Egypt scolded over religious freedom issues

By August 2, 2012

(MNN) — This year's International Religious Freedom Report notes that sectarian
violence had increased in Egypt, despite efforts by the government to ease

The report denounced "both the Egyptian government's failure
to curb rising violence against Coptic Christians and its involvement in
violent attacks."

promises from Egypt's new leader, President Mohamed Morsi, "to be the
president of all Egyptians," Christians
are unsure.

Still, there are steps in the right direction, notes Rex Rogers, President
of SAT-7 USA. "The new president in Egypt has extended an opportunity for
two Christian leaders we know at SAT-7, to work with the new constitutional
committee whenever that group finally begins its work."

That's a unprecedented move. It spurs hope. "It seems like he's followed through with his
pledges of diversity and pledges to recognize Christians and other minorities in
the government as it's being formed. That's quite positive, but you need to
wait and see what happens."

Egypt's recent history can be hard to understand unless there's
perspective. Rogers says, "When you
watch something like the Middle East every day, and with things revolving so
rapidly, it's like going on a diet and checking your weight every day: it goes up and down, and it fluctuates. You can be encouraged one day and discouraged the next. You need to do it once a week,
and really you need a bigger perspective on what's happening in the Middle East
and what's happening with politics."

At least one in ten Egyptians is a Christian. With the government leaning toward a greater
reliance on Islamic principles, it's no wonder a significant part of the
country has post-election jitters. There
are those who are wondering about what the Christians believe, too. It's a good place for SAT-7's programming.  They're a Christian satellite television agency
to the Middle East and North Africa.

Rogers explains that their teams in Cairo adjusted programming to
create a public forum to handle the nervousness. "We've done live panels
on issues. In particular, how Christians can turn the other cheek, as the
Scripture indicates, but at the same time, stand up for their rights. How do
you do that in a Christian way, and how do you balance those seemingly contradictory
ideas of how to live out your Christian faith?"

Garas, the Executive Director of the SAT-7 studio in Egypt, has said, "SAT-7 has
played the role that it should… presenting hope through faith, encouraging
people to trust God, who is in control."

As an organization that does not take political positions, SAT-7
supports viewers by teaching how they can apply Christian principles to
everyday life. Says Rogers,"We
simply talk about 'Who is Christ?' 'What does He mean in your life?' [We] have testimonials of people whose lives have
been changed and again, we get great response. We get people contacting us in a
variety of ways, talking about their new-found faith and new commitment to Jesus

Keeping Christians involved is helping to shape SAT-7 programming.
It emphasizes the need for an attitude of reconciliation, as well as a
readiness for participating in writing a new constitution. Interestingly, it is that approach that has
kept them safe in a time of turmoil. "SAT-7 has not been directly threatened,
harassed, or pressured in any way has there been any suggestion that we need to
curtail what we are doing, in terms of operating as a Christian ministry."

In essence, Egypt is a country searching for hope. Wishing for
change fueled the uprisings, but investing the Truth is what makes the
difference. Rogers says, "Life is just difficult. You come along
with Christianity in a way that they've never heard before, you come along in
terms of how Christianity can make a practical Christian worldview difference
in their everyday lives in addition to salvation. It's a blessing of living the
Christian life. People perk up and respond to that. It is hope."

Pray that God will bring peace and justice to Egypt through those
who govern this country. Pray for the
church as it disciples and supports Muslim-background believers in secret. Thank God for the prayers of Christians and
the increased unity between denominations.

in 1996 with international headquarters in Cyprus and U.S. headquarters in
Easton, MD, SAT-7 provides a spiritual solution and hope to the region using
Christian programming created by and for people of the Middle East and North
Africa. SAT-7 programming includes five channels: SAT-7 ARABIC, SAT-7 PARS,
SAT-7 TÜRK, SAT-7 KIDS and SAT-7 PLUS. SAT-7 has an estimated 15 million
viewers (InterMedia research, 2009) and broadcasts in three languages: Arabic,
Farsi and Turkish. SAT-7 can be viewed via satellite in the Middle East, North
Africa, Europe, much of Central Asia and worldwide at

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