Wednesday, August 21, 2013

RLPB 224. Egypt: a time to weep, mourn and pray

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 224 | Wed 21 Aug 2013


By Elizabeth Kendal

The present crisis in Egypt is the culmination of several strategic trends, particularly the arrival of 'democracy' after decades of Saudi-sponsored Islamic radicalisation in a State that is hurtling towards collapse. Egypt's population has exploded, doubling in one generation to more than 92 million. With a massive youth demographic, high unemployment (40 percent), high illiteracy (45 percent), critical food and fuel shortages and looming bankruptcy, Egypt is on the brink of becoming a failed State. Saudi money keeps Egypt afloat and the Saudis want their nemesis, the Muslim Brotherhood (which advocates republicanism), not just out of power, but crushed. In this, the interests of the Saudis, the Egyptian military and the Salafis converge.

As noted in RLPB 218 (10 July), the military staged their coup under the cover of anti-Morsi protests, ensuring that anti-Morsi elements would bear the blame and the brunt of reprisals. And 'no soft target so clearly represents opposition to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) as the Coptic Church'. The military's actions may have halted the Muslim Brotherhood's consolidation of power and guaranteed the flow of Saudi aid, but their actions are making the situation worse. Violence against Christians has exploded. The military may even exploit this, rather than prevent it, to legitimise military violence, military rule and requests for military aid. As the guardians of the Suez Canal and the Sinai, the Egyptian military is essentially a law unto itself, something Morsi and the MB have failed to appreciate.

Meanwhile, the MB will do what it has always done best: play the victim. In late July terrorism analyst Yossef Bodansky reported: 'The Ikhwan's [MB's] spiritual guides are now calling for a violent intifada against the military: a confrontation where the military's superior firepower would create numerous martyrs, thus reinforcing and affirming the Ikhwan's own claim of victimhood.' This provides the context for the recent MB 'sit-ins'. According to Amnesty International, these protest sites were dangerous, violent places, where those who voiced objections were beaten, raped, tortured and killed. The sit-ins comprised bands of violent, armed MB supporters who provoked the military from behind a screen of human shields -- thousands of women and children. What occurred on Wednesday 14 August, when the military went in as promised to disperse the sit-ins and clear the streets, was a massacre, a bloodbath. With some 900 dead it was doubtless much worse than the MB leadership imagined it would be, but a massacre was exactly what they sought, for propaganda purposes. [This is the very essence of Islamic asymmetric warfare.]

MB rage again fell on the Church. Over the next few days, churches, monasteries and other Christian properties, including schools and businesses, were torched and looted by rampaging MB supporters in Sohag, Minya, Beni Suef, Fayium, Asyut, Alexandria, Suez and Cairo. Bible Society bookshops in Assiut and Minia were destroyed. Three nuns taken out of the Franciscan school in Bani Suef were paraded 'like prisoners of war' through mob-filled streets, until a courageous Muslim woman rescued them and took them into her home. Two other Christian women who fled from the school were observed being hit, groped and spat on as they fought their way through the mob.

Emergency Law has been established for one month, military officers have been installed as governors and 14 governorates now have 7pm-6am curfews. A low intensity but extremely violent insurgency will doubtless ensue. There are no good options. Remember, this is the same military that drove tanks into Copts at Maspero in October 2011, killing 28, when the Copts led protests against sectarian violence (see RLM Oct 2011). This is the same military that bulldozed the security walls of Coptic monasteries in the wake of the fall of Mubarak, removing their security so Arab raiders and jihadis could attack and plunder them. General al-Sisi is a Morsi-appointed, pro-Salafi Islamist. To use the language of Isaiah, the convergence of trends has culminated in a 'mighty flood' of trouble. These are days to weep and mourn for Egypt (Ecclesiastes 3:4) but above all -- to pray!


* God will pour his gracious love into the hearts of all Egypt's Christians (Romans 5:3-5), that they will respond in a supernatural way, following the teaching and example of Jesus Christ: loving their enemies, doing good to those who hate them, blessing those who curse them and praying for those who abuse them (Luke 6:27-36). [Never underestimate the miracle of this.]

* the Holy Spirit will give Egypt's Christians the grace and courage essential for witness to a confused, desperate, lost yet hope-seeking people, and the faith and hope essential for prayer to a faithful, loving, Sovereign yet prayer-responsive God. (Lamentations 3:55-66)

* by the grace of God, hope-energising righteousness and truth  will shine from the churches (even those reduced to ashes) and from believers (even those reduced to poverty), that there will be a true awakening in Egypt.

* this nation -- which once enslaved God's people, but which then received the Christ-child and the Gospel message of the Apostles, only to be ultimately invaded, conquered and enslaved to Islam -- will be spiritually liberated to receive Christ and his Gospel yet again. (Isaiah 19:16-25)


The crisis in Egypt arises from the arrival of 'democracy' after decades of Saudi-sponsored Islamic radicalisation in a State hurtling towards collapse. Egypt is kept afloat by Saudi money and Saudi Arabia wants the crushing of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which advocates republicanism.  In this, the interests of the Saudis, the Egyptian military and the Salafis converge. Fighting back, MB leaders have called for violent intifada against the military, which will create MB victims and 'martyrs' for propaganda purposes. But as the guardians of the Suez Canal and the Sinai, the Egyptian military -- definitely no friend of Christians -- will doubtless be able to do whatever it wants. There are no good options. Christian security is tenuous. These are days to weep and mourn, but above all, to pray!


Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)