Egypt (MNN) — Egypt just arrested eight members of the Muslim Brotherhood for planning to ‘provoke the wrath of the public’.
In other words, they were going to stir up trouble by creating multiple crises. At the same time, several parliamentary committees submitted a report detailing the Muslim Brotherhood’s criminal activity to U.S. Congressmen and other officials on January 21st, the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.
This comes days after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) introduced a bill asking the Secretary of State to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as an international terrorist organization. Dubbed the “Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act,” it outlines the actions of the group as meeting the criteria of a terrorist group, and advocates a designation. Open Doors USA President and CEO Dr. David Curry explains, “What this bill is essentially trying to say is that this group has extreme ideologies and needs to be characterized as a terrorist group, because that’s how they’ve acted in the past.”
How does a U.S. bill impact a sovereign nation? Curry says the United States has a lot of investment with Egypt. This bill would put pressure on the economic side of the relationship. “It identifies the problem and it hopefully will be a step in the right direction where our government says, ‘When you have a foreign entity which is this intolerant, we’re going to identify you as part of the problem and cut off business ties with you.’”
The action is welcomed by the Church under fire in Egypt, although it has been slow in coming. Several other countries, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, have long designated the group as a terrorist organization. Egypt has also been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Curry says, “Their (Muslim Brotherhood’s) ideology is radical and extremist in nature, and whenever they’ve been given power, they’ve shown a great deal of religious intolerance [and] extremism.” The chaos left behind speaks for itself. “Their track record in Egypt is a good illustration of this where they operated as a terrorist group, trying to undermine the administration there.”
Founded in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood now has 2,000 branches in 70 countries. Their goal: to create an Islamist empire. It is a revolutionary fundamentalist movement aimed at restoring the caliphate and imposing strict shariah (Islamist) law.
Despite knowing this was their chief aim, how did Egypt wind up with the Muslim Brotherhood in power? Blame the turmoil of the Arab Spring. “When the Mubarak regime fell, it was the only alternative standing”, says Curry.
However, it also meant the country expected change. People demanded better economic policies, a protection of freedoms, and a restoration of stability. Under President Mohamed Morsi, not much was brought about, and millions of displeased Egyptians rose up again.
“The Muslim Brotherhood has fallen out of favor in Egypt because of their incompetence,” explains Curry. Then churches started coming under attack. The Muslim Brotherhood continued to target Christians through periodic violence and harassment, particularly in Upper Egypt. There were assaults and bombings, which did little to boost their legitimacy as a government. “The general population sees that they’re blaming both Orthodox Christian leaders in the country and Christians in general, because they’re an easy scapegoat.”
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s authoritarian style of government has restored the rule of law in Egypt to a degree. However, repressive laws and discriminatory policies restrict Copts (the Orthodox Church) from freely practicing their faith. Meant to combat terrorism, the religion laws also adversely affect evangelical Christians and their religious freedoms by restricting all freedoms.
Extremist ideology has global impact. The new U.S. administration is already trying to deal with the fall out. Curry notes that bills like the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act can identify the kinds of ideologies which are bringing about some of the greatest problems that the world is facing today. “Religious intolerance, this sort of ideology, is central to the massive immigration issues we have to deal with today, the wars, the turmoil in Syria and Iraq.”
In cooperation with local churches and other partnering ministries, Open Doors is responding. “What we try to do is support them in whatever way we can — make sure that people have the right and the freedom and the ability to read Scripture and to practice their faith in freedom and in peace.” That support comes by way of: family ministry, youth ministry, general education, literacy training, advocacy, medical outreach, widows ministry and women empowerment ministry.
When hatred and revenge is promoted by extremist movements and worldwide media, Christians are the keepers of hope. “Be prayerful for the Church in Egypt. Be lifting up these folks who are operating and trying to worship freely and in peace in these very difficult circumstances.” Pray on behalf of those who are facing economic and social challenges because of their Christian faith. Ask the Lord to strengthen them so they can effectively share the message of the Gospel with others in their communities. May the hearts of those who hear it be open and receptive to the wonderful truths contained in God’s Word.