Faith

Christians in Egypt Increasingly Under Attack by Muslims, Bishop Says

A senior Coptic bishop warned that the rising terror attacks across the world have endangered Christians in Egypt, the Middle Eastern country with the largest share of Christians. Attacks against Christians in Egypt range from humiliations to forced removals, to church burnings.

“People will continue to suffer at a greater rate,” warned Bishop Angaelos, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom. “We have already seen people humiliated, forced out of their villages, churches attacked and sometimes burned.”

“It is regrettable that the time has come yet again to speak of heightened, targeted attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt,” Angaelos added. “Tensions against Egypt’s indigenous Christian community have again escalated over the past few months, and will spiral even further if not immediately addressed.”

Angaelos pointed to inflammatory false rumors that Christians were building new churches as one of the causes behind increasing attacks.

“At their most brutal, these recent attacks have culminated in the burning of churches and places of worship, the stripping and public parading of 70-year-old Souad Thabet, and the senseless murder of Raphael Moussa,” he noted.

Thabet was paraded naked through the streets by a mob yelling “Allahu Akbar” in Menia, Egypt in May. A number of Christian homes were also reportedly looted and destroyed that month, but no charges have been brought against the perpetrators, Christian Today reported.

Last month, a 5,000-person mob in Baidaa village torched a Christian home following rumors that the Copts intended to make it a church. Also, Coptic Priest Father Moussa was shot and murdered in Al-Arish, Sinai.

This month has featured quite a few attacks so far: Coptic pharmacist Maged Attia was stabbed and beheaded in Tanta; 5 Christian homes were torched in Abu Yacoub, Minya, after rumors of a church being built; the Archangel Mikhail Coptic Church was torched in Naj al-Nassara in Madamoud; and the village of Tahna al-Gabal in Minya saw a Coptic man stabbed to death, priests’ families attacked, and others wounded.

“There has been a spiral of attacks in the last three months,” Angaelos told Christian Today. “They are almost weekly now. Egypt is in a very vulnerable position. People are frustrated and vulnerable to radicalisation.”

He warned about the effective lack of law enforcement, which has been interpreted as a sign that such attacks would go unpunished.

While Americans focus on terror attacks on our soil like in San Bernardino, California, or Orlando, Florida — or even on attacks in the West in such cities as Paris or Brussels — countries across the world are facing the scourge of radical Islamist terrorism.

Christians face persecution in the very country to which Jesus traveled as a boy — but Angaelos emphasized that most Muslims in Egypt do not support attacks on Christians. He merely called for more law and order, that attacks like those on Souad Thabet must be investigated and attackers brought to justice.

Angaelos noted that the Christian faith has faced far worse persecution, and he expressed confidence that Christianity will continue to thrive in Egypt.

The bishop called on Christians to “pray for Egypt and its leadership, hoping that hearts and minds will be led to greater inclusiveness, justice, equality, and refuge for the oppressed, remembering that our Lord Himself once took refuge from persecution within its gracious and welcoming borders.”