There is a growing fear among the Christian community in Egypt. According to reports, violence in Egypt is on the rise because there was a letter sent out calling on Muslims to kill Christians. This violent turn has taken place since the new president Mohammed Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, came to power.
On August 14, 2012, a publication called El Fegr posted a copy of a letter inciting violence against Christians. The title of the letter is “An Urgent and Important Notice.” The letter refers to Christians as enemies of Allah’s religion and slaves of the cross. It calls for Allah to curse them and for Muslims to attack or kill Christians throughout Egypt until they either convert or submit their status as dhimmi in accordance with verse 9:29 of the Koran.
Verse 9:29 of the Koran says, “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, or hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are people of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”
The dhimmis is a term that is given to non-Muslims who are required a special tax called the jizya. The tax is not just a financial extraction, it is imposed as a sign of humiliation, subjugation, and submission to Islamic rulers.
Christians in Egypt make up about 10% of the population and the Coptic Christians have gone through generations of persecution where they were forced to convert to Islam, pay the jizya, or die.
Violence against Christians in Egypt has been openly endorsed. The letter published in the newspaper offered awards to Muslims who kill Christians. It seems that the letter and the rally that took place afterwards have had the desired effect. In an article titled “The serial killing of Copts has begun in Asyut,” Menna Magdi reported that violence against the Christians ensued just hours after the letter was distributed.
Reports have come out about the result of the sentiment towards Christians and this letter. A Christian shoe-store owner, Rafaat Eskander, was killed by a mob. In another report by Al Akhbar News, “Christians are being beaten, their stores are destroyed, and their properties plundered. The attackers are declaring that any Christian who dares to leave his house will be killed.”
The Christians are not getting protection from the police for this.
Most of the Christians who live in Cairo live in Garbage City. This is not something that you learn about in the news. Christians are pushed into an area of the city where everyone dumps their garbage. There are more than 60,000 children and families forced to live in piles of decaying garbage that is stacked several stories high. Muslim-Christian tensions have existed for years, but it is growing in the post-revolution Egypt as voilence in general rises.
Christians are not allowed to build or even repair a church without government approval. Sharing the Gospel with Muslims is forbidden by law. Conversion is strictly forbidden. US Rep. Frank Wolf has said, “I personally worry that the Middle East is being emptied of Christians.”
Back to Jerusalem missionaries have been living and working in Egypt and have been experiencing the persecution first hand. They are actively sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and putting their lives and safety on the line. A few local Egyptians are open to the Gospel and this is encouraging. They need our continual support and partnership. Please keep them in your prayers.