Four years have passed since the January 25, 2011 Egyptian Revolution. During these four years, Egypt’s streets have been stained with blood and injustice. The nation has cycled through three different governments: 1) the Mubarak Regime, 2) President Mohammed Morsi, and 3) current President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. Egypt’s Christians continue to face a great deal of violence and uncertainty.
Religious freedom in Egypt, even prior to the Revolution, was and continues to be a work in progress, to say the least. Egyptians are required to state a religion on a national identification card, which often leads to discrimination against religious minorities. Christians seldom reach top positions at state institutions including universities or the judiciary. Further, churches are required to obtain presidential permission before building or renovating. Following President Morsi’s ouster in 2013, Christians became the target of hatred and violence. In Upper Egypt, over 42 churches were torched and looted. Attackers spray-painted the letter “X” on Christian owned stores and businesses to distinguish them from Muslim-owned buildings. Those homes were later attacked. Christian residents were also targeted and killed in their homes and businesses by unknown assailants. Christians continue to rebuild their broken walls and hearts. Most of the churches that were destroyed remain in rubble and some congregations still pray in the debris. Father Malak Gerges, a priest in upper Egypt, fled with nothing but the clothes on his back when a mob attacked in 2013.
He says that incident “made our faith stronger…The church is just stone. The people are its heart.”
Photo Source: Egyptian Chronicles
Although the current government has promised to rebuild these churches, it has been seventeen months and many churches remain closed in their charred states. Sectarian tension continues to simmer, as is evident from the most recent attacks on Egyptian Christians. Last month, a car bomb went off near the Mar Mina Church in Helwan, Upper Egypt. Unknown assailants burned the car of a pastor in Beni Suef, but left a number of other cars parked nearby unharmed. On Coptic Christmas Eve (January 6), two policemen guarding a church south of Cairo were fatally shot. Egypt needs healing. God has a special place for this country in His heart. For He said: “Blessed is Egypt My people” Isaiah 19: 25. Please pray:
- for comfort to those who have lost loved ones over the past few years.
- for rebuilding of churches across Egypt, including necessary funds and government assistance to rebuild their places of worship.
- that the assailants and those who continue to threaten peace in Egypt may come to know our Lord of love, and may their hearts be changed.
- that the Lord may use what man intended for evil for His glory.
- that all God’s people in Egypt may continue to hold on to His promises and rest assured in His sovereignty.
Heba Dafashy is a law student at The George Washington University Law School. She has previously served as a Research Assistant for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. She attends St. Timothy and St. Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church.
“الكنيسة في مصر:” الشعب هو قلبها