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What future for Christians in Egypt afte...

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What future for Christians in Egypt after brutal assault by security forces, Islamists and thugs?

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What future for Christians in Egypt after brutal assault by security forces, Islamists and thugs?

Project(s): 00-345

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Egypt

At least 25 dead and hundreds injured as Christian protestors attacked

Thousands of Christians protesting against the torching of a church and other injustices came under brutal attack by security forces, Islamists and violent thugs in Egypt on Sunday.

Video footage shows military vehicles charging at Christians who were protesting near the state TV building in Maspero Square, Cairo.

Egypt-cairo-clashes-YouTube-5X3.jpg

They were also shot at, beaten and dragged through the streets by soldiers, Muslim attackers and plain-clothed thugs in what has been described as the worst violence in Egypt since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

One of the rally organisers said:

The army and police were waiting for us about 200 metres away from the Maspero TV building. They started firing at us before two army armoured vehicles came at great speed and drove into the crowds, going backwards and forwards, mowing people under their wheels.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing an armoured vehicle crush 15 people.

The Christian hospital where many of the wounded were being treated came under sustained attack by a group of men chanting “Islamiya, Islamiya”, and Christian-owned businesses were targeted by thugs.

The Health Ministry has said that 25 people were killed and 329 wounded, though other Egyptian sources put the death toll higher.

Media manipulation

Cairo-State-tv-Building_4X3.jpg
State television building, Cairo
(Kodak Agfa ) / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In a bid to control reporting of the incident, the military forcibly closed at least two independent media outlets, while state television broadcast anti-Christian statements. There were also calls for people to take to the streets to “protect” the army.

Although Muslims were among the aggressors, some were also reportedly present to defend the Christians from the security forces and to protest against the military’s continued hold on power. Calls were made for the resignation of the military council.

Christians flee violence

The protest was sparked by the destruction of St George’s Church in Aswan province on 30 September. This was the latest in a long line of violent attacks on Christians in Egypt, which have intensified since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak as hard-line Islamist groups, notably the Salafists, have grown in strength and influence. Christians feel that the military council is not doing enough to protect them and are too lenient on the perpetrators of anti-Christian attacks.

The violence is driving thousands of Christians out of the country. A report by the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organisations (EUHRO) said that 100,000 Christians had emigrated from Egypt since March. Director Naguib Gabriel said that the Christians were not leaving voluntarily but were being forced out by the aggressive tactics of hard-line Salafist Muslims.

And as the country moves towards parliamentary elections at the end of November, it seems increasingly likely that Islamist groups will emerge triumphant, making the future for Christians in Egypt look ever more dangerous.   

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:

Christians in Egypt have endured decades of discrimination and persecution, but the brutality unleashed against them on Sunday reveals new depths of hostility towards them. It is not surprising that those who can are now leaving the country, but what will happen to those who remain? Are they going to be forced out or subjected to even worse state-sponsored violence?

Give Today

If you would like to help Egyptian Christians affected by anti-Christian violence or injustice, please send your donation to project 00-345 (Victims of Violence Fund). Please click to donate online using our secure server.

If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote project reference 00-345 (Victims of Violence Fund).

If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote project reference 00-345 (Victims of Violence Fund).

For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/345 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).

Please Pray:
  • For the restoration of peace between all sections of Egyptian society.
  • For all those who have lost loved ones or been injured in the violence. Pray that the Lord will draw close to them and comfort them in their grief and pain.
  • For the future of Christians in Egypt. Pray that their rights as citizens will be upheld and that they will be allowed to live peaceful lives in their homeland.
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What future for Christians in Egypt after brutal assault by security forces, Islamists and thugs?

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  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 5 hours ago

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

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