- (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)
Texas minister John Hagee, of John Hagee Ministries and Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, has called on leaders in Washington to do everything in their power to put an end to the continuing violence against Christians in Egypt after a recent confrontation with military forces claimed dozens of lives.
In a statement to The Christian Post Tuesday, the pastor expressed horror at the startling events unfolding in the Egyptian capitol of Cairo.
"Our ministry is of course shocked and appalled at the tragic attacks against Christians in Egypt. These attacks must stop immediately, and our leaders in Washington should do everything in their power to ensure this violence ends without delay," said the evangelical leader.
"I hope that believers of all faiths around the world will join the Christian community as we pray that our brothers and sisters in Egypt can live lives free of discrimination and persecution and can worship God free of intimidation and fear," Hagee concluded.
The Texas pastor's statement comes amid increasing concern at the latest violence that has resulted in the killings of at least 26 people, mostly Coptic Christians, and began after Christian protesters convened a sit-in outside the state television building on Sunday.
Hundreds have been injured in melees that were spurred by hard-line Muslims, who also set fire to St. George Coptic Orthodox church on Sept. 30. The church is currently under construction, some 621 miles to the south of Cairo.
BBC News reported that officials said Egypt's Finance Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, who also served as deputy Prime Minister, has resigned over the government's handling of the Christian Coptic protest on Sunday. El-Beblawi was appointed by the ruling military council after popular protests earlier this year.
The White House issued a statement through press secretary Jay Carney Monday, expressing the president's deep concern over the devolving situation in Egypt that has resulted in the tragic loss of life among demonstrators and security forces. The president also spoke of the need to protect human rights:
"As the Egyptian people shape their future, the United States continues to believe that the rights of minorities – including Copts – must be respected, and that all people have the universal rights of peaceful protest and religious freedom."
Coptic Pope Shenouda III has called for a three day mourning period of fasting and prayers beginning Wednesday to honor the 26 killed and more than 200 hurt in the confrontation with Egyptian security forces. Copts around the world, including the 300,000 expats who live in teh U.S., will observe the period of mourning.