The Christmas period is always a tense time for many Christians around the world. The public celebration of Jesus’ birth means many churches can become targets for those wanting to attack Christians. Sadly, in Egypt on the 29th December several Christians were gunned down as they left church services.
At least two extremists were involved in the attack on the Mar Mina Church in the Helwan district south of Cairo, government officials said. The church was full of worshipers, who were leaving the building, a Coptic Church spokesman told the New York Times.
Where the attack happened…
Prior to arriving at the church, at least one of the church attackers first fired on a Coptic-owned appliance shop, killing two brothers — sons of the owner.
The Coptic archbishop of the Helwan district, Father Ebram Mihail, said the attack on the church began 10 minutes after services had ended. People were streaming out the door when they were gunned down, and those still inside heard gunfire for 15 minutes, he said.
The Interior Ministry told news media that a gunman on a motorcycle, having already killed several people, tried to break through a security barrier outside the church. He was shot in an exchange of gunfire with security personnel and did not get into the church.
The attack was carried out by an affiliate of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, according to a statement posted on the messaging app Telegram, the Times reported.
Islamist violence against Egyptian Christians has escalated during the past year. Making up about 10 percent of the population, they live in a deeply polarised society, caught between secular nationalists and radical Islamists. In 2013 they were perceived as supporting the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. Scores of churches across the country were attacked and burned. IS has vowed to “wipe them out”.
Egypt is No. 21 on the Open Doors World Watch List, a ranking of the 50 countries were it is most difficult for Christians to live.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.