Egypt (MNN) – In early January, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi created a committee to confront “sectarian incidents”. The announcement came just days after the December 28, 2018 bus bombing which claimed the lives of three Vietnamese tourists and their Egyptian tour guide. Members of the committee include individuals from Egypt’s armed forces, national and security intelligence, and Sisi’s security and terrorism affairs advisor. The goal? To create a strategy for addressing the sectarian incidents and attacks.
“Terror attacks are a big problem for the Christian community in Egypt, especially in upper Egypt. The cause tends to be…rumors: [rumors] of Christians opening a church in a village or rumors [about] a relationship between a Muslim female and a Christian male. And so, this does tend to create a significant tension, especially in underdeveloped and rural parts of Egypt,” Middle East Concern’s Miles Windsor says, breaking down the details of the new committee.
One of the main underlying issues Middle East Concern suggests is under development in areas like education. Education is vital to help individuals process information and make decisions for themselves. Many people in rural areas who have not experienced proper education are often vulnerable to the indoctrination of intolerant religious ideologies.
The declaration of the committee came just days before the dedication of the largest Coptic Christian Church in the Middle East. The church building, sponsored by Sisi, was dedicated on the Orthodox Christmas—January 7. However, this committee and church building dedication do not exactly numb the stresses and strains of life as a living target. These challenges, though, are helping deepen the faith of many Egyptian Christians.
“People do find in these times that God is the best protector. He is the solid rock in times of trials and hardships, and a sufficient comforter,” Windsor says.
This new committee is stocked with security-related personnel. This signals that the cause of the problem is not being addressed. Instead, the attacks are seemingly viewed primarily as security issues. Windsor believes the committee should include Christian and Muslim leaders. These leaders can influence their communities for the better. And until the underlying issues, like underdevelopment and education, are addressed, the symptoms will continue to manifest as violence.
“We’ve cautiously welcomed this development around the government establishment of this committee. It shows that the government recognizes the problem and is trying to do something to address it,” Windsor says.
Take time today to pray for brothers and sisters in Egypt. Ask God to have His hand of protection over them and to foil plots to cause harm against the Christian community in Egypt. Pray that the very people who would aim to harm Christians would come to know Christ.
“We know that God is powerful to save and He’s done great work in the Middle East and North Africa bringing those who would be the enemies of God’s people to Jesus,” Windsor says.
Finally, pray a sense of comfort for Christians in Egypt. Pray God would continue to deepen and strengthen their faith in Him.
Header photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash.