Church bells rang out across Egypt on Saturday as an act of solidarity with the Muslim community, following a terror attack on the al-Rawda mosque in Bir al-Abed, North Sinai. Bombs exploded at the mosque before gunmen entered and opened fire on those still standing. The death toll currently stands at 305. More than 100 people are being treated in hospital.
The Anglican Bishop of Egypt, Mouneer Anis, said that he was “deeply saddened” by what he called a “cowardly terrorist” attack.
The mosque was home to a community of Sufi Muslims. “It is known that militant Salafi and Jihadist groups consider Sufis as heretics,” Bishop Mouneer said. “They used to target policemen, soldiers and Christians but now Muslims are also targeted. No group is exempt.
“This massive bloody attack is the largest during the last few years.”
Bishop Mouneer said that Egyptians were “determined to fight terrorism and support President Abdel Fatah El Sisi who is leading the war against terrorism in the region.” He continued: “Terrorism is a great threat to the whole world. This fact puts the responsibility on the international community to stop all groups and organisations which financially support these terrorist groups.
“These organizations take advantage of the freedom in the European countries to raise funds to support terrorists to carry out their bloody attacks on human beings.”
Bishop Angaelos, the former General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK and now the new Coptic Bishop of London – a member of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission (AOOIC) – described the attack as a “heartbreaking, unprovoked, inhumane [attack] on innocent Sufi Muslim worshippers.” In a Tweet, he said that his “heart goes out to victims, their families and communities, and all those who will continue to be affected.”
Speaking about Saturday’s bells tribute, he said that churches wanted to “express condolences and solidarity” with the Muslim community following the attack. “Different individuals, different communities, different faith . . . same senseless destruction and pain,” he said.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby described the attack as “terrible beyond words.” He said: “We pray for all affected, for the Egyptian government, and for peace and justice.”