After the brutal beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts a short time ago, the ISIS has announced today the killing of 28 other Christians, all Copts and in Libya as well. But this time, the victims did not come from Egypt, but from Ethiopia. Yet, similarities between Ethiopia and Egypt do not stop there. Both countries possess a religious diversity and, hence, share much more than it seems: these are two countries where religious communities coexist peacefully, where collaborations between communities shall be further intensified. And it is perhaps there that a strategy, if any, may find its elements to emerge.

I will speak of the history and current plight of a number of Christian churches which originated, grew, and flourished in what we call the Middle East almost two thousand years ago. In addition to the great Apostolic cradles of Christianity in the Mediterranean, in particular Alexandria, Antioch and Rome, it should be said that there were already Christians in the Holy Land, in Syria and Egypt by thebeginning of the second century; there was a Bible translated into Syriac1; and there was a flourishing Greek and Coptic church in Egypt.

I will speak of a dramatic situation of suffering, persecution, destruction and death. A situation which for a considerable period of time has involved the suffering and death of many people, not only that of journalists seen in powerful internet images, but of men, women and children. A situation which is bringing about the systematic destruction of 2,000 years of literary, artistic and cultural heritage.

P. Manuel Nin