violence. The attack brought us together, and we have to unite against the enemy who wants to weaken our bonds," Pope Shenouda said.

Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said the attacks "are not sectarian incidents between Muslims and Christians. Rather, they are between a criminal person and Egypt as a whole".

"If these attacks were committed by some Muslims", he told reporters on Tuesday, "then they should look for a religion other than Islam because Islam categorically banned attacks on civilians irrespective of their religion, traditions and nationalities, whether inside or outside their houses of worship".

Gomaa called on the perpetrators of such acts to quit or risk the harshest punishment cited by the Qur'an, which prohibited the killing of protected individuals of other religions.

In an editorial in the Washington Post, the Grand Mufti called the attack an "affront to all Egyptians" and called on all Egyptians to stand united against such acts.

World nations condemn 'terrorist act'

Many dignitaries outside Egypt condemned the suicide attack that killed 23 people and declared their solidarity with the Egyptian government in its war against terrorism.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak spoke with French Prime Minister François Fillon, in which the latter expressed solidarity with Egypt in its battle against terrorism.

The Italian government issued a statement saying that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed, on behalf of his government and himself, "their deepest condolences for the victims of the attack".

Saudi Arabia also denounced the bombing. A royal statement read, "The Kingdom strongly condemns this criminal act, which is not accepted by our Islamic religion or approved by international laws and ethics. The Kingdom conveys its sincere condolences to the Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, to the families of the victims, and the Government and people of the brotherly nation of Egypt. The Kingdom also offers its sincere wishes for a speedy recovery for the injured."

Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Aziz Bin Abdullah Al al-sheikh said the attacks were carried out by the "enemies of Islam to turn non-Muslims against Muslims". These acts, he continued, "do not serve Islam and have no link to it".

The United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait each issued statements declaring their strong condemnation of the attack.

The Syrian government condemned the act in a statement. "Syria believes that such terrorist crimes are aimed at national unity and religious pluralism in Egypt and other Arab countries. It stands by the brotherly nation of Egypt in confronting terrorism and combating all who would harm Egyptian national unity," the statement read.

In a statement issued by the Royal Court of Jordan, King Abdullah II said in a telegram to Mubarak, "Jordan stands together with Egypt in combating terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations and those who stand behind it."

Jordan's Islamic Action Front said targeting innocent people "contradicts with divine laws and human values. It also contradicts the spirit of Arab and Islamic civilization."

In Lebanon, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman called the bombing a "crime against humanity".

The President of the Higher Islamic Shia Council in Lebanon, Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan, said the blast "which targeted innocent civilians in a terrorist act has nothing to do with religion, and that malicious people, who are seeking to spark sedition, and spread a state of chaos and terror in Egypt, are behind it."

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for a historic declaration protecting Arab and Islamic civilization from a "malicious plot which targets the unity of its peoples".

In Yemen, the government issued a statement condemning "the criminal bombing that targeted the Qiddissine Church in the city of Alexandria, which led to the injury and loss of life of many innocent civilians".

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani condemned the attack, expressing his confidence in the "prudence" of the Egyptian leadership to "overcome such criminal attempts".

Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali denounced the assault and called on the international community to unite its efforts in combating terrorism.

In Turkey, the Turkish Foreign Ministry expressed its condemnation of the "bloody "terrorist attack". The statement said Turkey, which suffered terrorist attacks in the past, was ready to extend support to Egypt against such attacks.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference also condemned the bombing. Ekmeleddin Ehsan Oglu, secretary-general of the organization, expressed his "deep condolences to the Arab Republic of Egypt's leadership, government and people, and the families of the victims, and wished speedy recovery for the wounded ".

The General Secretariat of the Muslim World League, based in Mecca, condemned the bombing in a statement issued by its Secretary General Dr. Abdullah bin Abdul Mohsen al-Turki.

Al-Turki described the attack as "an act that is not approved by Islam, which prohibits the shedding of blood, and forbids treacherous attacks on safe civilians and killing them unjustly".

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    terrance stanton dpm

    2011-2-4

    I regret that this article and the sympathetic and supportive views of Islamic religious leaders and Mid-East heads of state did not receive wider dissemination and awareness. It would considerably help relations between Islamic and non-Islamic believers threatened by these infamous acts.