Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

UAE Christians pray for peace on Good Friday after Egypt attacks

Thousands of worshippers thronged to churches in Abu Dhabi on the crucifixion day of Jesus Christ and particularly prayed for peace and welfare of all in the aftermath of horrific terror attacks on churches in Egypt.
Young churchgoers attend Good Friday services at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Young churchgoers attend Good Friday services at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // Tens of thousands of worshippers around the country gathered today on Good Friday to pray for peace and welfare in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on churches in Egypt.

Egyptian Copts who gathered at Saint Anthony Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Abu Dhabi were saddened by the terrorist attacks on shrines back home but prayed that God might “guide wrongdoers to the true path”.

Egyptian Hanna Mikhail, who attended the Coptic church for Good Friday, said she spent her time praying for the families of the 47 people who were killed in two ISIL bombings on churches in Egypt’s cities of Tanta and Alexandria.

“We live here in the UAE and feel great joy of religious freedom and all communities tolerantly living together and practising their beliefs freely,” Ms Mikhail said, “We want similar peace and tranquillity back home in Egypt. Mostly I prayed today for peace to prevail all around the world.”

It was not only Coptic Christians that prayed for the victims as worshippers from other denominations and priests denounced the attack.

Ashaia Ameen Haroun, member of the committee of St Anthony Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, said that although it was difficult to comprehend people being murdered in a place of worship, the attackers were not achieving their goal.

“This guy [attacker] who did that he thinks that he is doing good to God but God doesn’t elect him to do that.”

Mr Haroun believed that the attackers made the victim’s journey to Heaven easier and quicker.

“But if you are killed while performing your prayers you are a martyr.”

Services at St Anthony Coptic church were performed in Arabic and Coptic.

The culture of tolerance and religious freedom was cherished by the Christian worshippers who marked Good Friday.

In Dubai, masses were held in several languages including Arabic, English, Malayalam, Tamil, Sri Lankan and Urdu.

Sameh Talat, an Egyptian volunteer at St Mina Coptic Orthodox Church, spent the holy day in organising the event as a way of prayer.

“It is an activity in the church and we come on the occasions to organise the events. The service feeling is as the feeling of prayer and it is a duty,” the 38-year-old said.

Approximately 25,000 to 30,000 Egyptian Christian Copts reside in the UAE.

“Good Friday comes once every year, and I do feel on this day how much the Lord suffered and today is the commemoration day of all his pain,” he said.

In Dubai, about 50,000 Christians from various nationalities and seven denominations attended church services.

Filipino Bryn Napoles, 37, arrived at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi. He said: “I prayed for peace for all over the world. The world needs this today.”

Mr Napoles said religion is a way for people all around the world to understand each other and spread peace and he condemned those who looked to disrupt it.

“Today is special day for us all so I also asked God to shower good health and wealth on all of us,” Mr Napoles said.

Worshippers who gathered at St Stephen’s Church in Abu Dhabi denounced attacks on holy places and the murder of innocent people.

An Indian woman, Mayookha Arun, 24, who came from Gayathi in Al Dhafra Region to Abu Dhabi’s St Joseph’s said: “Today we are weeping because the Lord suffered and was crucified.”

“We want happiness and to lead a peaceful life,” said Ms Arun, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for four years.

Roshan Chacko, from India, said: “I love celebrating the special day in Dubai where we join with people from 80 nationalities and other denominations.”

anwar@thenational.ae

roueiti@thenational.ae

Updated: April 14, 2017 04:00 AM

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