WCC continues to support Egyptian churches in their quest for peace
For immediate release: 18 October 2011
The World Council of Churches (WCC) supports Egyptian Christians in their quest for justice, rejection of violence and initiatives for dialogue in the wake of 9 October clashes between peaceful protestors and the army in Cairo which resulted in 25 people dead, mostly Coptic Christians, while the country was preparing to return to democracy.
Egypt’s Christians make up about 10 percent of the population and mainly consist of Coptic Orthodox as well as Coptic Presbyterian, Maronite, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenian Orthodox and Armenian Catholic churches.
Christians in Egypt have remained vulnerable to the threat of religious extremism for some time, and their concerns have emerged crucially during the recent changing political landscape of Egypt.
They are now asserting themselves in condemning violence as witnessed on 9 October, and in the burning of churches like the Church of Al-Marinab and Edfu-Aswan this year.
A recent statement issued by the Protestant Church in Egypt says, “Churches reject acts of violence in Egypt during this time of socio-political transitions. We therefore appeal to all those within the nation to stand together side-by-side in order to confront these incidents. We call on all Egyptians to reject the use of violence and, in doing so, work together to create a unified legislation to allow for building places of worship for all.”
“Thus,” the statement continued, “as Egyptians – both Muslim and Christians alike – we must call for the immediate investigation of the events of 9 October, with emphasis on bringing accountability to the doors of those responsible for the violence which, tragically, left many dead.”
Similarly the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Service joined hands with civil society actors including writers, academics, religious leaders, youth and media professionals to condemn the violence. A joint statement at the end of a symposium on “Together against sectarian tension” stated:
“We appeal to all Egyptians to call for an end to violence. We must act now, collectively, to save the future of our great nation from the alternative – a divided and violent future which reminds us little of the Egypt we know and love.”
The WCC praises the efforts of the churches in raising their voices for peace and dialogue. Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, says, “We as churches condemn the violence perpetrated against the Coptic Christians during the unfortunate incidents of 9 October. We hold the victims in our prayers. It is through the resilience of Egyptians, both Christians and Muslims, that the sectarian strife can be defeated. We stand in solidarity with the Egyptian churches in these difficult times.”
The WCC through its programme Public witness: addressing power, affirming peace has been engaged with the churches in Middle East in collective efforts by ecumenical partners to achieve peace and justice at local, national, regional and international levels.
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.