Grand Mufti points out that Sharia forbids attacks on places of worship
The Grand Mufti of Egypt and an Islamist militant organization, as well as Egypt’s Muslim president, have all condemned Sunday’s attack on a Coptic church in Cairo that killed 25 and wounded dozens of worshipers during Divine Liturgy.
“Attacking churches whether by demolition, bombing, killing those inside, or terrifying … secure people are prohibited in Islamic Sharia,” said the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Shawky Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam.
The explosion in the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, which is adjacent to the St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, was caused by a 12-kilogram TNT bomb, according to security sources quoted by Egyptian state news agency MENA. No one has claimed responsibility.
The Grand Mufti, the highest official of religious law in Egypt, condemned the “deplorable terrorist attack” according to CNN. He called for unity against “black terrorism that tries to instigate sectarianism and sedition among the two wings of Egypt—Muslims and Christians—in a bid to weaken the nation.”
In addition, a militant group responsible for a string of deadly attacks targeting Egyptian security forces, the Harakat Sawa’d Misr, or Hasam Movement, condemned the bombing, saying the prophet Mohammad “taught us even while we fight not to kill a child nor woman nor old person nor worshiper in his place of worship.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi also condemned the attack and took unprecedented steps to show solidarity with Egypt’s Christian minority. Sisi was present at the commemorations which take place Monday morning to honor the victims of the attack and declared a three-day period of national mourning.
“Terrorism targets Copts and Muslims, but it does nothing but make us stronger and stronger and more united,” Sisi said.
“After the funeral in church and burial, a funeral procession, led by Patriarch Tawadros II, including the relatives of the victims, will go to the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier in the district of Nasr City, where there will be an official memorial service and President al Sisi, along with other senior representatives of the institutions, will meet the relatives of the victims and express their condolences,” said Coptic Catholic Bishop Anba Antonios Aziz Mina of Guizeh. (The Coptic Catholic Church is in communion with Rome.) “It is a new form of commemoration, never carried out when there were other massacres of Christians in Egypt. The proclamation of three days of national mourning ordered by the president is also new.”
He said that Sisi wants to show that he considers the Copts as a key component, and to show that “Coptic Christians are an indispensable part of Egyptian society.”
The Egyptian president, who has attended Coptic religious services in the past, was the target of protests immediately after Sunday’s attack. Protesters gathered outside the site of the massacre accusing him and the government of failing to ensure proper protection to Christians.
Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said in a statement that there have been recurring acts of violence against Christians and Christian communities in Egypt in recent decades. “Time and time again, very few, if any, perpetrators have been brought to justice, and we subsequently continue to witness an escalation of these attacks,” Bishop Angaelos said. “This is not a matter of blame, but accountability, with an expectation that barbaric acts such as these should never occur, but if they do, that their perpetrators are rightly and fairly held to account. This is not a call for vengeance, but a deterrent against similar future plans and aspirations.”
Bishop Mina said that many Muslims arrived at the cathedral complex later in the day to “express their solidarity.”
At the Vatican, Pope Francis on Monday called Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, to express his condolences and promised to pray for the Coptic community during the Mass celebrated at the Vatican on feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. During their conversation, the Patriarch recalled the expression of Pope Francis, made during their meeting at the Vatican, about an “ecumenism of blood” that unites Christians across ecumenical lines. In response, Pope Francis said that “We are united in the blood of our martyrs.”