Egypt (MNN) — Red flags are going up among Egyptian Christians following the latest round of government crackdowns.
President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi’s administration is trying to eradicate corruption and terrorism in Egypt. As a result, they’re passing hundreds of new laws restricting basic freedoms.
Take the freedom of assembly, for example.
“When you start talking about a law against people gathering together in a private home, well, is that going to affect house churches? Obviously it could; the police could come into that meeting as well,” explains Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) USA spokesman Todd Nettleton.
Bottom-line: while government crackdowns are intended to target terrorists, Christians could bear the brunt of unintended ripple effects.
“I think as we see him [SiSi], sort of, ‘tighten’ the levers of control, Christians are starting to say, ‘Wait a minute, we need to watch this closely,’” Nettleton shares.
Government crackdowns: 2013
Two years ago, then-President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a coup d’état by Egyptian Armed Forces. Several weeks of protests followed as demonstrators for and against Morsi’s removal gathered in the streets.
A series of government crackdowns culminated on August 14, 2013, in what is now known as the Rabaa massacre.
The following summer, then-Defense Minister Abdul Fatah al-Sisi was elected President.
“When SiSi came to power, predominantly the word we heard from Christians in Egypt was, ‘This is a good thing,’” Nettleton shares.
“Coming out of the Muslim Brotherhood being in control, this looked like…a step in the right direction.”
However, a barrage of new laws and the latest government crackdowns are making believers a little uneasy.
Government crackdowns: 2015
According to a recent Al-Monitor report, nearly 200 laws have been passed since Sisi took office.
“There is not a sitting Parliament, and so these laws are being put in place by the presidential administration without a lot of checks and balances,” explains Nettleton.
Furthermore, the laws are being put in place under the auspices of “fighting terrorism.” Anyone who questions whether the laws are needed is assumed to be a supporter of terrorism.
“There are some real challenges going on in Egypt,” says Nettleton. “These laws are already being used to ‘put a lid on’ freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.”
Over 20 people are currently being detained because of their activity on Facebook.
“It does seem–from a human rights perspective, and a freedom perspective–things are going in a very concerning direction.”
As this story continues to unfold, please surround Egyptian believers in prayer.
“Certainly as we see these laws passed, we want to be aware of the fact that they do affect Christians there as well,” notes Nettleton.
- Pray that the new laws being put in place won’t hinder Church growth.
- Ask the Lord to protect His followers in Egypt from potential harm.