Violence Against Christians in Egypt

by Charles Cherry

From Middle East Concern:

Egyptian Christians have requested our prayers following a series of incidents in and around the property of the Coptic Church of the St. Mary in Giza.

On 11th and again on 22nd November, security forces attempted to stop construction work on an extension to the church community centre. On each occasion priests and members of the church were inside the building and, following a stand-off, security forces withdrew.

The situation escalated on 24th November. At 3am police surrounded the site while men were working on the roof and 200 people were keeping vigil inside. Both the security forces and members of the church resorted to violence. The security forces used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition.

According to the most reliable reports, four church members were killed and at least 50 wounded, many seriously. At least 200 Christians were arrested at the scene or nearby. They have been denied access to lawyers and remain detained. The medical care provided to some of the injured has been of a very poor standard.

Church leaders insist that they have the necessary permissions for the buildings work. However, the authorities dispute this. Central to this dispute is the distinction in Egyptian law between church property and a church building. Church leaders have a permit to expand property owned by the church, but not to erect a church building. The appearance of the community centre extension suggests that it will be used as a place of worship, which would require a separate permit. Because of the difficulty in obtaining church building permits, the extension of other church property to form places of worship is a practice that has been resorted to by others. It has been tolerated by some local officials.

Egyptian Christians request our prayers that:

  • The bereaved will know the comfort of Jesus
  • The wounded and traumatised will know the healing of Jesus
  • Those detained will know the presence and peace of Jesus in their cells, and be released soon
  • The church’s leaders will know the Spirit’s wisdom and guidance in all future use of their property
  • The law will be changed to give equal treatment to places of worship for all faiths
  • All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him
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