Egypt – Christian Experience the Worst in Centuries

According to a local Coptic leader in Egypt, “Christians are currently experiencing their worst time in recent centuries.”

This statement was made by the Coptic Orthodox Bishop Stephanos of Beba and Elfashn to international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

As he described, Christians are being violently killed under the eyes of the international media.

Also, for the first time in many years, churches are being systematically burned and destroyed.

To make matters worse, local police are taking no action and nobody is punished, and the Egyptian media is not accurately reporting the incidents.

Bishop Anba Stephanos (Orthodox Coptic) of Beba and Elfashn in Egypt

“The facts are systematically covered up in order to keep the international media from reporting the truth and bringing pressure from outside,” the bishop complained.

However, video films showing the massacre of demonstrators on October 9 were broadcast by the three television stations operated by the Coptic Church and have thus also found their way into the international media.

This time the attacks on Copts “have been better documented.” 

Bishop Stephanos went on to describe how problems are also experienced in day-to-day life, including calls that are often made in the media not to buy from Christian merchants or to sell anything to Christians. 

Christian businessmen are therefore faced with a struggle for economic survival.

Christians are also indirectly excluded from employment, for example by job advertisements specifying “a female employee with headscarf.”

According to Bishop Stephanos, attempts are being made “to drive the Christians out.”

The Bishop warned against placing too much hope in the elections that are planned to take place in Egypt at the end of November.

The future is “absolutely unclear,” he said. Nevertheless, in his view the Copts can “play a major role” because they are “numerically strong.”

Bishop Stephanos underlined the need for mutual solidarity among Christians, pointing out that Jesus Christ said that Christians are all of one body, so that when one limb suffers, all the others suffer with it. 

Asked about his hopes for the future, the Bishop said, “We pray for freedom and peace, not only for Egypt but for the whole world.”

He continued by saying that if peace existed, the problems Egyptian Christians are facing would no longer arise. 

Nevertheless, all Coptic Christians are “prepared for martyrdom, as at the beginnings of Christianity.

From childhood onwards Coptic Christians hold close ties to their Church, which they regard as “their mother.” They would “support their country and their Church without any hesitation.”

Egypt has a total population of some 76 million, of which close to 12 million are Christians.

The majority of these belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church. Nearly 200,000 are Catholics.

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org
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