(Photos of Tahrir protests by Gigi Ibrahim)
Egypt (MNN) ¯ Clashes have been raging all week in Cairo, as Egyptian protesters--angry over a power play by President Mohamed Morsi--filled Tahrir Square in protest.
Egypt's two highest appeals courts also reacted to Morsi's move to grant himself nearly absolute powers by suspending their work. However, not everyone was against the idea. The Muslim Brotherhood and hardline Salafi parties plan to demonstrate across Egypt on Saturday in support of Morsi's declarations.
What's at stake: the edicts make all Morsi's decisions immune to judicial review and ban the courts from dissolving the upper house of parliament. That also affects creating an assembly and writing the new constitution, both of which are dominated by Islamists.
The decrees also allow sweeping authority to stop any "threats" to the revolution, public order, or state institutions. These would last until the constitution is approved and parliamentary elections are held--not likely before spring 2013.
News reports indicate that some of the demonstrators believe Morsi stole the Revolution. Director of http://www.mnnonline.org/groups/SAT7 - *SAT-7 Egypt, Farid Garas, urges prayer for their crew, especially "when they cover the events at the Square and when they broadcast the Friday morning live meeting from KDEC."
Garas notes that "last Friday, the OBVAN couldn't go to the church, and we had to cancel the live broadcasting. We are eager to find a way to go and have the meeting live next Friday, although we know the demonstrations are going to increase."
President of SAT-7 USA, Rex Rogers adds, "We've increased security somewhat--not significantly, but a little bit. We've worked with our staff to make sure they are conscious of how they conduct themselves in the street, so to speak, going back and forth."
The broadcast team will also be using a current affairs show that SAT-7 broadcasts every Saturday covering the week's events. Rogers explains, "We try to interact with our people in terms of how they respond publicly if there are any threats, and then of course, on the air." During that show, not only do they address the news, but they also adapt all the live shows to tackle and pray for the circumstances. According to surveys carried out in 2008, 1.4% of Egypt's population of 80 million people regularly watch SAT-7.
Despite the violence and reported troubles experienced by other Christian groups, none of the staff have been hurt in any of their coverage of the upheaval of the last year and a half, nor have their Cairo studios been threatened.
That may be due, in part, to a strict non-political adherence when covering the events in Egypt. While SAT-7 does talk about them, it's in the context of community impact. Rogers says, "We're constantly talking throughout the Arab world about praying for peace, praying for non-violence, praying for others unlike ourselves, and also interacting in a way that Christ would be presented in a positive way that attracts people to Christianity."
Earlier this week, SAT-7 Egypt aired a live music program called "We Will Sing', they also dedicated a segment to prayer for Egypt, with a split screen showing the square with demonstrations but covering that from the Christian perspective.
It's an approach that has been used with other crises, like the one in Syria. Citizens speak to citizens, addressing a critical situation non-politically, but from a biblical perspective. Rogers says, "That's a way of speaking to people and encouraging the Church in the midst of trial and trying to tell them, ‘Look, you're not alone. There's a church at large in the Arab World, there's a church at large in the western world that's aware of you. We're praying for you, [and reminding you] that God is still in charge.'"
It offers both a forum for discussion and a place to share the peace and hope found in the Bible. Says Garas, "It is good to say that during all that is happening, there is a spiritual movement of unity between churches. The meetings such as the Cave Church gets extended every week: now it is on from 7:00 till 11:00."
*SAT-7 is a Christian Satellite Television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa. The SAT-7 family includes SAT-7 ARABIC, SAT-7 KIDS, SAT-7 PARS, SAT-7 PLUS and SAT-7 TURK. By employing indigenous talent to produce targeted Christian programming for every major demographic, SAT-7 employs both satellite technology and culturally-sensitive theology to speak to the heart of Arab, Persian, and Turkish people groups.
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