Egypt Copts Still Threatened by Islamic Insurgency

SOURCE: George Thomas / CBN News
NOVEMBER 04, 2013
An Islamic-led insurgency threatens one of the world's oldest Christian communities.

Four months after Egyptians chased their president out of office, radical Muslims still blame Christians for the uprising. Now Egypt's Coptic Christians face almost daily attacks.

On July 3, as the sun set over Cairo, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians celebrated in Tahrir (Liberation) Square. It was game over for President Mohammed Morsi.

"Morsi was an Islamist leader who had big dreams for Egypt," Bolous Georgas, an evangelical believer, said.

As Egypt's first democratically elected Islamist president, Morsi also led the radical Muslim Brotherhood.

But after just one year in office Egyptians had had enough. Georgas joined the millions demanding he step down.

"The Muslim Brotherhood believed Morsi was going to bring back the glory of Islam, purify Egypt of non-Muslims and turn it into Islamic country," he said.

That worried Georgas because he's part of the 10 percent or so of Egypt's Christian population.

"Everyone knew we were also protesting against the Morsi government," he said.

Samir Abaskhiroune, a prominent Egyptian Christian and an Assemblies of God superintendent, believes Morsi's removal was nothing short of a miracle.

"Christians felt like a heavy burden had been removed from our nation. We could never have imagined that such an outcome was possible, but we prayed and God answered," Abaskhiroune said.

But then came the Islamic threats.

"We started hearing messages on television, in mosques and on the streets -- people saying they were going to kill Christians for protesting against Morsi and the Brotherhood," Georgas recalled. "They said our family, our children, our homes and businesses would be targets."

It turned out Egyptian Christians had every reason to be concerned.

"The streets were quiet that evening. I remember there were not too many cars on the road, not a lot of people walking around," Feby Zakrya, the wife of Boulous Georgas, recalled.

Georgas' wife was at home the evening they got the call that changed their lives forever.

"My friend was screaming on the phone, 'Jessi has been shot! Jessi has been shot'!" Zakrya said.

"The day was Aug. 6, around 7:15 in the evening. Jessi had just walked out of church having finished nine days of a 10-day Vacation Bible School. She had walked down this very street, came to this spot that I'm standing at and then one single shot to the heart ended her life," her mother said.

"Jessi was our only little child. She was a wonderful person," Georgas cried.

She was only 10 years old.

"When she turned 10 I could see our little girl slowly turning into a beautiful young lady. She was my daughter; she was my friend," Zakrya said.

Though no one has claimed responsibility, Jessi's parents believe that she was killed because of her faith.

"Because we supported Morsi's removal and the army's crackdown on the Brotherhood, radical Muslims are like bombs ready to explode against Christians," Georgas said.

That fury exploded days after Jessi's murder.

On Aug. 14, hours after the army violently broke up two Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo, Morsi sympathizers launched revenge attacks against Christians.

When it was all over, they had destroyed more than 200 Christian-owned properties. Some 43 churches were seriously damaged. Shops, businesses, cars and homes belonging to Christians were also targeted.

Most of the attacks happened in central Egypt. It was the worst organized violence against Christians in 700 years.

Dr. Sameh Sadik, a Regent University grad and native of Egypt, said authorities did little to stop the attacks, or to identify those responsible.

Sadik is based in the United States and travels frequently to Egypt. CBN News met him in Cairo while he ministered to pastors who had lost church buildings during the assault.

"Most of the pastors affected are so poor, so the Lord helped us through our friends in America to meet some of their financial and physical needs," Dr. Sadik said. "The pastors are grateful that people in the U.S. stood beside them during their time of trial."

Four months after Morsi's removal, people were still worried about an Islamic-led insurgency against Christians and the new government.

On Oct. 21, a masked gunmen riding a motorcycle pulled up to a Christian wedding at a church in Cairo and killed three people, including an 8-year-old girl.

"Our life is in the hands of God and we thank the Lord for everything," Georgas said.

With the specter of Christian violence still rising, Georgas and his wife resolve to minister to their countrymen.

"After Jessi's death, God gave us an even bigger desire to pray for the terrorist and our country -- not just for Christians -- but for Muslims, too," Zakrya said. "Only God can open hearts and eyes to see truth and experience His love."