On Wednesday, February 10, 2016, a ‘Service of Commemoration’ was held in the Crypt chapel of Our Lady Undercroft, in the Houses of Parliament, Egypt, to mark the death anniversary of 21 Coptic Christians martyred by ISIS last year.
The Service was led by His Grace, Bishop Angaelos, and the Service Booklet contained messages from HRH the Prince of Wales, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Minister.
It is very important that we commemorate these deaths, not to pray for their souls because we believe that they gave their lives for Jesus and are with the Lord, but to remember all the atrocities being committed to Christians throughout the world. Whatever is happening is nothing short of genocide and Christians and Yazidis are being killed for their faith. In such circumstances, as members of Christ’s body, we must pray for those parts of the church who are suffering in different parts of the world.
On February 12, 2015, ISIS – Daesh – released a report in their online magazine Dabiq showing photos of 21 Egyptian
Coptic Christians – migrant workers – that they had kidnapped in the city of Sirte, in Libya, and whom they threatened to kill to “avenge the [alleged] kidnapping of Muslim women by the Egyptian Coptic Church”. The men, who came from different villages in Egypt, 13 of them from Al-Our, Minya Governorate, had been kidnapped in Sirte in two separate attacks on December 27, 2014, and in January 2015.
On February 15, a five-minute video was published, showing the beheading of the captives on a beach along the southern Mediterranean coast. A caption in the video called the captives the “people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church” In the video one of the killers in camouflage declared in North-American English:
“Oh people, recently you’ve seen us on the hills of Al-Sham [Greater Syria] and on Dabiq’s Plain, chopping off the heads that had been carrying the cross delusion for a long time…”
After the beheadings, the Coptic church released their names, and it was later learned that the 21st martyr was named Mathew Ayairga and that he was from Ghana. Originally a non-Christian, he saw the immense faith of the others, and when the terrorists asked him if he rejected Jesus, he reportedly said, “Their God is my God”, knowing that he, too, would be killed.