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Church bombings in Egypt

· Religious leaders respond to attacks ·

 “Cowardly attacks” that "will not harm the unity of this people and its cohesion. Egyptians are united in the face of terrorism until it is eradicated”: this was the response of the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, to the Egyptian Prime Minister, Sherif Ismail Mohamed who called him to offer his condolences after the Palm Sunday bombings against the church of St. George in Tanta and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt on 9 April. The Patriarch, who was celebrating mass in the Cathedral of St. Mark at the time of the explosion there, narrowly escaped with his life. At least 44 other people at the two churches were not so fortunate. More than 100 were injured in the attacks, for which the so-called Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.

The Grand Imam of the prestigious Muslim insitution, al-Azhar, Ahmed Muhammad al-Tayyeb, said in a statement that "attacks against places of worship go against the authentic Islamic religion and its teachings of tolerance, but fail to undermine the unity of the Egyptian people."

Pope Francis will visit the Sunni institution in late April during his apostolic visit to Egypt. The papal journey was confirmed by Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State for General Affairs, in an interview with the Italian daily, "Corriere della Sera" : “what happened causes confusion and great suffering but it cannot prevent the Pope’s mission for peace,” he said. “Without hiding from reality, the Pope invites us to look to the future with hope. And as always, he wants to lead by example.”

Describing the bombings as an attack against “dialogue, peace,” Archbishop Becciu stressed that dialogue with the Islamic world is a way of “isolating” extremists and that the Pope wants to distinguish between acts of terror and the Muslim faith.

“The honesty of his positions have earned him the gratitude of Muslims,” the Archbishop explained. “Many Islamic authorities have met the Pope to thank him, while many others have written to express admiration for his moral authority.”

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