After Church Bombing, SAT-7 and the Egyptian Church Partner to Witness to the Prince of Peace
Daily live TV shows give Egyptian church leaders opportunity to call for peace, to calm the enraged and to explain the gospel.
London. January 6, 2011/3mnews.org/– On 31st December 2010, a car bomb exploded in front of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt, killing 21 worshippers and injuring more than 70 others. In the days afterward members of the Christian minority in Egypt, who make up as much as 10% of the country’s population, began demonstrations around the country. In Alexandria itself, according to news reports, the bombing sparked street clashes between police and angry Copts, who hurled stones and stormed a nearby mosque. Numerous demonstrations also occurred in Cairo.
In response to escalating tensions, SAT-7 ARABIC interrupted its normal broadcasts. The channel instead offered live programming from its Cairo studio to give local Church leaders a chance to respond and minister to people during this difficult situation. These leaders used the daily live shows to urge their congregations, and the wider community, to work for peace and not destruction.
During one of the shows, Pastor Sameh Maurice of the Kasr El Dobarah Church (the largest Evangelical Church in the Middle East) and Father Samaan Ibrahim of the Coptic Orthodox Church, directly responded to callers living in different parts of Egypt, including Alexandria. Many called to express anger over the bombing, their frustration with the government’s handling of the situation, and their resentment over the general treatment of Christians in the country. Pastor Sameh and Father Samaan encouraged viewers to remember that the Christian message is a message of love and peace. They agreed that people are allowed to be angry and sad about the situation but also need to transform their emotions into heartfelt prayer. They pointed out that the true enemy of Christians is Satan, not people, and that we should consider members of other religions not as enemies but as friends with whom we are sharing our earthly journey together.
While numerous viewers called to vent raw emotions, most of the calls were from people expressing sympathy for the injured and the families of the victims, and people wanting to send messages of encouragement to all who were caught up in the tragedy.
Pastor Sameh shared that he was already seeing some good come from this terrible situation; that in fact many Muslim citizens in Egypt were also outraged at the treatment Christians were receiving and are now saying they want to work to change the situation in the country. He stated that a number of Muslim leaders are even willing to participate in the Eastern Christmas Eve Mass on the evening of 6th January and during services on the 7th. Both Pastor Sameh and Father Samaan asked the audience to be wise and calm and not to seek revenge or to participate in violent demonstrations.
In another live programme on the ARABIC channel of SAT-7, the well-known Orthodox priest Father Makari Younan talked openly and boldly about the issues that lead to such problems. But he and other hosts also talked about the danger of misrepresenting Christianity through protests where angry sentiments are shouted in the streets. Father Makari specifically warned that „It is nonsense for Christians to shout, ‚We protect the Cross with our own blood and souls.‘ The cross is the symbol of our salvation; it is what protects us, not otherwise.“
SAT-7’s special live shows will continue in the lead up to the Coptic Christmas holiday held annually on 7th January (in accordance with the Eastern Orthodox calendar) allowing viewers further opportunities to express their feelings and to receive Godly counsel during these difficult days in Egypt. Hosts on these shows have reminded viewers that the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church has called for all Christians to fast until 7th January, to repent of their sins and to pray for peace and fairness to flourish in the land of Egypt.
In addition to the live shows, SAT-7 sent many messages of condolence to Christian leaders of all denominations in Egypt, expressed unity with our Egyptian brothers and sisters and delivered Bibles to those victims recovering in hospitals. SAT-7 presses forward as a voice of peace and moderation, encouraging prayer and reflection during these difficult times.