Jubilee Campaign received a horrifying update from Middle East Concern about the current climate in Egypt for Coptic Christians. In the last six weeks, there have been at multiple attacks on Christians.
“On 20th May several Christian homes were attacked in al-Karam village in Minya province, as a result of a rumour about a relationship between a Muslim woman and a Christian man. During the attack the man’s mother was publicly stripped of her clothes and dragged naked through the streets. The woman is around 70 years old. Of the 16 people arrested for the assault, 11 were released on bail this past week (three on 27th June and eight on 28th June).
On 9th June in Damshir village in Minya province four Muslims armed with knives attacked a Coptic man and his family. They alleged that construction work he was doing was intended to build a church and they threatened him and told him to leave the village. After he filed a complaint the four men were detained, but the authorities told him to stop the construction work.
On 10th June a man attacked a nun at a medical centre run by the Coptic Orthodox Church in the town of Biba in Beni Suef province. When a guard tried to help the nun he was also attacked. Later the same day the attacker returned, armed with a knife. The guard managed to lock the man out of the centre. A complaint was filed with the police, but no action has been taken so far.
On 17th June a mob of a few thousand people gathered at the house of a Copt in al-Bayda village near Alexandria, after prayers had been held at the mosque. They shouted that they would not allow a church in the village and accused him of turning the building which contains his apartment into a church. Several Coptic homes were attacked, two were seriously damaged and at least ten were looted.
On 29th June in Kom al-Loufy village in Minya province four houses belonging to Copts were set on fire after a rumour spread that two brothers were constructing a church. After the rumour started the police asked the brothers to sign a statement saying that the building they were constructing on their land was for residential purposes; however, their homes and the homes of others were attacked nevertheless.
On 30th June Father Raphael Moussa was killed in Arish in Northern Sinai. Father Raphael was the parish priest of St George’s church. He was shot by several perpetrators on his way back from a church service. The Egyptian branch of the so-called “Islamic State” movement has claimed responsibility for the murder and has threatened to carry out more killings.
The Egyptian Parliament is also undergoing debate regarding legislation that would directly impact the Coptic Community. One debate is about possible amendments to the legislation on blasphemy, while other discussions include legislation to regulate personal status law for Christian communities and church construction. There are two draft bills on equal citizenship for all and countering discrimination.
Middle East Concern has asked for the following to be prayed for on behalf of Coptic Christians:
a. the victims of the above-mentioned attacks and their families will experience the comfort and peace of the Lord
b. Christian and other communities will be protected from attacks of this kind
c. the victims will not be forced to take part in “reconciliation meetings” where they have to forego any right to seek legal redress, and that the authorities will apply the law and prosecute the perpetrators
d. the debates in parliament will lead to the adoption of legislation that will grant all Egyptians equality before the law and protection against discrimination on the grounds of religion