Date: June 27, 2013
Graffiti near Tahrir Square, taken February 2012. (Images courtesy Ruth Kramer)
Egypt (MNN) ― Egypt feels like a pressure cooker ready to explode.
Two years after the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak, politics have polarized President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and the remaining opposition. The army has warned politicians it could take charge if they fail to come to terms.
Over 15 million Egyptians have signed the "Rebel," requesting that Morsi, in office for one year, leave. The petition also calls for early presidential elections. Morsi addressed the nation Wednesday over the anticipated unrest with Friday's Muslim Brotherhood rally and the Rebel protest on Sunday.
Anger is rising over hate speech, resulting in attacks between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Greg Musselman, a spokesman with the Voice of the Martyrs Canada, explains, "You've got a radical element of the Sunni Islamism religion that is stirring up things. It's causing more hatred toward Shia Muslims, which is a very small minority in Egypt, and they [Sunnis] don't look at them as being ‘real' Muslims."
That mindset led to a series of brutal murders. "On the weekend, there were four Shia Muslims killed by this militant group. Now, it's been denounced by president Morsi, but again, he's trying to win political favor with this particular group that is causing the violence." However, it was the way the government responded to the violence that set relations back a pace. Although Morsi vowed to bring the culprits to justice, Musselman concludes, "It's really hollow words."
Why? Attacks on religious minorities have always been present in Egypt. However, the government's lackluster response on recent violence frustrates justice, especially for Christians. Attacks against Christians, their businesses, or churches have risen in frequency. They are often sparked by specific feuds--even if fed by hardline clerics' anti-Christian statements. Musselman says, "Christians are fearful that this is going to escalate because of what's taking place amongst these more militant groups."
Used to discrimination, oppression, and persecution from the Islamic majority, Christians say the violence aimed at them is based on jihad.
What can be done in the days ahead? Mussleman says you can pray. Where there is crisis, there is also opportunity. "Where these kinds of attacks take place, it really causes people to ask, ‘Do I really believe this? Am I willing to die for this?' We need to pray that the Holy Spirit would really move upon the hearts of our brothers and sisters and that their reaction would be in accordance with the Word of God."
Pray that God will strengthen Christians in this time of political uncertainty and give them openings to share the story of Christ. "We see the Church there gaining strength, and many ministries that are working in Egypt [are] doing amazing things." A showdown is coming. Will you help believers hold the line?