Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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By Amy Penn

11/29/2017 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Its persistence is insidious, its destruction continuous, and its presence ignored. Religious intolerance and violence have plagued Egypt’s religious minorities for generations. In 2017 alone, hundreds of families have been displaced, injured, or killed. Men were executed in front of their families. Women were killed in targeted church explosions. Children were murdered in an indiscriminate flurry of bullets when a Christian caravan was attacked on its way to prayer.

Despite the continued violence, little has been done in defense of Egypt’s religious minority population. The government has yet to mete out punishment for the attacks. Displaced Christian families, for example, have received little assistance during their traumatic relocation from El-Arish which caused some families to return to their dangerous homes. Such a return cost a father his life as he was executed by the same group that initially caused the displacement.

The latest attack against religious minorities in Egypt occurred last Friday. Suspected ISIS militants killed more than 230 Sufi Muslims in a well-coordinated attack that included bombs inside a mosque and shooters outside killing those fleeing the explosion. Hundreds of others were injured in what is recognized as the deadliest terrorist attack in Egyptian history. President el-Sisi has vowed to hunt down the perpetrators in a harsh response that detoured from the Egyptian government’s standard responses to attacks on religious minorities. While this most recent attack garnered international outrage and vows of justice from the Egyptian government, religious minorities have suffered incredible pain without the same hope of justice for years.

In the absence of government intervention, ICC has been working with Egyptian Christians to bring assistance and hope to vulnerable religious minorities. Most recently, ICC assisted two widows whose husbands were killed in the Minya bus attacks earlier this year. Without their husbands, these two women have struggled to provide for their children. Small businesses offer sustainable and lucrative opportunities for the survivors to operate, so ICC provided a livestock business for the widows.

Purchasing the goats and transporting them can prove challenging for families seeking a small business. ICC was able to fund the start-up costs and negotiate with local traders for the best goats before transporting the goats to the families. With a new herd of goats, both women can sell milk and cheese to provide for their families.

Religious persecution occurs regularly in Egypt and, historically, is ignored by the Egyptian government. The most recent attack against Sufi Muslims at a mosque shocked the world and government into condemning the attacks and launching a search for the perpetrators. The militants, likely members of the same ISIS-affiliated group that has attacked hundreds of Christians, have not recently begun their attacks. They have shamelessly targeted religious minorities for several years but little has been done in response. ICC has worked with and will continue supporting victims of the attacks to provide both immediate relief and long-term development to help families recover.