Egypt (MNN) — Tension appears to be rising in Egypt under President al-Sisi’s heavy-handed leadership.
In the past 10 days:
- Between 12 and 55 people have been arrested and detained leading up to yesterday’s peaceful protest.
- A Cairo court sentenced 11 men to death for their involvement in one of the world’s worst soccer riots.
- U.S. leadership acknowledged Sisi’s repression in a May report to Congress released publicly last week. However, leaders admitted, Egypt was too important as a Middle East ally to stop sending it U.S. aid.
- Despite Sisi’s crackdown on elements of radical Islam — especially the Muslim Brotherhood — militants have expanded their attacks to include Egyptian tourist sites, a huge component of the country’s economy.
What does all of it mean for Egyptian Christians? International Needs USA President Rody Rodeheaver says believers are relatively safe — for now.
“They trust the military far more than they trusted Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood,” he explains.
“But, you also have to realize that this is a country that never was a democracy. He [Sisi] will rule with a bit of an iron hand to keep control. The vote is out on which way this will go.”
Rising pressure or familiar norm?
President al-Sisi came to power following the ouster of former President Morsi in 2013. Sisi “won by a landslide” in the following spring’s elections, BBC reported, but doubt mixed with hope in the minds of some.
As explained here by an indigenous believer, some Egyptian Christians are concerned that Sisi will follow in the footsteps of former President Mubarak; namely, that his reign will be one of widespread oppression on religious freedom.
“Many Christians are grateful for what Sisi’s done — in terms of taking the power away from Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood,” shares Rodeheaver.
The reprieve they now feel, however, comes at a cost.
“This is not a country where people are used to the freedoms that we are used to.”
For example, in the U.S. and Canada, believers are free to share their faith openly and people can worship whatever religion they choose. In Egypt — #23 on the Open Doors USA World Watch List — Christians face a great deal of restrictions.
However, International Needs will use a new trade center this fall to overcome these limitations.
Hope on the horizon
Dark clouds may be looming on the political/legal horizon, but Rodeheaver says the metaphorical sun is shining on Egyptian Christians right now.
“Christians now have opportunities of working side-by-side with Muslims to make changes in their economy,” he says. “We are just opening a new skills training center, and that training center will be…up to speed in the fall.”
“Muslims will see that the Christians care about them, and then it becomes a platform for sharing the Gospel,” shares Rodeheaver.
While you surround the project and Egyptian Christians in prayer, the Lord may lead you to help financially. The part of the International Needs website dedicated to Egypt is currently under construction, but you can still donate and help get the training center up and running.
Just call the main office of International Needs USA at 855-446-7764 and reference this article.