Coptic Christians told to cancel activities over security threat, sources say

Coptic Orthodox Christian church leaders in Egypt have reportedly warned their followers about a security threat and have told them to cancel all their activities outside of the church in July, according to local sources on July 13.

(REUTERS / Nir Elias)Members of the Egyptian Coptic denomination Christian take part in the Eastern and Orthodox Church's Good Friday procession in the Old City of Jerusalem April 13, 2012.

The church and local sources said a representative of the Coptic Orthodox Pope had warned religious leaders about the security threat. Christians who were out on youth camps and other trips have been instructed to either come home early or to cancel their activities, Reuters reported.

An official from the Coptic church told Reuters that the instructions were given verbally, "nothing written, to prevent panic." Security measures in the church were also recently beefed up. 

Similar instructions were reportedly relayed to the Egyptian Catholic church. Father Rafik Greish, a representative for the church, told Reuters on Thursday that they had already complied with the instructions.

The warning about the security threat comes in the wake of a deadly attack on Coptic Christians traveling to a monastery which left 29 people dead in May. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the massacre.

Last week, ISIS also claimed responsibility for a suicide car bomb attack in two military checkpoints. The explosions killed at least 23 soldiers in the area.

Despite the string of religiously motivated attacks targeting their community, Coptic Christians remain resilient. Professor Mounir Farag, an expert on the cause of the conflict in the Middle East, said the Copts' faith grows stronger because of the persecution they experience, Rome Reports TV News Agency relayed.

"What is important is the more they attack, the more they kill, the Christian faith becomes stronger. The pardon is marvelous from those victims and their families," said Prof. Farag. "The Christians in Egypt, where thanks be to God, now their faith is so strong since childhood. During the last attack, there were many children, and to have to listen to their testimony and forgiving those who did the attacks against them."

In addition, Prof. Farag said Muslim hate groups try to instill their ideology into their members at an early age. However, this plan backfires as Christians counter this move by spreading the message of peace and forgiveness in the hope that a better future awaits their children.