Christian Living

Jerusalem Dateline

Egypt, the Church and Jerusalem

Flames seared dozens of churches throughout Egypt last week. Islamic terrorists killed several Christians. Muslim mobs destroyed the offices of the Bible Society of Egypt. Two Franciscan nuns were paraded in the streets as "prisoners of war."

For the first time in 1,600 years, priests did not celebrate mass in the Virgin Mary and Anba Abraam monastery in southern Egypt. Egyptian expert Samuel Tadros said these events represented the worst attack the on Christian church in Egypt in nearly 1,400 years.

He vowed to rebuild. Many Christians professed that their faith is gaining strength in these challenging times.

The Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters perpetrated most of these attacks. They targeted followers of Jesus Christ and blamed them for the overthrow of former Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi and the Egyptian army's destruction of the two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo.

Yet many Christians stood firm against this onslaught. For example, Ramez Attallah, general secretary of the Bible Society of Egypt told CBN News they would continue their ministry of distributing Bibles.

Despite the carnage of the Muslim mobs, many other Muslims came to the aid of their Christian neighbors. The Egyptian government also announced they would help rebuild the damaged and destroyed churches.

Yet many Egyptian Christians in the midst of this carnage were dismayed at the coverage of recent events by much of the Western media. Here's part of the Coptic Church statement:

“The Egyptian Coptic Church is following the unfortunate developments on the ground of our country Egypt and emphasizes its strong stance with the Egyptian police, armed forces and other organizations of the Egyptian people in the face of groups of armed violence and black terrorism. While we appreciate the sincere and friendly position that understands the nature of the developments, we strongly deplore the media fallacies that are prevalent in Western countries …”

The Christian satellite ministry SAT 7 made its own statement:

"The Muslim Brotherhood have been, and remain very effective in portraying themselves as the victims to the media, pointing to how Morsi had been 'democratically' elected and that the army 'coup' was a major setback to the country’s democratic progress. They have known what buttons to push with the Western press and this seems to be the version that most of the World is hearing - but it is not a version of truth that resonates with the vast majority of Egyptians."

The version that resonates with the vast majority of Egyptians is that they rose up to oppose what they say was a dictatorship in the making with the presidency of Mohammad Morsi.

More than 30 million took to the streets on June 30 to demand his ouster and on July 3, with the imprimatur of most Egyptians the army assumed power. Since Morsi's election (in what many contend was flawed) he set about imposing a version of totalitarian Islam similar to the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Most Egyptians rebelled against this "creeping Islamist coup."

Who then is the Muslim Brotherhood? It's important to know and to help understand what's behind the blur of images flying across today's TV and computer screens.

Hassan al-Banna formed the group in 1928. He based the Muslim Brotherhood on the premise that Islam is the solution. Its motto: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of the Prophet is our highest hope."

Al-Banna started the Muslim Brotherhood to restore the Islamic caliphate. Four years earlier in 1928 the Turkish leader Ataturk abolished the last remaining caliphate of the once mighty Ottoman Empire. For centuries various caliphs ruled over a large swath of the earth with the Qur'an as their guide. Al-Banna's dream was to re-establish this Islamic empire not only throughout the Middle East but eventually the whole world.

They abhorred the Muslim nations they saw as increasingly secular and who had lost their way. The Muslim Brotherhood is also violently anti-Semitic and, as shown by recent events, anti-Christian.

How would they proceed? Their first goal was to overthrow secular governments throughout the Middle East. Egypt was a prime target. So was Jerusalem.

In the upcoming book, Dateline Jerusalem, by yours truly, I connect the link between the Muslim Brotherhood and Jerusalem.

When Mohammad Morsi campaigned for Egypt's presidency, Safwat Higazi, one of the speakers who introduced him declared "… the capital of the Caliphate – the capital of the United States of the Arabs – will be Jerusalem, Allah willing.

He went on:

"Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca, or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing. Our cry shall be: 'Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem. Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem." (MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 4739, May 18, 2012.)

Now that Morsi has been detained, much of the leaderships of the Muslim Brotherhood arrested, that dream has been delayed. But millions of the Muslim Brotherhood followers still believe, still hope, and are still working for the day when they can march on Jerusalem.

In the meantime, many Egyptian Christians are pleading with fellow Christians around the world to pray with them for Egypt, the largest Arab country with the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

Here are the prayer requests SAT 7 released:

* The current violence will end soon

* The effective rule of law and order will be re-established for the benefit of all citizens

* There will be effective protection of church and other property against attacks by extremists

* Egypt will be governed for the benefit of all its citizens, with people of different persuasions able to live alongside one another peaceably

* Egyptian Christians will have opportunity to play an increasingly prominent and effective role in addressing the needs of all Egyptians and helping to bring healing and reconciliation in the country

Please join them in prayer.