Tuesday 26 September 2017

Coptic Christians amount to 15pc of all Egyptians

A Coptic Christian woman prays for the release of 21 Coptic Egyptian men whose were abducted by Islamic State militants in the central city of Sirte, Libya more than a month ago, during a protest at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egypt. AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
A Coptic Christian woman prays for the release of 21 Coptic Egyptian men whose were abducted by Islamic State militants in the central city of Sirte, Libya more than a month ago, during a protest at the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, Egypt. AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

Dominic Harris

The term "Coptic" is used to describe the native Christians living in Egypt, where Christianity is a large minority religion.

The Coptic Orthodox Church has the largest Christian presence in the Middle East, with approximately 10 to 15 million members in Egypt, representing about 15pc of the population.

It was founded in the first century in Egypt by Saint Mark the apostle, who wrote the second Gospel of the New Testament. It is a conservative church, carefully preserving the Orthodox Christian faith and following the doctrines of the apostles.

Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, said the murders of the hostages had caused "deep feelings of sorrow and pain".

He said: "While every life is sacred and every death tragic, the particular brutality demonstrated in this instance, and others like it, shows not only a disregard for life but a gross misunderstanding of its sanctity and equal value in every person.

"Our prayers are particularly with the families of these young Coptic men, who were fathers, brothers, sons and friends of many within their tight-knit rural communities, in which their absence will cause significant loss and sorrow.

"Their families are not only deprived of breadwinners who had travelled to Libya to support them, but of the joy that they bring when they return.

"While it may seem illogical or incomprehensible, we also pray for those who have carried out these horrific crimes, that the value of God's creation and human life may become more evident to them, and in this realisation, that the wider effects of pain brought by this and other acts of brutality may be realised and avoided.

"We pray for an end to the dehumanisation of captives who become mere commodities to be bartered, traded and negotiated with."

Bishop Angaelos said the church also remembered the journalists, aid workers, Jordanian pilot and others who had been brutally murdered because they are "considered incompatible with a fringe and intolerant element".

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