Egypt (MNN) — Millions of Christians live in Egypt, making up about 10 percent of the population. These Christians represent many denominations, including Coptic Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant.
But these believers face systemic persecution for their faith, and it’s only worse now during the COVID-19 pandemic, since Christians often do not have access to the same medical care and sanitation as other citizens.
Research by International Christian Concern says the unemployment rate among Christians hovered around 80 percent even before the pandemic. Employers have the right to fire Christians because of their faith, and believers that can work makes less than half the average national wage.
Greg Musselman of Voice of the Martyrs Canada says Christians are treated as second-class citizens in Egypt. Many Egyptians see impoverished Christians as “dirty.” “There have been rumors that Christians are actually the ones that are behind what is going on with this virus. So they face a lot of difficulties, and it is a hard situation. The pandemic has made it even more difficult for them.”
Egyptian Christians usually don’t suffer actual violence, Musselman says, but a disregard for Christians is sewn into the fabric of Egyptian society. “Many of these people that have been believers for a long time, following Jesus, that has been their life for decades. Unfortunately, that’s also the situation for their children.” Many Christians have left Egypt in recent years, hoping to escape constant discrimination.
Throughout history, the love of Christ has often drawn the oppressed and marginalized. Pray that Christ will strengthen your brothers and sisters in Egypt and provide for their needs during COVID-19 and beyond.
Pray also that bad economic conditions in Egypt wouldn’t feed into actual religious violence, especially as blame falls on Christians for the spread of COVID-19. Musselman says, “It’s not just the Christians that are suffering unemployment in places like Egypt. It’s also the young Muslim population as well. A lot of these young men especially, they’ve got a lot of time on their hands, and they may become resentful.”
The header image shows a Greek Orthodox church in Cairo. (Image by DEZALB from Pixabay)