Persecution of the Coptic church

Joan Hart


On Palm Sunday of this year, a total of 55 Coptic Christians were murdered while worshipping in their churches, one  just outside Cairo, and another in Alexandria. ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings.

While persecution of all Christians has been a tactic of terrorism for ISIS, the Coptics (or Copts as they are usually referred to), have been terrorized and attacked even more frequently than many other groups. The militants have previously claimed that attacks against Coptics are revenge for Muslim women persecuted by Coptic crusaders in Egypt.

It is also believed that this particular cathedral was attacked for the second time because it is the seat of the Coptic Pope, and the persona of Mark himself, author of the oldest of the four gospels.  Copts are among the oldest of all the continuous Christian faiths, if not the very oldest.

Furthermore, experts who have studied  ISIS and other similar groups confirm that these groups “absolutely detest cultural symbolism.” This is why we see them destroying historical monuments thoughout the lands they conquer.

The word “Coptic” means Egyptian, and Christians living in Egypt identify themselves as Coptic Christians. But as a distinct religious denomination, the Copts originated in the city of Alexandria.

Coptic Christians acknowledge St. Mark as their founder and first bishop sometime between A.D. 42 - A.D. 62. The Coptic Church was involved in the very first major split in the church, well before there was such a thing as “Roman” Catholicism, and it was also well before the east/west split.

According to baptismal records of the church, the cathedral is said to stand on the site of the church founded by St. Mark. John Mark is believed to be the writer of the earliest of the four gospels and has been connected with the city of Alexandria since earliest Christian tradition. Coptic Christians believe he arrived in Alexandria around 60 AD and stayed for about seven years.

For the complete column, see the Wednesday print edition of The Daily Record, or view the e-Edition online.


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