CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH
Egypt bomb kills 21 at Alexandria Coptic church
BBC News reports: “President Hosni Mubarak has urged Egypt’s Muslims and Christians to stand united against terrorism after a bombing outside a church in Alexandria.
At least 21 people were killed and 70 hurt in the suspected suicide attack, which happened during a New Year’s Eve service at the al-Qiddissin Church.
In a rare televised address, Mr. Mubarak said it bore the hallmark of foreign hands seeking to destabilize Egypt.
Several hundred Christians later clashed nearby with Muslims and police.
About 1,000 worshippers were attending the Mass at the al-Qiddissin (Saints) Church in the Sidi Bechr district of the Mediterranean port city.
As the service drew to a close after midnight, a bomb went off in the street outside.
The last thing I heard was a powerful explosion and then my ears went deaf, 17-year-old Marco Boutros told the Associated Press from his hospital bed. All I could see were body parts scattered all over.
Another witness told the private On-TV channel that he had seen two men park a car outside the church and get out just before the blast.
Officials initially thought the cause was a car bomb, but the interior ministry later ruled it out, saying the attack was instead carried out by a suicide bomber who died among the crowd ” (Gods Word, the Holy Bible predicts the persecution and slaughter of Christians preceding the 7-year Tribulation period Philippians 1:29; 3:10 14; II Timothy 3:12; Matthew 5:10 12. God says: “ be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life ” to lay at Jesus feet Revelation 2:10; 4:10, 11. See also the next three reports.)
Canadas Coptic Christians ask for protection in wake of Egypt bombing
The Globe and Mail reports: “Coptic Christians in Canada are imploring police to step up security at churches during the weeks orthodox Christmas celebrations, as they brace for any copycat violence after the New Years weekends suicide bombing in Egypt.
Fallout from the slaying of 21 people at an Alexandria church is causing political turmoil in Egypt and ripples of fear to spread in diaspora communities through the West. Yet Copts in Canada say they will still turn out in droves to celebrate the birth of Christ.
We have strong faith that God is protecting us as his people. But, on the other hand, we are expecting that authorities do their part, said Rev. Angelos Saad.
He and his officials are to meet local police to discuss security measures. The fear is that terrorists could target his 2,000 congregants during the midnight mass on Jan. 7.
Canadian authorities are insisting there are no known credible threats. Yet in Europe, authorities are stepping up security at some churches in France and Austria.
Al-Qaeda-inspired groups have essentially declared war on Copts in recent months. The ancient Christian sect, which adheres to the Julian calendar, predates Islam and still accounts for 10 per cent of the Egyptian population ”
Two killed in Iraq attacks on Christian homes
BBC News reports: “Two people have died and 14 injured in a series of attacks on Christian homes in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
The homemade bomb attacks began at 1930 local time (1630 GMT) and took place in six locations in the capital.
The worst was in the district of al-Ghadir, where the deaths occurred. No-one has admitted carrying out the attacks.
It comes after a deadly attack on a Baghdad cathedral in October, which killed more than 50 people.
Militants took over the Our Lady of Salvation church during Sunday Mass, demanding the release of al-Qaeda prisoners.
Al-Ghadir is home to a significant Christian population, though many have fled due to ongoing threats and violence, according to AFP news agency.
Other bombs exploded in west Baghdad, one in the garden of a home in Yarmuk, and another in Khadra.
Another explosion went off in the Karrada district, where the Our Lady of Salavation church is located, and there were also blasts in Dora and Saidiya in south Baghdad.
The BBC’s Jim Muir in Baghdad said the bombs were not big by Baghdad standards, but the message was clear ”
Christian exodus from Iraq gathers pace
The Guardian.co.uk reports: “Their cathedrals stand silent and their neighbourhoods are rapidly emptying. Now Iraq’s Christians face two further unthinkable realities: that Christmas this year is all but cancelled, and that few among them will stay around to celebrate future holy days.
It has been the worst of years for the country’s Christians, with thousands fleeing in November and December, and more leaving the country during 2010 than at any time since the invasion nearly eight years ago. Christian leaders say there have been few more defining years in their 2,000-year history in central Arabia.
The latest exodus follows a massacre led by al-Qaida at a Chaldean Catholic church in central Baghdad on 31 October, which left about 60 people dead, almost 100 maimed and an already apprehensive community terrified. Since then, the terrorist group has targeted Christians in their homes, including family members of those who survived the attack.
In Baghdad, as well as the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, Christmas services have been cancelled for fear of further violence. Church leaders said they would not put up Christmas decorations or celebrate midnight mass. They told families not to decorate their homes, for fear of attack after al-Qaida reiterated its threat to target Christians earlier this week.
Now more than 80% of Christians are not going to the churches, said the head of Iraq’s Christian Endowment group, Abdullah al-Noufali. There is no more sunday school, no school for teaching Christianity. Yesterday we had a discussion about what we would do for Christmas. We took a decision just to do one mass. In years before we had many masses.
Noufali’s church was closed and barricaded in 2005 when violence was consuming Baghdad. Many others had stayed open since then. Until now. In the wake of the attack on the Our Lady of Salvation church, at least 10 churches are believed to have been closed. At others, congregations are down to a handful ” (750,000 Christians have already fled their homes in Iraq and are attempting to find a safe place in other areas of the world.)
Police: Fatal Attack on Christian Women was Terror
Israel National News reports: “Police have imposed a gag order on the stabbing of two Christian women near the city of Beit Shemesh, but said they believe the stabbing was a terrorist attack. Earlier police had said the incident may have been criminally motivated.
No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the fatal attack.
The victims, both Christian missionaries, had been hiking in the Jerusalem Forest when they were attacked by two Arab men bearing knives. American Kristine Luken was killed, and an Israeli immigrant from Britain, Kay Wilson, was badly hurt.
Wilson told police that she survived the brutal attack Saturday by pretending to be dead. She was stabbed multiple times with a large serrated knife.
At one point, she said, one of the Arab attackers ripped off a Star of David necklace she was wearing and then stabbed her in the chest where the star which traditionally symbolizes Jewish identity had lain.
After the attackers left she was unable to call for help, as her severe injuries left her struggling for breath. However, she managed to stand and walk toward a nearby town, and found two families near the road who called for help.
A memorial will be held for Luken in a church in the Old City of Jerusalem. Luken, who will be buried in the United States, worked as the head of the British branch of Church Ministry among Jewish people (CMJ) ” (Matthew 24:9; John 16:2.)