Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi is also present at the commemorations which take place this morning to honor the victims of the attack perpetrated yesterday, Sunday, December 11, during the Mass in the church of Botrosiya, adjacent to the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo. The official toll of the attack, so far not claimed, is of 23 dead and 49 wounded, while some local media report 25 victims.
"After the funeral in church and burial - refers to Agenzia Fides Anba Antonios Aziz Mina, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Guizeh - 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". 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. Al Sisi is the first President who participated in the Christmas Eve in the Orthodox Coptic Cathedral". "The President - adds Anba Antonios Aziz Mina - also 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".
After the attack, according to reports by some international media, the crowd who gathered on the site of the massacre raised slogans against President al Sisi and the government, accused of failing to ensure due protection to Christians in front of the risk of terrorist attacks.
The description provided by Anba Antonios Aziz Mina puts emphasis on other details. "The phrases of protest came from small groups, launching slogans also against Patriarch Tawadros. They could also be provocateurs infiltrated into the crowd. Rather, I was impressed by the way the Bishops and priests rushed to the scene of the massacre and tried to console the multitude, with Christian words. Father Makarios, who I know told everyone: 'we, with our prayers, have the power to bring down the sky on earth. But what happened is true martyrdom, and it is not of Christians to protest and show anger in front of the new martyrs'. A Coptic politician instead said: 'I would also like to have a similar death, and go to Paradise along with the martyrs, who participate so closely to the passion of Christ' ". The Coptic Catholic Bishop of Guizeh adds that some journalists were attacked: "Of course, in front of the bodies of their relatives killed or injured, cameras are annoying. On the other hand, even the journalists were doing their job, and thanks to them it was possible for us as to get immediate news of this new fact of martyrdom. Later, many Muslims arrived to express their solidarity".
Many victims of the massacre are women and children, because the explosion occurred on the right side of the church, by custom reserved for women. "Terrorism" declared President al Sisi after the massacre, "targets Copts and Muslims, but it does nothing but make us stronger and stronger and more united". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 12/12/2016)