Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Coptic Pope and Patriarch Tawadros Arrives in Moscow

00 Pope and Patriarch Tawadros in Moscow. 29.10.14

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His Holiness Pope and Patriarch Tawadros Sulaymān, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of all Africa of the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark, accompanied by a patriarchal delegation, arrived in Russia on 28 October 2014 ahead of a historic visit. HH Pope Tawadros will visit His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias on 29 October 2014, marking 26 years since the visit of the previous Pope of Alexandria, His Holiness the late Pope Shenouda who participated in the celebration of the Millennium of the Christianisation of Russia and the baptism of St Vladimir. His Holiness was met at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport by Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the MP Synodal Department for External Church Relations in Moscow and His Excellency Dr Mahmoud El-Badry, Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Russian Federation, as well as Their Graces Bishop Kyrillos of Milan, Papal Exarch in Europe, and Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK. a delegation comprising Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta and Their Graces: Bishop Raphael, General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles and Papal secretary Father Angelos Ishak and official spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Fr Boules Haleem accompanied Pope Tawadros.

From Moscow, Bishop Angaelos said:

“This fraternal visit is important because it marks the first visit of a Coptic Pope to Russia in 26 years and marks and demonstrates the depth of relationship between our two Churches and the many commonalities we share in our heritage and experience”. There’ll be a reception for Pope Tawadros at the Egyptian Embassy on the evening of 28 October 2014, and he’ll undertake various official visits and pastoral engagements throughout the duration of his stay.

28 October 2014

The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre UK

http://copticcentre.blogspot.com/2014/10/press-release-his-holiness-pope.html

click here and here for the patriarchia.ru coverage

Editor:

I asked a friend at the Centre why HH didn’t meet Pope Tawadros. He said:

That’s ticklish. We’re not in communion, and if His Holiness were to meet Pope Tawadros at the airport, it’d imply that there was something important up regarding the solving of our problems. Happily, Pope Tawadros is meeting His Holiness, and we plan to cover it fully on patriarchia.ru. He’ll attend services, but he won’t serve. That’s sad… but that’s what the circumstances dictate. It’s a happy event.

In short, HH is feeling his oats and showing everyone (especially, Bart) that HE and NOT Bart is the Big Kahuna of the Orthodox World.

BMD

Friday, 8 August 2014

A Growing Number of Muslims Accept Christianity in Egypt

00i Islamabad PAKISTAN Coptic Orthodox

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The website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem posted that life for Christians in Egypt improved after the 2013 military coup against the régime of President Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Moreover, the number of cases of conversion from Islam to Christianity has increased. The report noted that the exact number of cases of conversion to Christianity by Egyptian Muslims is difficult to determine, since those who accept baptism often don’t advertise their change of religion. In Egypt, Muslims who become Christians may still be victims of persecution or even killed if their former co-religionists learn of their baptism. Sedmitsa.ru posted that a recent convert to Christianity from Islam (who preferred to remain anonymous) told the Latin Patriarchate, “The government doesn’t oppress us, it comes from our families. If a Muslim accepts baptism, his family and neighbours can beat him or even kill him, as they perceive it as a betrayal of Islam”. In Egypt, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, which fell out of communion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches following the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451, currently numbers nine million believers. The Coptic Catholic Church in union with the Catholic Church of Rome has about 162,000 adherents.

8 August 2014

NEWSru

http://newsru.com/religy/08aug2014/egypt.html

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Egypt’s Largest Christian Community Threatened as Islamists Take Over Town

00 Dalga EGYPT. looted Coptic Church. 08.09.13

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Editor’s Foreword:

THIS is what the Islamists wish to do in Syria. THIS is why we shouldn’t intervene in their civil war. Don’t we have enough blood on our hands, already?

BMD

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The Coptic Orthodox priest would only talk to his visitor after hiding from the watchful eyes of the bearded Muslim outside, who sported a pistol bulging from under his robe. Therefore, Fr Yoannis moved behind a wall in the charred skeleton of an ancient monastery to describe how Islamists torched it and then looted it when they took over this southern Egyptian town following the ouster of the country’s president. Fr Yoannis told us, “The fire in the monastery burned intermittently for three days. The looting continued for a week. At the end, not a wire or an electric switch was left”. The looters stripped the monastery’s 1,600-year-old underground chapel of ancient icons, and they dug up the grounds as they believed that there was buried treasure. Fr Yoannis said, “Even the remains of ancient and revered saints were disturbed and thrown around”.

A town of some 120,000… including 20,000 ChristiansDalga has been outside government control since hard-line supporters of the Islamist Mohamed Morsi Isa al-Ayyat drove out police and occupied their station on 3 July, the day that the Egyptian military removed the president in a popularly-supported coup. It was part of a wave of attacks in southern Minya Governorate targeting Christians, their homes, and their businesses. Since then, the radicals imposed their grip on Dalga, twice driving off attempts by the army to send in APCs by showering them with gunfire. Their hold points to the power of hard-line Islamists in southern Egypt, even after Morsi’s removal… and their determination to defy the military-backed leadership that’s replaced him. With the army and police already fighting a burgeoning militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, there are growing signs that a second insurgency could erupt in the south… particularly in Minya and Asyut Governorates, both Islamist strongholds and both home to Egypt’s two largest Christian communities.

The takeover of Dalga was disastrous for the Christian community in the town, located 270 kilometers (160 miles) south of Cairo in Minya Governorate, on the edge of the Nile Valley near the cliffs that mark the start of the desert. In the initial burst of violence, the insurgents ransacked and set ablaze the town’s only Catholic church, like the Monastery of the Virgin Mary and St Abraam, and they looted the Anglican church. Since then, Fr Yoannis said that some 40 Christian families fled Dalga. According to local Minya activists, Islamists attacked nearly 40 Christian-owned homes and stores. Bandits from the nearby deserts joined the looting and burning. To ensure the spread of fear, the attackers torched houses in all Christian neighbourhoods, not just one or two. Amongst the homes torched was that of Fr Angelos, an 80-year-old Orthodox priest who lives close to the monastery. His Muslim neighbours spared Fr Yoannis’ home from a similar fate. The rebels dragged down and killed a 60-year-old Christian who fired from his roof to ward off a mob. Fr Yoannis said, “Even if we had firearms, we’d be reluctant to use them. We can’t take a life. Firing in the air may be our limit”.

Those who remain pay armed Muslim neighbours to protect them. Fr Yoannis said that his brother paid with a cow and a water buffalo. For weeks, most Christian businesses remain closed. One can see armed men in the streets, and nearly every day Islamists hold rallies at a stage outside the police station, demanding Morsi’s reinstatement. Most Christians remain indoors as much as possible, particularly during the rallies. They say they’re routinely insulted on the streets by Muslims, including children. Christian women stay home at all times, fearing harassment by the Islamists, according to multiple Christians who spoke to the AP. Most requested that we not publish their names for fear of reprisals. Local rights activist Ezzat Ibrahim said, “The Copts in Dalga live in utter humiliation. They live in horror and can’t lead normal lives”.

None of the town’s churches held services for a month, until Wednesday, when Christians held one in one of the monastery’s two churches. About 25 attended, down from the usual 500 or more. Fr Yoannis said of the hard-liners now running Dalga, “They don’t want to see any Christian with any power, no matter how modest. They only want to see us poor without money, without a trade or a business to be proud of”. Like other Christians in town, he said that police and the authorities were helpless to intervene, noting, “Everyone keeps telling me that I should alert the police and the army, as if I hadn’t done that already”. At intervals, the 33-year-old father of three would stop talking, move carefully to the edge of a wall, and stick his head out to check if someone was coming. His big worry was the bearded Muslim at the gate, Saber Sarhan Askar. Dalga’s Christians say that Askar, skinny with hawk-like hazelnut eyes, took part in torching and looting the monastery. Outside the monastery that day, Askar told priests that he was there to protect it. However, the orders he yelled to other priests left no doubt who was in charge. He barked at one priest, “Bring us tea!” soon after, he screamed at another, “I need something cold to drink!”

A day after the Islamists took over, school teacher and part-time entrepreneur Kromer Ishaq fled Dalga. Already, the Islamists accused his father in a family blood feud… a charge that could prompt the killing of Ishaq. Then, on the night of the takeover, someone broke into and looted Ishaq’s gold shop. The son of a wealthy family, Ishaq fled with his extended family all the way to the Nile Delta north of Cairo, where he’s now looking for work. By telephone, Ishaq said, “I used to employ people, and, now, I’m looking for work. I once lived in a house I owned, and, now, I live in a rented apartment. You ask me what life is like? It’s like black tar”.

Dalga is the most radical example of Islamist power in Minya… no other town is under such extreme lockdown. However, in general, the province saw a surge in Islamist violence since the coup against Morsi. In the province, Islamists attacked 35 churches, including 19 completely gutted by fire. They destroyed at least six Christian schools and five orphanages, along with five courthouses, seven police stations, and six city council buildings. In addition, they looted and ransacked a museum in the city of Mallawi. On 11 August, policemen thought to be loyal to Morsi stormed the provincial police headquarters in Minya city. They dragged out the province’s security chief and his top aide from their offices and ordered them both to leave the province. They did.

Minya was the epicentre of Islamic militant insurgency against the rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in the 1980s and 90s. It remains a stronghold of Islamism, including the extremist al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya  group. It also has the largest Christian community of Egypt’s 29 provinces, 35 percent of Minya’s 4 million people, compared to around 10 percent nationwide. Over Egypt’s past 2½ years of turmoil, Islamist strength grew. Hundreds of jailed radicals who purportedly forswore violence… though not their hard-line ideology… were freed after Mubarak’s 2011 fall and given the freedom to recruit. The south saw a flood of heavy weapons smuggled across the desert from neighbouring Libya. A top Interior Ministry official in Cairo said the Minya police suffered large-scale infiltration by pro-Morsi Islamists. Today, the Ministry’s investigating the local force. The official spoke to us anonymously, as the probe was still underway. On Wednesday, the Interior Ministry replaced the Minya security chief who fled the province, as well as two top aides, for what it called failure to maintain law and order. In the security vacuum, Christians largely paid the price.

Christian businessman Talaat Bassili recounted how, on 15 August, dozens of men, some armed, stormed his home in Mallawi, not far from Dalga. For three hours, with no police or army in sight, the attackers made off with TV sets, washing machines, mobile phones, jewellery, and cash. The attackers descended on the house from scaffoldings on a mosque next door. In footage from Bassili’s security camera, men in robes and boys in sandals tried to force their way into the house, then, finally, blasted away the lock with Kalashnikov assault rifles. Some loaded their loot into a donkey cart. Later, the footage shows Bassili, his wife Nahed Samaan… in a nightgown and robe… and son Fady leaving to take refuge with a neighbour. A week later, Bassili said that a man called him on his mobile phone to ask whether he wanted to buy some of his stuff back, saying, “I said no”.

6 September 2013

Hamza Hendawi

 Associated Press

As quoted in NBC News

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/06/20354694-egypts-largest-christian-community-threatened-as-islamists-take-over-town?lite

 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Gunmen Kill Coptic Orthodox Priest in North Sinai

01 arab with AK

The last time that shit like this happened in the Sinai, the local Bedouins picked up their AKs and protected the Christian monasteries. These Muslims have lived in peace with Christians for centuries. It’s a case of, “Wanna rumble, Islamists? Rumble with US… C’mon”… did you notice that the Islamists suddenly got a hankering for other calmer parts? I wonder why…

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On Saturday, security sources said that gunmen killed a Coptic Orthodox priest in Egypt‘s lawless North Sinai Governorate in what could be the first sectarian attack since the military overthrow of Islamist Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Isa al-Ayyat. The shooting in the coastal city of el-Arish was one of several attacks believed to be by Islamist insurgents that included firing at four military checkpoints in the region. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood fiercely criticised Coptic Patriarch Tawadros Sulayman, spiritual leader of Egypt’s 8 million Christians, for giving his blessing to the removal of the president and attending the announcement by armed forces commander General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suspending the constitution.

6 July 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/news/2013_07_06/Egypt-Gunmen-shoot-dead-coptic-christian-priest-in-Sinai-province-4372/

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