01/07/2021 Egypt(International Christian Concern) – Today, Egypt’s Coptic Christian community is gathering to celebrate Christmas. Given the history of violent targeted persecution against the Egyptian church, particularly on holidays, it is often time filled with a combination of joy and nervousness. This year, Coptic Christmas falls the day before Friday prayers, which is often the day when attacks against churches and Christian communities occur.
In the weeks leading up to Coptic Christmas, Egypt announced a series of churches that have received legalization. Egypt has banked its international reputation regarding religious freedom issues on church legalization. Hundreds of churches have been legalized since 2016, but thousands remain unrecognized.
Today, the Christian communities in those unrecognized churches are celebrating Christmas in whatever ways have become normal for such gatherings (in addition to navigating local pandemic restrictions). Some are traveling miles to the nearest recognized church, others are gathering in the unrecognized church nonetheless. Still others decide between the potential of persecution exposure and the pandemic, it is not worth the risk. Today, Egypt’s Christians are celebrating Christmas. But it is a challenged one, with difficulties that need not exist if religious freedom was truly present in society.
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