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Egypt: Only steel bars saved Suez priest, family

Posted on: August 14, 2013 4:22 PM
The Revd Ehab Ayoub (centre) was trapped with family and colleagues for hours
Photo Credit: Diocese of Egypt
Related Categories: Egypt, Middle East

By ACNS staff

An Anglican priest and his family narrowly escaped harm this morning after a mob armed with rocks and petrol bombs were kept out his church building by steel window bars.

The Revd Ehab Ayoub, his family, a lay minister and a guard were trapped in St Saviour's Church, Suez, for hours while pro-Mursi supporters were attacking the building.

Speaking from the Diocese of Egypt head office, Bishop's Chaplain the Revd Drew Schmotzer told ACNS, "They [the attackers] tried to get through the windows, but our steel bars prevented it (thanks be to God).

"Eventually, the army came with tanks and personnel and after a long morning, the family are now out of the church and in a safe place."

The attack on the church came to light after the Bishop of Egypt and Primate of the The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East, Mouneer Anis, posted an appeal for prayer on the diocesan website.

"As I write these words, our St Saviour's Anglican Church in Suez is under heavy attack from those who support former President Mursi," he wrote. "They...have destroyed the car of Revd Ehab Ayoub, the priest-in-charge of St Saviour's Church.

"I am also aware that there are attacks on other Orthodox churches in Menyia and Suhag in Upper Egypt, as well as a Catholic church in Suez. Some police stations are also under attack in different parts of Egypt. Please pray and ask others to pray for this inflammable situation in Egypt."

The attack on the churches are part of a deteriorating situation in the country that has prompted the presidency to declare a state of emergency. Several people have died in today's clashes including, according to reports, the 17-year-old daughter of leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed el-Beltagy. Two news reporters, Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz and Mick Deane, were also killed.

Last week a 10-year-old Christian girl was shot dead on the way home from church. The growing threat to Christians of all denominations in the country is causing concern not only in Egypt but also around the world. Recently Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of The Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK released a statement in which he called for urgent action to protect Christians in Egypt.

Mr Schmotzer echoed the Primate's call for Christians everywhere to remember the situation in Egypt at this time: "We don't know what will happen to the [St Saviour's] church, and we don't know what will happen here in Egypt as in many places there is violence. Please continue to pray!"