Egypt’s Christians scapegoated by Muslim Brotherhood
In the wake of President Morsi’s overthrow, the Muslim Brotherhood has been venting its fury on Egypt’s Coptic Christians
VIOLENCE, intimidation, murders and burning of properties have spiked significantly as Christians are now unjustly targeted and accused of being co-conspirators in Morsi’s removal.
Anonymous letters were addressed to Copts warning them not to join the protests, otherwise their businesses, cars, homes, schools, and churches “might” catch fire. On 3 July in Upper Egypt, St George’s Church was looted and torched.
The evangelical Saleh Church in Delga was attacked and burnt while the majority of Copts had their homes and businesses looted and torched. According to the pastor of Delga Catholic Church, who was able to escape the fire only through the roof, “Supporters of former President Morsi are engaged in continuous and unprecedented harassment of Copts.”
He said that people broke into Christian homes at gunpoint, terrorising women and children, seizing gold jewellery and furniture.
Another Islamist mob tried to attack the main Coptic cathedral in Qena. The group then moved on to attack Christian-owned homes and businesses in the area. On Wednesday 3 July, a mob attacked the Church of the Holy Virgin in the coastal town of Marsa Matrouh.
On July 6, one Christian brother was shot dead as he left his church in al-Arish, north Sinai – the same area where al-Qaeda linked Brotherhood affiliates attacked and expelled Christians a few months ago. Four Christians were slaughtered by radical Muslims in Luxor province. Dozens of Christian homes and businesses were looted and torched.
Kidnap of children
In a new and equally disturbing trend is the kidnap of Christians for money, especially children. “This is just the beginning,” said one Coptic Christian woman from Upper Egypt. “They won’t be happy until they steal everything we own and kill us all. How can anyone be full of so much hate? If I took my eyes off God, I would shrink and die.”
By contrast, a Muslim woman, angered by Morsi’s overthrow, stated, “I am a religious Egyptian lady. I tell the Christians one word. You live by our side – we will set you on fire! We will set you on fire!”
One of my contacts in the region texted me on 10 July to say: “I saw on Facebook today that many families are living in churches because the Muslims burnt their houses….”
Yet in the UK the silence of the Church remains deafening. I wrote in the February/March issue of a possible Christian holocaust emerging in the Middle-East and it is.
British complicity in acts of terror
The British Government has just signed off £7.7 billon of military export licences to “Israel and the Palestinian Territories.” (The Independent, 16 July).
This appears to be an entirely contradictory statement – how could Britain jointly export to two peoples still technically at war with each other?
We are also training and equipping the Syrian rebels who are murdering and raping women and children in the UNWRA camps, 7 out of 12 of which are inaccessible by UNWRA officials due to the fighting. In Syria, Christians have mostly fled the violence but some can’t and are living in fear for their lives, having previously stood by the Assad regime which protected them.
Write to your MP
Please – pray for your Christian family in Egypt and ask God to show mercy and protect them through this time of great affliction. It is written: “If we see oppression of the poor and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province we should not be surprised.” (Ecclesiastes 5:8).
This sums up the state of play in Egypt. However, we who have the ability to act should. In the story of the Good Samaritan, we read the man beaten and left for dead was helped by a man from another culture, and from whom he least expected help.
Perhaps it is time for our Coptic brothers and sisters to receive help from where least expected – the UK Church. When one part of the body is suffering the whole body suffers – should we not bear one another’s burdens?
Write to your MPs and demand they act to restrain the afflictions of persecution, violence and murder in Egypt – as well as Syria and the Palestinian Territories. Naim Khoury, the four times shot pastor from Bethlehem, described the state of the Gazan Christians recently as a tragedy. Two young Palestinian women touring the UK in June spoke passionately about the suffering of the Christians in the West Bank, perpetuated by a corrupted regime, a rise in radical Islam and a Church that appeases.
The Middle East Update is brought to you by Howard Stern, a Sussex-based negotiator and mediator