Service to remember murdered Christians

COPTIC Christians killed in attacks in Egypt in recent weeks were remembered at a memorial service at the UK’s Coptic cathedral in Stevenage on Sunday.

Around 300 Copts, ethnic members of one of the oldest churches in the world, gathered at the Cathedral of Saint George in Shephalbury Park for the service to remember dozens of fellow Christians killed in attacks at churches in the country.

They were joined by other Christian representatives and dignitaries to remember those killed in the New Year’s Day bombing in Alexandria as well as in a drive-by shooting in the south of the country on Thursday, Christmas Eve in the Coptic calendar.

The service was part of European-wide day of remembrance by Copts, whose fellow believers have suffered Islamist persecution in Egypt and the wider Middle East. A funeral rite was read for those killed in the last year.

General Bishop of the Coptic Church in the UK, Bishop Angaelos, said tough action was needed by the Government in Egypt to crack down on those responsible for the attacks.

“It’s been like this for decades, it’s just taken a new twist with these terrorist attacks in Egypt. The problem is that in the past there’s never been a criminal conviction. It makes Christians in Egypt a soft target. There are lots of question marks. There needs to be tough action if Egypt is really talking about coming to terms with this issue.”

He added that there had been threats made against Coptic churches in Europe on an Islamist website, although the Stevenage cathedral has not been targeted directly.

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“We take any threat seriously, as we have a responsibility to our congregation.” he said. “Thankfully things have been quiet so far.”