German, French Coptic churches threatened

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PARIS: French police are investigating threats made against Coptic churches in France in the wake of a deadly attack on one in Egypt, a security source said Monday.

The probe was launched after a church official filed a complaint, the source said. Germany’s Coptic Christians have also received threats of attack by radical Muslims and asked for protection, a bishop said in a newspaper Sunday.

“The internet is full of threats of this kind against us. The police have alerted us several times against attacks by radical Muslims,” Coptic Bishop Anba Damian said in a report on Germany’s Bild’s online edition.

The threats rose over the end of year festive season, he said.

“I have written to the interior minister to ask for protection,” the bishop said.

Egypt was on high alert Monday ahead of the Coptic Christmas holiday on Jan. 7 following the New Year’s Day church bombing that killed 21 people in the city of Alexandria.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday condemned as the Alexandria bombing as “barbaric.”

“I received the news of the awful attack on a church in Alexandria with disgust and anger,” Merkel said in a letter of condolence to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, according to a government statement.

“The (German) government deplores in the strongest terms this barbaric act of terror in which Christians, but also Muslims, lost their lives.”

She added: “I thank you for the measures already introduced to protect Coptic Christians in Egypt and am convinced that you will do everything in your power to prevent further incidents like this in the future.”

A day earlier Italy’s foreign minister said his European counterparts must respond clearly and forcefully at an upcoming meeting to attacks against and discrimination of Christians throughout the world.

Speaking after the Alexandria bombing, Frattini said it “tragically confirms that religious intolerance, above all against Christians, has taken on an intensity and dimension that is very serious and alarming and absolutely unacceptable”.

“The moment for a powerful and clear political response by all governments that cherish human rights of which religious freedom is a basic part has come,” he said in a statement.

Frattini said the “European Union must be at the frontline in this battle.”

“This is what Italy is asking of the EU,” he added.

EU foreign ministers will next meet on Jan. 31.


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