Christians in many areas of Egypt have been under attack since the army removed President Mohamed Morsi from office. The attacks have grown in number and severity since the army violently moved against large camps of protestors on Aug. 14.
“Egypt is in the midst of an anti-Christian progrom,” says National Review Editor Rich Lowry in a recent column.
Here are three ways to grasp the persecution:
1) A Human Rights Watch report says 42 churches have been attacked, along with many other institutions and schools, along with homes and businesses owned by Christians.
2) USA Today created a map showing the locations of major attacks.
3) Today, The Wall Street Journal focused on the destruction of one treasured Coptic Christian monument, the Virgin Mary Church, a historically significant place of worship for 15 centuries.
Why are Christians being attacked? For one thing, they are a convenient scapegoat for Muslim Brotherhood supporters upset over Morsi’s ouster.
Another reason is that many Egyptian Christians supported the army’s coup. The photo above shows Coptic Pope Tawadros II (seated third from right) lending his official support at the July 3 press conference where Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi announced the army’s takeover.
One often hears many North American Christians claim they face persecution. For example, in 2010, bestselling author and former megachurch pastor Jack Hayford offered these dire opinions in a Charisma magazine feature on: “What will life be like for the church in 2020?”
“The next 10 years will bring increasing persecution upon believers. The spirit of anti-Christ is increasing its intensity. The heat will not only increase against institutional Christianity, but any believer who lives ‘out of the closet’ of silence or reserve.”
Hayford was speaking of persecution in “the Western world.” But British journalist Rupert Shortt offers a different perspective on real persecution in his recent book, Christianophobia (published by Eerdmans):
“About 200 million Christians are now under threat” around the world, “more than any other faith group,” writes Shortt in his guided tour of nearly 20 countries where believers are in danger. Shortt documents numerous recent cases in which believers have been burned alive, beheaded, crucified, tortured, had their tongues cut out, been forced to emigrate, and witnessed their churches bombed and their homes burned to the ground.
This is “persecution as I understand it,” he writes. “None of the opinions, insults, or laws judged offensive by many Western Christians amounts to persecution.”
May God help Egypt, where real persecution is breaking out, not the kinds of issues and inconveniences often confused with persecution in the Christian West.