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Hours before Egypt’s Coptic Christian communities gathered for their traditional Christmas Eve services on 6 January, masked gunmen killed two policemen guarding a church in Upper Egypt’s Minya city.

The attack came amid the government’s tightened security precautions, initiated to protect all Christian churches during the Coptic Christmas holidays, celebrated according to the old Julian calendar on 6 and 7 January.

Shot down in front of St Mark’s Catholic Coptic Church, near Al-Habashy square in central Minya, the policemen were identified as Eid Faheem Sadek, 59, a Coptic Christian; and Sergeant Mohamed Abu Zeid, 35.

In a joint statement issued by Minya’s Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical churches, local Christians announced that their Christmas celebrations would be restricted to religious services only, in respect to the families of both the two policemen and 20 Coptic Christians recently kidnapped in Libya.

Significantly, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi chose the evening of the Minya attack to become the first Egyptian President to attend a Christmas Eve mass in the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St Mark in Cairo. During his surprise visit, he extended holiday greetings to Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and all of Egypt’s Coptic citizens.

Despite President Sisi’s supportive stance toward the Coptic minority, his government has yet to address the judicial prejudices and restrictions that make them second-class citizens among Egypt’s 90 percent Muslim population. Christians continue to be subjected to criminal prosecution for alleged blasphemy against Islam, and legal procedures to build churches remain convoluted and often blocked by Muslim street protests.

Source: World Watch Monitor

Prayer Points

  • Thank the Lord for the inclusive attitude of this president; pray the Lord will use President Sisi to help ensure protection, justice and security for the Christian community in Egypt.
  • Pray the Lord will comfort the families of those who are grieving, ask Him to release the kidnap victims in Libya.
  • Pray the Lord will strengthen and uphold His church in Egypt, pray the Lord will use their witness to draw others to Christ