Egypt (MNN) – Egypt’s streets are running red. The present clash is between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood members who are angry at the ouster of their handpicked candidate, former President Mohamed Morsi.
Islamists targeted Christians as the group behind the ouster leading to more assaults, injuries, fires and death. Interim President Adly Mansour meanwhile imposed a month-long state of emergency and nighttime curfew in Cairo and 10 surrounding provinces. However, according to the government tallies, at least 525 civilians had been killed and more than 3,700 injured.
Little attention has been given to the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to destabilize Egypt, its calls for violence against the government and its supporters. Although the Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly painted themselves as the victim in this overthrow, it should be noted that 1) they shut out any dissenting voice in the marketplace of ideas when it came to forging the Constitution, 2) the tens of millions who flooded the streets calling for Morsi to be removed exceeded those who voted him in, 3) after the military assisted in Morsi’s removal, the backlash against the scapegoat group was brutal.
Rex Rogers, president of SAT-7 USA explains, “Each time they react, there is a significant violent element either being called for, or in actuality, every time they make a move. That’s not the case on the ‘other side’.” Reports from watchdog groups like Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs (USA, Canada), as well as groups who have been coming alongside believers in Egypt (Christian Aid Mission, SAT-7) have been sounding the alarm for months.
Even so, Rogers notes that, “Christian leaders are calling for peace, for freedom of worship for any and all groups, including Muslims. They are looking for a free and open, democratic society.”
The Coptic Orthodox Pope, HH Tawadrous II confirms the situation in a statement about the attacks on churches last week, saying that “this had been expected and, as Egyptians and Christians, we are considering our church buildings as a sacrifice to be made for our beloved Egypt”. In a recent commentary, SAT-7’s CEO, Terry Ascott noted, “Other church leaders have made similar statements, stressing that church buildings don’t make the Church but the Church is the Body of Christ, made of people who have their faith in Him, and that is getting stronger as it passes through these challenging times.” Rogers adds, “Hopefully, the commonality is: understanding the Christian worldview and biblical theology. We’re Christians.”
In fact, the pleas from church leaders bore a striking resemblance to those pleas made by other church leaders facing an Islamist anti-Christian campaign…in Nigeria. The persistent
attacks of the Boko Haram stirred enough anger that leaders were hard-pressed to keep calm. The questions they’re asking are the same as the ones being asked in Egypt now. “How do you turn the other cheek in a society like this when someone kills your brother or someone burns down your church? How do you go out and vote safely? How do you even protest or demonstrate?”
The answers are patently similar, too. “Christian leaders are trying to use this as a teaching moment, to encourage salt and light, but to encourage it in such a way that it’s a testimony for Christ, it’s a testimony for love, it’s a testimony of ‘love your neighbor’? It’s more powerful than a sermon.”
SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, plays a key role in that guidance. For one thing, says Rogers, their programs provide a unique perspective that can be compared with the coverage of secular channels. “These things are inherently political. at the same time, to be able to talk on the air, to cover these events so that people can see what the BBC shows, what CNN shows, they can see what the Arab channels show, then they can look at SAT7 and they get a feel for what really is happening in Tahrir Square, or wherever it may be.”
Then, as the public forum opens up, something else emerges from the communication. “There are people in places like Morocco who are praying for people in Syria. They are praying for Egypt, that’s upside down and sideways right now. They’re praying for the church. They’re praying for Christian brothers. They care. There are people now in Iraq, who are now praying for people in Egypt because they ‘get it’.” Encouragement like that goes a long way toward shoring up hope.
SAT-7’s Cairo offices aren’t far from the Muslim Brotherhood offices, so please, pray for safety. Pray that the violence will end soon. Rogers says, “Pray for the Church (capital C), the body of Christ, as a unit, as an entity that is there. It’s a minority, and it is oppressed, but it’s resilient.” The urgency underlying his plea is followed by this: “We know that God’s Word does not return to him empty or void. So, (pray) that the word of God can go out and be used in times like this when people’s hearts are more open. They’re looking for different ideas–religious ideas, too.”