persecution.org

Shedding light on Christian persecution around the world.

May 25, 2011

Revolution

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Dear Friend,

This has been a historical year for Egypt where a 30-year dictator has been overthrown and its citizens are seeking to create a new government and identity.  Amidst this turbulent change, Coptic Christians are facing increasing persecution and attacks.  We are continually receiving reports of Christians being killed and attacked, of churches being burned down, and of communities fearing for their safety.  The blood of innumerable Christians is soaking Egyptian soil.

The Egyptian government is not responding.  Currently Egypt is being controlled by an interim government, set to be dismantled by parliamentary and presidential elections this coming September.  Most experts agree that these elections will instate a government controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, who has historically persecuted those outside of the Islamic faith, particularly Christians.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to pressure the Egyptian government to change its laws regarding religious freedom, before a more permanent governing force rules out all opportunities for lasting change.

ICC is petitioning the interim government to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of Coptic Christians, and to repeal current laws that stifle religious freedom for all Egyptians.

Please join ICC in demanding legislative reform in Egypt in the coming months. Follow the instructions below and have your signatures back to us by July 11th.

Here’s How You Can Help

#1 Pray: The first thing you can do to help is stop right now and ask the Lord in the government structures of Egypt and in the lives of Coptic Christians who are being persecuted.

#2 Next, review our petition.

#3 Electronically sign the petition.

#4 Print out the petition and take it to your friends and church and have everyone you know sign it. Send the signatures back to us so we can compile the responses.

Feel free to print out extra signature pages for large numbers of sign ups. When you have collected all your signatures, please mail the signature pages to:

ICC
PO Box 8056
Silver Spring, MD 20907

or fax them to us at (301) 585-5918.

Please get them back to us by July 11th.
Sincerely in Christ,

Jeff King
President, ICC
International Christian Concern

P.O. Box 8056
Silver Spring, MD 20907
Phone: (800) ICC-5441
Fax: (301) 585-5918

May 11, 2011

Revolution

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During the 25 January Revolution in Egypt, Christians were among the thousands of protesters demanding that President Hosni Mubarak stand down. Although uncertain who will rise to power if free elections take place in September, a long history of discrimination under Mubarak’s regime compelled Christians to join the demonstrations. In doing so, Christians have chosen to walk a precarious path which will either open the door for a secular government or for an Islamic state.

Coptic Christians were the first Egyptians to organize protests in 2011 when thousands took part in demonstrations following the Alexandria church bombing on New Year’s Eve that killed twenty-four worshippers. Some believe that the boldness of the Coptic protests helped ignite the fervor of the revolution. “This was the most powerful protest that Christian Copts ever held in recent history,” said Wagih Yacoub, a Coptic human rights activist. “It went three days and inspired the 25th youth movement. We wanted to end a life under dictatorship, and we were not alone in our aspirations.”

Coptic rally

Coptic frustration was again triggered just days after the early-January demonstrations when Mubarak publicly blamed the Army of Islam, an Al-Qaeda linked Palestinian network, for the church bombing. Copts believed that the attack was carried out by Egyptians and that Mubarak’s accusation was to avoid addressing internal Islamic terrorism targeting Christians.

Mubarak’s disregard was nothing new for Copts who had experienced considerable persecution in 2010. Murders were accompanied by anti-Christian propaganda in Egyptian media, acquittals of Muslim offenders who initiated anti-Christian attacks, the inability of Christians to build churches without special government authorization, and the lack of basic freedoms for Christian converts from Islam. Marginalized by the government, Christians are left helplessly exposed. It came as no surprise that Christian frustrations boiled over in January.

We have suffered a lot as Christians,” said Yacoub. “We’ve seen churches being bombed, innocent people being killed, girls being kidnapped, and the increase of Islamism. We want to get rid of the dictatorship that we have been living under for over thirty years.”

As Christians, we need to support the approach of a democratic secular state,” said Magdi Khalil, Director of the Middle East Freedom Forum. “This means equal rights… it means religious freedom. We want Mubarak to leave immediately to begin a secular constitution that will protect our freedoms.”

Riot police stand guard

While Christians hope for greater freedom, there is a palpable fear that demonstrations will lead to a power vacuum and possible takeover by the only organized and financed opposition: the Muslim Brotherhood. When we asked Wagih Yacoub if he would regret participating in the revolution if it leads to a Muslim Brotherhood takeover, he thought carefully. “I don’t know. Some Christians would. I don’t think I will personally because all I can do is hope for a better future for my country. I would die for it. And I think there are a lot of Christians who would die for this cause as well. I keep praying that they will not come to power. If the Brotherhood took over power, it would turn Egypt into the Taliban. It would be another Afghanistan. We would go backwards 1,400 years.”

If the Muslim Brotherhood were to take over, it would not only be dangerous for the Christians in Egypt, but for the whole world,” said Magdi Khalil. “It means the entire Middle East will be an Islamic Middle East. Egypt is the key state (in the Middle East). We must support the secular approach and rewrite the constitution to be a secular constitution.”

While the demonstrations began as a youth movement, we predict the Muslim Brotherhood will hijack the revolution and call it their own. Idealistic in nature, revolutions often showcase the law of unintended consequences. Yet many Christians believe that now – and only now – is their chance at a better life. For Christians to let this opportunity slip away may mean giving up their only hope for religious freedom.

We are seeking freedom, we are seeking democracy,” said Wagih Yacoub. “No one can live without freedom. Freedom is life.”

Prior to Egypt’s 25 January Revolution that removed former President Hosni Mubarak from power, Coptic Christians had already been demonstrating in mass numbers following the bombing outside a church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve. “[It] was the most powerful protest that Christian Copts ever held in recent history,” said Wagih Yacoub, a Coptic human rights activist. In today’s post are videos and photos of Coptic protests prior to Egypt’s revolution.

Protestors take to the street in droves

Copts protest New Year's Eve bombing in Shubra