Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II suspended a weekly meeting of public prayer and catechesis for a 3rd time amid security concerns. The catechesis are held every Wednesday afternoon in the Coptic Cathedral of Cairo.
According to a report by Fides News Agency, Fr. Bishoy Helmy, Secretary General of the Council of Churches in Egypt, stated that the cancellations were due to the current situation in the region. Protests erupted in Cairo on June 30th against former President Mohamed Morsi, which resulted in his ouster on July 3rd. Loyalists of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood Party have counter-protested stating that his removal was illegitimate.
Coptic Bishop Botros Fahim Awad Hanna of Minya stated that the Coptic Pope has avoided public gatherings for the safety of the people of Cairo. “Since June 30, Pope Tawadros avoids appearing in public, not so much because he fears for his life, but because he does not want people to gather for fear that some fool could throw a few bombs,” Bishop Hanna told Fides. “At the moment there are those who accuse Christians of being responsible of the popular uprising of June 30th”.
Since the establishment of the interim government after July 3rd, the Ministry of the Interior has ordered increased protection around Pope Tawadros and the Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al Tayyeb. Both the Patriarch and the Imam had appeared at the side of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on July 3, when the head of the Egyptian army had addressed the nation on transition plan to depose Morsi.
Reports of violence against Coptic Catholics have surfaced, claiming that 6 Copts were killed by a gang of supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.