Angaelos praises forgiveness message from Christian grandmother forced to parade naked in street

A damaged home belonging to one of seven Christian families whose houses were looted and set on fire by Muslim men at Al-Karm village in the southern province of Minya, Egypt. One of the houses belonged to the grandmother who was forced to parade naked.Reuters

The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church has welcomed as "courageous and inspiring" the forgiveness offered by a 70-year-old Christian grandmother who was stripped and forced to parade naked in the street by a mob of angry Muslims.

Soad Thabet was stripped and paraded through the streets of El Karm village in Egypt after claims circulated that her son had an affair with a Muslim woman.

In testimony released afterwards, she said: "My name is Soad Thabet and I do not want anyone to interview me or give me help. I forgave them, God forgive them."

Since the attack local armed forces have been ordered by the Egyptian president to rebuild Christian homes that were torched during the attack.

Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said: "Days after having been stripped and dragged through the streets of her village in the most undignified and inhumane of ways, the gracious and forgiving response of Soad Thabet, an elderly mother and grandmother, is both courageous and inspiring."

He said the ethos of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt had always been one of forgiveness.

This was was particularly evident in its peaceful and reconciliatory response to the burning of more than 100 churches and other Christian buildings in 2013, and following the brutal execution of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya last year.

Bishop Angaelos continued: "Having said that, there is currently a rejection of conventional reconciliation meetings based on the fact that they have historically been used as a cosmetic short-term solution, without addressing root causes or preventing the recurrence of similar incidents.

"Despite an ongoing commitment to genuine reconciliation efforts, there is an immediate and pressing need for tangible solutions, as superficial measures that aim to pacify will by no means have a lasting effect, and can never lead to true reconciliation and social cohesion."

He said it was "shameful" that such mob crimes can be perpetrated against innocent communities or individuals, of whatever faith or ethnicity, and especially as a result of slanderous and unsubstantiated allegations.

David Cameron with Bishop Angaelos Downing Street

It was also shameful that an elderly woman could be so publicly and indecently humiliated.

"What is also unacceptable is the utter disinterest, at best, and complicit and criminal negligence, at worst, with which the local security services conducted themselves, and the Menia Governor's initial denial that these crimes actually occurred."

President Sisi of Egypt has called for a fair and transparent investigation.

"The hope is that measures to safeguard every Egyptian citizen, irrespective of his or her chosen faith or belief, will indeed be effectively implemented," said Bishop Angaelos. "Egypt is at a formative stage of its contemporary history which requires a robust system of law and order that underpins an ethos of equal citizenship and accountability. Any such steps taken at the national level however are severely hampered and undermined by these recurring failures at the local level."