Baptist World Alliance
Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Phone: +1 703 790 8980
Fax: +1 703 893 5160
January 10, 2011

For Immediate Release

Callam offers support to Egyptian Coptic Christians

Washington (BWA)--Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam has extended the hand of support to Christians in Egypt who suffered attacks a few minutes into January 1.

Callam, in writing to Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, expressed shock at "the hostile attack on worshippers" that took place as they were leaving the Church of the Two Saints congregation in Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt, following the celebration of the Christmas liturgy.

A suicide attack on the congregation occurred shortly after midnight on January 1 by Muslim extremists that left at least 32 people dead and nearly 100 injured.

Callam, in his letter to Pope Shenouda III, assured the Christian Coptic leader of "our unshakeable solidarity with the Coptic Orthodox Church family and with other Christian churches facing threats or acts of persecution."

The BWA leader cited a resolution passed by the BWA General Council in Uppsala, Sweden, in 1994, and stated that the BWA has had a longstanding concern "for the denial of the right of religious liberty to the Coptic Orthodox and other Christians in Egypt." The 1994 resolution expressed alarm at the denial of religious liberty to minority groups in several countries, including Egyptian Christians.

"We join in the call for the Egyptian authorities to take decisive action in keeping with their obligation to respect religious liberty as a human right," Callam said.

Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country with Islam as its state religion. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is the largest and oldest church in Egypt, and belongs to the Oriental Orthodoxy family of churches. Between five percent and 10 percent of Egyptians are Christians, with 90 percent of those belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

The Egyptian Baptist Convention, a BWA member body, has 18 churches with 2,100 members.