The sickening news which broke this morning of the vicious attack on a busload of Coptic Christian pilgrims, in which at least 26 passengers were killed and a further 25 wounded, is the latest atrocity to be committed by murderous fanatics, masquerading as religious zealots. It comes at a time when the United Kingdom is still stunned and horrified by the massacre of innocents in Manchester. Over the past few years the frequency of attacks on Christians around the globe has become so common that there has been a danger of us becoming desensitised to their suffering, tending to regard such events as a symptom of social and political chaos in countries lacking strong and stable governments. It is clear, however, from the spontaneous outburst of compassion and common humanity which the Manchester atrocity has ignited, that the British public is still largely tolerant, humane and loving and would regard the cruel treatment of innocent victim elsewhere with the same abhorrence as we do for attacks on our own citizens. Indeed, Egypt is an ancient civilisation with a responsible and just government, which is doing everything within its power to protect all its people, regardless of their religious affiliation and, like us, most Egyptians reject the divisiveness of religious bigotry and long for peace and concord.
The perpetrators of these acts of evil are fully aware that their savagery occurs on the eve of the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan, which the prophet of Islam tells them is the month “whose beginning is mercy”, when the devout, through prayer and fasting and the giving of alms, seek forgiveness of their sins. As Christians we can identify with such religious aspirations, because we know that hatred, destruction and murder have no place in true religion. Such actions unjustly bring shame on god-fearing Muslims, who would never countenance such wickedness, and we must rejoice that among the thousands who came out onto the streets of Manchester and other cities around the world, to express their grief and opposition to violence, many were Muslims.