Middle East

Coptic pope: Displacing Christians is bad for Middle East, Europe

DW: What is the significance of inaugurating a new Coptic church in Düsseldorf?

Pope Tawadros II: The inauguration of the church is the final step in the existence of the church legally and officially. The inauguration of the church takes place once in its history, which is like its birth certificate.

This church was gifted to the Copts by Catholic Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. Why is this significant?

The number of Copts arriving in Germany is not very great, but it is increasing. In recent years, the number has possibly reached 1,000 families. There was a need for a bigger place, and due to [lacking] financial resources at the Coptic Church, the Catholic Church offered this place to become a Coptic church where all Copts can gather.

In recent years, Copts in Egypt have been the victims of terrorist attacks on a continuous basis. What are conditions like for Egyptian Copts today?

Things are getting much better. In Egypt there are now two major battles: one against terrorism and another for development. The battle against terrorism has come a long way. On the other hand, the terrorist attacks that take place not only target the Copts, but also the armed forces and the police, and Egyptians in general. However, what the Egyptian armed forces are doing against terrorism is huge and admirable, and I expect this battle will be over soon.

What is your message to Egyptian Copts living in Germany?

Copts who came here came to a new homeland and a new environment. The church tries to preserve their ties and attachment to their homeland, Egypt, and also to the Coptic Church as the mother church. In general, when Copts leave Egypt and go to live in another country, Egypt remains in their hearts. So, there is a strong link between all Egyptian Copts in different parts of the world.

My words to them are: Live in the society in which you are, integrate into it, enjoy all the advantages of Western civilization and German society. Learn the language, because it is a very important matter, but do not forget the Arabic language, because it is also of great importance, and always keep the Coptic traditions you learned in Egypt. Love everyone, establish good relationships with everyone, because in the beginning and in the end, a human remains a human.

Read more: How Jews, Christians and Muslims exchanged knowledge for a millennium

Middle Eastern Christians have been recently subjected to displacement. Some Western countries have received many of them. Do you believe Christians should stay in their home countries and contribute there to improving their situation, or do you encourage them to emigrate?

Christianity originated in the Middle East. Thus, the displacement or evacuation of Christians from the Middle East is very dangerous for the safety of the region, not only in the Middle East but also in the Mediterranean Sea region. Europe is affected by this, and the Arab countries as well. So displacing the Christians from their countries is a very big mistake. The community in the Middle East was created by the existence of Jews, the presence of Christians and the presence of Muslims, and they all live in that region, so it is better to help all these people settle in their home countries.

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