During the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at Morden College, Blackheath, on 1 October, Abba Seraphim offered thanksgiving for the safe deliverance of His Grace Anba Makarios, General Bishop of Minya, following an assassination attempt the previous day.
The Bishop was visiting the town of el-Sario in Abou Qorqas, Minya province, on a pastoral visit to comfort a Coptic family, which had lost its son in the recent sectarian violence, when his car received a hail of bullets from several unidentified attackers. His driver was able to drive to the home of a local church member, where they took refuge. However, the attackers pursued them, surrounded the house and continued shooting for over 90 minutes, causing extensive damage to its windows, doors and walls. The local security service only arrived a further 90 minutes after the shooting had stopped. The head of Minya security told the media that the local Muslim villagers were angry because they thought the Bishop had come to reopen St. Michael’s church, the only church in the village, which has been closed for the past 10 years ago for security reasons.
Minya is one of the most highly populated governorates in Upper Egypt, and the region of Abou Qorqas is situated on the left bank of the Nile. This summer saw considerable sectarian violence and incitement against Copts, in which some 43 citizens had their homes, shops and vehicles looted or destroyed whilst in Minya City the Amir Tadros Church, St. Joseph’s Convent, Abba Moussa Church an d the Assembly of Coptic Schools was burned to the ground,; Mar Mina Church was looted and the Evangelical and Baptist Churches were burned as well as the library of the Jesuit Association, the YMCA, the Soldiers of Christ Coptic Orphanage, St. Joseph’s Convent School and the Holy Bible Press. Two Copts were also burned to death when their tourist boat was set on fire.
Commenting on the attempted assassination, Abba Seraphim expressed concern about the extent of violent threats directed against Copts and supporters of the interim government. He noted that one website, calling itself ‘The Al Magreze Center for Historical Studies” publishes a “Wanted List of the Sharia Court” giving photographs and details of 37 targetted notables, including His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, with a grisly cartoon of General Al-Sisli hanging from a gallows.