Egypt’s Minya Governorate region erupted in violence on 25 November after rumours spread that a young, barely literate Christian man named Girgis Sameeh posted a message on Facebook that was considered insulting to Islam.
In al-Barsha, Girgis’ hometown, hundreds of Muslims attacked the homes of Coptic Christians, also looting and destroying local businesses. The fury of the mob spread to the church of Abou Sefin, where the congregation was celebrating the beginning of a fast for the Advent season.
Thankfully, there were only a few reported injuries. Due to the intervention of a concerned Muslim neighbour, the family of Girgis received protection from the rioters. Following the skirmish, police arrested about a hundred Muslims and Christians, detaining those from both sides to avoid accusations of bias. At last report, 20 Muslims and ten Christians face two weeks’ detention for questioning.
In retaliation to the lockdowns imposed to stop further riots, some Muslim villagers resorted to burning farm buildings used for cattle and feed, as well as boycotting businesses owned by Christians.
Such violent outbursts are not uncommon in Egypt and are often based on rumours. Girgis’ brother cannot believe that he would do such a thing, saying, “That’s not how he was taught to behave.”
Sources: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, Mission Network News, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Watani
- Ask God to provide His peace to this troubled Egyptian community. May the Christians of this region walk in obedience to God’s Word, serving as examples of His love.
- Pray for wisdom for the local authorities and protection for Girgis and other innocent civilians caught up in the unrest.
- Uphold those who are now without homes or businesses, and experiencing numerous hardships as a result. Ask the Lord to bless them with needed provision and restoration.
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At least seven people have been killed in Egypt by gunmen who opened fire on a bus carrying a group of Coptic Christians, officials say.
According to a Voice of the Martyrs contact at least 20 were also injured in the attack in the Minya region, south of Cairo — the same place where two buses were attacked one year ago.
The bus was heading towards a local monastery, a senior Coptic cleric says.
The Islamic State group says it carried out the attack. Islamist militants have targeted Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority repeatedly in recent years.
Egypt’s Copts have in the past accused the authorities of making only token gestures to protect them from such attacks.
Egypt is a Muslim-majority country and its Christian minority – mostly members of the Coptic Orthodox Church – make up around 10% of the population.
Sources: BBC, Voice of the Martyrs
- Pray that God will comfort those who have lost loved ones, and for a full recovery for the injured.
- Pray that God will encourage the wider Christian community and protect His church in Egypt.
- Pray for those responsible for the attack, may they be brought to justice and repentance.
Several houses belonging to Coptic Christians in Minbal village in the Mattay region of Minya governorate in Upper Egypt, were attacked by a mob on 9 July, following the publication of a Facebook post which was deemed to be offensive to Islam.
The mob threw stones, shouting “Allah Akbar” (God is Greater) after Abdou Adel, a 35-year-old Coptic man, shared a post on his Facebook page comparing different religions.
Mr Adel was arrested on 13 July, but extremists continued to incite the local Muslim community, resulting in damage to several houses. The Coptic community in the village is reportedly fearful and the situation remains tense. Sources close to CSW report that the police have increased their presence in the village and efforts are underway to hold an enforced reconciliation meeting.
The police deployed armoured vehicles to protect the Church of Prince Tadros Al-Mashreqi in the village, in anticipation of more protests. The vicar, Father Makarious Antoun, has called for peace and mutual respect, and has criticised any attempts to defame religion and instigate violence and social division.
Reconciliation meetings are extra-judicial procedures commonly used to resolve sectarian disputes. They generally impose ad-hoc and often unconstitutional conditions on the victims of the violence, with the authorities often accepting the outcome in lieu of investigating and prosecuting perpetrators sectarian violence.
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Pray for authorities to uphold the reconciliation meetings and for the Egyptian government to uphold the rule of law.
- Pray Mr Adel receives a fair hearing and is released.
- Pray for peace in the region of Minya and protection for Coptic Christians
A Coptic cathedral has been restored and reopened eight months after a suicide bombing destroyed it on Palm Sunday killing 28 and injuring 74 others.
St George’s Cathedral in Tanta, the capital of the Gharbia governorate north of Cairo, has been renamed the Cathedral of St George and the Martyrs, and its blood-splattered pillars have been left untouched as a reminder of what happened. The cathedral was one of two hit on the same day by suicide bombers targeting Copts celebrating Palm Sunday. Between the two churches – the other in Alexandria, 130km northwest of Tanta – 46 people were killed and over 100 injured.
“Everyone is amazed to see the church rise from the ashes, and the ruins metamorphose into a lofty, exceptionally beautiful building,” local bishop, Anba Pola, told DMC TV. “Screams of horror at the martyrs’ spilt blood have now turned into joyful adulation.”
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Praise the Lord for the re-opening of the church. May the building be used for God’s glory and a blessing for His people.
- Ask for a covering of protection on this building and all who enter through its doors.
- Ask God to continue overseeing the growth of His church in Egypt, calling even those who have tried to hinder religious freedom.
On Palm Sunday, Nesim Fahim was a guard at the main gate of the church building at Tanta when a terrorist detonated the bomb. Nesim, was 57 years old when he was instantly killed and listed among those martyred that day.
He left behind his wife Samira and their two sons Mena 29, and George aged 27. Nesim was employed as a church guard and Samira was so proud of him, however learning that a terrorist bomb had been detonated close to him resulting in his death, left Samira heartbroken.
One week after the bombing, Samira was interviewed at her house by a TV Satellite channel and the program presenter asked her, “What would you say to those who killed
Television viewers sat poised, waiting for Samira’s reply. Most people expected Samira to speak of revenge, but her answer shocked the audience. Samira said, “I would ask for forgiveness for the person who killed my husband, as I know that my husband has graduated to heaven with the Lord. But the killer is waiting a terrible end for his life so I forgive him if this will help him!”
Millions of Muslims as well as Christians were watching the broadcast and were amazed by her answer. One local television presenter, angered by the bombings, referred to the interview and commented on Samira’s answer. He was even shouting and directed his question to the Christians who were watching him.
“If someone killed my father or my brother, I will surely kill him to get my revenge, so how come you are able to forgive those who are killing you?”
Forgiveness softens hearts
Many people watching the program would naturally share the same sentiments as the television presenter, but Samira is able to forgive because of her deep love for Christ. Samira’s incredibly powerful testimony has opened a way for many to become curious and desire to learn more about Christianity and the Lord Jesus.
Out of this tragic event, came the amazing testimony of a woman able to forgive. Our national contact who met Samira said, “I was very proud to meet her and hear her story. I was touched by her loving heart.”
But you came
Nesim was the breadwinner in the family but since his death, Samira faces a future of uncertainty and great financial difficulty. VOM Australia however, has provided her with six months’ support to help meet her daily needs.
Samira told our contact: “Did you know that when the attack happened I had many visitors coming to take pictures and put them on the social media. But not many thought of helping any of the families of the martyrs. Then we had no more visits and things went quiet and I was praying to the Lord that he may send an angel to help support us and encourage us. I was so excited when I heard that you were coming like an angel from God and also to provide us the hand of God’s support. I have never told anyone, even my own sons, that at this time I am in great need. I continue to pray to the Lord and He comforted my heart to say that He will find a way. Today He has provided His way by sending you to help me in my time of need.”
Please pray for Samira and her family as she continues to trust God for His faithful provision.