‘Coptic Miracle’: an Arab News Deep Dive into the history, hopes and fears of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community

Special ‘Coptic Miracle’: an Arab News Deep Dive into the history, hopes and fears of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community
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Updated 24 April 2022

‘Coptic Miracle’: an Arab News Deep Dive into the history, hopes and fears of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community

‘Coptic Miracle’: an Arab News Deep Dive into the history, hopes and fears of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community
  • In a special Deep Dive report, Arab News tells the story of the ‘Coptic miracle’

LONDON: On Sunday, the 15 million Coptic Christians in Egypt and 2 million more in scattered migrant communities across the world celebrate Orthodox Easter.

The following day, together with Egyptians of all faiths, Coptic Christians will celebrate the national holiday of Sham Ennessim.

Like the Copts themselves, the festival of spring, whose origins date back millennia to the days of the pharaohs, survived the Arabization of Egypt in the seventh century to become an integral part of Egyptian society.

In a special Minority Report, Arab News tells the extraordinary story of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, which parted company with the rest of Christendom in the fifth century after a fundamental disagreement over the nature of Christ’s divinity.

Founded in the great city of Alexandria by Mark the Evangelist in about A.D. 60, the church and its followers have undergone centuries of turmoil.

 

 

During the Roman era, Coptic Christians were singled out for bloody persecution, with St. Mark himself brutally martyred in A.D. 68.

During the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian (A.D. 245-313), what became known as the Diocletianic Persecution saw countless hundreds of Christians massacred in Alexandria alone. Among them was Peter, the Patriarch of Alexandria, who was beheaded.

After the rise of Islam and the conquest of Egypt in the seventh century, although there were isolated periods of persecution, over the centuries the Copts were treated well enough.

 

 

But the pressure of rising taxes imposed on non-Muslims saw many Christians convert to Islam, while the rapid spread of Arabic culture caused the Coptic language to fall into disuse.

Although rarely heard outside the churches, today the language, a direct descendant of the ancient Egyptian tongue spoken in the time of the pharaohs, lives on in the liturgies and monasteries of the faith.

In modern times, the Copts in Egypt have faced waves of violence at the hands of Islamists, who have bombed Coptic churches and murdered believers.

The filmed killings of 20 migrant Coptic workers in Libya in 2015 shocked the world, while a wave of attacks on Copts and their churches in Egypt in 2017 left dozens dead.

“One of the most important things for Copts today, in Egypt and abroad, is that over the past decade we have seen a much greater, harmonious existence between Christians and Muslims.”

Archbishop Anba Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London

Since the 1970s, many Copts, driven either by fear or economic pressures, have emigrated to seek new futures in the West, mainly in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK.

Wherever they have put down roots, Coptic communities and their churches have blossomed, and maintain close links with Egypt and the faith.

Today, Coptic leaders look optimistically toward a brighter future.

“One of the most important things for Copts today, in Egypt and abroad, is that over the past decade we have seen a much greater, harmonious existence between Christians and Muslims,” Archbishop Anba Angaelos, head of the Coptic Church in the UK, exclusively told Arab News.

In “The Coptic Miracle,” Arab News tells the story of how Egypt’s historic Christian church not only survived but thrived, at home and abroad.

The Coptic miracle
How Egypt's historic Christian church survived and thrived

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Lebanese MP Cynthia Zarazir enters Byblos Bank north of Beirut to demand frozen savings

Lebanese MP Cynthia Zarazir enters Byblos Bank north of Beirut to demand frozen savings
Updated 1 min 57 sec ago

Lebanese MP Cynthia Zarazir enters Byblos Bank north of Beirut to demand frozen savings

Lebanese MP Cynthia Zarazir enters Byblos Bank north of Beirut to demand frozen savings

A Lebanese member of parliament entered a branch of Byblos Bank north of Beirut early on Wednesday with a group of associates to demand access to her frozen savings, according to a depositors’ advocacy group.

Cynthia Zarazir, a first-time parliamentarian who was elected in May to represent Beirut, entered the bank unarmed, the Depositors’ Union said.


Newest Hindu temple officially opens its doors to UAE residents

Newest Hindu temple officially opens its doors to UAE residents
Updated 11 sec ago

Newest Hindu temple officially opens its doors to UAE residents

Newest Hindu temple officially opens its doors to UAE residents

DUBAI: The newest Hindu temple in Dubai opened its doors to worshippers on Tuesday following an official ceremony. 
The new Hindu House of Worship officially welcomed worshippers for the first time following its inaugural by the UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence. 
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan inaugurated the temple by lighting a lantern in the temple’s multi-purpose hall on the ground floor, Al-Khaleej Times reported. 

People visit the newly inaugurated Hindu Temple in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 4, 2022. (Reuters)


The new Temple in Jebel Ali is the latest addition to what is locally known as “village of worship” which already houses nine religious shrines, including seven churches, the Guru Nanak Darbar and Sikh Gurudwara. 
The ceremony was also attended by the Indian ambassador to UAE and over 200 dignitaries, including officials, faith leaders, and members but the Indian community in UAE.

 


Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks

Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks
Updated 48 min 55 sec ago

Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks

Yemen reviews humanitarian projects amid renewed Houthi attacks
  • Saudi Arabia is implementing a project to drill and operate 10 replacement wells using solar energy in Aden
  • Kuwait-funded projects are being established under Altwasul for Human Development to serve the displaced in Marib

ADEN: Yemeni officials reviewed humanitarian projects as the government seeks to intensify relief efforts amid a renewed escalation in conflict after the Houthis refused to extend the United Nations-brokered truce.
On Tuesday, Saudi Program for Yemen’s Development and Reconstruction briefed officials on a project to drill and operate 10 replacement wells using solar energy in Aden.
The team also reviewed the proposed sites for a solar-powered seawater desalination plant with a capacity of 10,000 cubic meters a day.
“Such projects will largely contribute to enhancing water security in Aden,” said Engr. Mohammed Bakhbeira, director general of the Local Water and Sanitation Corporation in Aden.
Abd Rabbo Muftah, the Undersecretary of Marib governorate, also reviewed some ongoing Kuwait-funded projects being established under Altwasul for Human Development to serve the critical needs of the displaced and the host community in the province.
He was briefed on the progress of a women and children hospital north of Marib, which was 20 percent complete, and the efforts to install a $500,000 oxygen plant in a public hospital with a capacity of 300 cylinders a day.
Badr Ma’awn, Secretary-General of the Local Council in Aden, meanwhile reviewed the implementation of humanitarian projects under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He praised the UN’s efforts in assisting war-affected families and the displaced in Aden amid the current situation in Yemen.
Heavy fighting has earlier erupted between government troops and Houthis across Yemen after the Iran-backed group refused to renew a UN-brokered truce that expired on Sunday.
The fiercest battles took place outside the central city of Marib and in Al-Fakher area of Dhale province, according to officials.


Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’

Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’
Updated 43 min 41 sec ago

Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’

Iran summons British ambassador after ‘interventionist comments’
  • Britain’s foreign ministry had summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires over crackdown on protests

DUBAI: Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the British ambassador in Tehran in reaction to “interventionist comments” from the British foreign ministry, the semi-official news agency Tasnim reported on Wednesday.
“The British side, by issuing unilateral statements, shows that it has a role in the belligerent scenarios of terrorists active against the Islamic Republic,” the director general of Western Europe at Iran’s foreign ministry added, after saying that London’s remarks on Iran’s internal affairs were “based on fake and provocative interpretations.”
Britain’s foreign ministry said on Monday it had summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires, Iran’s most senior diplomat in Britain, over the crackdown on protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in custody.
The British envoy in Tehran was summoned on Tuesday.
The Iranian official added Tehran will consider possible options in response to any unusual actions from Britain.
A 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, Amini was arrested on Sept. 13 by the morality police in Tehran for wearing “unsuitable attire.”


Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms
Updated 05 October 2022

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi allowed to leave Iran, State Department confirms
  • Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was detained in 2016 when he went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak
  • The US has been pressing for the release of these two men and two other Americans

Detained US citizen Baquer Namazi has been allowed to leave Iran and his son has been granted furlough from prison, the State Department said Wednesday, confirming their release.
Namazi, a former UNICEF official, was detained in February 2016 when the 85-year-old went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak, who had been arrested in October of the previous year.
The United States has been pressing for the release of these two men and two other Americans amid efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major Western powers.
“Wrongfully detained US citizen Baquer Namazi has been permitted to depart Iran, and his son Siamak, also wrongfully detained, has been granted furlough from prison,” a State Department spokesperson told AFP.
It added that the older Namazi “was unjustly detained in Iran and then not permitted to leave the county after serving his sentence, despite his repeated requirement for urgent medical attention.”
“We understand that the lifting of the travel ban and his son’s furlough were related to his medical requirement.”
The United Nations said last week that the pair had been allowed to leave Iran, after an appeal from its Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Both were convicted of espionage in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Baquer Namazi was released on medical leave in 2018 and had been serving his sentence under house arrest.
At least two other American citizens are currently held in Iran.
Businessman Emad Sharqi was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison for espionage, and environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, who is also a British national, was arrested in 2018 and released on bail in July.
A drive to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal resumed in late November last year, after talks were suspended in June as Iran elected ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.
The 2015 deal — agreed by Iran, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany — offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
But the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2018 under president Donald Trump and reimposed biting economic sanctions, prompting Tehran to begin rolling back on its commitments.
On Sunday, the United States rejected Iranian reports that Tehran’s release of US citizens would lead to the unfreezing of Iranian funds abroad.
“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release the prisoners of both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s blocked resources will be released,” the state news agency IRNA said.
But the State Department dismissed any such link as “categorically false.”
Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in a number of countries — notably China, South Korea and Japan — since the US reimposed sanctions.