Egypt (ODM) — Since the Arab Spring in Egypt, things have gotten increasingly worse for Christians.
Despite promises of equality, a new draft constitution was adopted without Christian input, and many reports are surfacing of a newer "legal" form of persecution: religious discrimination.
According to Open Doors, it's harder than ever to find a job in Egypt, where the unemployment rate has risen to a record 13%. For young Egyptians, the jobless rate is much higher.
For out-of-work Christians, finding a job can be especially tough. They are 10% of a country where Islam is the state religion. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party holds the highest offices in the government. When quarreling citizens arrive at legal loggerheads, the new constitution turns to Islamic law to resolve the impasse. In the streets, kidnappings for ransom are increasing, and churches are often attacked and burned.
The International Monetary Fund, which is negotiating a multibillion-dollar loan to Egypt, put the situation in diplomatic language in April: "Prolonged political and policy uncertainty, social unrest, and security problems have taken a toll on confidence. As a result, real GDP growth has remained sluggish."
Along with measures to instill government fiscal discipline, the IMF says "The most immediate challenges are to…protect the most vulnerable segments of the population." Longer term, the report urges Egypt to enact "structural reform" that results in "more socially balanced growth."
At ground level, Egyptian Christians use a more personal language to describe their place in the economy. World Watch Monitor spoke with three Cairo Christians who are looking for work. Each of them asked not to be photographed or identified in full. Publicly criticizing a system they view as favoring Muslims, they said, would only make the long odds against finding a job even longer.
Harassment, discrimination, and financial incentives for Christians to adopt Islam are used to break the morale of Christians. Some areas, such as Upper Egypt, face more intense pressure than others do. In most cases, vigilante Islamist groups carry out the attacks that occur–and often with the tacit acceptance of local security forces. Believers from Muslim backgrounds tend to receive much of the persecution.
Pray for those facing economic and social challenges because of their Christian faith. Pray that they will see the Lord provide for the basic needs, displaying a witness of God's care to non-Christians. Pray that God will strengthen and embolden Christians in this time of political uncertainty and give them new opportunities to share the Gospel.