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New Year's Eve attack on Christian worshippers in Egypt
condemned by U.S. Christians, Jews and Muslims

New York, January 3, 2011 -- The National Council of Churches has been joined by a wide range of faith leaders, including Jews and Muslims, in condemning the murderous New Year's Eve bombing of worshippers in All Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

"The perpetrators of this outrage are apparently so blinded by hatred that they have lost touch with the tenets of any known faith,"  said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary. "It is simply agonizing to think that many around the world will mistake this horror as the attack of one religious community on another. Christians, Jews and Muslims around the world are united by their outrage and condemnation of this soul-less act.

"This is not a struggle between religions but between those who value the life of every neighbor and those who clearly do not," Kinnamon said.

At least 21 people were killed at the conclusion of a New year's midnight mass, and scores were seriously injured.

In a message to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Kinnamon said "attacks on Christians anywhere in the world are attacks on Christians everywhere. We know you share the pain we feel at this evil attack on our sisters and brothers in Alexandria. We hope you will express to President Mubarak and other government officials in Egypt that Christians and persons of faith in the United States look to them to protect Christians and other minorities in Egypt. We look to them to find the persons responsible for planning this attack, and bring them to justice."

The full text of Kinnamon's letter to Clinton is linked here.

Kinnamon sent a message of support and solidarity to Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii, a member of the National Council of Churches governing board. "I am sick at heart for the loss of life outside the church in Alexandria," Kinnamon said. "Please know that my prayers are with the whole Coptic Orthodox community."

The Coptic Orthodox Church traces its origins to Saint Mark the apostle and evangelist in the middle of the first century.

Kinnamon expressed the appreciation of the NCC's 37 member communions to the Muslim and Jewish communities for their unqualified condemnation of the violence, as well as for their support of the Christian community.

President Imam Mohamed Magid of the Islamic Society of North America issued a statement today declaring, "It is a sad day for all people when a simple act of worship or community celebration is marked by violence and innocent deaths.  ISNA asks Muslim community members and organizations in Egypt and Nigeria to lend support to the families who lost loved ones during these attacks and urges Muslim Americans to join them in prayer for God to ease the suffering of all those affected by this terrible tragedy."

At least 38 people died in Christmas Eve attacks across Nigeria, including the six killed at churches in the country's north by suspected members of a radical Muslim sect. In central Nigeria, 32 died in a series of bomb blasts in the worst violence to hit the region in months.

Magid added: "These bombings are absolutely reprehensible.  ISNA condemns any and all acts of violence against innocent civilians.  The attacks in Egypt and Nigeria are unacceptable and ISNA urges the Egyptian and Nigerian governments to take all measures to prosecute the individuals responsible for these heinous crimes swiftly and to the fullest measure.  We applaud President Obama's commitment to lend support from the United States to prosecute these individuals and bring peace to innocent civilians."

ISNA Secretary General Safaa Zarzour said ISNA and the American Muslim community recognize that these acts of violence requires us to double our efforts in promoting religious harmony and the right of people to worship free from fear and violence everywhere in the world. "The small faction of fanatics that wish to ignite religious violence and strife across the world must not be allowed to succeed" he said.

ISNA is an association of Muslim organizations and individuals that provides a common platform for presenting Islam, supporting Muslim communities, developing educational, social and outreach programs and fostering good relations with other religious communities, and civic and service organizations.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs today also expressed solidarity with the Coptic Orthodox Church.

“We are pained to see the New Year begin with such blind hatred, bigotry, and wanton disregard for human life,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “Every human being is created in the divine image. The targeting of any people because of their faith is an attack on all people of faith and indeed all humanity. Coptic Christians have had a peaceful home in Egypt for centuries. Their pain is our pain.” 

“We mourn this senseless loss of life. We know from our own experience the vulnerability of religious minorities,” said JCPA Chair Dr. Conrad Giles. “Violence against minorities strikes fear across entire communities and regions. The barbarism of this and similar attacks must be a wake-up call. Threats of violence must be taken seriously and the protection of these communities given the highest priority. The perpetrators must be brought to justice.”  

JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 14 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations. 

Elsewhere, World Council of Churches general secretary, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, expressed "profound sorrow as well as condolences and prayers for the families of the victims, for the wounded and for all the people of Egypt." Tveit encouraged Egyptians "to stand firm and united through the many trials and tribulations that continue to threaten."

The events of January 1, 2011 are a reminder of other tragedies in the region, including an attack on Coptic worshippers in Nag Hammadi, Egypt on January 7, 2010 and the lethal assault on the Church of Our Lady of Salvation (Sayidat al-Nejat) in Baghdad, Iraq on October 31, 2010.  

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member faith groups -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),

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