Washington, DC — December 12, 2016 – IDC Executive Director Philippe Nassif today issued the following statement in response to the terrorist attack targeting Coptic Christians in Cairo, resulting in the death of 25 people and dozens who were wounded:
“IDC condemns in the strongest terms the attack on Coptic Christians as they practiced their faith in peace at a chapel adjacent to Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, Cairo’s largest Church and the seat of the Coptic papacy. This brutal attack follows the horrific beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in February of 2015 for no other reason than their faith. IDC calls for ecumenical global solidarity with the families of the slain Christians, with the Egyptian people, and with all religious minorities in the Middle East who continue to confront persecution and death.”
At the funeral service for the martyrs in Sunday’s deadly attack, Coptic Pope Tawadros II told the dozens of loved ones of those killed in the attack, “This is not a tragedy for the church alone but for everyone; for Egypt. We are grateful they left us while they were praying, so that their hearts are lifted to God at the best time.” The state funeral procession was attended by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and leading state officials.
The Copts of Egypt—representing about a tenth of the country’s roughly 90 million people—have been discriminated against for decades. In 2013, Egypt’s Christian community suffered the worst violence in perhaps a thousand years at the hands of violent extremists. Dozens of churches were razed, prompting many Coptic Christians to leave Egypt. President Sisi promised the Coptic community that the damaged churches would be repaired by the end of 2016. While the Egyptian government has made some progress towards repairing the churches, there are still a number of properties that have not been restored.
At IDC’s 2015 National Convention, U.S. Representative Dave Trott (MI-11) introduced the Coptic Churches Accountability Act, H.R. 5974, to require the U.S. State Department to report on the status of Christian properties that were burned, damaged, or otherwise destroyed.
IDC calls on the Egyptian government to ensure the security of Coptic Christians, to bring to justice those who have committed acts of terrorism, and for the fulfillment of the promise to help the Coptic community restore their churches from the violence in 2013.