Egypt

Egyptian Christians live in a deeply polarised society, caught between secular nationalists and radical Islamists.

Egypt

World Watch List Rank World Watch List Score
21 65/100
Leader Population
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi 95,215,000 (9,521,500 Christians)
Main Religion Government
Islam Republic
Source of Persecution Persecution Level
Islamic extremism Very High Persecution

Following the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, which many Christians were perceived as supporting, radical Islamists have violently targeted believers. Christians also face discrimination from the secular government: though they make up ten per cent of Egypt's population, they are not considered equal citizens and face restrictive legislation. Converts to Christianity also face rejection and isolation from their communities because of their new faith.

PERSECUTION IN EGYPT

As radical Islam is fervently trying to take over the country's culture, there is a growing sentiment to reject Christians. Ten-year-old Marina is the youngest of six children - and the only girl - in a poor Christian family, living in a small village in Upper Egypt. In these remote, predominantly Muslim communities, Christians often find themselves excluded or experiencing discrimination.

Building or even repairing a church is difficult, if not impossible, and Christians find themselves placed at the end of the queue when it comes to things like education and welfare. Even more so, if you are a Christian girl. Socially and culturally, girls and women are viewed as far inferior to men. Although Marina's parents are illiterate, they sent their children to the public school in the nearby village. However, in such places, many Christian children face discrimination. Placed at the back of the class, they can be ignored and marginalised.

The majority of Egypt's population is Muslim, but in recent years, radical political Islam has become more visible and the society has suffered the implications of the presence of radical Islamic groups. In December 2016, an attack by so-called Islamic State extremists on a chapel adjoining Cairo's Coptic cathedral, St Mark, left at least 28 people dead and many more injured. But it is not only from radical groups that Christians face persecution.Believers from a Muslim background, as in many countries, bear the brunt of persecution, often from their families, who may punish them for abandoning the Islamic faith with beatings or expulsions from the home.

The tradition of authoritarian rule is perhaps the only permanent feature of Egypt's political system, which has known three regime changes in only three years. The current government seems to regard basic human rights and democratic pluralism as a low priority: a law from November 2013, restricting public protests, contributes to reducing freedom of expression in the public sphere. In this context, therefore, religious freedom for Christians is not fully guaranteed.

The large Coptic minority, while facing discrimination in education, health and legislation which hinders essential aspects of church life, has been tolerated in the past because of its historical presence and demographic size. In recent years, however, this has changed, causing historical Christian communities to be targeted as well.

HOW WE HELP

In cooperation with local churches and other partnering ministries, Open Doors supports the church in Egypt through:

  • Literacy training and education projects
  • Youth and family ministry
  • Advocacy support
  • Medical outreach
  • Women's empowerment training and ministry to widows.

PRAYER POINTS FOR EGYPT

  • For Christian converts who are ousted from their homes for leaving Islam, that the Lord would provide for them
  • For Christians who are discriminated against in social, political and legal affairs - that they would entrust their situation to God
  • That God would bring the leaders of Islamist groups to Christ.
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TAKE ACTION

  • Pray for those that are suffering by reading the latest prayer requests from persecuted Christians around the world.
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  • Advocate for persecuted Christians by signing the Hope for Middle East Petition.
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  • Consider donating your resources to Open Doors.
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