Over 50 Churches Burn as Egypt Descends Into Chaos

Neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor: I am the LORD (Leviticus 19:14)

church on fire
As chaos rages on in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has targeted the Christian community, burning over 50 churches and institutions. Earlier in the week, a young Christian girl was shot dead by the Brotherhood on her way home from Bible study. (Wikimedia Commons)

As the battle between the pro-deposed former President Mohammed Morsi Muslim Brotherhood and the military-backed fighters of Interim-President Adly Mansour in Egypt rages on, with hundreds of daily casualties,  the Christians of Egypt have become one of the most targeted groups of the growing chaos. According to Breaking Christian News, Christian leaders around the world, including in Egypt, are pleading for prayers as over 50 churches and Christian institutions have been attacked or destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to the Jerusalem Post, based on unconfirmed Twitter reports from Coptic Christian leaders, there have been incident after incident of anti-Christian violence unleashed by the Brotherhood.

Bishop Anba Suriel, the bishop for the Coptic Orthodox Church in Melbourne, wrote on his Twitter micro blog, “over 20 separate attacks on churches and Christian institutions all over Egypt.” Suriel added, ”These attacks on the Copts is unprecedented in the modern era.” He called on the international community not to be passive.

The Egyptian state news agency Mena reported assaults on three churches, including the destruction of the Mar Gergiss church. AFP reported that the attackers tossed firebombs at Mar Gergiss in Sohag, on the west bank of the Nile. The city of Sohag has a large Coptic community.

AFP reported two churches were attacked in El-Menia province, causing fire damage to both buildings. There were reports that one of Egypt’s oldest churches, the fourth century Virgin Mary in Minya, was engulfed in flames.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post from Ottawa, Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian justice minister and current Liberal MP, said the “Army should be providing more protection to the Copts.”

Cotler spearheaded a report – Securing the Human Rights of Coptic Christians in Egypt After the Arab Spring – in Canada’s Parliament in May to protect the rights of Copts and “hold those responsible for attacks on Copts.” The anti-Christian violence by radical Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood supporters is taking place within “a general culture of impunity,” he said.

Suriel complained on his Twitter feed that Western media have ignored the violent attacks.

Dexter Van Zile, the Christian media analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, told the Post, “The bishop has a legitimate beef with people.”

The “silence is troubling” from “the people charged with promoting human rights,” Van Zile said. “Progressive Christianity does not want to confront Islamic violence.”

Van Zile added it is “outrageous” that Copts are being scapegoated for the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated president Morsi.

According to the JPost, Andrew C. McCarthy, a leading US expert on radical Islam, blamed Western media reports for ignoring and distorting the “Islamic supremacist aggression against Egypt’s Christians – which was a prominent feature of Muslim Brotherhood governance.” He blasted Wednesday’s AFP report for exculpating “the Islamic supremacists by editorializing, in the report, that these were ‘reprisal’ attacks.”

McCarthy wrote, “The Brotherhood is not ‘retaliating’ against Christians. Islamic supremacists are persecuting Christians… which is what they do in Muslim-majority countries.”

All of these tragic reports come after the shooting of a young Coptic girl last week in Cairo. According to the JPost, Jessi Boulus was shot after completing her Bible class at the Ahmed Esmat Street Evangelical Church where her uncle works as a pastor.

According to Arutz 7, the majority of the information is coming via social media. Using the hashtag #EgyChurch, Egyptian users of Twitter and other social networks broadcast messages like “Can’t keep up with the number of churches, Christian businesses, and affiliates being attacked by ‘peaceful’ Muslim Brotherhood”, “It’s clear the Copts are having their churches burnt,” and “This is quickly becoming the worst sectarian catastrophe we’ve seen in our lifetimes.”

According to the Times of Israel, Egypt is anticipating another day of violence as the Muslim Brotherhood supporters called for a “Day of Rage” after security forces cracked down on two peaceful protests in support of Morsi.

“AntiCoup rallies tomorrow will depart from all mosques of Cairo & head towards Ramisis [sic] square after Jumaa prayer in “Friday of Anger,” tweeted Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad el-Haddad late Thursday.

The Times also reported that in anticipation of more violence, the streets of Cairo have been officially closed with individuals setting up barricades and are even checking the IDs of people entering their neighborhoods in hopes of staving off attacks.

Earlier Thursday, the Egyptian Presidency’s office issued a statement criticizing the American and world reactions to the violence, particularly comments made by US President Barack Obama that ”traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual.” The presidential statement said the remarks were not based “on the truth of matters” and could be seen as “strengthening the armed violent groups and encouraging them in their path.”

Earlier in the week, dozens protested outside in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood outside the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv, the Times reported. The protest, organized by the Islamic Movement in Israel, was not allowed by police to take place directly outside the embassy in the center of Tel Aviv, and was instead held at nearby Basel Square, Ynet News reported.

According to Breaking Christian News, an Egyptian Christian leader has asked the world to “Please continue to pray for my country. Those are the hardest days we’ve ever witnessed. The peaceful Egypt is now soaked into violence, hatred and desire to revenge. My heart and the hearts of millions of Christian and Muslim Egyptians are bleeding as we see Egypt turning into a strange country we’ve never knew before.”