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05 January 2011

Christians in Alexandria ask for worldwide support from believers

Christians in Alexandria ask for worldwide support from believers

Christians in Egypt affected by the New Year's Eve bombings have been speaking to the Evangelical Alliance about their ordeal and urging people in Britain to pray about the situation.

George, 25, son of Father Mena Adel, who leads the Church of Saints Mark and Peter in Alexandria where 22 people were killed and more than 80 injured on New Year's Day, said it was a nightmare.

He said: "This is a very bad crisis. No-one can deny that what happened was a disaster. The Christians right now are feeling fear and there are many people talking on the internet about another bombing. We need a lot of prayers."

Briton Helen Shirley, who travels to Alexandria twice a year to teach English and attended the church, said she has been in regular contact with members since the attacks.

"People are terrified," she said. "They're staying in their houses. They feel the West has no idea how much they're suffering. They feel it's like the end of the world and people are screaming and crying constantly. It's vital for them to know that people in Britain are supporting them and are aware of what they're going through."

It's not the first time the church has been rocked by violence. In April 2006, a worshipper was stabbed to death in Alexandria during violent attacks on three churches in the area.

And Christians are fearful of more attacks around the Coptic Christmas celebration which takes place on 7 January. At this time last year, six Coptic Christians were killed in a drive-by shooting in the southern Egyptian town of Nagaa Hamady.

But Hany Mourad, of Rivers of Life Ministries based in the city, has hope. He said: "Most of the Christians in Alexandria are very scared. We couldn't have imagined that something like this could happen, especially on New Year's Eve when most of the people were praying. Who would have believed that this would be their destiny - to be slaughtered in this way?

"We feel sad and angry but we hope that the situation will change and we hope that good things will come of it. I believe that as Christians our hope is to see people who are in darkness come to the light of Christ. That's our prayer: that people will know Jesus.

"We value very much your prayers and support and feel blessed to have brothers and sisters supporting us and praying to God for us."

Christian organisations in the UK, including the Evangelical Alliance, have condemned the attacks.

Andy Dipper, CEO of Release International, which serves persecuted Christians, said: "We are seeing a pattern emerging in Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere, of attacks by Islamist militants against Christian communities.

"The aim seems to be twofold - to drive out Christians where they are in a minority, and to set religious communities against one another to destabilise moderate governments.

"We condemn the attacks and call on the authorities in Egypt and Iraq to protect their Christian minorities."