VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: Egypt

Former Egyptian-Muslim converts to Christianity

This is the story of Amani Mustafa, a Egyptian women who left her country and moved to the US. In this video she explains the danger and abuse she was faced with in Egypt and about her conversion to Christianity.

ISIS claims attack near historic Monastery in Egypt

The AP reports the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a check point near the historic Orthodox Christian St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt, killing one police officer and wounding four. ISIS has vowed more attacks against Egyptian Christians, who make up 10 percent of the country’s population.

One of the world’s oldest ‘working’ Christian monasteries, St. Catherine’s, officially “Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai”, was built between 548 and 565 in a remote desert area at the foot of Mount Sinai. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and a popular tourists destination. The site contains the world’s oldest continually operating library, possessing many unique books including the Syriac Sinaiticus and, until 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus.

Militants ascended onto an elevated hilltop overlooking the police checkpoint several hundred meters outside the monastery. Then they opened fire. Some of the gunmen were wounded when police returned fire, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said.

Please pray for our Christian family in Egypt.

Photo By Berthold Werner via Wikimedia Commons

 

A MESSAGE TO THOSE WHO KILL US – Fr. Boules George (Egypt)

Fr. Boules George, St. Mark, Cleopatra (Cairo, Egypt)

Video Transcript:

What will we say to them?

THANK YOU

The first thing we will say is “Thank you very, very much,” and you won’t believe us when we say it.

You know why we thank you? I’ll tell you. You won’t get it, but please believe us.

You gave us to die the same death as Christ–and this is the biggest honor we could have. Christ was crucified–and this is our faith. He died and was slaughtered–and this is our faith. You gave us, and you gave them to die.

We thank you because you shortened for us the journey. When someone is headed home to a particular city, he keeps looking at the time. “When will I get home? Are we there yet?” Can you imagine if in an instant he finds himself on a rocket ship straight to his destination? You shortened the journey! Thank you for shortening the journey.

We thank you because you gave to us to fulfill what Christ said to us: “Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3). We were lambs; our only weapons: our faith and the church we pray in. I carry no weapon in my hand. We are so grateful that you helped us fulfill this saying of Christ.

Thank you for helping us achieve our goal. You’re helping us, and you don’t even know it. I know you don’t understand, but I’m trying to explain it to you. There are people we visited at home to encourage them to come to church–three, four, five times. Still they won’t come. What you’re doing here–you’re bringing to church the people who never come. Believe me–it’s bringing to church the people who never come!

People who were living in sin and away from God, after the bombing of St. Peter’s Chapel in the Cathedral, they were saying, “You never know when your number’s up. Better take more care [in our spiritual lives].” All these vistations we do–you’re so much more effective. You’re filling up our churches! You’re filling our churches!

Let’s speak plainly here… Usually attendance at the Eve of Monday Pascha is very little. People are usually so tired after a long Palm Sunday Liturgy and the General Funeral, and they don’t come to the Eve of Monday services. When I came in tonight, there were people on chairs outside the sanctuary, there were people in the balcony seating. The church is completely full. There isn’t even one empty nook. Thank you. We are so grateful that you’re helping fill up our churches.

When you do this, you irritate the soul of the person who was lazy before. You wake his conscience and the love of God within him prods him to come to church.

Can you see why we thank you? We’re not being deceptive. A priest holding a microphone can’t lie to you! I say to you: THANK YOU. Thank you for all you have done for us without even noticing.

WE LOVE YOU

The second part of the message we want to send to you is that we love you. And this, unfortunately, you won’t understand at all. Maybe you won’t believe us when we say we’re grateful. But this–you won’t even understand. Why won’t you understand it? Because this too is a teaching of our Christ. I want to explain to you about our Christ. I want to tell you about how wonderful He is.

See what Christ said: If you love those who love you, you have no profit or reward with me. Even thugs and thieves love those who love them. Any gang loves its members. Even the drug dealers all like each other and take care of each other. Right? But I want to tell you that “if you love those who love you, what reward have you… But I say to you, love your enemies”(Matthew 5:46, 44).

We Christians don’t have enemies. We don’t have enemies; others make enmity with us. The Christian doesn’t make enemies because we are commanded to love everyone. And so, we love you because this is the teaching of our God–that I’m to love you–no matter what you do to me.

I love you very much. And I want to say one last thing to you: we’re praying for you. Because the One who told us to love you told us to “bless those who curse you… and PRAY for those who spitefully use you” (Matthew 5:44). So my instructions from my loving God make it my duty to pray for you.

In one of the dioceses, there is a bishop. In that diocese, there is a man who gets on the microphone every week to say terrible things about Christians–unheard of things. So the servants [of the diocese] are hearing this man and are so upset. We didn’t do anything to this man. He’s just taken a vow to curse us. Every Friday he comes out and curses the Christians.

So the bishop is sitting with his servants, and he asks them, “Are you upset by what this man says?” And they say, “Of course! We are so upset! What’s he doing to us!” The bishop gets quiet and his face darkens with sorrow. The servants say to him, “You have a right to be upset from what he says, Your Grace. You have a right.”

“I’m not upset with him,” the bishop says, “I’m upset with you! You are servants–you? How many of you pray for him every day? Because if he tasted of the love of God, if he knew who our Lord is, he could never hate again because God is love.

“How many of you are praying for him? Aren’t you servants! Aren’t you Christians! So you are a servant teaching in the Sunday School here, and you’ve broken the commandment of Christ to pray for this person?!”

So what do you think? How about we make a commitment to pray for them? Pray that they know the God of love? Pray that they experience the love of God? Because if they knew that God is love and experienced His love, they could not do these things–never, never, never.

They are a wretched lot. And because they are wretched, we must pray for them. But when someone loves God, he won’t know except love.

We need to pray for them so they can sleep at night. A person who has all this inside them, how can he sleep comfortably?

Can you imagine? We are being slaughtered and the King of Peace gives us peace to sleep. And the one who slaughters, all night he can’t sleep.

You know where this happens in the Bible? With Daniel and the king. Daniel is put in the lion’s den and he stays up all night praising God and praying for the king. And the king is up all night, tossing and turning, unable to sleep.

Pray for them. Take it as a command. Take it as a duty. Take it as the application of Christ’s instructions.

We must ALL pray for them today that God opens their eyes and open their hearts to His love.

Because if they knew Him, they could NEVER do this.

I don’t want to take too long. God comfort us. God give us understanding. God give us JOY because Christ’s promise is truth. He said, “I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy NO ONE will take from you” (John 16:22).

I’m embarrassed to say at the beginning of Holy Week that the Church, though she is in pain, rejoices because today–I don’t know what the final count is. They said 40-something, and, of course, many people in the hospitals will catch up to them. All of these are crowns. They are rejoicing with God. And they will attend the Resurrection up there. And they are praying for us. The rest is on us.

O, you lucky, lucky, lucky ones! And until it is our turn.

To our God be the glory now and forever. Amen.

 

EGYPT: Christians killed in Palm Sunday suicide blasts claimed by ISIS

(Voice of the Persecuted) Amid tight security, suicide bombers detonated explosives at two churches in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday, when Christian remember the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

The terror group, ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the bombings that is said to have killed at least 36 at the time of this report. Nearly hundred have been injured and the death toll is expected to rise. 

More than two thousand were in attendance when the first explosion took place during Palm Sunday service at St George (aka Mar Girgis) Coptic church in Tanta.

The second explosion detonated in front of  the packed Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. The scene was described as chaotic with body parts blown off and scattered. The bomber was trying to enter the church but stopped by a two police officers who were killed in the blast.

Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria was at Saint Mark’s for Palm Sunday. He was to lead a portion of the mass, a first since he took office in 2012. Saint Mark’s had tight security measures in line with the arrival of Pope Tawadros II to the city. It is believed the second attack was meant to harm Pope Tawadros, but a church official claimed the Pope had already left the church before the blast occurred.

The Coptic community is once again devastated.

One Christian remarked,

‘This is evil and out of hateful heart for the followers of Christ.”

It being reported that the church in Tanta received threats over a week ago. Questions have been raised as to why the government doesn’t take security serious enough when it comes to protecting the Coptic minority.

In December,  at least 25 people were killed and wounded 49 in a bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral.  Many of the victims were women and children.

Please pray for our Egyptian brothers and sisters.

 

EGYPT – Another Coptic Christian found dead in northern Sinai

Egypt-christian-attack

(Agenzia Fides) – A 40-year-old Coptic Christian was found dead with a gunshot to the neck, in the Egyptian town of Al-Arish, capital of Northern Sinai, on Thursday, February 23. The body was found inside his home, which had been set on fire. This is the third Coptic Christian killed in Al Arish in the past 48 hours, and the seventh murdered in the Sinai Peninsula in the last two weeks.

On Wednesday, February 22 the authorities found the bullet-riddled body of a Christian about 65; his son also died with him, burned alive by jihadists. On February 12, some masked men on a motorcycle gunned down a Christian veterinarian, while he was at the wheel of his own car. In late January, a 35-year-old Christian officer was killed.

In recent days, in a video posted on the Telegram messaging site, the Islamic State had promised to strike the Christian community, defined by jihadists as “the preferred prey”. Among these, the most serious was the suicide bombing on  December 11 against a Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo, which caused 29 victims.

A priest says 1,000 Christians have fled, with some receiving threats on their mobile phones

Hundreds of Christians have fled the city of el-Arish in Egypt after a spate of attacks by suspected Islamic militants.

A priest told the Associated Press that he and some 1,000 other Christians had fled for fear of being targeted next. He blamed lax security, saying: “You feel like this is all meant to force us to leave our homes. We became like refugees.”

It was earlier reported that militants had shot dead a Coptic Christian man, Kamel Youssef, in front of his wife and daughter. The account had been given by two officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

A priest in the city said militants then kidnapped and stabbed his daughter before dumping her body near a police station. It wasn’t immediately possible to confirm his account. Read More

Fifth murder of an Egyptian Copt in two weeks

Ishak Ibrahim Fayez Younan. Photo courtesy of Ishak's family

Ishak Ibrahim
Fayez Younan.
Photo courtesy of Ishak’s family

The murder of another Coptic Christian in Egypt, this time in the centre of the capital, makes this the fifth death over a 13-day period.

Ishak Ibrahim Fayez Younan, 37, was found dead by his brother on 16 January, at Ishak’s flat in the old part of Cairo. He leaves a wife and two children, 10 and 12.

His death, reported to be by his throat being cut, bears similarities with the deaths of other Coptic Christians over a two-week period. Each had their throat cut, while money and other valuables were left behind – even though police had said robbery was the motive behind at least one of the murders.

Younan was murdered in the flat he rented while he worked in a factory supplying soft drinks to supermarkets. His wife and two children were at the family home in El-Sheikh Zaied, a village in Upper Egypt.

Family Christmas

His brother, Magdy Younan, told World Watch Monitor that Ishak had just returned to Cairo to work after a week’s holiday to celebrate the traditional Coptic Christmas – 7 January – and a family wedding. “It was his first visit to the family in two months,” Magdy added.

Ishak travelled back to Cairo on 12 January, visiting Magdy on the way to his own flat. He took him a food package – a traditional Upper Egyptian gift – from their parents because Magdy could not visit them during the Christmas break.

Ishak’s wife phoned him on 13 January to check everything was OK since his return to Cairo. That was the last time she spoke to him. She tried calling his mobile telephone over the following three days but never got an answer.

“She was very worried about him because it was the first time they hadn’t spoken for that long,” said Magdy.

She asked Magdy to visit the flat to see what was wrong. “I headed to Ishak’s flat with our brother-in-law,” he said. “When we got there, the door was locked. We knocked loudly but no one answered. (more…)

Egypt: Women and children targeted in bomb blast that kills 25 at Coptic Cathedral in Cairo

Relatives of the victims were held back from the scene by police officers following the blast

Relatives of the victims were held back from the scene by police officers following the blast

At least 25 were killed and 49 wounded when a bomb targeted worshiper’s during Sunday service (10am) at St Peter’s Church in Cairo. Six children were among the dead. The bomb exploded inside the church and was left in an area to specifically target women and children. State television reported an explosive device had been thrown into the building, but witnesses said the bomb had been planted in the church.  (more…)

Christian children ‘singled out for bullying’ in Egyptian classrooms

A girl shows ‘unacceptable’ (left) vs. ‘acceptable’ school dress code. Watani

A girl shows ‘unacceptable’ (left) vs. ‘acceptable’ school dress code.
Watani

(World Watch Monitor) When 12-year-old Rahma Salem refused to wear a hijab to school in the Delta in northern Egypt, teachers ordered her to leave lesson after lesson and would not let her take part in any activity.

“I was made to stand all alone in the school courtyard. The headmistress later came to me and said: ‘Here in school, you put on the headscarf. Outside, you may do as you wish.’ She thought I was a Christian,” said Rahma, the only girl – a Muslim – who dared to turn up to school with her hair uncovered.

“No girl can show up with her hair showing. They all have to wear the hijab,” explained Salem to her interviewer on a talk show on an independent satellite channel earlier this month, when asked if exceptions were made for Christian girls.

“Christian girls have to wear the hijab. As soon as the end-of-day bell rings, they start taking it off,” said Salem.

When Salem’s mother went to complain to the Higher Board of Education in her home town of Zagazig, she was told, “Stop being an idiot! Don’t you want your daughter to be decent?”

Earlier, parents closed in on Salem’s mother on the first day of school at the Kafr el-Ashraf Preparatory. “I was shocked when other mothers stopped me at the gate. ‘What’s that? How can your daughter show up like this?’ I re-inspected my daughter’s uniform, and incredulously asked what was wrong. ‘Her head and neck have to be strictly covered!’” said the mothers, referring to the now-prevalent way Muslim women and girls dress, showing only their hands and face.

The Kafr el-Ashraf case is not isolated. A number of parents across the country have reported rising intolerance towards pupils who do not wish to wear the veil, and bullying of non-Muslim children by teachers and by pupils who follow their lead.

On 18 October, Coptic newspaper Watani reported that another state school in the same province, Sharqia, was forcing all female students to wear a hijab. The director of al-Nassiriya School in Zagazig posted a large sign mandating Islamic dress on all girls as part of the school uniform.

For years, Christians have complained of harassment in classrooms. Some of their complaints relate to government policy, such as having to memorise parts of the Qur’an to pass mandatory Arabic exams. Others are a result of an ever-growing societal pressure.

Salem’s mother said her daughter has been subjected to “huge psychological pressure”. “The other girls themselves give her nasty looks. They look her up and down, and ostracise her,” she said.

A banner mandating  the ‘hijab’ has been posted outside schools. Watani

A banner mandating
the ‘hijab’ has been posted outside schools.
Watani

It is telling that the only pupil who dared raise the issue, 12-year-old Rahma, was a Muslim. Students from Egypt’s Christian minority are in an even weaker position than Muslims to disobey the rules laid down by representatives of Islam and its votaries within society. Some Christian parents feel uncomfortable speaking to the mainstream media about their children’s troubles at school.

Viola Samir, a seven-year-old Christian pupil at Kom el-Lufi Primary School in a village outside Samalout, in Minya province, 250km south of Cairo, told how the Islamic religious studies teacher had held eight Christian pupils in her class of 35 against their will, beating one who had not learnt the Qur’an by heart.

Religious education is an obligatory subject in all Egyptian schools. Usually, Christian students leave the class to gather in another for their Christian religious education, while Muslims, being more numerous, stay in their classes for the weekly sessions.

World Watch Monitor heard from Viola’s father that: “When my daughter told the teacher that the extra texts were not part of the Arabic curriculum [which all students have to learn], she was severely punished by her teacher.”

“The Christian religious studies teacher complained to the headmaster, but he took no disciplinary action against the Muslim teacher. In the end, the teacher allowed the Christian children to leave the class to join their Christian studies class,” Viola’s father added.

Another parent said his son was caned for not reciting verses from the Qur’an. Abanob Milad, 11, a pupil at El-Galaa Primary School, also in Samalout. had complained many times that his Arabic teacher was hostile to the Christians in his class.

“Once, the teacher, Mohamed, caned Abanob on the back of his hands, afterwards forcing him to stand with his face to the board and both arms up in the air for the entire length of the lesson. My son had failed to repeat the Quranic text by heart when prompted to,” his father said.

The children, those parents say, hate going to school. They are often absent due to the continued bullying by both teachers and other children.

‘Don’t socialise with them’

Another account of bullying was replicated in Mustapha Kamal Primary School in the village of Delga, near the city of Dayr Mawas, Minya, 320km south of Cairo.

Nine-year-old Kyrellos Shafiq was given a ‘zero’ for his homework and told, “Your handwriting is rubbish.” The boy’s father explained: “The teacher made the other students pin down my son as he gave him the bastinado, caning him on his bare feet. It seems only Christians are given this punishment. They’re 12 out of 42 in my son’s class.”

In another case, an Islamic studies teacher in el-Zeira Primary School, in Abu-Teig, Assiut, reportedly waited until the Christian pupils had left to attend their separate lesson before telling the others to have nothing to do with them. Ten-year-old Maccar Aziz was later told by a Muslim friend that the teacher had “told the Muslim children in class not to socialise with their Christian colleagues. He said they [Christians] were infidels whom our religion demands we have nothing to do with.”

What goes on in the classroom is not detached from the wider atmosphere Christians face in a State that has repeatedly enshrined Islam as its official religion and Sharia as the source of its legislation, despite officially upholding freedom of belief. Since the 1970s Gulf oil-boom, many expatriates across the Middle East have returned home with a renewed zeal for “the faith”, having been told it was their duty to revive it in all quarters.

Unlike in countries such as Syria and Iraq, where Christians have been forced to flee en masse or face the full force of the Islamic State, Egypt’s Copts have been able to live within a margin of tolerance, with only occasional attacks and official infringements.

Some people now see this margin tightening. They fear that Egypt’s uneasy co-existence could shatter at any moment, mindful of the dozens of churches and Coptic properties that were attacked in the summer of 2013. Supporters of the former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi carried out the attacks after he was ousted following widespread protests.

Although some Copts respond to this pressure by emigrating to the West, others have no desire to abandon their homeland. Asked whether he thought of leaving, Ayman Ibrahim, 40, a Coptic sports teacher from Assiut in Upper Egypt, replied: “This is our home, I feel such a link to this land. It’s where I have my family and my childhood friends. How can I replace that?”

Only time will tell whether Kyrellos, Abanob and Viola share his loyalty to their country after experiencing hostility from its teachers at such a young age.

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