Dyker Heights Coptic Christians Pray For Peace In Egypt

The Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George (image by Aby Thomas / Brooklyn Ink)

Brooklyn Ink had a great feature this past Sunday on the local Coptic Christian community, which is praying for a peaceful solution to the current religious and political turmoil in a rapidly changing Egypt.

Though the Coptic Orthodox Church of Saint George (1105 67th Street) in Dyker Heights, known as the “Ellis Island of the Coptic Community,” may be thousands of miles from Egypt, worshipers’ thoughts remain focused on the 26 people killed during a demonstration in Cairo on October 9.

The community is also trying to pressure officials in both Washington and Cairo to help protect Copts, an ancient Middle Eastern religious minority whose origins can be traced back to Christianity’s earliest days, from further attacks.

From Brooklyn Ink:

The local Copts are also appealing to a higher authority. Parishioners gathered at St. George’s in mid-October to mark the end of a three-day fast called by the church’s top council, the Holy Synod, to mourn for the victims of the Oct. 9 violence between Coptic Christians and the Egyptian army.
“Don’t leave me alone in the midst of this darkness,” sang the congregation. “Let your bright face guide me, O Lord, unto peace.”
At least 26 people were killed and several hundred injured in downtown Cairo after the army attacked Coptic demonstrators protesting the September 30 burning of a church in Aswan, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent federal body that monitors religious freedom abroad.

Reports by international observers say the army used live ammunition and armored vehicles – shooting scores and crushing at least six demonstrators – during what had been a largely peaceful protest.

Parishioners say they’re disappointed with Egypt’s new government for not respecting basic rights, such as religious freedom, as well as the freedom to assemble.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government was toppled in February during a popular revolution which had begun in January.

The victims were demonstrating against the burning of a church by an anti-Christian mob when they were set on by the Egyptian military, as well as hundreds of civilians – apparently Muslim extremists – wielding clubs and machetes.

Despite all the violence faced by fellow Copts, John Fanouse, a fourth-year medical student and member of St. George’s congregation told reporters that a non-violent solution remains possible.

“A lot of us think of tangible steps—we’re going to demonstrate, we’re going to talk, we’re going to write. But the Church always reminds us that prayer and fasting have led to some great, great things in the past. And so, I do remain hopeful.”