LOS ANGELES – In the wake of the popular uprising that overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt now stands at a crossroads with unprecedented opportunity to build a democratic society. Southern California Coptic Christians support the aim of their Coptic brothers and sisters in Egypt: to help create a new government that is fair and equitable to all citizens, ensures human rights for everyone and rejects extremism and discrimination in all forms.
But many in the United States remain unaware of Egypt’s large, ancient Coptic Christian community, a religious minority in a nation that is 90 percent Islamic. In the past 11 years Coptic Christians have suffered severe persecution and martyrdom at the hands of extremists, such as the New Year’s Day suicide bombing of Saint Mark and Pope Peter Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria, which killed 24 Copts and injured approximately 100.
On Wednesday, a Coptic priest was found stabbed to death in his home in southern Egypt, the likely victim of extremist violence. The killing set off further street demonstrations by several thousand Christians.
Coptic Orthodox bishop H.G. Bishop Serapion will be featured speaker at a memorial event honoring Egyptian Christians who have died as martyrs in four attacks since 2000. The event will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles.
Bishop Serapion, who leads the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii, happened to be in Egypt when protests erupted last month in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The bishop will speak on Copts’ vision and hope for building new Egypt.
The event will include an eight-minute documentary film that details the attacks on Copts resulting in martyrdom, as well as recent political events in Egypt. In addition to commemorating Copts martyred in the Alexandria church bombing, the event will remember six Coptic youths in Nag Hammadi gunned down by extremists in a Mass on Jan. 7, 2010; the 21 Copts killed by extremists in the village of Al Kosheh Jan. 21, 2000; and a moment of silence for those who died during political demonstrations in Tahrir Square.