Egyptian Christians attacked by Islamic extremists

Egyptian Christians attacked by Islamic extremists

In the run-up to the May 5 Orthodox Easter celebrations, extremists attacked a Christian village in Upper Egypt and set fire to several homes and a new church building.

Many Christians received threats from extremists over the construction of a new church building in Al-Fawakher, Minya. Although they appealed to the police for help, none came. Then, on Tuesday night, April 23, militants burned the new construction and many Christian homes in the village.

Abna Makarios, Archbishop of Minya, alerted authorities. Riadh Jaballah, a spokesperson for The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, says, “Egyptian security force(s) received a report about a dangerous wildfire near the construction site of a new church. Many Copts have been subjected to attacks, (including) their homes being burned and being prevented from leaving.”

The area is where approximately one-third of the country’s Christians live. The village itself is home to roughly 3,000 families.

Despite a warning, nobody was there to stop the attack. However, in the aftermath, Jaballah says, “The instigators of the attack on the population were arrested, and the damages were recorded. This attack was to create sedition and division between Muslims and Christians. This is not new, especially coinciding with their Easter.”

While discouraging, the response from the community was not one of violence. Instead, “Always, they forgive their enemy, their killer, and persecutor. So always, this is the reaction of the Christian, because it’s biblical. It’s not about us. This is what we believe; this is our faith.”

Because many of the Christians in the area also live side-by-side with Muslim neighbors, they don’t want to sabotage those relationships. Jaballah says the response of believers says a lot about the Jesus they follow. “They won’t enter in(to) conflict with the neighborhood, especially Muslims. Always, they react with peace, with love, and forgiveness.”

Although Open Doors ranks Egypt as the 38th most dangerous country in the world to be a Christian, Jaballah says there is room for the Gospel. He tells church leaders in Egypt:
“You need, as Christian(s), to stand up about our faith, to face our reality. We are here, part of this country, and by law, our Constitution, they gave us the freedom to share our faith.”

He encourages them to embrace the paradox of persecution. “Our Lord (taught) us: ‘they’re going to kill us; they’re going to persecute us’. We’re aware of that. We need to go. And we need to share. If we (give in to) fear, we’re going to lose our faith.”

The April 23, 2024, attack is just one incident. History has proven that Easter gatherings in Egypt are prime targets for extremists to send a message. In 2017, twin attacks hit church gatherings at St. George’s Church in Tanta and St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. Those attacks are recent enough in light of Tuesday’s violence to send waves of concern as this Coptic Easter celebration approaches.

Jaballah says there are four things we can do as the body of Christ. We need: “…to encourage each other; to be aware about our situation; to share the information and to pray. We are believers–it doesn’t matter (about) your denomination. We need to stand up together.”

Source »