Egypt (MNN) — Egyptian
authorities raided a Christian bookstore in Cairo March 15 and arrested Shenouda
Armia Bakhait, a bookstore employee. He
was interrogated for several
hours and then released on bail.
Voice of the Martyrs' Todd
Nettleton says police also seized the Nile
Christian Book Shop store records. Why the raid?
Nettleton says human rights
advocate groups suspect it was because an Egyptian Christian, Mohammed Hegazy, had visited
the store the previous day.
Hegazy was the first convert
to petition the religious court to officially change his
religion following his conversion to Christianity. "It's against Islamic law
for a Muslim to leave the faith, and so they denied his request to change his
ID. He apparently had been to this Christian bookstore just the day before.
It's unclear if the police were following him and that's how they came on the
store, or if they were watching the store anyway and just picked this
particular day to raid."
Although the constitution allows
for freedom of conversion, new Christians are often treated with disdain. Still,
there are some improvements.
According to Voice of the Martyrs Canada last month, an Egyptian court has ruled that
12 Christians who converted to Islam and then reconverted to Christianity can
have their faith officially recognized.
The decision overturns a lower
court ruling which said the state need not recognize conversions from Islam
because it constituted "apostasy," an act often treated as a capital
crime in the Muslim world.
Even with this victory, there
is a long way to go in freedom for
believers. Nettleton confirms ministry to believers in this area. "In
Egypt, that means providing Christian literature, providing Bibles, as well as
providing other ministry tools to help them reach out to their Muslim friends
Pray for those facing economic and social challenges because
of their Christian faith. Pray, too, that the ministry of churches in
Egypt will continue and that the Gospel will be preached throughout this