At sundown each day during Ramadan, observant Muslims customarily break their fast at their evening meal by eating dates.
On the evening of 10 July, 16-year-old Fawzi Osama, a Coptic Christian, was on the street in the northern city of Alexandria, handing out dates to those hurrying home before sundown. In each small plastic bag of dates he also had included a slip of paper containing a Christian message and a link to a Christian website.
Before the night was over, an offended bystander had stopped Osama and taken him to a nearby police station. Two of Osama’s Christian friends who learned of his predicament hurried to the police station that same evening, only to also be detained.
The next morning, the prosecution began an investigation into the claims against Osama.
They were referred to prosecutors on suspicion of “defamation of religions and being in pursuit of a modern recourse to evangelism aimed at drawing in Muslims.” The Egyptian penal code calls for up to five years in prison for anyone convicted of an act of religious contempt.
Each of the three young Copts were released on 12 July on a bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (about $1735), pending further investigation.
Under Egyptian law, Islam is the country’s official religion, and open proselytising for any other religion can court trouble for “inciting sectarian strife.”
Over the past couple of years, young Christians (mainly in Alexandria) have distributed dates during Ramadan.
A representative of the Evangelical Coptic Church, Pastor Refaat Fikri, commented on the incident. “What these Christian young people do when they hand out dates to fasting Muslims on the streets is a positive thing,” he said, “and should continue. This is in itself enough to express the love called for by Jesus Christ in his teachings.”
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Thank the Lord for the courage of Osama; pray he and his friends will not be fearful about their current situation but trust in the Lord. Pray they will receive much love and support from the Christian community.
- Pray the Lord will use the messages handed out to passers-by to plant Gospel seeds into many hearts and minds.
- Commit to the Lord the upcoming investigation and pray for a positive outcome.
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