Coptic Christians in Switzerland say they are fearful of being victims of an attack following a recent bombing against their community in Egypt.
Copts celebrate Christmas on January 7. This year Geneva police plan to provide security for the ceremony at a Coptic Christian church in Meyrin, canton Geneva.
“Our church, like 70 other Coptic churches around the world, features on a list of a radical Islamic site,” said Mikhail Megally, head of the Coptic community in French-speaking Switzerland. Two of the church’s prominent members, a theologian and a lawyer, are mentioned by name on the site.
“Just as in Egypt, we here in Switzerland now feel directly threatened,” said Atef Michael, a Meyrin-based Copt. “It’s a new feeling and scary.”
Megally added that the feeling of insecurity among Copts has worsened since al Qaida in Iraq killed 58 churchgoers in Baghdad in October. The New Year’s Day attack at a Coptic church in Alexandria left 21 people dead.
The Inter-Knowing Foundation, a Geneva-based group that works to improve ties between Muslims and the rest of the world, has strongly condemned the New Years attack, saying that “nothing justifies this crime against innocent people and Islam will be the first to condemn [these fanatical and barbarian criminals] in the strongest terms”.
The Swiss Bishops' Conference, which groups Switzerland's Roman Catholic bishops, issued a statement of solidarity with the Coptic Church on Tuesday. It welcomed the fact that Muslims round the world had raised their voices to condemn "this madness".
swissinfo.ch and agencies