Father Arsanios Wadid, priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church, was killed in Alexandria (Egypt) on the evening of Thursday 7 April. According to a statement from the Interior Ministry, he was stabbed while accompanying young people from his parish on the Corniche promenade along the Mediterranean coast. The attack took place around 8 p.m., when Muslim worshipers were breaking the Ramadan fast.
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The assailant, who allegedly fled after witnesses saw him commit the stabbing attack, was quickly apprehended by local residents and handed over to police, the Interior Ministry confirmed. .
“Reveal the identity and motivations of the attacker”
The emergency services would have tried to revive Father Arsanios but he died at the military hospital where he was transported. According to Egyptian media, an investigation is underway “to reveal the identity and motives of the attacker” and the Egyptian Attorney General has opened a judicial investigation.
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The next day, his parishioners in tears crowded around the coffin of Father Arsanios, during his funeral celebrated at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. “A comment keeps coming up: ‘You’ll see: they’ll make the murderer look like a madman'”says the Italian newspaper Avvenire in a report on the spot. “In fact, in the afternoon, the government declared that the person arrested ‘suffers from mental problems and that the terrorist motive is therefore to be excluded'”continues the journalist.
Academic and social commitment
This attack, perpetrated during the month of Ramadan and at the approach of Easter (celebrated this year on April 24 by the Coptic Churches), awakens bad memories for Egyptian Christians. On April 9, 2017, in the midst of Palm Sunday celebrations, Islamic State suicide bombers targeted two churches in northern Egypt, in Tanta and Alexandria, killing 45 people.
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Born in 1966 and ordained a priest by the Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda in 1995, Arsanios Wadid officiated at the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Paul the Apostle, located in the Karmouz district of Alexandria. Appreciated for his “school and social” commitment, he had just been elevated to the rank of hegumen (superior of a monastery) on October 16, 2021 by Pope Tawadros II. “The Church praises this blessed priest who consecrated his life to God and gave him his life today in martyrdom”says the Coptic Orthodox Church on its Facebook page.
The Coptic Catholic Patriarch, Archbishop Ibrahim Sedrak, as well as the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed al Tayeb, offered their condolences to the family of Father Arsanios, to Pope Tawadros II and to his faithful. In his message also published on Facebook, the Grand Imam recalls that “murder is a major sin” and that, in the Koran “God said that killing a person not guilty of murder or corruption on earthis equivalent to killing all men”. It also warns of the risk of such acts triggering “religious wars between children of the same country : Everyone is called upon to be attentive to such a stratagem..