Egypt strikes Islamic State in Libya

By February 17, 2015
(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

Libya (MNN) — The Islamic State terror group in Libya taunted Egypt over the weekend by releasing a brutal video of the execution of 21 Coptic Christians.

Egypt responded with airstrikes.

This story tells us two things, says Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry. First, “It means that Egypt understands that 21 of their citizens have been executed and they feel the need to protect their territory and their citizens.” Second, it means ISIS is growing. “I like to describe it like a cancer. It’s metastasizing and taking on different forms but with very similar philosophy in these different regions around the world.”

No one was all that surprised when the Islamic State occupied part of Iraq and Syria. When cells were found in Pakistan, Libya, and elsewhere, suddenly the threat caused concern. “You have groups in Africa like al-Shabaab and Boko Haram: they are learning from ISIS. They’re taking their tactics and their money and associating with them, but they’re not taking their name.”

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

In Libya, many subscribe to an ideology that aligns with that of the Islamic State. It’s no surprise, then, that they went after Egyptian Christians who were looking for steady work in Libya. “They’re saying Christians are infidels. They want to kill all Christians and push all the Christians out of these areas, so they’re making Christians the target.” But it’s more than just going after a vulnerable group of people, Curry says. “We still are trying to get people to understand that Christians are the primary target here. They’ve always been the first target. The pattern has been to attack Christians, to kidnap Christians–now, obviously, executing Christians. When they are able to push out all of the people who disagree with them, they’ll take over the region.”

Egypt is no stranger to strained relationships with Coptic Christians. According to the Open Doors World Watch List, Egypt is ranked 23rd on the list of the 50 countries where persecution of Christians is the most severe.

According to them, Muslim-Background Believers face severe limitations within their homes and extended families. Family members might punish converts to Christianity for abandoning the Islamic faith. Historical Christian communities are targeted, too. However, within the last four years, “Egypt has learned some lessons from extremism, and they battled back against the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a very similar ideology to ISIS.” Curry says with the secular government in place, “They’re strongly determined not to go back to extremism. They’re going to take a strong stand against ISIS, and I think that it’s a positive thing.”

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

What else does it mean for Christians in the region? Sadly, it might mean very few changes in the days ahead. “Open Doors helps with trauma counseling in many areas where Christians are executed and persecuted, so we can tell you that this is not going to go away as soon as the headline fades,” says Curry. He adds, “The pain is deep.”

Separated by land and sea, it’s easy to forget the people behind the headlines. Curry urges the body of Christ not only to pray that radical Islamic groups would halt their campaign of creating chaos and destruction, but also, “Pray for these families, that they would stand strong in the face of the storm. Pray for the Coptic Church around the world.  They just love Jesus. These are great people.”

3 Comments

  • rush says:

    My heart bleeds, all that i’ve been doing is asking our risen saviour to protect all captives who are the mercy of these militants. I’ve been praying psalm 83. My hope and trust is only in Him to strengthen us in our faith and to be faithful till the end as Jesus warns us that the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy. We have to fear the one who can kill both our spirit and our body. Whoever reads my comment, please pray psalm 83 time and time again, let this be our prayer. In Jesus name Amen

  • While we do not understand as we ought – “the LORD JEHOVAH” is always in control. May our primary prayer always be:
    “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.
    Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?
    But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” – Psalm 1115:1-3 [KJB]

    My prayer is that during these days of greatly increasing spiritual attacks all around the world by our adversary and enemy the devil – that CHRISTians will put on – and always keep on “the whole armour of God” (Eph 6:10-20 | 2 Cor 10:3-5 | James 4:6-10)
    and pray for “all saints” – with special prayers and supplications for all of the families of the Martyrs and those who are enduring such evil and wicked Persecution all around the world for “our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”:
    “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – (1 Thess 5:23 [KJB])

  • Paulo says:

    É triste, muito triste o que está acontecendo. O mundo parece somente ficar alarmado, mas não há providências mais concretas para debelar de vez esses energúmenos.

    Precisamos orar cada vez mais por nossos irmãos. Para que não desistam da fé e segurem firmes nos braços do Pai.

    (Translation) It is sad, very sad what is happening. The world seems to only be alarmed, but there is no concrete steps to tackle once these lunatics.

    We need to pray more and more for our brothers. For not give up faith and hold firm in the Father’s arms.

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