The president of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland has expressed deep concern over the recent escalation of violence in Egypt.
A Statement has been issued by the Rt Rev Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, who is also President of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
He declares: "It is with a deepening sense of concern that we are following events as they unfold in Egypt. Two paradigms are mainly at loggerheads: the military on the one hand and the interpretation of extreme Islamism on the other. In the midst of those two polarities, Egyptian citizens—men, women and children—are suffering the effects of escalating violence, radicalism, uncertainty and tension.
"The 25 January revolution started with the dual premise of dignity and bread for all Egyptians irrespective of ethnic or religious affiliations. However, the latest episodes have sadly cast doubt on the trajectory of this revolution and have ramped up the fears of a civilian conflict between different communities of the one nation.
"In the midst of all this uncertainty, we also note with deep and increasing concern the assaults against our sisters and brothers in various parts of Egypt as well as against their churches and institutions. Those churches, in their majority Coptic, are an indispensable component of the fabric of Egyptian society. We condemn in the strongest terms possible all such attacks against them and their institutions, just as we condemn any and all violence against all communities in Egypt.
"We pray to the Almighty that He may inspire all Egyptians, leaders and grassroots alike, to show prudence, be open for dialogue and consider the other not as an enemy but as a neighbour. We pray for collected heads, calmer minds and peace-loving hearts to prevail in Egypt so the country can assume its leading role within the Middle East-North Africa region and show the way toward a real respect of those fundamental freedoms that distinguish us as human beings created in the image and likeness of God.
"Above all, our faith reassures us that the future of Egypt, Christians and Muslims alike, is firmly in the hand of God. May His will be done. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God (St Matthew 5:9)."