|(Story photo by Sarah Carr)|
Egypt (MNN) ― You've probably heard about or received e-mails about a horrific incident being reported in Cairo, Egypt.
The supposed crucifixion of Christians by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was first reported a few weeks back and has spread like wildfire across the internet. The story got picked up by a handful of news agencies for a short time before the links were deleted and access to the story disappeared.
Jerry Dykstra, a spokesman for Open Doors USA, says if anyone had been killed in front of Egypt's presidential palace, it wouldn't have escaped international notice. Further, "What I heard from Open Doors people in Egypt is that they cannot confirm that this happened. So, I'm saying right now that it's probably false."
However, what IS true, says Dykstra is that Egyptians have witnessed an increase in brutality--many of them Christians--in recent days. "What's happening in Egypt is bad enough, and it's truly gotten worse in the past two months since the election of President Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood."
Islamists have been emboldened, and it's likely to get worse before it gets better. Open Doors partners have indicated that "Muslim extremists in Upper Egypt have called for the deaths of Coptic Christians and have attacked them and singled them out for beatings." There have been riots, arsons, and destruction of property belonging to Christians.
That's why rumors like the crucifixions are dangerous. "The persecution itself is bad enough, and I don't think we need stories like these--it takes away from what really is happening in Egypt."
What's more disconcerting is the hostile sentiment building as the one-year anniversary of the Maspero massacre approaches. On October 9, 2011, Christian protestors marching peacefully toward the television and radio broadcasting building near downtown Cairo were assaulted by the army and a mob of extremists.
The attacks left 26 dead and hundreds wounded. The protest was in response to a September 30 attack in Upper Egypt, where a church was burned down along with several Christian-owned homes and businesses. It was also an incident that discouraged believers unlike any other.
Dykstra is quick to note that as dark as the days are, they are being answered by a growing prayer movement. "They're looking to see how they can not only keep their faith stronger, but they're also gathering together and reaching out to their neighbors in love," by praying for their families and asking God to bring peace to their nation.
As the pressure intensifies, there are many Christians who are leaving Egypt. While he acknowledges that, Dykstra goes on to say that "Christians who remain are being a beacon of light to their neighbors whether they are Muslims or any other kind of minority."