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HOLY LAND – After the attacks on two Coptic churches in Cairo and Alexandria during the Palm Sunday celebration on April 9, 2017, a demonstration of solidarity and condemnation of religious terrorism was held in Nazareth, organized by parish priests.  A spontaneous gathering of the same magnitude took place in Bethlehem.

Nazareth was one of the first cities to organize a show of support  for the victims of the attacks, which was held near the Coptic Orthodox Church.

More than 300 people of all faiths gathered in the late afternoon on Monday, April 10, to express their support for the Coptic community.  Banners held by the  demonstrators had slogans condemning terrorism:  “Charity will never cease”, “We will not leave, we remain and we resist”, “but …, God exists”, “Blessed are the peacemakers”, “We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth “, ” Down with fanaticism and Daesh “, ” Enough innocent blood … ” or ” Terrorism affects us all without distinction “.

The presence of the former mayor of Nazareth, Mr. Ramez Jarayseh, was highly appreciated by all the people present at the gathering. This solidarity rally was also the setting of short songs and prayers calling for an end to terrorism in the world.  Bishop Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Israel, read the official statement of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land expressing condolences to Coptic Patriarch Tawadros.

Following these attacks, many ask: Will Pope Francis still go to Egypt? For the moment, according to the Vicar in Nazareth, the program of the Holy Father remains unchanged. Many of the faithful appreciate and admire the Pope’s courage, of not yielding to the dictates of terrorism and continues to encourage dialogue with Islam and the peace efforts of Egypt.

This event was an opportunity for the parish communities present to reflect on the organization of future events. The Holy Week program will be maintained but a reflection is being considered regarding the conduct of Eastern celebrations as originally planned.

An Easter gathering at the Coptic Church of the city is being planned to collect aid to send to the poor and to families of victims of terrorism.

That same day, a similar demonstration spontaneously took place in Bethlehem attended by Orthodox Archbishop Attalah Hannah; the Mufti of the city, Abdel Majid Al-Amarneh. Catholics, Armenians, and Orthodox faithful came in numbers to the Manger Square in front of the Basilica of the Nativity, to publicly express their support to the local Coptic community following the tragedies of Palm Sunday.

Pictures from Nazareth :

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Pictures from Bethléem :

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