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ICC Note:

Reports reveal that attacks on Christians in Egypt have increased since the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak, causing many to consider leaving the country.

By Gary Lane

4/27/2011 Egypt (Christian Broadcasting Network) – Egyptian Coptics belong to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. The Apostle Mark established a church in the city of Alexandria just 10 years after Christ’s ascension.

But today, many Egyptian Christians are considering leaving the country because they fear radical Islamists have hijacked the nation’s democratic revolution.

The recent fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak brought hope and opportunity to people long oppressed by an unpopular dictator and his subordinates.

Coptics joined Muslims in the Tahrir Square protests, but so far the freedoms they desired remain elusive and the minority Christian community is under siege.

Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, says the actual number of attacks on Copts have increased since Mubarak stepped down.

“That has a lot of Copts worried [and asking], ‘Is this a harbinger of the future?'” Marshall explained.

Tragic Violence

So far, 2011 has been a tragic year for Egypt’s Christians. On New Year’s Day a horrific suicide bombing took place at St. Mark’s Church in Alexandria.

Security guard Magdy Wahib was at the church entrance when services concluded shortly after midnight.

“I suddenly found myself blown inside the church,” Wahib recalled. “I didn’t lose consciousness, but I felt severe pain in my abdomen, hand, and sides.”

Wahib was taken to a hospital where surgeons removed a piece of shrapnel nearly seven inches long from his abdomen along with 30 inches of his intestines.

Wahib was among nearly 100 Christians injured in the attack. Twenty-three others were killed.

Christians at St. Mark’s and other churches are determined to fight for a new future in Egypt. They know the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church and will persevere.

Fighting the Majority

Coptics say they are not treated as equals even though they were the majority in Egypt for more than 1,000 years. Today, Christians make up only about 13 percent of the population while 86 percent of Egyptians are Muslim.

Christians rarely receive government permission to build new churches. Members of a church in Giza, a city near Cairo, told CBN News they obtained a building permit after a lengthy 10 year battle.

In November 2010, security police laid siege to their partially constructed building. Two Christians were killed and 20 others were blinded in the attack.

Taxi driver Naseer Fakhry Bakheet is now unemployed because he lost sight in his left eye after being hit by a rubber bullet.

“The policemen inside the church were insulting us and beating us as if we were criminals,” he said. “They shouted ‘allahu akbar’ and such slogans, as if we Christians are not people. As if we are not human-only like animals without any rights. As if we are not Egyptians.”

Police and militant Muslims aren’t the only ones attacking Coptics. A new wave of assaults are coming from the Egyptian army.

A home video provided to CBN News shows a military attack against a monastery near Alexandria in January.

After local police abandoned their station, the monks at St. Bishoy’s built a wall at the monastery entrance to protect themselves from intruders. The army responded by sending 100 soldiers with tanks and light artillery to destroy the wall.

Three people were injured, including a monk whose spleen had to be removed because of the attack.

“The army is supposed to protect us, not beat and torture us,” said Father Halmanout, a priest at the monastery. “We are innocent. We pray and try to help the people, that’s all we are doing.”

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