Displaying items by tag: Egypt
Christians are increasingly being persecuted violently: by brutal IS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Hindu extremists in India. Release International issued a report on persecution trends in 2021. It is a wake-up call to take our prayers for our persecuted family to new levels. Nigerian attacks are driven by Islamist ideologies to destroy ‘the infidels’. 300 Christians remain detained without trial inside Eritrea. The Chinese government is increasing its ‘clean-cup’ of anything that does not advance the communist agenda. North Korea’s policy against Christians is the longest, harshest persecution in recorded history. Iranians constantly fear they are under surveillance when they meet secretly. The pressure has led to an exodus from Iran that will continue in 2021. Egyptian Christian converts from a Muslim background will continue to pay a high price for their faith and will be expelled from their families, divorced, and lose their employment.
Egypt will now allow Muslims to build Christian churches as paid labourers. In the past, Muslims have often seen this kind of work as taboo. The pronouncement allows them to help build any of the 44 churches now under construction around Egypt. They can also join the work on 16 historic Coptic churches now being restored. Tom Doyle of Uncharted Ministries says, ‘This is a big step. This is the government saying, “We are giving our okay for this”. And that’s another good sign. So we are thankful for that, and pray that there will be better relations between Muslims and Christians. We know as Muslims become exposed to the Gospel and see the joy of the Lord in believers, it is attractive to them. They want to know more. Saudi Arabia is the heart of Arab Islam. But Egypt is the brains of Arab Islam.’
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.