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Coptic Catholic patriarch: In Egypt, testimony of attacked Christians inspires conversions

The last few years have been especially hard for the Coptic Church. The attacks in Alexandria and Tanta on Easter Sunday... the murder of 21 workers on a Libyan beach, whose bodies were recently found... or the stabbing to death of a priest are some of the most recent examples of hatred the Egyptian Christians have endured. Coptic Orthodox and Coptic Catholics are suffering this persecution together, one that nevertheless is producing surprising results.

IBRAHIM ISAAC SIDRAK
Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria

“I don't want to boast, but after these attacks, I couldn't even tell you how many people have converted to Christianity. They are people who were maybe wondering about the meaning of life and of faith and, after these assaults, have decided to convert.”

The Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, assures a change of mentality is necessary in order to stop this persecution and discrimination. Egypt contains the largest Christian community in the Middle East, and radicals know attacking these people causes instability throughout the region. 

Also located in the Nile country is Al-Azhar, the center of reference for Sunni Islam studies – the majority denomination – which welcomed Pope Francis a few months ago. The university plays a fundamental role in Islamic thought.

IBRAHIM ISAAC SIDRAK
Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria

“The Imam gives his addresses and I hope what he says ceremoniously he also says behind closed doors. In the address he gave in the pope's presence, he precisely defended Islam, but didn't recognize the problem Islam faces.”

They have distorted and used Islam to commit atrocious crimes like the ones they carried out in Egypt against Christians just days before the pope's visit. Pope Francis, however, didn't allow it to frighten him and went through with the trip, a powerful gesture for the tormented Christian population. 

IBRAHIM ISAAC SIDRAK
Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria

“It was the test of a true friend being there in difficult times. At the same time, he has greatly helped Egypt, not only the Christians, but the whole country – which has benefitted from his visit on many levels. Many things in the Egyptians' thinking began to change even before. After, many wrote in newspapers. I read two or three articles not long ago, criticisms of those who accuse Christians of being disloyal or say they shouldn't be Egyptian citizens. Now this is clearly being spoken about.”

There are an estimated 300,000 Coptic Catholics in Egypt, while there are around 12 million Coptic Orthodox. Christians as a whole make up 10 percent of the 92 million inhabitants of the Nile country.