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5/13/2021 (Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday, May 13 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.
Egypt: Population 1.3 million, Christians 16.2 million [15.8%]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has promised to improve the situation of the country’s Christians, who by many estimates constitute about fifteen percent of the population and face pervasive discrimination and intolerance. To date, al-Sisi’s most significant step has been his issuance of the Church Construction and Renovation Law (Law 80/2016) in September 2016. The law was supposed to address the longstanding demands of Egypt’s Christian communities for a more just and streamlined system of obtaining permits to build, renovate, and repair churches. Special restrictions on churches including the need for high-level state permission for building; deference to Muslims’ objections to the presence of churches in local communities; and interference by security agencies have all made it very difficult to build and operate churches in Egypt. One result has been a disproportionately large disparity in the number of Christian and Muslim places of worship.
Law 80/2016 has been widely touted as a crucial step toward addressing deep-rooted problems of discrimination faced by Egypt’s Christian population, and it includes some positive elements. But the hopes for significant change that accompanied its issuance have not been realized. More than two years into the implementation of Law 80, the positive impact has been minimal.
- Of nearly 3,800 unlicensed churches waiting to be legalized, the authorities have recognized less than one third.
The law has not changed the fundamental problem: the state’s treatment of churches as a security issue that must be tightly managed to avoid provoking conflict with Muslim communities. Moreover, the al-Sisi regime has failed to make any real progress on other systemic problems hindering Christians’ freedom of worship, including unlawful church closures, harassment of worshippers by security agencies, failure to protect churches from sectarian violence, and
Who is most vulnerable to persecution? Most incidents and mob attacks take place in Upper Egypt, the southern part of the country which is known to be more conservative and radical than the north. The Minya Governate is notorious for having the highest number of attacks on Christians. However, Christians in the economically disadvantaged rural areas in the north experience a similar degree of oppression at the hands of Islamic extremists, especially in the villages and towns of the Nile Delta region. Islamic extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood have nationwide support, but violent Islamic militants are only openly active in the north-eastern area of the Sinai Peninsula.
- Pray for president al-Sisi that the Lord will give him strength and guide him to fully implement the spirit and directions of the Church Construction and Renovation Law.
- Pray to the Lord that He will it make possible for Christians to be elected to responsible government offices.
- Pray for the release of all Christians imprisoned or held captive, and for the safety of all Christians as they go about their daily lives.
- Pray for an end to all false accusations and senseless attacks against Christians, and that there will be an urgency in local police forces to seek justice for all wrongdoing.
- Pray for the protection of church buildings and safety for the worshippers.
- Pray that Christians in Egypt will have courage and wisdom to shine the light of Christ brightly in their communities.
- Pray that the Lord will protect young Christian girls and teenagers from being abducted. They are abducted for their faith with the intention of forced conversion and marriage or trafficking.
- Pray for the Lord to convict the abductors, spoil and foil their plans. Appear to them in their dreams.
- Pray for special protection of converts from the Muslim faith, that they can withstand pressures from family and community.
- Pray to give the persecuted the ability to pray for and forgive their persecutors.
- Pray for unity of the Christian churches. That they stand together.
- Pray to the Lord that the efforts of the Muslim radicals will be ineffective to stop the growth of His church.
Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses to the Lord:
- Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018, pray for her release.
- Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
- Pray pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
- Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped and now waiting for a visa to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
- For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence, recently reduced from ten years.
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God.
The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own.
With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer.
Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you.
If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
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(Morning Star News) – The Egyptian Interior Ministry’s claim – a day after Islamic terrorists released a video showing the execution of a 62-year-old Christian grandfather – that police had killed three of the suspects in the killing seems suspicious at best.
The Egyptian government didn’t bother to say on what date the three members of the Islamic State affiliate in the North Sinai were killed in a gun battle in the Abtal area, a convenient omission since it’s also unclear when Coptic Christian businessman Nabil Habashi Salama was killed. The video was released on April 18, and the government statement was released the next day.
The government claimed three other suspects involved in the execution escaped. Terrorist and government assertions are difficult to verify as media access is restricted in the restive North Sinai, but if the Egyptian government claim that three jihadists were killed is true, it also raises the question of why security forces couldn’t rescue Salama before he was executed.
When Salama was kidnapped in the coastal town of Bir al Abd in the North Sinai in early November, it wasn’t clear who had done it or why. Was he perceived as a well-off businessman whose family could pay a large ransom? A Christian to be despised for his part in the leading the construction of a church building? Or perhaps they thought his Coptic Orthodox denomination was rich enough to pay a ransom.
The three unmasked men who seized Salama off the street in Bir al Abd had to steal a vehicle to make their get-away, which seemed a bit less sophisticated than a typical IS operation.
The reasons for his execution became clearer with the release of the video. His son told Coptic Orthodox leaders that while in captivity his father had told him he was kidnapped for his role in building the church of St. Mary, St. Karas and St. Abanoub in Bir al Abd, according to a tweet by a church bishop.
“He poured his heart and soul into this church and always said, ‘Do not think that I am building this church for here; I am building for myself a home in heaven,’” the bishop reported Peter Salama telling him. “In their efforts to have him abandon the faith, they humiliated my father, and broke all his teeth to torture him. Yet, through all this, and we are so joyful for him.”
In the video, one of three IS terrorists standing with rifles behind the kneeling Salama says, “We thank the great Allah who ordered his followers to kill, and the kafirs [apostates] to be subjugated until they pay the jizya while down on their knees. This is a message to Crusaders in every spot on earth: As you fight, you will be fought, and as you capture you will be captured.”
Then the militant, using a derogatory term for Christians, addresses Egyptian Christians, saying, “This is your reward for supporting the Egyptian army,” and shoots Salama in the head, killing him, according to Egyptian newspaper Watani.
As the Egyptian military has waged a campaign against IS in the Sinai, the Islamic extremist militants see Coptic Christians as supporting the Egyptian army, even as some Copts lament indifference by the government and security forces’ lack of effectiveness; critics say the government could have rescued Salama long ago.
In the video, the jihadists also kill two Bedouin tribesmen they accuse of fighting with the military. The Bedouins have provided intelligence on jihadist militants to military and police.
The Coptic Orthodox archbishop in his tweet quotes Salama’s son as saying, “We are currently telling our kids that their grandfather is now a saint in the highest places of heaven. The ISIS militants used to contact me during the time when my father was kidnapped, and, though I knew he said this under pressure, he would say, ‘All is fine, thanks to God.’ He explained to me that the militants wanted to enforce the Jizya tax on the Christians, and that he was kidnapped due to his efforts in building the church.”
The Jizya, a koranic protection “tax” on Christians and other non-Muslims, grants the right to practice another religion but is used to subdue them as second-class citizens.
“It was heart-wrenching to see the execution of my father,” Peter Salama told Watani, adding that since his father’s execution he has received threats from IS terrorists. “He had never done anything wrong, in fact he loved to serve everyone and was loved by all in Bir al-Abd.”
Earlier in the 13-minute video, Salama is made to look like a man confessing a crime as he admits he was responsible for building the Coptic Orthodox church in Bir al Abd and, in an obviously coerced statement, says that his “church is cooperating with the Egyptian army and intelligence’s war on the Islamic State.”
‘He Died a Great Man’
Salama owned shops selling mobile phones, garments and jewelry in Bir al Abd.
The kidnappers reportedly demanded a ransom of 5 million Egyptian pounds (US$318,000, though church sources say the demand was 2 million Egyptian pounds), and after the family was unable to pay it, Salama’s relatives followed local security officials’ advice to relocate from the area. They had to shut down all Salama’s businesses and leave.
Islamic extremists who have long terrorized the Sinai ramped up violence in 2013 after the army deposed President Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist of the Muslim Brotherhood, as part of a popular uprising. Christians were among IS’s favorite targets for torture and murder.
In the North Sinai in February 2017, in the Al-Arish area east of Bir al Abd, about 350 Coptic families fled after jihadist militants carried out a series of killings and threats. Copts also had to flee Al-Arish in July 2013 after a priest and a Christian businessman were killed.
While there are doubts about the military’s effectiveness, Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, lauded security forces’ efforts against terrorists in a statement mourning the death of Salama.
“Even as the Church mourns her faithful son and servant, she feels joy at his heavenly award in Jesus Christ who he held on to and shed his blood for,” Tawadros said. “The Church confirms her support of all the Egyptian state’s efforts in battling terror, the attacks of which only make us more adamant in preserving our national unity. In this regard, we applaud the efforts of the Egyptian military and police. We offer our condolences to the family of the martyr and pray for the peace of our land.”
Salama had two sons and a daughter. His daughter, Marina Salama, said her piercing grief and shock over his death came with great respect for his faith.
“He lived and died a great man,” she said. “He is now in a better place, with Jesus whom he loved and served.”
The slain was identified as 62-year-old Nabil Habashi Salama. In the video, Salama appears on his knees, with three masked men holding rifles stand behind him. The one in the middle launches into a typical jihadi diatribe: “All praise to Allah, who ordered his slaves [Muslims] to fight and who assigned humiliation onto the infidels” — this latter part is said while the terrorist contemptuously points at the bound and kneeling man before him — “until they pay the jizya while feeling utterly subdued.”
The middle speaker continues by threatening “all the crusaders of the world” — a reference to Christians in the West — while singling out the countrymen of the one about to be slain: “as for you Christians of Egypt, this is the price of your support for the Egyptian army.”
The speaker then points his rifle at the back of the Christian’s head — even as chants of “jihad! jihad! jihad!” blare out — and fires at point-blank range, killing him.
Egypt, (Morning Star News) – A Coptic Christian is in critical condition after he, his mother and brother were stabbed in Egypt on Sunday night (Nov. 17), according to media reports.
The Muslim assailant in a village in Upper Egypt’s Minya Governorate told them that Christians must not sit outside before attacking them, leaving the adult son in critical condition at a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit with several wounds to the stomach, according to media reports.
Area residents told Egyptian news media that a non-Christian with a criminal reputation assaulted the family members with a dagger at about 10:30 p.m. after arguing with them as they sat in front of their house in Nassiriya village, near Beni Mazar. Beni Mazar is 219 kilometers (136 miles) south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile River.
The residents said the argument started when the assailant, identified only as Ali M., walked by the family members as they sat in front of their house and began shouting for them to go back in, saying no Christians were allowed outside. A Facebook post identified the assailant as a Muslim named Ali Eid Morsi; the post has since been removed.
When the adult son, identified as Shinoda Aziz, objected and stood up to the assailant, the suspect retrieved a dagger from his home, returned and attacked him, according to the area residents. When his mother started screaming, the assailant started stabbing her in the head and also attacked the younger son, cutting his face, they said.
Al Mowatna News reported that news anchor Osama Eid confirmed the attack. The news outlet added that the assailant is known for involvement with drugs and prostitution.
The family reportedly told police the assailant intended to kill them.
Security forces in Minya have reportedly arrested the suspect and are questioning witnesses.
An area source told Morning Star News by phone that the village is tranquil. The area was said to be predominantly Coptic Christian in the country that is about 90 percent Muslim.
Egypt ranked 16th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
Egypt, (Morning Star News) – A young Coptic Christian man has been arrested near Cairo, Egypt for allegedly insulting Islam after a hacker posted material on his Facebook page, he and family members said.
Fady Yousef, 25, was arrested early in the morning of June 11 in Giza, southwest of Cairo, despite having posted a video explaining that hackers had placed the offending material on his Facebook page, according to the Coptic Bishopric of Maghagha and El Edwa in Minya.
The previous night (June 10), Muslim extremists angry over the offending material attacked his parents’ home in Eshneen el Nasara village, near Maghgaha in Minya Governorate, about 260 kilometers (160 miles) south of Giza, according to a statement from the bishopric.
“On Monday [June 10] some extremists reaching a few hundred from Eshneen el Nasara village and the villages around it attacked the home of Yousef Todary,” the statement from Bishop Anba Aghathon read. “They entered and destroyed the contents of the house, then moved to the house next door where his brother lived and attacked it from the outside. They were shouting against the Christian religion and the Copts of the village.”
Yousef Todary, his wife and daughter were able to escape minutes before the Muslim extremists broke in and destroyed the refrigerator, television set, mattresses, furniture and windows, according to the bishop.
Stating that Muslim extremists alleged the post was insulting to Islam, the bishop defended Fady Yousef, reiterating that he said his Facebook was hacked.
The young Copt posted an apology on the page saying he would never do such a thing, and that people who knew him know this well. His sister, Nermeen Yousef, also posted a clarification, saying her brother apologized not because he did anything wrong, but because people mistakenly believed that he was the author of the post, according to Copts United.
“He is apologizing because he respects your feelings,” she wrote. “He is not a child to do such a thing, and also his friends are Muslims and always tell me they are dear to him and they know this well.”
Along with Fady Yousef, police also detained his brother and uncle; two other uncles turned themselves in as soon as they heard that police sought them, according to various sources. They were all transported to Minya pending investigations, and on Friday (June 15) Copts United reported that the brother and uncles had been released.
Yousef is in custody facing charges of posting material offensive to religion, according to Copts United. Insulting a heavenly religion (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) in Egypt, where the state religion is Islam, is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of 500 to 1,000 Egyptian pounds (US$30 to US$60), according to Article 98(f) of the Penal Code.
Police reportedly arrested 25 people suspected of attacking the home of Yousef Todary and those of other Christians in the village, as well as others who wrote posts on social media to instigate attacks.
Police reportedly dispersed angry crowds and set up protective posts in Eshneen el Nasara and other villages. They also set a protective perimeter around the village the following Friday (June 14) in anticipation of possible violence, according to Copts United.
The bishop’s statement noted that Reda Eid, a Muslim from the same village, during Easter posted derogatory words against Christianity, the church and its leadership. Eid later went to the church leaders to apologize, taking some of his Christian friends with him, according to the statement. Father Soliman responded “You are our son, you came here and I accept your apology, we are all brothers,” thus ending the incident, according to Copts United.
Egypt ranked 16th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
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.