Displaying items by tag: Egypt
Christians in Egypt are not safe, despite the authorities’ claims to the contrary. The following tragedy shows the dangers Christians must navigate in Egyptian society, and their disbelief that help will come in the form of justice. Persecution is more than violence; it is also about how the authorities respond to these injustices. On 10 December three Muslim brothers attacked Coptic Christians living in Alexandria, murdering one man and significantly injuring two with knives and clubs, then damaging three Christian shops. The brothers have a history of thuggery and escalated harassment of Christian shop owners. They were arrested, but local Christians fear that they will be declared mentally unstable and not fully punished, as has happened before in similar cases. Violence against Christians is commonplace in Egypt, but this happened in Alexandria, where sectarian tensions are normally subtler than in Upper Egypt.
A record number of Christians (108) are standing for election in the Egyptian elections being held between 24 October and 8 November. These Christians are on the four party lists, contesting 284 seats allocated to political parties in the parliament. There have been continuous positive messages from President Sisi to protect Egypt’s Christian community, one of the oldest and largest Christian communities in the region. In previous elections, Christian candidates were barred from running or forced to withdraw due to threats of violence. Attacks and pressure on Copts continue in rural areas, but this positive development is very welcome.
Maria, an Egyptian widow, was in tears when telling a local ministry leader that she had lost her job as a housecleaner due to coronavirus lockdown. She supports seven family members, including a daughter with two infants who is separated from her drug-addicted husband and a married son with two children who has lost his job and home due to coronavirus. She sold her kitchen appliances to meet their basic needs. Many widowed women in Egypt have lost their jobs to the pandemic and have no other sources of income, as the government has also suspended disbursement of pensions due to the crowds gathering at offices. Most widows are without a fixed monthly income or a fixed pension. Some have coronavirus, and some have lost a family member to it. Christian Aid has created WhatsApp groups for women and children and supports them spiritually by making prayer times and sharing sermons and songs.
On 30 May, two days before ‘Global Coptic Day’, authorities demolished the only Coptic church in Koum al-Farag village, even though it served 3,000 Christians. The demolition was a punishment for the 'crime' of building rooms for Sunday school. When the extension work began, Muslims attacked the Christians by building a mosque next door (according to common law, churches are prevented from being formally recognised or displaying Christian symbols if a mosque is built next door). Police also imprisoned 14 Christians overnight. The nearest church is now ten miles away. Demolitions of churches are seldom reported in the West. Christians and priests are also randomly assaulted in Egypt’s streets - not by terrorists but by Muslim neighbours. See
Libya, a major oil producer, has been mired in turmoil since 2011 when Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising. In the first week of June the warring sides began new ceasefire talks in Libya. On 14 June the Turkish foreign minister and his Russian counterpart decided to put off the talks during a phone call; however, they said that it was important to prevent another failed ceasefire. Pray that there will be constructive positive talks for a lasting ceasefire without any more postponements. Pray for a spirit of unity to flow through all communication between the Iranian foreign minister, Turkish president Erdogan, and Russian president Putin. Pray also for an end to the heavy clashes that erupted recently despite a unilateral ceasefire proposal by Egypt.
On 12 January Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, attended the Coptic Christmas service. Against a background of rising tensions in the Middle East, he held up the importance of tolerance and unity at a time when those tensions could spill over into conflict and violence - especially between religious groups. ‘If we love God, we must love each other,’ was his simple, powerful message. In 2019, at the opening of a new cathedral, he expressed his support for Christians, saying, ‘You are our family’. As Christians, we know that there is a model for this kind of love. For tense times and hard hearts, the Lord Jesus has already offered the perfect solution. Jesus’ greatest commands to us are to love God with all our heart and, out of this, to love our neighbour as ourselves. God, who is Love, wants us to love our neighbours who live alongside us - whether next door or across a distant border - with the same agape love He has for us.
Here are a few of the many incidents of Christmas attacks on Christians in 2018. Two days before Egypt’s Christian celebrations, a specialist in mine clearance died defusing a bomb hidden next to a church in Cairo. On 24 December a Methodist church in Bury offering night shelter to homeless refugees was attacked by arsonists who also stole their laptop and projector equipment. In Indonesia over 90,000 police and soldiers helped guard 50,000 churches across the country, including those previously attacked by terrorists. In India on 23 December a mob attacked forty people worshipping at a church in Kowad, injuring ten people. Militants increase their attacks on Nigerian churches at this time, and in Pakistan a planned attack was foiled in Karachi. See
In 2018 Rami Kamil, a prominent human rights activist, joined a UN fact-finding visit to investigate the situation of members of the Coptic community who had been displaced from their homes following sectarian incidents. On 23 November he was arrested: the police refused to allow him to change his clothes, carry his medications, or speak to a lawyer. They confiscated his laptop, mobile phone, camera, and books, and took him to an unknown location, where he underwent intensive physical and psychological interrogation. He later appeared before the state security prosecution without legal representation, and was given fifteen days’ pre-trial detention. He was accused of joining a terrorist organisation, receiving foreign funding, disturbing public order, inciting the public against the state, and using social media to provoke tensions between Muslims and Christians.
El-Sayeh left his job teaching Islamic studies to school children in March 2019. Having watched Christian satellite TV, he wanted to know more about the truth of Islam and read more of the Bible to compare religions and pray. God touched his heart and guided him on his way to learn about Christ and Christianity. He read Christian books and was secretly baptised in April. Then he began to talk to his wife about the work of Christ in his life, to convince her to follow Jesus like him. But she told his wider family, who insulted and threatened him. Families of converted Christians believe they are honour-bound to kill them for the betrayal of everything the family and local community hold dear. El-Sayeh was forcefully electrocuted to death because he kept his faith till his last breath and refused to renounce it.
Selahattin Demirtas stood against President al-Sisi in the last election before he was arrested on terrorism charges. He is still there along with thousands of other ‘terrorists’. Businessman Mohamed Ali accuses al-Sisi of wasting public funds on vanity projects despite widespread poverty. The former military contractor, living in self-imposed exile in Spain, has called for a ‘million-man march’ to topple al-Sisi in a video that has gone viral. Demonstrators have been responding to Ali’s call that ‘all squares are Tahrir Squares’. On 25 September Egyptian authorities arrested 1,100 people, including several high-profile individuals. Two days later, they arrested a further 2,000 nationwide but acknowledged only 1,000. News and political websites are now blocked, and the internet services that protesters relied on to communicate and document government abuses are interrupted. Security forces have deployed armed masked men and riot police to prevent further challenges to the regime, at least for now. See