Christians in Egypt and Turkey are facing unprecedented levels of persecution and suppression according to the 2018 Open Doors World Watch List. Last year over 200 Christians were driven out of their homes in Egypt and 128 were killed for their faith.
Across the Middle East the situation has deteriorated for Christians as hard-line strict Islamic views have become more widely held. Violence from Islamic extremists is raising levels of fear and intimidation, and the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria has heralded an increase in the level of threat in Egypt.
Michael* an Egyptian Christian businessman told Open Doors: “This last year, 2017, has been one of the deadliest and most painful years for the Christian community. I have suffered much discrimination, so has my family. My father worked in the public sector. After 30 years hard work his company brought in a young man to be his boss because my father was a Christian. My wife was also discriminated against at work when it was made clear to her that she couldn’t be promoted to manager because she is a Christian. Last week a taxi driver was looking for our house to pick me up – he asked someone for directions and they replied ‘do you mean The Christian?’ – this is a very derogatory way to talk about someone but it happens to us all, very often.”
Shopkeepers in Egypt often hear that villagers are boycotting their shop because someone has told the other villagers that what they are selling is ‘haram’ (forbidden).
Home to about half the Christians in the Middle East, Egypt ranks 17 on the Open Doors World Watch List and has seen a rise of 9 persecution points since 2014.
In 2017 there were several horrific violent incidents across Egypt: at Easter, 49 people were killed in two church bombings; in May, Islamic extremists attacked people travelling to a monastery in Upper Egypt – killing 29. In Minya governorate alone, over 15 girls have been kidnapped in the last year with the aim of forcing them to marry a Muslim husband and convert to Islam.
“Christians in Egypt have mixed feelings,” said Michael. “They have witnessed the sad scenes of the attacks and the collective funerals. It’s very hard when you see so many coffins – its very heart breaking and it also makes people afraid. You wonder will this happen in my church one day? Will I be next? Some people has asked their children to stay at home on special occasions because of fear of attacks. However on those special occasions the churches are full. We celebrated Christmas on the 7 January – most of the churches were really full with Christians joyfully celebrating Christmas in spite of the recent attacks. They have a strong desire to go to Church and worship. It’s made us stronger as a community.”
Open Doors UK and Ireland CEO Lisa Pearce said: “Christians in Egypt face a barrage of discrimination and intimidation yet they refuse to give up their faith. It is hard for us here in the UK and Ireland to imagine being defined by our religion every single day in every sphere of life. In Egypt, as in many other Middle Eastern countries, your religion is stated on your identity card. This makes discrimination and persecution easy – you are overlooked for jobs, planning permits are hard to obtain and you are a target when you go to church. This deterioration in the quality of life for Middle Eastern Christians is particularly worrying to see in a country such as Jordan, which has always been known to be more tolerant towards those of other faiths than its Middle Eastern neighbours.”
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.