Egyptian Christians Await Global Solidarity

Interview With Orthodox Coptic Bishop Barnabas El Soryany

Share this Entry

By Serena Sartini

ROME, JAN. 12, 2011 ( Though forgiveness is the way to respond to the Jan. 1 attack on an Orthodox Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, still, according to Orthodox Coptic Bishop Barnabas El Soryany, there must be a declaration once and for all: “Enough of hatred and terrorism, enough of blood.”

Bishop El Soryany, leader of the Orthodox Coptic community of Turin and Rome, launched an appeal for religious freedom for every confession during an event held Sunday in Rome to show solidarity with the Alexandria Coptic community.

A Jan. 1 explosion there as the faithful were leaving the Divine Liturgy resulted in the deaths of more than 20 people.

ZENIT spoke with the bishop leading up to Sunday’s solidarity event.

ZENIT: Your Excellency, what is the meaning of this Sunday’s manifestation?

Bishop El Soryany: We want to show our grief for what happened on New Year’s in Egypt to the Coptic community. Our Christian brethren in Egypt live in fear, with sorrow, with tears in their eyes. We want to show our grief to the whole world. It is not a manifestation of protest, it is a day of solidarity: We want to take the voice of our brothers of Egypt to Italy. They ask for the solidarity of the whole world: enough of violence, of terrorism, not only in the Middle East, in Lebanon, but also in Sudan, in Africa, in every country.

ZENIT: What will this event include?

Bishop El Soryany: The whole Coptic community of Rome will be present, about 6,000 people. It is a manifestation organized by our community; there won’t be other religions: not Muslims, not Jews. … Some politicians and delegates from the Vatican will arrive.”

ZENIT: Bishop Barnabas, the Coptic community does not want the presence of Muslims in today’s manifestation. Why?

Bishop El Soryany: The decision of the community is not to have Muslims because we want to avoid problems. But we love our Muslim brothers: We await a manifestation by them and if they invite us, we will take part.

ZENIT: How are relations with the Muslims?

Bishop El Soryany: There aren’t any problems, especially in Italy: We are brothers with Muslims. The Coptic community lives in peace with the whole world. Our faithful do not cause trouble because our message is to seek peace, solidarity with everyone. We all want to be united against terrorism.

ZENIT: What would you like to say to the authors of the New Year’s attack in Egypt?

Bishop El Soryany: I forgive them. We always forgive in face of these events. It’s not the first time that we suffer attacks: It happened 10 years ago, always on New Year’s and always in Egypt. We also forgave in that case. Then it happened last year on Jan. 6. Also in that case our response was forgiveness, because our faith teaches us to forgive the other. We forgive but I wish to say: Enough of terrorism, enough of blood.

ZENIT: Do you fear new attacks?

Bishop El Soryany: I think the whole world in afraid these days, especially after the threat made before Christmas on this Islamic Web site with the threat of new attacks.

ZENIT: What do you expect from the European Union and the international community?

Bishop El Soryany: I hope that all will condemn terrorism; we expect the solidarity of the whole world. But above all we want religious liberty to be guaranteed, to live tranquilly in our countries.

ZENIT: There are many cases of persecution of Christians in the world.

Bishop El Soryany: Unfortunately. I notice a chain that extends increasingly: persecution of Christian in Iraq, in Lebanon, in the Middle East, in Sudan, in Nigeria. I appeal to the international community to do something for persecuted Christians.

[Translation by ZENIT]
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation