Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin by Elizabeth Kendal, Special to ASSIST News
EGYPT (ANS – December 14, 2016) -- On Sunday, December 11th, the
Egyptian Christians worshipping inside Cairo’s St Peter and St Paul church
(El-Botroseya) were doubtless aware of the elevated terror threat. After all,
Christians have been targeted over the Christmas-New Year period before.
January 7, 2010, seven Coptic youths and one Muslim guard were gunned down as
they emerged from a Christmas Eve midnight mass in Nag Hammadi. Then, in the
early hours of 1 January 1, 2011, 23 mostly Coptic Christians were killed when
an Islamic suicide terrorist detonated his explosive-laden car outside a Coptic
church in Alexandria during a midnight service to welcome in the New Year.
Consequently, the worshippers inside El-Botroseya last Sunday -- men seated on
the left, women and children seated on the right (as is Coptic tradition) --
were doubtless grateful for the armed guards stationed at the door.
of a large Coptic Church compound, El-Botroseya is located adjacent to St Mark's
Coptic Cathedral, the most significant Cathedral in the Coptic Church, the Seat
of the Coptic Orthodox Pope. Inside El-Botroseya the believers were celebrating
Advent -- a time when Christians look forward to the Nativity of Jesus. As it
happened, it was also ‘Mawlid’, the day when Muslims celebrate the birth of
the service drew to a close, a man reportedly entered the church and walked in
amongst the women and children where he detonated an explosive vest containing
12kg of TNT. In addition to the bomber, 24 worshippers were killed -- mostly
women and children -- making it the most deadly attack on Egyptian Christians in
recent years. A further 49 were wounded. Instead of guarding the entrance, the
security guards were reportedly sitting in their car.
day (Monday) Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi named Mahmoud Shafik Mohamed
Mostafa (22), also known as Abu Dajjana al-Kanani, as the bomber. Three other
men and one woman have been arrested over the attack. Doubtless embarrassed by
the security lapse, President Al-Sisi rushed to exploit the funeral for photo
opportunities. While Church and State officials were given passes to attend the
State funeral, local Copts -- including the relatives of the slain -- were kept
at a distance. It might have made good television propaganda, but Copts told
Morning Star News (http://morningstarnews.org/)
that the funeral left them hurt and angry.
Wednesday, December 14th, Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the
bombing, vowing to “continue its war against apostates”, [by which it must mean
“infidels”, as it is doubtful that any of the victims were apostates (i.e. one
who has abandoned their religion)]. Islamic State (IS), which is primarily
active in Sinai, is the inspiration behind Muslim Brotherhood-linked militant
groups that have committed several attacks and attempted assassinations in Cairo
over recent weeks. The threat facing Coptic Christians this Advent, New Year and
Orthodox Christmas (6-7 January) is extreme.
Year Terror Threat
will not be the only believers facing an elevated terror threat this
Christmas-New Year period. The risk will be elevated right across the Middle
East, but nowhere more so than in Syria, where jihadist groups that are losing
territory will be reverting to an angry terrorist insurgency. The liberation of
eastern Aleppo might be all but over, but with tens of thousands flooding into
western Aleppo, the possibility that jihadists have infiltrated the masses means
the terror threat facing western Aleppo must be regarded as extreme.
Furthermore, with IS once again in control of the central oasis of Palmyra, the
terror threat to Damascus, along with all the Assyrian villages located between
Palmyra and Damascus, must be regarded as extreme.
in Pakistan, where the Taliban is ascendant and doubtless keen to make a
statement before winter sets in and fighting dies down. In Nigeria, where Boko
Haram (now known as “Islamic State West Africa Province”) might also want to
make a statement over Christmas, the terror threat must be regarded as extreme.
Other high risk zones include Kenya (which is threatened by al-Shabaab),
Indonesia (where anti-Christian Islamic zeal is boiling) and possibly even
EUROPE, where popular resistance to mass Muslim immigration is gaining
“the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of
all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction,” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4a ESV)
will infuse by his Holy Spirit deep spiritual comfort into those now grieving
the loss of loved ones so cruelly slaughtered in their place of worship.
the LORD of Hosts (the commander of heaven’s angelic armies) will shield and
protect his people (Psalm 17:8-9) and bring the way of the wicked to ruin (Psalm
captions: 1) Scene of devastation inside the church after the deadly bombing. 2)
Relatives of victims mourn their tragic losses. (Photo: Mohamed Hussam/European
Pressphoto Agency). 3) Coffins are taken into ambulances after a funeral service
for victims of the Sunday cathedral bombing. 4) Coffins inside the church. 5)
About the writer:
Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She
began working with the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission
(WEA RLC) in July 1999, serving as Principal Researcher and Writer from January
2002 until April 2009 when she resigned in order to work independently.
Elizabeth is an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the
Study of Islam at the Melbourne School of Theology, and the Director of Advocacy
at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF). In December 2014,
Wittenberg Seminary (Canada) awarded Elizabethan honorary Doctor of Ministry
degree. Since July 1999 she has published a weekly religious liberty prayer
bulletin to help facilitate strategic intercessory prayer, and well as routine
reports containing additional religious liberty news and analysis. She is the
author of two books: Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians
Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec. 2012) which offers a
Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday
Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf
and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016). For more information see: www.ElizabethKendal.com.
Source: Assist News