“Two and a half years ago, I sat at a hotel in Cairo and watched live as the protests began to unfold in Egypt,” Eugene Bach said. “It was the beginning of the Arab Spring and many people were excited about the prospects of democracy sweeping through the Middle East, but democracy is not what the people in Egypt needed. It didn’t solve their problems and indeed can’t solve their problems. I am sorry if this is going to hurt a few people’s feelings, but democracy is not the savior of civilizations; Jesus is. Any government system absent of the teachings of Jesus and the freedom of Christians is simply not going to work.”
Eugene is referring to the recent protests that are sparking up again in Egypt. Egypt teetered on the brink of overthrow late Tuesday after the new democratically elected Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi rejected an ultimatum issued by the military and at least 23 people were reported killed in clashes between his supporters and opponents. Military defense officials have pledged to intervene if the government does not address public demands and end the political turmoil engulfing Cairo, but in a speech to the nation broadcast live late Tuesday, Morsi said he would not step down and would protect his “constitutional legitimacy” with his life. At least 39 people have died in clashes since Sunday.
Morsi is defended by Islamic hardliners and the Muslim Brotherhood who has vowed to keep him in office at all costs. “Democracy might have been the goal of the people of Egypt, but it was not the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was a vehicle.” Eugene says. As soon as the avenue to obtain power seemed clear, Muhammad Morsi was reported by the popular Egyptian website, El Bashayer, to say in a private meeting, “The second Muslim conquerer will be Muhammad Morsi,” referring to himself, “and history will record it.” When asked what he thought about the Coptic Christians participating in the democratic process he responded, “They (Christians) need to know that conquest is coming and Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya (an Islamic tax imposed to subdue infidels) or emigrate.”
In Egypt, the Christian minority has largely kept a low profile, but that all changed this weekend. Tens of thousands of protestors packed the streets this weekend to join protests calling for President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster, prompting a violent response. Several of the protestors were Christians. The size of Sunday’s rally is reported to be nearly five times the demonstration that celebrated the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. In Minya, Upper Egypt, where millions of Christians live, letters addressed to them threatened them not to join the protests, otherwise their “businesses, cars, homes, schools, and churches” might catch fire. The message concluded by saying, “if you are not worried about any of these, then worry about your children and your homes.”
The U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson has also told Christians in Egypt to not engage in protesting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in a meeting that she had with the churches legal counsel on June 17th. What many are calling “blatant bias” prompted an immediate response from Egypt’s well known Christians like businessman Naguib Sawiris – no stranger to Islamist hostility – to post on his Twitter account asking the U.S. Ambassador to “Bless us with your silence.”
Eugene continues, “In the last year alone, the arrest of Christians has gone up, the sentencing for conversion or blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed was often more than double the maximum sentence, forced conversions of children to Islam is higher than before, and even an attack on the most prominent Christian church in Egypt, the St. Mark Cathedral, happened in broad daylight. This all happened under a democratically elected government in Egypt. That is just the Christians, but look at the Muslim population. Can we honestly make an argument that the Muslim people of Egypt are better off today than they were a year ago under democracy? To be clear, I am not proposing a theocracy, monarchy, republic, or any other form of government. I am merely pointing out that democracy is not going to fix the problems of Egypt. Democracy cannot help the sick little boy find healing. Democracy cannot comfort the widow who is living out on the streets. Only Jesus can.”
Eugene continues to work together with the Back to Jerusalem missionaries from China who are preaching the Gospel in Egypt. “You want to see real change in Egypt? Let’s partner with and support the Chinese missionaries in Egypt. These guys are in the trenches with the people of Egypt and are seeing lives changed on a daily basis. It is not easy and it is not glamorous, but the change is real. Egyptians are finding hope in Jesus in spite of the political storm in their country. Egyptians are finding joy and truth in the Word of God and it is a beautiful thing.” To support BTJ in Egypt, you can help right now by going to: http://backtojerusalem.com/v3/support/