Tuesday, June 2, 2015

RLPB 312. Egypt: that the Copts might be 'subdued'

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 312 | Wed 03 Jun 2015

By Elizabeth Kendal

'Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya [protection money] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.' (Qur'an 9:29, version: Yusuf Ali ) [Emphasis mine]

RIOT: Kafr Darwish is a village located in the city of al-Fashn, around 180km south of Cairo in the governorate of Beni Suef. On 24 May Muslim youths in Kafr Darwish rioted, hurling stones and Molotov cocktails (homemade fire bombs) at the homes of Copts, the indigenous Christians of Egypt. Whilst at least ten homes were burned and a car destroyed, the damage would have been worse had not other Muslims helped the Copts defend their property until the police restored order. This fighting against unbelievers was launched to punish the Copts collectively after a local Copt named Ayman Youssef Tawfiq allegedly posted to Facebook a cartoon which the Muslims deemed offensive to Islam. Whilst Ayman Youssef, an illiterate labourer who works in Jordan, denied the charge, his denial is irrelevant as rioting should not be permitted under any pretext.

'RECONCILIATION': Reconciliation sessions were convened according to Egyptian protocols: the first was held at the al-Fashn police station and the next in the home of Mayor Ahmed Maher. There it was decided that Ayman Youssef's extended family -- five families comprised of 19 members in total -- should leave the village. The police told Ayman Youssef's elderly parents, who lost their home, crops and cattle in the rioting, they could not (i.e. would not) guarantee the family's safety.
Copts return (Watani.com)
On Friday 29 May the Copts of Kafr Darwish began a collective fast and prayer for the return of the families. On Sunday 31 May the Beni Suef governor, Muhammad Selim, promised to visit and put things right. While the Copts returned on 2 June (Praise God), 'putting things right' would involve charging the Muslim rioters, securing justice (including compensation) for the Copts, while guaranteeing rule of law, equal rights and security for Christians, all of which are contrary to Islam. Kafr Darwish is not an isolated case. In recent months, near identical stories have emerged out of el-Galaa, al-Our, Abu Qurqas and Taleyhat. As Samuel Tadros told a US House Committee on 20 May, this cycle -- from riot to 'reconcile', or in other words, from fight to subdue -- has become routine, especially in Upper (south) Egypt.

Video: VOM
FREEDOM: Long-time intercessors might remember Mohamed Hegazy, who in 2007 became the first Muslim Background Believer to sue the Interior Ministry for his constitutional right to religious freedom. The court ruled against Hegazy on the grounds that Sharia does not permit apostasy. The ruling meant that Hegazy would remain a registered Muslim, ensuring his children would be registered as Muslims and any daughters would be obliged by law to marry Muslims and produce Muslim babies. While Hegazy's wife and two children received asylum in Germany, Hegazy remained in Egypt reporting on religious freedom issues. On 5 Dec 2013 Hegazy, who had changed his name to Bishoy Armia, was arrested in Minya governorate while investigating a Muslim riot against Christians. He was detained and questioned for 15 days.
Bishoy at his appeal (Nov '14) WWM
Re-arrested in June 2014 Bishoy was fined and sentenced to five years in prison on charges of inciting sectarian strife, 'depicting Christians as suffering from sectarian oppression', reporting the 'misinformation' to US-based television channel The Way TV, and insulting Islam. [See RLPBs 240 (10 Dec 2013) and 266 (June 2014 Update)].

Bishoy is being held in the high-security Tora Prison where, according to his lawyer Karam Ghobrial, he is routinely beaten and mistreated. Moreover, he is denied a Bible, his glasses have been intentionally broken and his head has been shaved. Convinced that Bishoy's Christian faith is the main reason for the mistreatment, Ghobrial has submitted a complaint to the Prosecutor-General, demanding an investigation.

Intolerant Qur'anic Islam continues to advance in Egypt, including amongst police and officials. Furthermore, on 16 May an Egyptian court ruled that former president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) be sentenced to death. Before it can be finalised, any death sentence must first be sent to Egypt's Grand Mufti for his non-binding opinion. Originally scheduled for 2 June, the final decision on Morsi's sentence has been deferred to 16 June. President al-Sisi is cracking down on MB influence in mosques. Tensions are soaring and the situation is highly volatile. If the court upholds Morsi's death sentence, an MB backlash is all but guaranteed. Egypt's Christians need our prayers.


* comfort Egyptian Christians who have lost property, livelihoods, loved ones and their sense of security at the hands of Muslims who know they can fight them with impunity. May Jehovah-jireh, the Lord our provider, supply their every need, 'according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 4:19 ESV).

* protect Bishoy Armia (formerly Mohamed Hegazy) and his lawyer Karam Ghobrial and give them both wisdom and strength as they pursue justice; may the Lord intervene to improve Bishoy's situation.

* move the heart of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to have the courage and conviction to move beyond rhetoric and symbolic gestures to ensure Egypt's Copts and Christians enjoy full, equal rights as valued citizens.

'It is better to take refuge in the Lord that to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.' (Psalm 118:8-9 ESV)


The Copts, who are Egypt's indigenous Christians, routinely suffer violence at the hands of Muslims who know they can persecute Christians with impunity. A rumour or accusation about even the most minor breach of Islamic protocols is enough to trigger a collective punishment wherein Copts' houses are looted and burnt, cattle killed and crops destroyed. To secure 'peace', the Christians will have to 'reconcile' with their Muslim neighbours by dropping all charges, issuing an apology and agreeing to whatever the Muslim community demands. This impunity is fuelling the escalating anti-Christian violence. Please pray for Egypt's Christians. Pray specifically for Muslim Background Believer Bishoy Armia (formerly Mohamed Hegazy) who is being mistreated in a high security Egyptian prison for his faith. May the Lord intervene in Egypt.


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