Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - “We are grateful to the authorities for what they are doing to ensure security for Christians and Muslims and to restore peace in our community,” Agenzia Fides was told by Archbishop Youhannes Zakaria, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Luxor, Upper Egypt, whose diocese includes the town of Naga Hamadi, where on January 7 six Christians and one Muslim guard were killed at the end of the Orthodox Christmas Eve Mass, outside the Church of the Virgin Mary (see Fides 8/1/2010) .
"The police arrested the 3 alleged perpetrators and reinforced security measures. There is a large presence of policemen and soldiers guarding the places of worship, both Christian and Muslim. The situation is now calm," Bishop Zakaria tells Fides. "There was also a positive meeting held between Christian and Muslim religious leaders in which they reaffirmed their universal commitment to peace and reconciliation."
"Even the funeral of the 6 Christians has been a useful opportunity to highlight the importance of peaceful coexistence. A Christian delegation attended the funeral of the Muslim soldier who was guarding the place of Christian worship and was killed in the shootout. It was a very touching moment," added the bishop.
"In our villages- stresses Bishop Zakaria - Christians and Muslims live together peacefully. Unfortunately a minority of extremists are trying to undermine this coexistence with bloody acts, such as those that occurred on the day of the Orthodox Christmas. In the end, the Christians are the ones who pay. I am not pretending that this situation can be easily resolved: this is our cross."
"This is why I ask the universal Christian community to pray for the Christian communities who are in difficulties, in light of what has happened recently here in Egypt, and also in Malaysia and Tunisia. In turn we, the small Christian community of Egypt, pray for European Christians, that they may rediscover the roots of their faith, as we have been taught by John Paul II and Benedict XVI ," concluded Bishop Zakaria. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 9/1/2010)