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17 December 2015

Persecution of the Coptic Church

Persecution of the Coptic Church

The first day of January 2016 will mark five years since the Alexandria bombing. 

This attack on the Christian Coptic church took place on 1 January 2011 as worshippers were leaving church after a New Year's Eve service. 

23 people died and 97 people were injured - it was described as "the deadliest act of violence against Egypt's Coptic Christians in a decade". The attack came after a heavy threat from Al Qaeda claiming that Egyptian Christians were a target.

Coptic Christians (native Egyptian Christians) currently make up 10-20 per cent of the population in Egypt. Persecution of this group has been a constant issue over many years but is said to have worsened recently. These Christians feel attacked and persecuted by Muslim extremists and it appears that the Egyptian government is doing nothing to aid them. 

Also according to the United States Congress "the abduction and disappearance of Coptic Christian women and girls remains a serious ongoing problem"[1].

Earlier this year another shocking and brutal event took place. Coptic Christians were among 21 Christians that were taken onto a beach and beheaded by ISIS. The killings were broadcast and caused shockwaves around the world.

The increase of radical 'Muslim' terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and more recently ISIS has led to a sharper increase in acts of persecution against Coptic Christians. 

The government seems to regard religious liberty and human rights as a low priority. This group is obviously vulnerable and in desperate need of assistance and prayer. 

Alliance member Open Door reports: "Shortly after former President Morsi was ousted, there was an upsurge in sectarian violence against Coptic Christians in which 65 churches, Christian bookshops, schools and convents were burned down, looted or destroyed. Such attacks are often perpetrated by mobs, incited to violence by radical Islamic movements."[2]

Just a few days ago Premier reported that ISIS killed two Coptic Christians in Libya. 

They said: "According to International Christian Concern, brothers Wasfy, Sabry and Fahmy had travelled to Libya from Egypt to find construction work… The hands of both bodies were wearing black gloves with Islamic phrases on them, which have been linked to Islamic State." 

Todd Daniels with International Christian Concern explains that it's common for Coptic Christians from Upper Egypt to travel to Libya to take better-paying jobs in the construction industry. But he adds it's very risky as Islamic extremists gain more and more control of parts of Libya.

With more and more reports in the media recently on the rise of persecution of Christians around the world, with recent headlines reporting that "every five minutes a Christian is martyred for their faith"[3], it is important for us to take stock and remember every group that is vulnerable to persecution, as 2015 draws to a close.

Prayer points:

· For the government of Egypt to recognise that Christians in their country are a vulnerable group, and take measures to ensure their protection.

· For the women and young girls who are the most vulnerable in this situation- for protection from kidnap and exploitation.

· For Christians worldwide this Christmas time and in 2016, that face persecution and have no freedom to express their faith.

[1] https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112jhrg93217/pdf/CHRG-112jhrg93217.pdf
[2] http://www.opendoorsuk.org/persecution/worldwatch/egypt.php
[3] http://www.christianpost.com/news/every-5-minutes-a-christian-is-martyred-for-their-faith-persecution-watchdog-group-warns-145451/


Image Credit- Peter O' Connor under CC license