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Protestors in Egypt call for Islamic sta...

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Protestors in Egypt call for Islamic state ahead of elections

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Egypt

As thousands of protestors occupied Tahrir Square in Egypt this week, Islamist demonstrators called for an Islamic state in “a show of force” ahead of the country’s elections due to start on Monday.

They asserted their intentions for the country’s future amid the intensifying protests against the military council’s continued grip on power.

Tahrir-square-18Nov_4X3.jpg
A scene from Tahrir Square
on 18 November
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Muhammad Moneib

Many chanted “Islamic, Islamic, we don’t want secular!”, while some were waving Saudi Arabian flags displaying Islamic slogans.

Speaking on the first day of the demonstrations on Friday (18 November), Muslim leader Imam Mazhar Shahin said:

Those who fear Islamist movements in Egypt, I tell them don’t be scared of Islam in Egypt. Egypt is Islamic, like it or not.

He said that they wanted “a civic democratic state with an Islamic vision that allows people to practise their rights and democracy” – but these values run contrary to Islamic teaching.

An Egyptian church leader said that the Islamists were using the demonstrations as “a show of force”.

However, Islamist group leaders were reportedly removed forcibly from the protests in Tahrir Square on Monday (21 November).

Pre-election clashes

The protests were sparked after the military-led government set out plans for the drafting of a new constitution that would preserve its powerful position in Egypt long into the future. Many Egyptians have become frustrated with the slow pace of political reforms since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

The resignation of the cabinet and an offer from the military for a speedier handover to civilian rule have failed to placate the protestors as clashes between them and the security forces continue.

The protests come ahead of the three-phase vote for the lower house of Egypt’s parliament, which is due to begin on Monday (28 November). Islamist parties, notably the Muslim Brotherhood and a coalition of Salafi parties, are expected to emerge with the largest share of the vote.

This is likely to lead to the formation of a state that is even more hostile towards Egypt’s Christian community, who comprise around ten per cent of the population. Already persecuted and discriminated against, they have suffered an increase in violent attacks since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February; at least 67 people, mostly Christians, have been killed in religious clashes.

Last Thursday (17 November), Christians who were marching peacefully through Cairo to commemorate those killed in Maspero in October came under attack. It is thought that Salafis were among those who hurled rocks, glass bottles and fire bombs at the Christians, who were marking – as is traditional in Egyptian culture – the 40th day after a death. Around 30 people were injured.

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    • “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also,” said the Lord Jesus (John 15:20). According to the Pew Centre for Research, Christians face religious oppression in 151 of the world’s countries, whether direct or indirect. On this Barnabas Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, let us remember our brothers and sisters facing tremendous pressures of all kinds because of their faithfulness to Christ and help them with our prayers (Philippians 1:19). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 5 hours ago

    • Hardline Buddhist groups in Sri Lanka are becoming increasingly militant, and in two recent incidents Christians were hospitalised with injuries sustained in mob violence. The General Secretary of one such group, Ravana Balaya, which launched an anti-Christian campaign on 15 July, said they would “advise” Christians to halt their activities but, if the Christians failed to take heed, the group would take firmer action. Pray for Christians in Sri Lanka who face opposition from their neighbours, and ask God to protect them from further violence as they seek to maintain their witness (Acts 4:19-20). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Since General al-Sisi became President of Egypt in June, Christians in the country have felt the pressure upon them ease off somewhat. However, a convert from Islam, Bishoy Armia Boulous, previously known as Mohammed Hegazy, remains in prison. He was rearrested on 4 December 2013, charged with defaming Islam after he fi led a public lawsuit to change the religious affiliation listed on his national identification card from Muslim to Christian. Please pray that there will be genuine religious liberty for Christians from a Muslim background as well as those born into Christian families. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Lift up in prayer Christians living in Minya, Egypt whose homes were attacked on 5 August by local Muslims. The violence broke out after Muslims learned that believers in Yaacoub planned to build a new church. Opposition to construction of church buildings is one of the most common reasons behind anti-Christian attacks Scores of Egyptian churches were attacked following the removal of Mohammed Morsi by Muslims in Egypt. Restrictions on the building of churches, a cause of hardship for Christians for many years, were lifted in Egypt’s recent new constitution. Pray that the assailants will be brought to justice and that the plans for the local church building will continue. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Oct 2014 00:00

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