There are around 16.3 million Christians in Egypt, comprising almost 16 per cent of the country’s population. The majority religion is Islam.
Persecution against Christians happens mostly at the community level, especially in Upper Egypt where Salafist movements exert a strong influence on the rural communities due to high levels of illiteracy and poverty.
Incidents include false accusations, community ostracism, mob violence, and the abduction of Christian women (causing many to feel unsafe leaving the house alone).
Although Egypt’s government speaks positively about Egypt's Christian community, the lack of serious law enforcement and the unwillingness of local authorities to protect Christians leave them vulnerable to all kinds of attacks.
Furthermore, in contrast to how mosques and Islamic organisations are dealt with, churches and Christian non-governmental organisations are restricted in their ability to build new churches or run social services. Opposition also arises through communal hostility and mob violence.
Christians from a Muslim background often have great difficulty in living out their faith since they face enormous pressure from their families to return to Islam. The state also makes it impossible for them to get any official recognition of their conversion.
“I almost lost my faith not long after my father [was killed for his faith]. I don’t know how I carry my burden, but I do. I don’t feel that it’s me. It must be the Holy Spirit in my life.” MARQOS
Palestinian immigrants with a strict view on Islam arrived in the city of El-Arish and started threatening local Christians. They distributed leaflets, telling believers to leave or die.
After attending church one Sunday, Marqos’ father, a vet, visited the clinic of a Muslim friend. “Two young masked men entered the pharmacy and dragged my father outside,” Marqos learnt from a witness. “They told him to kneel in the street. They put two guns at my father’s head and told him to convert to Islam. But he shook his head. Then they shot him.”
The loss of his father prompted a change in Marqos’ life, now a teenager. His mother shares, “Marqos used to be a difficult teenager. But after the murder, all of the sudden, I found him reading his Bible and praying. He started going to church often, studied harder. He really changed as a person.”
Marqos shares what inspired him. “When my father was still alive, he woke up every morning at 5am to study the Bible and pray,” he says. “That helped him become a strong believer.”
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Egypt. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works through partners in Egypt to support the church with literacy training, education, advocacy support, medical care and youth, family and women’s ministry.
Lord Jesus, break through and bring about the safe release of all Christians kidnapped, imprisoned or forcibly held because of their faith. Bring an end to all senseless attacks and abductions against Your children. Build the faith of Your people, and help them to persevere despite enormous challenges. Protect families and may Your peace fill the hearts of the fearful. Move Egypt’s leaders to protect the rights of the Christian minority, and instil a determination among local police to seek out justice for wrongdoing. Amen.
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Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.