As feared, the revolution in Egypt appears to be escalating the violence against Christians in the home place of the pyramids. According to this news report, Christians in the village of Soul (which is 30 kilometers from Cairo) were ambushed by a mob of 7,000 angry Muslims. The Muslims stormed the Church of St. Mina and St. George, setting the facility ablaze.
The church and all of its contents were lost. Included in the loss were a number of ancient relics which the church had preserved. In addition, the whereabouts of the pastor and three deacons is unknown. Some have said that they perished in the blaze; others claim they are being held captive by the Muslims.
Nina Shea, who has been covering this story for the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, reports that the churches in Egypt are now more vulnerable than ever because the guards who once were keeping watch over them now are engaged in other matters relating to the protests and demonstrations. The churches in the provincial areas remain unguarded and have become easy targets for Muslim violence.
On February 23, there were heavy machine gun attacks by armed men against two monasteries in Egypt. Allegedly, these attacks were in response to “zoning violations.” In the Soul village attacks, the reason for Islamic ire was ostensibly a rumored relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman. Muslims apparently were outraged that a Muslim girl would be involved with a Christian man, on the one hand, and irate, on the other hand, because of the unwillingness of the girl’s father to kill her in order to restore honor to the village. (See more on honor killings).
According to International Christian Concern, a similar instance occurred in a separate village which ended with two people being killed and another church torched. And, in yet another attack against Christians, Nina Shea also reports that members of the Muslim Brotherhood stormed a Christian school in downtown Asyut, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” while attempting to take over control of the school. The school was built a century ago by Presbyterians.
Suffice it to say, the news does not look good for Christians in Egypt. Of course, some may say that the Christians must learn to stop angering the Muslims. Maybe the Christians should work harder to comply with local, arbitrary zoning laws so armed militants won’t be forced to storm their unarmed facilities and unload heavy machine gun fire on peaceful monks. Or, Christians could possibly commit themselves to refusing any urges of affection toward Muslims of the opposite sex. Yet, even then, I suspect that some other reason for outrage would emerge. It almost seems like Muslims in the Middle East just want to kill Christians.