The situation for Christians around the world is extremely dangerous. From Egypt, to Syria, and Nigeria, Christians continue to be targeted as victims of violence, largely because of their faith and the ideals they promote. This piece highlights some of those recent events, while reminding those in the West of the blessings and role they can play.
By Mark Kellner
8/15/2013 Egypt (Washington Times) – One of the greatest things about living in the U.S. is the freedom of religion granted under the Constitution’s First Amendment. You and I can attend worship services at any church, synagogue, mosque, meeting house, temple or assembly and do so without too much hassle. We can promote our religion — evangelize for it — and we can change our affiliations, again, generally without much interference, and virtually none by the state.
Not every place in the world is as fortunate, as continuing global headlines indicate.
The violent uprising in Egypt, as opponents of the current military-backed regime keep up their protests in the streets, has spilled over onto Coptic and other Christian churches. According to journalist Elizabeth Iskander Monier, writing at the “Egypt Unwrapped” blog of the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, the Copts “have no cheek left to turn” in the face of persecution.
Copts are targets of Muslim Brotherhood protesters, Ms. Monier writes, because they welcomed the removal of President Mohammed Morsi. In turn, she notes, churches have been burned, and a 10-year-old Coptic girl, Jessica Boulos, was reportedly shot as she left a Coptic church. Ms. Monier notes that these attacks, and others, have largely been ignored by global media outlets that, understandably, are trying to keep up with the overall instability and tumult in Egypt.
According to a transcript of his Martha’s Vineyard remarks on the crisis, President Obama noted the situation involving the Copts: “We call on those who are protesting to do so peacefully and condemn the attacks that we’ve seen by protesters, including on churches,” he said.
But Egypt is far from the only place where people of faith are facing serious challenges in just trying to be faithful to their beliefs. Unconfirmed reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say that the Rev. Paolo Dall’Oglio, 58, a Roman Catholic priest who disappeared in a rebel-controlled area of Syria on July 29, was killed by rebels linked to Al Qaeda. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying the report could not be confirmed.
The fact that Father Dall’Oglio, who has spent much of the past 30 years working to restore an ancient church in Syria, disappeared during the fighting in Syria suggests how dangerous the Syrian situation is for all, but especially those who are part of minority religious groups there.