I just thought I would share an e-mail that I got.
Copts in Canada step up security for church holiday; Bombing in Egypt, threatened priests; all create fear as Orthodox Christians prepare for Christmas
Ottawa-area Copts, like their brethren elsewhere in Canada, have stepped up security at their churches following the weekend suicide bombing in Egypt and recent threats against Coptic priests in this country.
On New Year's Day, 21 people were killed and 79 wounded in a suicide bombing at a Coptic church in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. The attack was the worst in nearly three decades of on-and-off sectarian violence against the country's Copts, who compose about 10 per cent of Egypt's 80 million people.
The violence, however, is no longer confined to Egypt. Coptic parishes in Europe and the United States have been threatened by Islamists. Now, it seems, Canada's 255,000 Copts are also on the hate list.
"It's an epidemic in Egypt, the hatred of Muslims who treat Christians as second-class citizens," says Father Mikhail Fam, the priest for the St. George and St. Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church of Ottawa.
"The message that is coming from terrorist cells (in the Middle East) is to kill and bomb Christian parishes. These threats have spread not only to Egypt, but also to parishes outside the country, including Canada."
Indeed, Canada's Coptic community became highly security conscious after the names and addresses of 100 Copts, along with photographs, were published on an Islamist website in December. Private security firms have been hired to protect churchgoers during the upcoming Christmas period.
"The churches are going to conduct ceremonies with no problem. However, security will be tightened around the buildings," said Sherif Mansour, spokesman for the Canadian Coptic Association.
In Ottawa, Fam says, the RCMP and Ottawa Police have boosted patrols around the city's two Coptic churches, which serve about 5,000 parishioners.
While Fam hasn't received any threats, he's aware of other priests -- particularly those who have been more vocal about the situation in Egypt -- who have.
"The biggest parish we have in Canada is in Mississauga, and they have received direct threats in the past month," he says, referring to the St. Mary and St. Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church.
Despite the threats, Ottawa Copts will hold a memorial service Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Fam's church to commemorate those killed or wounded in the weekend attack. Members of Parliament and Egyptian Embassy staff have been invited.
The attacks have been condemned by numerous governments, including those of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti described the church bombing as an act aimed at turning non-Muslim against Muslim.
In his annual New Year's speech at the Vatican, the Pope demanded that governments everywhere do more to protect religious minorities. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak vowed to find those responsible for the bombing, which he blamed on "foreign hands."
Despite the condemnations and appeals for calm, Christians in Egypt have reacted with fury. On Monday, Christian protesters clashed for a third day with police. The unrest came as police tightened church security for Christmas, which Copts celebrate on Friday, as investigators hunted the perpetrators of the Alexandria church bombing. Tensions also erupted in a northern Cairo neighbourhood as protesters threw rocks at police who tried to block a march by thousands of Copts. Police responded by throwing rocks back at the protesters.
Copts, who make up the Middle East's largest Christian community, have been the targets of much violence in recent years. In January 2000, for example, 20 Copts died in clashes with Muslims in the southern Egyptian village of Kosheh. It was the worst sectarian violence until this latest attack.
Saturday's attack was also the latest in a series of increasing violent assaults against vulnerable Christian communities. An Oct. 31 siege on a Baghdad church killed nearly 60 parishioners, prompting a new Christian exodus from the Iraqi capital and the northern city of Mosul. Last week, attacks against 10 Christian targets left an elderly couple dead after a bomb placed on their doorstep exploded when they opened the door.
Fam, who came to Canada from Egypt nearly 20 years ago, is not optimistic there will be an end to such assaults anytime soon. He says the threats and the attacks reflect a concerted campaign by extremists against Christians throughout the Middle East, and all the condemnations will do little good until the attitudes of Muslims towards those of other faiths change.
"There has been attacks and killings and persecutions (against Copts) in Egypt for a long time," Fam says. "Every time, we express our concerns to the Egyptian government, but unfortunately nothing happens. There's a reaction, things die down and we wait for another incident to happen."
Fam is also worried such incidents will come to Canada. The country's hard-won traditions of equality are being undermined by the presence of those who abuse multicultural policy to suit their own ideological ends, he says.
"While multiculturalism is a great policy, where everybody is treated equally, it's also a double-edged sword because people with a hidden agenda can find it to be very fertile soil for planting the seeds of their own ideology."
Just wanted to know if any of you have or know where to find a so-called kill/death list. It has about 200 names of copts around the world that are targetted by Al-Quaeda.
God bless, Pray for me,