Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 218 | Wed 10 Jul 2013
EGYPT: ISLAMIC WRATH FALLS ON THE CHURCH;
plus update on Malaysia
By Elizabeth Kendal
On Wednesday 3 July the Egyptian military ousted the country's first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi, and placed him under 'house arrest'. Tanks moved into Cairo, the Parliament was dissolved and the Constitution was suspended. Whilst the military ousted Morsi in pursuit of its own interests, it did so under the cover of anti-Morsi protests, all but guaranteeing that Morsi's civilian opponents will suffer the reprisals. No soft target so clearly represents opposition to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as the Coptic Church, making it exceptionally vulnerable. The Coptic Pope compounded this vulnerability when he blessed the coup and supported the suspension of the Constitution. On Friday 5 July MB leader Mohamed Badie addressed a gathering of tens of thousands of justifiably enraged Islamists outside the Rabaa al-Adweya Mosque in Nasr City, Cairo. He slammed the Coptic Pope, condemned the coup and called on Muslims to rise up and not stop fighting until Morsi was returned to office.
UPPER EGYPT: On Wednesday 3 July Islamists in Minya Governorate attacked the evangelical church in el-Saleh, injuring two. In Delgia village dozens of Christian homes were looted at gunpoint and burned by Muslim rioters chanting anti-Christian slogans. Delgia's Coptic Church of St George was set ablaze. The priest survived only because his Muslim neighbours pulled him out of the inferno through a hole he'd made in the roof and gave him refuge. Most Christians have now fled the area. Further south in Qena, Islamic rioters attempted to attack the main Coptic cathedral but were repelled by the military. The rioters then looted and ransacked Coptic homes and businesses. Most Christians have now fled this area. On Saturday 6 July Christians in the village of Nag Hassan in Luxor Governorate came under attack from a Muslim mob; four people were murdered and three others injured while 16 Coptic homes and businesses were torched. The Church of the Virgin Mary was also attacked; most Christians have now fled this area too.
MEDITERRANEAN COAST: On 3 July the military repelled Muslim rioters who were stoning the Church of Holy Virgin in the coastal resort city of Marsa Matrouh, 240km west of Alexandria. On 9 July gunmen opened fire on the Mar Mina Church in Port Said (at the mouth of the Suez Canal); no casualties were reported.
SINAI: On 4 July at least two explosions were heard in the Israeli city of Eilat on the Red Sea. Remnants were found of a Grad rocket believed to have been fired by jihadists in the Sinai, Egypt. On 5 July the military opened fire on Morsi supporters who were demonstrating during Friday prayers in the coastal city of el-Arish, North Sinai, wounding at least 21. Jihadists immediately retaliated, expelling the military and raising the black flag of al-Qaeda. Salafi jihadist group, Salafiyya al Jihadiyya, slammed the 'crime' and announced the formation of a new group, Ansar al Sharia in Egypt, which it said was acquiring weapons and preparing to fight. The next day, gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a Coptic priest, Mena Aboud Sharoben (39), as he was walking through the Masaeed area in el-Arish.
JUST THE BEGINNING: Whilst the military may have ousted an Islamist President, dissolved a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Parliament and suspended an Islamised Constitution, these actions have actually increased the risk to Egyptian Christians. Military violence -- such as the army's firing on pro-Morsi demonstrators in Cairo on Monday 8 July, killing 51 and wounding more than 300 -- is only further inflaming the situation. The coup will serve to radicalise many MB supporters, especially as Islamic groups from Tunisia to Somalia are citing the coup as proof that democracy does not work and that Islam can be established only by the bullet not the ballot. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri (an Egyptian) has ominously warned: 'The battle in Egypt is far from over, it has only just begun.'
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --
* pour out his Holy Spirit abundantly on the Church in Egypt, so that the fears of Christians would be calmed and so they will trust the Lord for their every need.
'I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.' (Psalm 121:1,2 ESV)
* shield, protect, sustain and deliver all who look to him in faith.
'Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfils his purpose for me.' (Psalm 57:1,2 ESV)
* use the present troubles to awaken Arabs not merely to the fact that Islam is not the solution, but to the truth that the solution and empowerment for transformation are found in Jesus Christ.
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
ISLAMIC WRATH FALLS ON THE CHURCH IN EGYPT
Egyptian Islamists are justifiably furious that their democratically elected President Morsi has been ousted in a military coup effected under the cover of anti-Morsi protests. The Coptic Church is clearly a soft target amongst the opposition to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, making it exceptionally vulnerable to Islamic reprisals. Since the 3 July coup churches have been attacked in the cities of Marsa Matrouh and Port Said on the Mediterranean coast, as well as in al-Arish, North Sinai, where a Coptic priest was assassinated. In Minya and Luxor Governorates, Upper Egypt, many churches have been attacked, four Christians killed and dozens of Christian homes and businesses have been looted and torched by Islamic mobs chanting anti-Christian slogans. Hundreds of Christian families have fled. Please pray for the Church in Egypt.
RLPB 217 (3 July 2013) called for prayer against the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013 which would permit the unilateral forced conversion of minors. Praise God: on Friday 5 July, the Cabinet agreed to withdraw the Bill so that it might be reviewed by Cabinet. Groups that have protested the Bill are calling on the government to amend related laws that contain the same wording. Meanwhile, Islamic leaders who maintain that 'there is no need for both parents to consent to their children's conversion if one of the parents has already embraced the Islamic faith' are calling on Muslims to rise up and unite in defence of Islam. Pray that the government will have the courage to protect human rights and implement the law in the face of Islamic challenges.
RAMADAN commenced on 9 July and will run through to 7 August. Please pray for Muslims during Ramadan. For resources, visit 30 Days
Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)