Following multiple incidents targeting Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt during Ramadan, Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and the Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, released a statement urging the strengthening of co-existence.
In a statement released on the official Facebook page for the Coptic Church’s spokesperson, Pope Tawadros II condemned attacks on religious groups in Egypt.
Meanwhile, during a sermon at Anba Bishoy Monastery in Wadi El-Natrun, the Pope mourned the killing of the Priest of the Church of the Virgin Mary and Mar Boulos, Arsanios Wadid, on 7 April 2022, in a tragic crime where a 60-year-old man stabbed the Priest to death in Alexandria.
The Pope further went on to say that the Church is waiting for the results of the investigations into the murder, and expressed his hope for the results of these investigations to be publicly released.
The Pope also requested the authorities “responsible for maintaining peace” to carefully investigate the reports of disappearances and kidnappings of Coptic Christians that have been circulating across social media and television programs.
This came in response to a viral story about a woman named Mariam Waheeb, a Coptic Orthodox woman from Beni Swef, who was reported by social media users to have been kidnapped on 5 April 2022. Mariam later appeared publicly in a live video, on 12 April 2022, announcing that she had converted to Islam.
The Pope also seemingly condemned recent media coverage surrounding a Christian woman whose daughter was prevented from eating food at a restaurant before the breaking of the fast for Muslims.
On 10 April 2022, Selvia Botros posted on her Facebook page saying that she took her daughter to one of Koshary Tahrir’s branches. After ordering their food, and having it served, the waiter rebuked her after her child ate a small amount of food before iftar time, under the pretext that these were “the rules of the place”.
Two days later, Egypt’s leading independent Arabic newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, published an article in print and online asking whether “infidels” (non-Muslims) should be served food before iftar. The newspaper later publicly apologized for the headline and stated that it did not represent the values of the newspaper.
“We are currently living a blessed month of fasting and worship,” said Pope Tawadros II in his statement.
“So it is inappropriate to publish articles or broadcast videos that harm or offend any religious group in Egypt, to preserve the safety and stability of our country, and prevent the distortion of its image in front of ourselves and abroad.”
Concluding his statement, Pope Tawadros II called for steps to be taken to strengthen coexistence in Egypt.
“We live together in a new republic, whose renaissance is led by His Excellency President Abdelfattah Al Sisi with all the officials in all sectors. But this new republic is not only projects and achievements, which we are all happy with and proud of, it is also the renewing of minds and thoughts through education, correcting concepts, strengthening values of coexistence and true citizenship, and preserving the bonds of national unity,” said Pope Tawadros II.
Today, Coptic Christians make up nearly 10 percent of Egypt’s population of more than 100 million people.