Egypt (MNN) — The US has promised to send $195 million in military aid to Egypt.
The goal is to alleviate pressure from extremist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS who are intent on overturning President el-Sisi. It’s about politics and security, but human rights experts say there are other important factors to consider.
Just ask David Curry of Open Doors USA.
“Human rights should be a central part of our discussion regarding aid, whether that be military aid or business and so forth, because it’s so important to the American value of freedom of conscience and the ability to decide for yourself what you believe or what you want your life to look like.”
Curry wants Americans to think carefully about the influence of human rights on these kinds of discussions, especially when it comes to making and enacting policies.
“What are we doing with the American influence that we have on foreign governments to improve foreign rights?” he says. “I think that’s a good discussion to be having.”
But why would military aid have some experts concerned about religious freedom? In many countries, Christianity is seen as a Western movement. Because of this, countries like India and Russia have used anti-terrorism initiatives to quelch movements that don’t validate their way of thinking.
In other words, Christianity.
For now, Curry thinks there are many facets to consider.
“The government of Egypt has made significant progress in their desire to support the Coptic believers and the evangelical Christians there,” he points out. According to Curry, President el-Sisi even tries to recognize Christian holidays.
So why is Egypt ranked 17th on the Open Doors World Watch List? Curry says it comes down to extremism.
He believes that if we have the ability, we should be considering how we can help countries where oppression and infringement on religious liberties are commonplace.
“These are not groups that are sort of casually watching while things are happening,” he says. “Some of them are actively persecuting Christians and trying to restrict the freedoms of Christians.
“Egypt needs to consider that the American government and the American people want to see people free to choose their faith, to express themselves, and to hold those things intentionally, to keep a free society but one that’s safe.”
Curry wants people to have the chance to read Scripture and decide for themselves what to do. For that to happen, religious freedom needs to be preserved.
“If people don’t have the ability to decide to change their faith or worship freely without fear of being attacked, then it really strikes at the root of what it means to be free as a human being,” he says.
How can we help? Curry thinks it starts with knowing the issues and understanding what’s going on. The discussion of human rights and foreign policy also cannot be limited to one country.
“We’re doing trillions of dollars of business over a period of time with countries that restrict Christian freedom, are actively trying to destroy a Christian presence in their country, don’t allow freedom of choice, and have anti-blasphemy laws,” Curry says. “I think we need to be very thoughtful about whether or not we want to support those kinds of governments.”
Ask God for boldness and wisdom for the Egyptian Church as this situation unfolds, and pray that human rights stay on the forefront of this ongoing conversation.
“Too often and for too long we have ignored human rights in the discussion of how we spend our money, where our businesses spend their money, and where we choose to invest.”