February 14 designated as a day of remembrance for Coptic Orthodox killed in Nag Hammadi, Egypt
New York, January 28, 2010 -- Coptic Orthodox Christians are asking their sisters and brothers in other churches to join in a day of prayer and remembrance February 14 following the January murders of six young Coptic Orthodox men in Nag Hammadi Egypt.
Seven people were murdered -- six Coptic Orthodox Christians and a Muslim police officer -- following a midnight Divine Liturgy January 7 in Nag Hammadi, Qena, in Upper Egypt. (The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas following the old Julian and Coptic Calendars.)
According to press reports, riots then erupted during the funeral processions for the six Coptic Orthodox seven victims of the massacre.
Bishoy M. Mikhail, Ecumenical Officer of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, Archdiocese of North America, wrote that the six young Coptic Orthodox men "died simply for being Christians."
In a message to other Christians, Mikhail wrote: "My home parish, St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church of Cleveland (http://www.facebook.com/l/96835;www.stmarkclev.org/)
, will designate Sunday, February 14, 2010 as a Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Coptic Martyrs of Nag Hammadi. I would humbly ask you and your churches to join us in this day with your prayers for the Christians of Egypt as a sign of solidarity and support. This day is the closest Sunday to the traditional 40 day memorial following their tragic murders."
The full text of Mikhail's message follows:
"And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Rev. 6:10
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Rev. 7-17
Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I greet you all with best wishes for a blessed new year. As many of you are aware, last week the Coptic Orthodox Christians of Egypt faced another brutal attack and witnessed the murders of six young men as they left their church in Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt on Christmas eve following the Divine Liturgy of the Feast of the Nativity.
These young men -- Pola, Abanoub, Zakaria, Ayman, Mina and Bishoy -- died simply for being Christians. A Muslim police officer was also killed in the attack. My home parish, St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church of Cleveland, will designate Sunday, February 14, 2010 as a Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Coptic Martyrs of Nag Hammadi. I would humbly ask you and your churches to join us in this day with your prayers for the Christians of Egypt as a sign of solidarity and support. This day is the closest Sunday to the traditional 40 day memorial following their tragic murders.
Addressing his flock at his weekly meeting at the Grand Cathedral of St. Mark in Cairo following the tragedy, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark told the people of Nag Hammadi and the world that the news of these shootings made him feel as if each bullet was shooting him, that the pain and mourning of the families was his pain and mourning. His Holiness described the young victims as true martyrs who having participated in the Holy Eucharist were killed for no other reason than being Christians. He said their blood sanctified the ground they fell to, and that Nag Hammadi has entered history as a city of martyrdom. He called the freedoms of life and worship basic and fundamental human rights. His Holiness emotionally referred to the killing of the righteous Abel and quoted Genesis 4:10: "And He said, "What have you done? The Voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground."
As you know, the Copts are the Christians of Egypt, the descendants of the Ancient Egyptians and the sons of the Pharaohs. Egypt was Coptic long before the Arab Conquest and the Copts of Egypt are the indigenous inhabitants of the land. My church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, is the largest and oldest in Egypt, however, we are joined in our struggles by our sisters and brothers of various churches in Egypt, all who face the same difficulties and tribulations.
The freedoms of religion and worship are fundamental human rights which must be protected. Religious tolerance in our troubled times must be promoted and defended by all. The Copts are citizens of Egypt, tax-paying, loyal and patriotic citizens who must be afforded the complete and fully protected rights of their Muslim neighbors. Decades of pleasantries and ignorance of growing hate have lead to the current catastrophes which are not isolated and are repeated year after year. Anti-Christian attacks have been on the rise since the early-1970s and have escalated. When we remember the new martyrs of Nag Hammadi, we also remember those who were killed before them and never received justice. We recall the events of El Khanka, El Zawya el Hamra, Assiut, Abu Qurqas, El Kosheh, Dayrut, Alexandria, El Odayisat and the dozens of other attacks and all those who have died simply for being Christians.
My personal request is that you spread the word and consider forwarding this email to your friends and other churches to join us in prayer on Sunday, February 14, 2010 as a Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Coptic Martyrs of Nag Hammadi.
I wish to thank all those churches and religious and civic leaders, including H.H. Pope Benedict XVI, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA who have expressed their support and prayers for the situation in Egypt. We ask you to join us in a prayer for peace in Egypt and the whole world. We pray for the rights of all Egypt's citizens to be equal and protected.
"Blessed be Egypt My people." Isaiah 19:25
With prayerful best wishes and thanks for your fraternal support and love, Bishoy
Bishoy M. Mikhail
Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria Archdiocese of North America Office of Ecumenical Affairs
NCC News contact: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) , pjenks@...