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ACN head prays for peace after attacks on Egyptian Christians increase

THE UK head of a charity that supports persecuted Christians is calling on people to pray for peace in Egypt after a sudden spike in attacks on Copts in the wake of President Morsi’s dramatic downfall.

Neville Kyrke-Smith of Aid to the Church in Need, spoke of his concern about a ‘specific and targeted assault’ on Christians across the country since the change of regime.

Mr Kyrke-Smith, national director of ACN UK, was on a fact-finding trip to Egypt (above) when demonstrations that preceded Mohammed Morsi’s fall from power took place.

“At this critical time in Egypt—as reports come in of recent attacks on churches in the regions—it is very important to pray for peace in Egypt for Christians and all peoples,” he said. “Sporadic acts of violence and intimidation have taken place in the past, but what we have seen in recent days is a specific and targeted assault on the Christian presence in the country.”

Mr Kyrke-Smith, who described being in Egypt as ‘protests and violence kicked off,’ highlighted reports of nine Christians being killed nationwide. He spoke of travelling in and around Luxor, close to the village of Dabaaya, where four Christian men were murdered and 23 houses were burnt down on July 5.

Two other killings, both in the Sinai peninsula, include a priest—Abouna Aboud Sharween—killed on July 6 by unknown gunmen, and Magdy Lamei, a Christian salesman, whose body was found on last Thursday, a few days after he was kidnapped and held for a ransom, reportedly equivalent to US$70,000.

More than a dozen churches have been attacked, according to other reports. Coptic-owned businesses have been daubed with graffiti and anti-Christian fliers have been widely distributed.

“Aid to the Church in Need is committed to standing with our suffering brothers and sisters in prayer and with practical help,” Mr Kyrke-Smith said.

Reports from the region have indicated that the violence has been sparked by Islamists, angered by the toppling of their leader, picking on Christians as a vulnerable minority.

Some Egypt observers have stressed Muslim outrage at Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II appearing in a line-up of dignitaries on July 3 when General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the overthrow of Mr Morsi.

Others have downplayed the significance of this, noting that in the offending image the Patriarch is shown surrounded by many other leaders, including hard-line Muslim conservatives and Ahmed el Tayeb, Grand Sheikh of Azhar.





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