Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Interfaith Memorial for Coptic Christians Killed by ISIS

Members of Mississauga’s Coptic Christian community joined with Canadian leaders of other faiths and representatives all parties and levels of government in a show of solidarity for a memorial Sunday (Feb. 22) in honour of 21 Egyptian men killed by the terrorist group ISIS. ISIS, otherwise known as ISIL or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, released a video last Sunday (Feb. 15) purporting to show the beheading of the 21 Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Church of the Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius in Mississauga for a two-hour interfaith ceremony followed by a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims. “We felt the best thing that we can do is gather together tonight and offer prayers for (the victims) and their families, and at the same time pray for the terrorist groups that they stop this kind of violence, because these are crimes against all of humanity,” said Father Angelos Saad, who presides over the Church of the Virgin Mary and St. Athanasius.

Representatives from multiple faiths and branches of Christianity were in attendance and took part in the ceremony, including Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto and Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, General secretary the Canadian Council of Churches. Also taking part were Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, MP and Treasury Board Minister Tony Clements, Liberal MP John McKay, Senator Judy Sgro for York West, MPP for Mississauga-Brampton South Amrit Mangat, as well as other councilors, MPPs and MPs from Mississauga.

"We come together today as one community to mourn (the victims) of this senseless, barbaric and cruel act, and stand in condemnation of this senseless act of terrorism. It’s important to come together as a community and to stand in solidarity against terrorism," said Crombie.

The ceremony began with a procession and readings by clergy, followed by a few words from members of the government and the Egyptian Embassy in Canada. In between speakers videos put together by youth members of the church were played on large screens set up on either side of pulpit.

“We stand in solidarity with all of humanity. We’re not alone, we have the entire Canadian community here standing with us. We have members of different ethnic groups and representatives of different churches and political parties. Everybody is gathering together to say we’re not afraid,” said Coptic Church member Ghada Malek, who also ran for Mississauga Ward 6 in last year’s municipal election.

“Nobody is immune. Canada, like every other country is facing (terrorist) threats constantly.” Malek said that she supports the recent anti-terror legislative actions taken by the Harper government, but like many other community leaders, including four previous Prime Ministers, who have publicly stated so; she would like to see more oversight and a sunset clause to help protect rights and freedoms of Canadians here at home.

"We send love and forgiveness to the killers. We know these people are brainwashed. They aren’t going to scare us, but we hope they come to their senses," added Malek.

Source: Brampton Guardian

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