Christian nuns are paraded through the streets like prisoners of war. Scores of churches and Christian schools smolder in vandalized ruins. Christian children are being gunned down on the street.
A young Egyptian Christian surveys the ruins of his church
"The words are heavy to put together this morning,” writes an anguished Egyptian Christian leader. “The sad day of yesterday,” he wrote to the Netherlands-based Christian advocacy group Open Doors, “resulted in a sleepless night not only for me, but also for millions of Christian and Muslim Egyptians who love this country and genuinely seek its good and welfare.”
After decades of relative stability in the volatile Middle East, Egypt has descended into violence. The militant Muslim Brotherhood is calling for armed confrontation with the Egyptian military, which deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi – and Egypt’s 7 million Christians are being targeted by angry mobs.
Rioters target a Coptic church
Chaos has ensued with the United States supporting the anti-American, but freely elected, Muslim Brotherhood-backed ex-president and cutting off aid to the military. That move by the Obama Administration came after Egyptian forces launched a bloody crackdown on Brotherhood street protests. Iran stepped up to support the protesters while Russia and Saudi Arabia bolstered their support of
the military – which is also quietly supported by the government of neighboring Israel.
Outside a torched Christian-owned business
Caught in the crossfire were Egypt’s Christians. Egypt’s Coptic church traces its roots back 2,000 years to the Day of Pentecost when Egyptian pilgrims to Jerusalem were among the Apostle Peter’s first converts as he preached from Solomon’s Porch. Egyptian Copts constitute the largest Christian community in the Middle East. Most adhere to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria while around 800,000 are divided between the Coptic Catholic Church and various Protestant churches.
An Egyptian Coptic church building burns
As violence erupted nationwide, coordinated attacks were launched against churches, schools, monasteries, businesses and individual Christians – including the daylight gunning down of a 10-year-old girl carrying a Bible.“It was a day of many tears, pain and agony,” wrote the unnamed Christian leader to Open Doors, which withheld his identity out of fear for his safety. “According to the official report of the Egyptian Ministry of Health, there were 235 deaths and 2,001 injuries.”
“Islamists burned down a Christian school, paraded three nuns on the streets like ‘prisoners of war,’ and sexually abused two other female staff even as at least 58 attacks on Christians and their property were reported across Egypt over the last four days. At least two Christians
“The murder last week of the 10-year-old girl, Jessica Boulos, as she was walking back home from her Bible study class at one of Cairo’s evangelical churches by a fanatic Muslim gunman is unbearable,” the unnamed church leader told Open Doors, “and continues to throw its shadows of pain on her broken family and the entire Christian community of Egypt. “In all of this mess, the loss of church buildings great, but not to be compared with the loss of the many souls, the pains of the wounds and the fear and anxiety that have filled the hearts of all that can yet happen in Egypt today and the days to come. Buildings can eventually be re-built, but when lost, souls can never be restored.”