|Egypt's interim president getting to business. |
(Screen grabs courtesy Kodak Agfa/Flickr/Creative Commons)
Outside, former President Mohammed Morsi's supporters were ranting and marching through Cairo protesting against a military-backed cabinet and ouster. Greg Musselman, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs Canada says, "It appears it's in organized chaos in some ways, but then on the streets, you're seeing all this violence and the Muslim Brotherhood. They're certainly making their point being heard, but also using violence to try to get Mohamed Morsi back into office."
The new secularist-leaning government essentially shuts out the Islamists that were elected into power last year. However, notes Musselman, the price of the political tumult is being paid by the Christians. "They felt that they needed to make their voice more heard and as a result of that, they have set themselves up, in some ways, to be the scapegoats. The Muslim Brotherhood has already started attacking Christians."
Since Morsi was forced from office, there has been a string of attacks on Christians in different provinces in Egypt. "On one hand, they see the situation, all that's gone on as a positive; yet on the other hand, as we've seen in reports over the last week or two, the attacks against Christians, there have been deaths, there have been churches attacked, (and) Christian businesses."
Specifically, 12 days ago, a priest was shot dead by gunmen in northern Sinai. Five days later, the body of a beheaded Christian man was found in the same area. Arson attacks on Christian houses and shops have also been reported in remote southern villages.
Just this week, a church near Minya, in central Egypt was looted and destroyed and the priest fled for his life. A number of other churches in the region suspended summer activities and postponed several gatherings. Musselman explains, "For the most part, Christians have been pretty low key when it comes to these kinds of situations because they know that retaliation can be something that would happen very naturally if they got involved because of the political and religious dynamic that takes place in the country."
At the beginning of the upheaval, there was hope expressed by the Christian community in Egypt, Musselman says. "The hope is that with the changing of the guard again that they will be more sympathetic to Christians. There may be less persecution coming from the state government, but again, with the radical groups who are not going to sit still, the fear is that these attacks will continue to increase." Despite the threat hanging over the heads of believers, Musselman says the Church will not cower in fear. "We really need to be praying, and that's the [request] coming from Christian leaders in Egypt: ‘Please pray for us. This is a time of great opportunity.' Also what's being said is that ‘Many are coming to know the Lord.'"
In these troubled days of Egypt, the followers of Christ are finding the paradox of persecution to be true. The violence of the militants is prompting questions among Muslims. "There is more of openness to the Lord and to the message of the Gospel." Click here for a link to more ways to get involved.