Cairo, Egypt—A policeman, who was an explosives expert, was killed while attempting to defuse a bomb near a Coptic church in Cairo on Saturday. State television reported that two other policemen and a bystander were also injured in the blast. Only two days before Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th, the device was one of two found hidden in a bag on a rooftop near the church.
Security was tighten with armed policemen guarding churches, guards checking the identities of visitors and metal detectors set up outside churches.
Coptic Christians are the largest religious minority in Egypt who equal approximately 10 million in the nation. There has been increased levels of recent violence and attacks against them. Many Christians say they are discriminated against and the state doesn’t offer them enough protection.
Egypt’s president, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi claims he’s a defender of Christians and religious freedom. In 2017, the Muslim president commissioned the largest Christian Cathedral in the Middle East as a gift to the Copts. In time for Christmas celebration, The Nativity of the Christ Cathedral held its first mass on Sunday which al-Sisi participated, according to the BBC. The worship center is located near Cairo.
The Cathedral opening coincided with the opening of the new Al-Fattah Al-Aleem Mosque nearby. Both religious facilities are located in a new development serving as the country’s administrative capital.
On Nov. 2, 2018 seven Coptic Christians were killed and others injured after an attack on buses which has been claimed by ISIS on Friday. During funerals that took place on Saturday, mourners expressed grief and outrage that they’re not better protected by the government of Egypt. President Sisi sent condolences to the families and promised an investigation into the attack.
On Nov. 4, Egypt says police killed 19 jihadist suspects linked to Copt attack. see report
Coptic Christians are Egyptian Christians – the word Coptic literally translates to Egyptian. They originated in the city of Alexandria during the Apostolic period. The Coptic Church was established by the Apostle Mark during the middle of the 1st century (c. 42 AD). The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is based in Egypt,. Copts have suffered severe persecution and death for generations due to their beliefs. Since the Arab Spring in 2011, They’ve have suffered increased religion-based discrimination and violence. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Egypt.
(World Watch Monitor) Seven years after their previous church was closed by local authorities because of “security reasons”, the Coptic community in the Egyptian village of Kom El-Loufy, 250km south of Cairo, held a first mass in their new church yesterday, 22 July.
The 1,600 Copts from the village in Minya governorate were marking the completion of the first stage of building of their church, the Church of the Virgin Mary and Martyr Abanoub Al Nahisi, with a mass led by Fr. Feltaws Ibrahim, as the Coptic villagers sat on the floor.
The priest of the Saint Abu Sefein Coptic Orthodox Church, in the nearby village of Ezzbet Rafla, had hosted the Copts in his church while they were without a building.
Since the closure of their previous church, the Copts had experienced fierce opposition from their Muslim neighbours. Two years ago angry Muslims set fire to four Coptic homes in the village, suspecting a house would be turned into a church.
It wasn’t until the very end of 2017 when the Copts finally withdrew their complaint against the arson in exchange for permission to build a new church.
With the charges dropped, in January the community started the building process on a piece of land 700 metres outside the village.
As World Watch Monitor has reported, Copts in several other villages have faced similar troubles.
In recent years it has been almost impossible for Coptic Christians to obtain a license to build a church, though in theory this changed in August 2016 when the Egyptian parliament passed a new law on the construction of Christian buildings of worship.
However, by March this year there were still more than 3,500 pending applications from churches that needed to be examined by a government commission set up to verify whether they met legal requirements.
The building of new churches remains a contentious issue, with a number of churches that have applied for licenses being attacked by Muslim extremists.
Earlier this month World Watch Monitor reported how a mob recently attacked a church in another Minya village in protest against the church having received approval. Police failed to intervene, while one of the officers apparently promised the protesters that no church would be allowed in the village.
By— From attacks by Muslim mobs to closures by Muslim authorities, the lamentable plight of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt always follows a pattern, one that is unwaveringly only too typical.
Thus, last April 14, a Muslim mob—predictably riled by the previous day’s Friday mosque sermons—attacked the church of the Holy Virgin and Pope Kyrillos in Beni Meinin, Beni Suef. According to Watani, as with 3,500 other Egyptian churches, after patently waiting for decades to receive a permit, the church “had been used for worship for some 10 years now… [T]he building authority committee had recently [earlier that day] visited the church in preparation for legalising its status, and the attack was waged in retaliation.”
Local authorities’ response was even more typical: Twenty people were arrested after the attack—eleven Muslims (attackers) and nine Copts (defenders). At least five of the arrested Christians, whose “crime” was to try to put out fires Muslims started, were illegally incarcerated for over a month. One lost his job due to this prolonged absence (police refused to admit holding him to his employer).
Thereafter, on May 22, followed the usual “reconciliation” meeting between local Christian and Muslim elders, whereby victims forego their legal rights in an out of court settlement. In order to release their innocents the Copts had to agree to close the church—no more mass, wedding or funeral services on grounds that it is a “security risk”—and agree that the eleven Muslims who led the violent attack also be acquitted.
Just four days after that, the whole process was repeated again: on May 26, another Muslim mob attacked a church in the village of al-Shuqaf in the province of Beheira. “The mob,” notes the report, “also pelted the Coptic villagers’ houses with stones, damaged the priest’s car, and set on fire a motorbike that was parked in front of the church. Seven Copts suffered slight injuries. The police was called and caught 11 Muslims and nine Copts.”
As with the previous church incident, according to Watani, this church had also
been in use for worship for over three years now, and is known as the church of St Mark… a few months ago, construction work started on building a mosque close to the church. On Saturday afternoon [May 26], the Muslim worshippers began shouting slogans against the church and the Copts, and used the mosque microphones to call upon the villagers to attack the church. Many villagers gathered and waged the attack.
The Coptic villagers claim that the nine Copts who were arrested had been caught randomly in what has now become common practice by the police in order to pressure the Copts into ‘[re]conciliation,’ so that no legal action would be taken against the Muslim culprits in exchange for setting free the Coptic detainees and ensuring a swift end to hostilities.
Such is the unvarying “boilerplate” plight of Egypt’s Christians and their churches. To become acquainted with the persecution of one Coptic church is to become acquainted with all. For instance, nearly two years ago I offered the following detailed look at the “reconciliation” process—one that, as these two recent incidences show, remains perfectly applicable to and well entrenched in Egypt:
Christians trying to build a church … are typical violations that prompt large, armed Muslim mobs to attack all the Christians in that village (and their church if one exists) as a form of collective punishment, which is also Islamic….
After the uprising has fizzled out, authorities arrive. Instead of looking for and arresting the culprits or mob ringleaders—or, as often is the case, the local imam who incites the Muslim mob against the “uppity infidels” who need to be reminded of “their place”—authorities gather the leaders of the Christian and Muslim communities together in what are termed “reconciliation meetings.” During these meetings, Christians are asked to make further concessions to angry Muslims.
Authorities tell Christian leaders things like, “Yes, we understand the situation and your innocence, but the only way to create calm in the village is for X [the offending Christian and extended family, all of whom may have been beat] to leave the village—just for now, until things calm down.” Or, “Yes, we understand you need a church, but as you can see, the situation is volatile right now, so, for the time being, maybe you can walk to the church in the next town six miles away—you know, until things die down.”…
[Should Christians] rebuff the authorities’ offer and demand their rights as citizens against the culprits, the authorities smile and say “okay.” Then they go through the village making arrests—except that most of those whom they arrest are Christian youths. Then they tell the Christian leaders, “Well, we’ve made the arrests. But, just as you say so-and-so [Muslim] was involved, there are even more witnesses [Muslims] who insist your own [Christian] youths were the ones who began the violence. So, we can either arrest and prosecute them, or you can rethink our offer about having a reconciliation meeting.”
Under the circumstances, dejected Christians generally agree to the further mockery. What alternative do they have? They know if they don’t their youth will certainly go to prison and be tortured. In one recent incident, wounded Christians who dared fight against Muslim attackers were arrested and, despite serious injuries, held for seven hours and prevented from receiving medical attention….
[N]ot only are the victims denied any justice, but the aggressors are further emboldened to attack again.
Indeed, as seen by recent events—including one month where four churches were attacked and then closed—this modus operandi and culture of emboldened impunity is now more entrenched in Egypt than before.
SUMMARY: Egypt’s ancient legacy and span of achievements is truly astounding. This remarkable nation is often known by the world for its ancient pyramids, nearly 3,000 years of history, and the Biblical story of the deliverance of the Israelites. Though it has a predominantly desert landscape, farms and sprawling cities line the banks of the Nile River. Egypt remains the most populous country in the Arab world and holds great regional and global influence. What happens here has the potential to impact the entire Muslim world!
The Arab Spring (a series of anti-government protests and uprisings across the Middle East starting in 2011) sparked political upheaval across the Arab world. Egypt was no exception, erupting in mass protests that led to the ousting of then President Hosni Mubarak. Clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood protesters and the brutally reactive military left hundreds dead. Conflict continues to polarize the nation. Amid an increasingly repressive government, Egypt is terrorized by Islamic extremism. Following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) led an insurgency, bringing widespread terror and the tragic deaths of thousands. Political unrest has inhibited the nation from addressing economic problems, corruption, and strained resources. Approximately a quarter of the population lives in poverty, only exacerbated by the water crisis. Farmers face imprisonment or hunger due to the regulations on crops that require more water. In addition to this tragedy, forced labor and sex trafficking leaves street children especially vulnerable.
Egypt was a majority-Christian nation for over 1,000 years, and today it remains home to the Middle East’s largest body of Christians – the Coptic Church (12%). Evangelical Christianity is on the rise, though still only about 3% of the population. Yet Islam remains the state religion and the faith of 87% of its people. Egypt is also often seen as the intellectual center for Sunni Islam. Though the Egyptian Church has endured persecution for over 2,000 years, recent instability and the presence of the Islamic State have intensified their suffering. Horrific scenes of church bombings have brought the plight of Egyptian Christians to the world stage. However, even as persecution increases, so does the number of Muslims turning to Christ! Scripture is more accessible than ever, and the Church is growing in unity across theological differences.
As we continue on the nightly prayer conference call during Ramadan, using the Prayercast Ramadan Challenge prayer points, let us unite in prayer that the church in Egypt will grow. Let us pray that there will be those who will come under the shadow of Jesus, and for the Light of Christ to shine in that Nation.
Capital City: Cairo
Major People Groups: Arab 92.1%, Berber 2%,
Gypsy 1.4%, Nubians 1.1%, other 0.8%
Religion: Muslim 90%, Christian 10%
Language: Arabic, English, French
GDP Per Capita: $13,000
Literacy Rate: 73.8%
• Pray for a stable and trustworthy government to act in the interest of all its people.
• Pray for the Church to continue to overcome evil with divine forgiveness and love.
• Pray for Jesus to reveal Himself to an unprecedented number of Muslims disillusioned by Islamic State.
Blaine Scogin, Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted
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They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. Heb.11:37-38
My Brothers and Sisters,
On this day, 3 years ago, the Islamic State terror group (ISIS) shared video footage of 21 followers of Jesus being martyred on the shores of Libya. The 20 Egyptian men and 1 from Chad/also linked to Ghana, had traveled to Libya for jobs as laborers to make a living and care for their families back home. They were captured and had their throats slit by ISIS for being ‘people of the Cross’. Each one died with the name of Jesus on their lips.
Shortly after this tragedy, the Bible Society Egypt quickly printed and distributed a scripture tract with encouraging verses and promise of blessing amid suffering to the nation. More than 1.6 million copies of the tract called, Two Rows by the Sea” was printed and shared with the churches. It was designed to be given to any Egyptian and included Bible verses to comfort the mourning and challenge people to commit to Christ.
In response to their execution, the tract also included a poem written by Dr Shady George. In the link below a brother reads this moving poem in his heart language of Arabic, but with English subtitles.
Based on the poem, a dear sister put together a beautiful music video remembering these martyrs of Jesus.
Richard Wurmbrand had often commented that it was never considered a first century church service unless the martyrs were remembered. Dear saints, let us remember those who paid the ultimate price in following their Savior, the martyrs, the witnesses of Jesus who lay down their lives on the altar and slain for the word of God and the testimony that they maintain. For sure they will be honored by Jesus and receive the reward of their inheritance.
Then I saw thrones and they sat on them and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, Rev. 20:4
Posted in honor of those who have been slain for Jesus.
Serving as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch,
By Dan Wooding (Assist News) The Roman Colosseum will be illuminated by red lights later this month to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world, and especially in Syria and Iraq.
On Saturday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. the Colosseum will be spotlighted in red, to represent the blood of Christians who have been wounded or lost their lives due to religious persecution, according to Crux.
Simultaneously, in Syria and Iraq, prominent churches will be illuminated with red lights. In Aleppo, the St. Elijah Maronite Cathedral will be lit, and in Mosul, the Church of St. Paul, where this past Dec. 24, the first Mass was celebrated after the city’s liberation from ISIS.
The event, sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) — follows a similar initiative last year, which lit-up London’s Parliament building in red, as well as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris and the cathedral in Manila, Philippines. In 2016, the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome was lit.
Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN, told journalists on Feb. 7 that the “illumination [of the Colosseum] will have two symbolic figures: Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian condemned to death for blasphemy and whose umpteenth judgment is expected to revoke the sentence; and Rebecca, a girl kidnapped by Boko Haram along with her two children when she was pregnant with a third.”
“One of the children was killed,” he said, “she lost the baby she was carrying, and then became pregnant after one of the many brutalities she was subjected to by her captors.”
Once she was freed and reunited with her husband, she decided she “could not hate those who caused her so much pain,” Monteduro said. [Read Voice of the Persecuted’s (VOP) report: Held Captive For 2 Years By Boko Haram: Rebecca’s Story and the relief sent to them through VOP’s aid mission, Project 133 Nigeria here.]
Aid to the Church in Need released a biennial report on anti-Christian persecution Oct. 12, 2017, detailing how Christianity is “the world’s most oppressed faith community,” and how anti-Christian persecution in the worst regions has reached “a new peak.”
The report reviewed 13 countries, and concluded that in all but one, the situation for Christians was worse in overall terms for the period 2015-2017 than during the prior two years.
“The one exception is Saudi Arabia, where the situation was already so bad it could scarcely get any worse,” the report said.
China, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Syria were ranked “extreme” in the scale of anti-Christian persecution. Egypt, India, and Iran were rated “high to extreme,” while Turkey was rated “moderate to high.”
The Middle East was a major focus for the report.
“Governments in the West and the U.N. failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway,” the report said. “If Christian organizations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East.”
The exodus of Christians from Iraq has been “very severe.” Christians in the country now may number as few as 150,000, a decline from 275,000 in mid-2015. By spring 2017 there were some signs of hope, with the defeat of the Islamic State group and the return of some Christians to their homes on the Nineveh Plains.
The departure of Christians from Syria has also threatened the survival of their communities in the country, including historic Christian centers like Aleppo, ACN said. Syrian Christians there suffer threats of forced conversion and extortion. One Chaldean bishop in the country estimates the Christian population to be at 500,000, down from 1.2 million before the war.
Many Christians in the region fear going to official refugee camps, due to concerns about rape and other violence, according to the report.
ACN also discussed the genocide committed in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State and other militants. While ISIS and other groups have lost their major strongholds, ACN said that many Christian groups are threatened with extinction and would likely not survive another attack.
A spokesperson for Aid to the Church in Need, said, “We invite everyone to attend, either in person or in spirit, on February 24, 2018 at around 6 p.m. in Largo Gaetana Agnesi, Rome.”
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 77, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 55 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan has written numerous books, and his most recent reporting trip for ANS was to Kurdistan in Northern Iraq.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
VOP is on the ground helping persecuted Christian refugees from Nigeria and Pakistan. Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope. Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
(Morning Star News) – A Coptic Christian killed by Islamic militants in Egypt’s northern Sinai was buried in his home village yesterday amid wailing and tears, religious rights activists said.
Bassem Herz Attalhah, 27, was shot to death on a street in El Arish, capital of the North Sinai Governorate, on Saturday (Jan. 13) after three Islamist gunmen stopped him and asked if he was a Christian, according to online news outlet Copts United. His funeral took place in Dweik village, Tema District, in Sohag Governorate.
Bassem Herz Attalhah was on his way home from work with his brother, Osama, and a Muslim friend, when three men about 23 to 25 years old in black jackets called to them, according to Copts United. Two of the young men were carrying automatic weapons, the third had a pistol, and their faces were uncovered, the news site reported.
Because the men were unmasked, the brothers thought they were police, Copts United reported.
They asked to see Bassem Herz Attalhah’s hand, as many Copts in Egypt bear a small tattoo of a cross on their wrists. Bassem Herz Attalhah showed them his cross. After seeing his tatoo, the militants asked him if he was a Christian, and he boldly replied that he was, according to Copts United.
The militants dismissed the Muslim, identified only as Mohamed, after confirming that he was not a Christian.
The gunmen then asked Bassem Herz Attalhah’s brother to show them his hand. Bassem Herz Attalhah mentioned that they should leave his brother alone because he has five children, according to the news site.
“I had a cross on my hand, but at the top of my hand the sleeve covered the wrist,” Bassem Herz Attalhah’s brother said, according to Copts United, and as the gunmen apparently did not realize the two men were brothers, they thought he was a Muslim. “Then they fired two shots next to my leg. They asked me to leave.”
The militants then shot Bassem Herz Attalhah in the head, killing him instantly, the news site reported.
“My brother happened to fall in front of me, and I could not do anything,” his brother said, according to Copts United. “They were looking for a Copt to kill, and as I ran I was on my way to the ground from the shock.”
The Christian brothers and their family had fled El Arish during a spate of Islamic terrorist violence in early 2017, but had returned after finding no work in Ismailia and Cairo, according to Copts United.
“My mother did not bear the shock when she learned about the killing of Bassem,” Osama Attalhah said, according to Copts United. “Our house turned into screaming and crying. We did not imagine that what happened had happened. The gunmen were walking in the street without any objection, and their faces were open to everyone. They were not arrested.”
An Islamic State affiliate known as the Sinai Province has been active in the area, with some blaming it for the killing of 311 people and the wounding of at least 122 in a mosque bombing last November. The group sometimes calls itself the Islamic State Egypt.
More than 300 Christian families had fled North Sinai after seven Christians were killed in a few weeks, and Islamic extremists released a video threatening further violence against Christians, according to advocacy group Middle East Concern. Another Christian who had returned to the area after fleeing, Nabil Saber Fawzy, was killed in May 2017, according to MEC.
Egypt was ranked 17th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.