• 21:35
  • Sunday ,09 January 2011
العربية

Qena church attack remembered

By-Ihab Shaarawy-EG

Home News

00:01

Sunday ,09 January 2011

Qena church attack remembered

QENA - Thousands of Egyptians gathered outside a church in Qena in Upper Egypt on Saturday night to observe the first death anniversary of their loved ones, who were killed by a gunman on Coptic Christmas Eve last year.

Copts and Muslims, carrying banners denouncing violence, stood outside Nagaa Hamadi Church in solidarity with the victims' family members and nine survivors of the the painful attack, which left six Christians and one Muslim dead on January 7, 2010.

   "We share and remember with you this sadness, and pray with you for forgiveness, peace and justice," Bishop Korolos of the Nagaa Hamadi Church told a special Mass that was attended by Muslims and Christians.

    Bishop Korolos condemned the murder of the victims and denounced any further violence Egypt. Bishop Korolos emphasised the importance of Muslims and Christians in coming together to confront any form of extremism and terrorism which aims to destabilise Egypt. 

    “Islam and Christianity have nothing to do with violence, extremism, or sectarianism,” he said, calling on the faithful to stick to the basic values and principles of religion, which promotes the concept of forgiveness and denounces aggression.

    "The Muslims and the Christians are partners in Egypt and they should always live peacefully together. It should never be  forgotten that. Some insane actions taken by ignorant people shouldn't make us disregard this reality," he added.

    At present, Qena's State Security Court is trying three men on suspicion of involvement in last year's drive-by shooting.

    Witnesses have told the court that they saw the main suspect, identified as Mohamed Ahmed Hassan, alias Hamam el-Kamouni, spraying a group of Coptic Christians with bullets from a machine gun, as they left a local church after mass on Christmas Eve.

     They also identified the other suspects as Hindawi Sayyed Mohamed and Qurashi Abul Hagag, whom authorities described as men with criminal records.

     The witnesses testified that Hindawi and Qurashi were helping el-Kamouni during the attack.

     The three suspects were indicted on charges of premeditated murder, illegal possession of firearms, and intimidating people. They added that these crimes are punishable by death under Egyptian law.

    However, Hindawi and Qurashi have denied they were involved in the attack, which also left nine people wounded.