Tuesday, July 12, 2016

RLPB 366. Egypt: Copts seek justice as violence escalates

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 366 | Wed 13 Jul 2016

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by Elizabeth Kendal

Violence by Muslims against Egypt's indigenous Christian Copts is escalating at an alarming rate, and, as noted in RLPB 363 (June Update), pogroms are being triggered by mere rumour.
Coptic property destroyed in
al-Bayda, 17 June 2016
The post-Friday-prayers pogrom in al-Karam Village, Minya Province, on 20 May was triggered by the rumour that an elderly Coptic woman's son was in a relationship with a Muslim woman. The Coptic woman was stripped naked and dragged violently through the streets. Likewise, the post-Friday-prayers pogrom in al-Bayda, near Alexandria, on 17 June, in which Copts were assaulted and property destroyed, was triggered by the rumour that a Copt was building a church and not a house as he claimed. [See RLPB 363]

Other recent attacks against Copts include an incident in Damshir Village, Minya, on Thursday 9 June in which four Muslims armed with knives attacked a Coptic man and his family on the basis of a rumour that he was building not a house but a church. The police subsequently ordered the Copt to stop building. On 10 June a man armed with a knife (whose motive was unknown) attacked a nun at a medical centre run by the Coptic Orthodox Church in the town of Biba, Beni Suef Province. On 30 June an enraged Muslim mob torched four homes belonging to Copts in Kom El Loofy village, Samalout city, Minya, in response to a rumour that a local Copt was constructing a church. According to Fides Catholic news agency, other recent attacks in Minya include burning a Christian-run kindergarten and the torching of crops belonging to Copts.

Walking on egg-shells:
Copts leave a church in Minya.
After Coptic homes were torched in Kom El Loofy village, Samalout, the Governor of Minya ordered Christians into a reconciliation session. However, the Bishophric of Samalout refused, insisting that a reconciliation meeting not occur before the rule of law is applied. How Muslims respond to this courageous and principled, albeit risky, stand remains to be seen – for in Egypt, a 'reconciliation session' is actually the means by which Sharia is applied and Islamists are appeased. Sharia (Islamic) Law does not permit non-Muslims to accuse Muslims in court. Thus a typical 'reconciliation session' involves Muslims agreeing to end the violence in exchange for Christian guarantees that all charges will be dropped. Consequently, in Egypt 'reconciliation' is synonymous with Sharia, impunity and injustice. Furthermore, on 10 July His Grace Bishop Anba Makarius, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of Minya, launched an appeal requesting that police enforce the law and protect citizens. It is highly unlikely that Muslims will give up their privileges lightly; we should expect Islamic resistance.

Rev. Rafael Moussa (46),
martyred 30 June 2016.
source: wataninet 
Further to the pervasive problems of Islamisation and radicalisation, Egypt's Christians also face the threat of Islamic State (IS). On 30 June Reverend Rafael Moussa (46), the priest of Mar Girgis (St George) Church in Al-Arish, northern Sinai, drove his car from the church after celebrating Mass without realising he was being followed. As soon as he stepped out of his car, he was assassinated. Shot through the head, he died instantly. In an online statement of responsibility, IS declared that they had killed Father Moussa because he was 'combating Islam'. The Coptic Orthodox Church is mourning the loss of a courageous and faithful priest. IS, which has established a presence in the Sinai, has previously called for a jihad against the Copts.


* intervene in Egypt so that police will be compelled to enforce the law and protect all citizens equally.

* work through the Bishophric of Samalout's courageous and principled (albeit risky) stand to insist that justice precede reconciliation; may this principle be accepted, adopted and applied throughout Egypt.

* shield and preserve his precious people so that they will know his loving presence and all will see his powerful hand. 'He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.' (Isaiah 40:11 ESV)


Violence by Muslims against Egypt's indigenous Christian Copts is escalating. Police are reluctant to intervene against mob violence and perpetrators know they are guaranteed impunity. Once the damage is done, the Copts are ordered into 'reconciliation sessions' where the Muslims agree to end the violence in exchange for Christian guarantees that charges will be dropped. Now the Coptic Bishophric of Samalout city is taking a stand, insisting that reconciliation not occur before the rule of law is applied. How Muslims respond to this courageous and principled -- albeit risky -- stand remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the 30 June assassination of a Coptic priest in al-Arish, northern Sinai, saying Father Moussa (46) was killed for 'combating Islam'. Please pray for Egypt and its Church.


Elizabeth Kendal is the author of Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016). See www.ElizabethKendal.com