***Updated Material: Just now seeing where a 10-year-old Coptic Christian girl was gunned down after leaving a Bible study. Though there is not any hard evidence that this was based on religious persecution, it can safely be assumed that she was killed because of her identification with Christ and more directly the Coptic Church, which opposes Morsi. This is exactly what I foresee increasing very soon throughout Egypt, an already hostile place to be a Christian. May this girl’s death cause you to examine your own commitment to Christ. Would you risk your life to study his word? Is knowing God through Jesus more important to you than life itself? Think about what it would be like to be a Christian in Egypt right now. Then pray for those Christians and pastors who continue to follow Christ at the risk of their families and own lives. Also the death count has risen from 149 deaths to 278 (235 civilians, 43 policemen)***
The continuous protests in Egypt have turned deadly as of today. The month-long conflicts between the radical supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and the Egyptian police and military backed government have climaxed. Since the removal of Morsi in early July, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Morsi supporters have been protesting the rule of President Adly Mansour. There have been clashes throughout this month of protests resulting in many injuries and deaths.
However, today as of 4 pm local time (10 am EDT), the office of President Mansour has officially declared a national state of emergency to combat the increase in violence among the protesters. This violence resulted from the clearing of two protests camps by Egyptian riot police. With this state of emergency, President Mansour has issued the Egyptian army to assist the police in clearing these protesters and ending the violence in Egypt. Mansour seems to have abandoned diplomacy for violence. Inevitably, more deaths will follow. The desire of the president is to restore law and order in Egypt, which has not presented itself to be an easy task. Blood will inevitably be shed. According to the Huffington Post, the Health Ministry in Egypt puts the death toll at 278, including 235 civilians and 43 policemen. This number is expected to increase as the day continues. The disbursement of recent sit-ins by Morsi supporters, along with the police clearing of protest camps, sparked these continued conflicts and caused these deaths. There have been small gun battles that have ensued throughout Egypt.
In response to the police clearing of protest camps, Morsi supporters have torched three churches in central Egypt. The Mar Gergiss church in Sohag was torched by firebombs allegedly thrown by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Coptic church burned to the ground. Two more churches were torched and partially burned in the El-Menia province. The Coptic church supported Morsi’s removal and further persecutions of Christians in Egypt are more than likely looming.
This violence is to the dismay of many international leaders. The Epoch Times reports that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon “urged Egyptian authorities to respond to ongoing demonstrations diplomatically.” Here is his official response to the violent (not peaceful) demonstrations:
With Egypt’s rich history and diversity of views and experiences, it is not unusual for Egyptians to disagree on the best approach forward. What is important, in the Secretary-General’s view, is that differing views be expressed respectfully and peacefully. To the Secretary-General’s regret, that is not what happened today.
I agree that respectful and peaceful diplomatic responses must come first. This response is not the kind of action the Egyptian government has promised. Egyptian government must demonstrate restraint in violently shutting out these protesters. In the words of a statement from the White House, “the world is watching.” A spokesman (Josh Earnest) for President Obama gave the following statement after the President was briefed on the situation in Egypt:
The violence will only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy and runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation
The world is watching and waiting to see how this plays out. One thing is certain, peace in Egypt and submission to the authority and democratic rule of President Mansour will more than likely not be seen anytime soon after these violent clearings of the protest camps.
The increase in violence in Egypt is alarming because of what may be to come in the coming days. I pray that there will be peace in Egypt and genuine tolerance can be shown between these opposing sides. I write this mainly for Christians in America and all over the world to intentionally pray for believers in Egypt. I foresee an increase in persecution of Egyptian Christians during this time. The burning of these churches may be just the beginning. Pray that these believers would hold firm in the faith. Pray that they would rest in the loving care of their Savior who suffered on their behalf. May we be able to boast of their steadfastness and faith in all their persecutions and afflictions they endure (2 Thess. 1:4). Pray that the church in Egypt would hold fast to the Lord Jesus knowing that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Above all, during this time of presumed coming persecution, may the Muslim Brotherhood and all Egyptians see the sufferings of Christ through the sufferings of his Bride. May the church rejoice in her identification with her Savior through suffering.
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church (Col. 1:24)