Egypt (MNN) — Digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt said recently on FoxNews.com, "This is a very bad time to be an American in a Muslim country." Recent chats with missions organizations and an article from the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) indicate that being a Christian in a Muslim country is even worse.
"It's not the people that are making the movies or the cartoons in the Western world that pay the price for their enjoyment of free speech," SAT-7 CEO Terry Ascott told MNN's Greg Yoder last week. "It is the Christians in the Middle East that bear the brunt of the reaction that inevitably comes."
Case in point: a Muslim cleric named Abu Islam tore the Bible and burned its pages last Tuesday, September 11. His actions were met with loud approval from thousands of Muslims gathered to protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. The cleric's real name is Ahmed Abdullah.
"Next time I will make my grandson urinate on [the Bible]," Abdullah reportedly told an interviewer. "As the saying goes, 'an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth,' and the starter is at fault."
A video shows Abdullah tearing the Bible. The AINA article contained a rough translation of the video's contents, shown below:
0:02 "…the overwhelming Book, the Book of Truth and Peace. The place for these words and this book is over the heads because it is the real inspiration…" (He places the Koran on his head) voices chanting Allahu Akbar.
- 0:30 He Says: "…message to the Egyptian Christians. Out of respect and politeness to the Egyptian Christians, we will not do the same like what they did to our God's book. We will be generous towards you today and say we will respect you momentarily. We will respect this book which is in the Arabic language.
- 0:54 Demonstrators' chants "Coming, Coming O Islam"
1:09 Abu Islam holds another Bible and says: "This is the book the dog Terry believes in, as well as those dogs with him the Egyptian Christians in America."
- 1:19 Abu Islam: "Today I can only TEAR IT APART. He starts tearing the Bible and throwing the leaves towards the mob, amid chants: "Allahu Akbar and Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, the army of Mohammad is coming."
- 2:06 Abu Islam saying: "…to all the cross worshippers around the world, we will not keep quiet. Today, we tore it."
2:13 A man in blue beside him burns the Bible raising it for everyone to see.
Abu Islam: "Salamu Aleycom (Peace be with you)" and leaves, with mob chanting: "Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, the army of Mohammad is coming." "Governing, governing, O Koran." "Coming, Coming O Islam."
In the story carried by AINA, Mary Abdelmassih said multiple complaints were filed by Coptic organizations within Cairo. Dr. Mustafa Maraghy, law professor at Cairo University and chairman of the Coptic Coalition, filed a complaint citing Abdullah for "contempt of religion, disturbing public security and peace." A lawyer with the Copts of Egypt Coalition filed a complaint against Abdullah for damaging the Bible and for previous insults made to Christianity through books and his Islamic Nation TV channel.
Abdelmassih also stated that the Maspero Youth Union (MYU) had called upon President Morsi to "intervene immediately." Magdy Saber, an MYU spokesman, said officials should take action necessary to prevent trouble.
"If we condemn the file-makers…who live outside Egypt," he said, "we should also condemn this disgraceful act in Egypt, stressing the need to punish Abu Islam for his irresponsible actions."
MYU is a group of young Coptic Christians who played a key role in delivering information to the world following attacks on Christians last fall. On October 9, 2011, Christian protestors marching peacefully toward the television and radio broadcasting building near downtown Cairo were attacked by the army and an extremist mob. The attacks left 26 dead and wounded hundreds.
Pray for Egyptian Christians as violence spreads. Ask God to protect Christian ministries in this area.