Egypt (SAT7) — On July 3rd, when millions of discontented Egyptians toppled their president (again), current affairs show Bridges was prepared with episodes addressing implications of the week’s events. In fact, Bridges had been airing episodes discussing the June 30th protests before they even occurred.
The producers of Bridges felt it was important to continue live broadcasts throughout the summer. At the SAT-7 studio in Cairo, host Dr. Ehab Kharat interviewed politicians and social activists, asking them to discuss the challenges that would face Egyptians in the coming months. Some of the topics they addressed were the poor state of the economy, the prevalence of corruption, changing the constitution, and holding elections.
In the weeks following President Morsi’s ouster, angry Morsi loyalists attacked over 80 churches, burning many to the ground and killing a child in front of her church. They also looted and attacked Christian business establishments, apartments, and schools. In some instances, Muslims stood by their Christian neighbors to protect them and decried the attacks.
In response to the horrifying attacks, Bridges sent a filming crew 700 kilometers south of Cairo to Al Dabia, one of the villages affected by sectarian tensions. Women tearfully explained that police removed them from their homes, leaving their husbands to be tortured and die. Church leaders in this particular village were crushed because their longtime neighbors stood by without helping, while Christians were attacked and their buildings looted.
George Makeen,Programming Manager for SAT-7 ARABIC, describes the powerful
episode: “Testimonies of people who lost their beloved ones and who lived these hours in fear and pain were heart-breaking. In this episode, we talked about the way to social justice and reconciliation. We discussed the danger of using violence to implement political demands and agendas.”
SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, purposed to provide those affected with an opportunity to grieve publicly.
Rev. Dr. Safwat Al-Baiady, President of the Evangelical Churches in Egypt and Deputy Chairman of the SAT-7 International Council, has appeared on past episodes of Bridges as a guest. He notes that Christian schools and hospitals are open to people of all religious backgrounds.
During the civil unrest from 30th June through July, Christian field hospitals even treated members of the Muslim Brotherhood who had perpetrated attacks on churches. The agony of persecution created opportunities for Christians to show their attackers the meaning of forgiveness and unconditional love.
Church leaders throughout Egypt, including Rev. Dr. Al-Baiady, have emphasized that the Church is a body of people and not a building. In the face of persecution, he says, “Our purpose now is to show mercy…We care for people, not buildings. We can restore the buildings but we cannot restore a person who is killed or injured.”
One of his greatest concerns is for the young children. He asks, “What kind of children will they be when they grow up? So I say, please don’t lose a generation. The children, the coming generation, will be affected by all the scenes they are watching.” There are many voices trying to shape the minds of children in Egypt right now. For parents, monitoring the influences in their children’s lives can begin with television in the home. As Egyptians look to stay informed and find answers about their changing nation, SAT-7 ARABIC offers a biblical perspective on events that is appropriate for family members of all ages.
Currently, the Egyptian army is fighting militants in the Sinai Peninsula and has taken off the air several television channels connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. However, Executive Director Farid Garas reports that attacks on Christians have subsided elsewhere in the country: “The attacks on churches have stopped, and security is returning to the streets. The good thing about what happened is the unity between Egyptians.”